Spring Training: Periodization

Optimal planning for peak performance

This article was contributed by Coach Gareth Thomas, coach and advisor to world and national champion endurance athletes. At the heart of his success, has been the use of blood lactate and VO2 testing to ensure that his athletes trained smart at every workout. Gareth is the “results” coach and his resume speaks for itself. He is regarded as a leading authority on metabolic testing and its application to endurance athletes.

To learn more about Coach Gareth Thomas, visit www.coachgareth.com.

All athletes seeking to maximize their development need to employ the theory of Periodization for several key reasons:

First, a regular change of stimulus keeps the body adapting under the “stress + rest = adaptation” model. If you keep doing the same thing over and over you will get the same results and progress will be halted. Periodization allows you add more “stress” to an athletic training program in many different ways then to rest and absorb this stress before adding another “load”. Stress in athletic terms can be thought of in a few different ways:

• Volume: the total amount of workload – often measured in hours of training in total
• Intensity: how hard or easy the training stimulus is – remember that Technique training also has a big impact on intensity
• Frequency: how often the athlete is training
• Recovery: how much “down time” is built in to the program will affect how a certain volume of training feels to the athlete. Remember that “Training + Rest = Performance”

Periodization lays the building blocks of athletic development in the correct order. I still think that the simple fitness pyramid model makes sense. First build a platform and solid base to your pyramid structure. Make this base really strong and secure as it is the foundation of everything else that follows. Next add strength so that the body is ready to start to work hard. Once you are strong, your endurance is good and techniques sound then, and only then, add speed. Once you have developed some speed put it under pressure by forcing that speed to become explosive, which means developing power. Then taper, rest and go race at your peak. My experience tells me that athletes who don’t follow these rules limit the height to which their performance can soar. A pyramid with a weak infrastructure often leads to a collapse under pressure – the pyramid crumbles and the athlete gets injured or under performs.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 11.10.07 AMPeriodization takes you from Point A to point B, systematically so you peak on the right day. So the starting point of every plan is to know where you want to end up. That is, what is the goal? When do you need to be at your best? From here you can plan backwards so you have points along the way that tell you whether you are on or off track to hit your goal.

Periodization allows you to focus on, and therefore maximize, the development of specific fitness components one at a time. We now know what type of training we need to do in each phase to build the athlete systematically to a peak. So use your periodization plan with confidence. Focus on the goal of each phase of the plan.

Perhaps the best recent example of an athlete who used periodization to it’s fullest was super cyclist, Lance Armstrong. Lance peaked every year in July for the Tour de France for seven straight years. He knew exactly what level of fitness he needed to have to win in July and worked slowly towards it keeping track of progress along the way. He knew where his fitness needed to be in each month prior to the race and took confidence from this knowing that it had worked for him in years gone by. He also gained confidence from seeing his competitors’ performance not being timed correctly. Often his competitors peaked too soon and were burned out when the true race started.

When building a Periodization plan keep one thing in mind.….. Change is constant. Plans will need to be flexible as things go wrong, athletes get sick and other stuff just happens, so build in some leeway from the start so you have extra time to play with if needed. Be prepared to modify the plan if things are not working.

Periodization plans cover various periods of time. For most athletes we think of a season at a time, focusing on a few key races that we want to peak for. Within this we build smaller phases of training to work on specific elements of fitness. These smaller phases can be broken down in to blocks of weeks or even a few days. Remember that recovery is always built in to each phase.

I tend to work in 3-week blocks for most non-professional athletes. I use a system of 2 weeks “on” followed by a week of “active recovery”. This tends to work very well for athletes with families and standard working lives where training has to fit a routine and happen on certain days of the week. I try to add no more than 10% to the total workload each week so if week one was 10 hours of training then week 2 would be 11 hours and week 3 perhaps 7 hours to allow for some extra recovery.

In general, every athlete gets at least one day of complete rest per week and in a recovery week often 2 days off. Furthermore, each week I space out the key sessions so that the athlete is as fresh as possible when they need to be. Think along the lines of hard day, easy day, hard day, day off and you won’t go far wrong. Something like….

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 11.13.28 AMAnother key point is that typically as intensity rises, volume needs to decrease. Often we start with a lower intensity training stimulus and then add more of this same stimulus/ volume to create more endurance. Next we start to add intensity. There then comes a point when we need to add yet more intensity to create an adaptation in the athlete and at this point often we need to reduce over training volume so that the athlete does not get over fatigued. Each athlete is different in what level of volume and intensity they can combine and hold so an individual approach has to be taken.

Here is a very simple periodization plan for an athlete who wants to peak for one key race…

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New Year, New Race Schedule!

Happy (belated) New Year! Feliz Año Nuevo! Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Yes, we are at the end of January, so the new year’s wishes might be a month late (unless you celebrate Chinese New Year, in which case we’re right on time), but it’s the thought that counts, right?


The new year brings with it new races! For those of you who are still trying to decide which races to do this year, or you know someone who wants to do their first tri, we’ve got you covered. A bigger list of races (including the ones mentioned below) can be found at our website, but here are a few recommendations if you are still trying to get your race calendar in order:

Pasadena Triathlon: March 15th, 2014

“The EIGHTH annual Pasadena Triathlon, Duathlon and Rockin Reggae 5k returns March 15, 2014. Join us for a Spring ‘reverse’ triathlon or a great Rockin Reggae 5k run around the Bowl. There’s even a new Kids Fun Tri for younger participants. This event is for everyone: whether you are a beginner, an experienced triathlete or somewhere in between. This event will provide a fun challenge and get you ready for the 2014 Summer Season of events! The triathlon and duathlon is limited to 800 participants, so enter early! Registration for the 5k is capped at 1000, so come on out and run the Bowl!”

Of course, if you are ready for a bigger challenge, and have $1500 just laying around, we’d also recommend:

Oceanside Half Ironman: March 29th, 2014

Right now, the only way to register for this race is to register with a charity (hence the price tag); in this case the funds raised go towards the CAF (Challenged Athletes Foundation).

“Oceanside, California offers triathletes a chance to race in the city that birthed the sport in the early 1970’s in Mission Bay. Oceanside is located at the northern end of San Diego’s North County, which includes the beach communities of Del Mar, Cardiff, Encinitas, and Carlsbad—home to a mixture of surf, triathlon, and beach culture. Just half an hour south lies the city of San Diego, with its world-famous zoo, parks, and other attractions to fill a spring break vacation. Just two hours away from the local mountains, skiing and snowboarding are other options. This race offers the only chance athletes have to swim in the calm, protected Oceanside Harbor, where water temperatures in early spring are usually in the low to mid 60’s. The bike course takes cyclists along the California coastline to San Clemente, before dipping into the Marine Corps Base at Camp Pendleton. Here, the route takes the cyclists down to view the Oceanside Pier which is one of the longest fishing piers in California. The run portion takes athletes on a winding journey along the pier (one of the longest fishing piers in the state), and then out to Oceanside’s flat beachfront path, “The Strand,” where miles of sandy beaches provide a distracting vista. Runners then head into a residential area, and loop back out to finish not far from the ocean’s edge, in a chute that’s always lined with energetic spectators.”

Okay, maybe you haven’t started training and are looking for something a bit further down the line than March. In that case, we’d recommend:

Los Angeles Championship and Tri Express Triathlon Series: April 13th, May 10th, and June 8th, 2014




We can’t put a list of tri’s together without including our friends at:

THE Redondo Beach Triathlon: June 8th, 2014
Where: Redondo Beach Pier/Veteran’s Park
309 Esplanade Avenue Redondo Beach, California 90277
Sprint: 1/2 mile ocean swim, 6 mile bike, 2 mile scenic run
Mini Sprint: 1/4 mile ocean swim, 3 mile bike, 1 mile scenic run (A non-competitive race for friends/families/kids 10 and older)

The Redondo Beach Triathlon is limited to the first 600 entries, so if you’re going to register, you better hurry!

To end our short list of local tri’s, let’s bring up an olympic distance tri:

Herbalife LA Triathlon: September 21st, 2014

“20 Best Triathlons in the United States”
“Best Race to Feel Like a Star”
“Best Urban Race”
“Top Destination Triathlon”

“This is a race to make you feel like a rock star. You start in Venice Beach, and the bike takes you down a completely closed Venice Boulevard, one of the city’s main thoroughfares. The second transition area is downtown and the two-loop run goes through the financial district with one gnarly hill next to the Disney Concert Hall.”

This is going to be a great year for Triathlon! For a longer list of triathlons in the area (and some that aren’t), visit http://www.triathlonlab.com/races-and-events/ for links and info. Good luck this year with your training and racing, and if you need any gear or nutrition, let us know. Come into the shop, visit our website, or shoot us a message!

Thanks for reading,


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Gift Ideas from Triathlon LAB: Cold Weather Stocking Stuffer Edition

Wow. It’s already December. This year went by pretty fast. Now that we’re in the month of December,we see the holidays all around us. Hanukkuh is in full swing, and Christmas is just 3 weeks away! We’re sure most of you have already finished most, if not all, of your holiday shopping, but for those of you who are still looking for the perfect gift for the triathlete in your life, let your friends at Triathlon LAB help you out a bit.

Here in sunny Southern California, we were still enjoying t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flop weather until just recently. With December coming around, Sweaters, furry boots, and pumpkin spice lattes are everywhere! For the triathlete who still wants to enjoy an outdoor workout, may we recommend the following, without breaking your budget:

Zoot XOtherm Ultra 300 Run Gloves ($24.98)


Offering warmth without the weight, these gloves are sleek and stylish. Offering reflective accents all over the glove, and a fleece wiper for the inevitable runny nose, the Zoot XOtherm Ultra 300 Running Gloves will protect your hands from the elements this winter.

Pearl Izumi Cyclone Gel Gloves ($31.98)


Pearl Izumi’s most popular cool weather cycling glove offers best in class reflectivity, wind protection, and gel padding. The Elite softshell provides wind and water protection, while the Comfort Bridge gel padding helps relieve pressure on the Ulnar and Median nerves, keeping your hands comfortable during the ride.

Louis Garneau Matrix Hat ($19.98)


The Louis Garneau Matrix Hat is perfect for those early morning rides! It fits snugly under your helmet, blocking wind while wicking moisture. Of course, you can also using it during a run, or walking around and hanging out when you want to keep your head warm.

Blue Seventy Thermal Skull Cap ($44.98)


For those daring enough to brave the open water this winter (Kudos to you guys, by the way) we recommend the Blue Seventy Thermal Skull Cap. This cap kicks Blue Seventy’s neoprene skull cap up a notch by adding a wool liner and reducing water absorption, creating an extra boundary layer and reducing heat loss. For those swims in truly chilly temperatures. Of course, there’s no denying the warmth given by the original Blue Seventy Skull Cap.

Blue Seventy Toe Covers ($19.98)


Bike shoes are awesome. They keep us connected to our pedals, helping us in our efforts to spin perfect circles (Impossible? Sure, but we still try). The shoes are so awesome that to help keep our feet from getting too hot, there are vents all around the shoe, in the upper and the sole, to keep airflow moving and keep our feet cool. Unfortunately, during winter, the airflow can make things a bit TOO cool for our feet. This sounds like a job for some toe covers! These will keep your feet warmer (and dryer!) in less than perfect weather.

Louis Garneau Wind Dry SL Shoe Cover ($34.98)


For those days a toe cover just won’t do. When it’s especially chilly or windy, the Louis Garneau Wind Dry SL shoe covers have your back (figuratively speaking, since they’ll literally have your shoes). These are the perfect booties for the cold, offering wind protection and thermal insulation. The velcro closures are easy to adjust and take on and off. They have reflective accents, too!

Instead of making a bunch of Game of Thrones references and saying “Winter is coming” over and over again, I figured Winter is already here. I hope we were able to help with a few ideas that the triathlete (or runner, or cyclist, or swimmer) in your life could use to help make their sport of choice a bit more comfortable for the next few months. And besides, getting new gear is always fun!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask us on the blog or email me at Chris@triathlonlab.com.

Thanks for reading!


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Product Feature: Compression by 2XU

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You work hard at your training. So, your gear should do work for you, too.

Today’s product feature is compression gear by 2XU. “Why compression,” you ask.

Well, because of 2XU’s graduated compression fabric, their clothing actually improves circulation, resulting in faster warm-ups and recoveries. And, the fabric contains your muscles, reducing muscle vibration during activity, which reduces muscle fatigue and soreness.

And, guess what? 2XU compression socks and sleeves also come in a variety of fun colors, now! Check it out…Pick some up for your favorite athlete for the holidays (and gift a pair for yourself, too).

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Happy Chanukah!

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It’s a unique year when Chanukah and Thanksgiving coincide. Although, one doesn’t have much to do with the other, culturally, we want to recognize how grateful we are for one another.

Happy Chanukah! Shalom Alechem!

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Product Review: SF-2 Base Layer Tee by Louis Garneau

I really dig cycling. As I’ve stated before, it’s my favorite of the three triathlon disciplines. So when we received these base layers from Louis Garneau, I knew I wanted to test one and see if these base layers were better than the ones I was already using.

Just to get it out of the way: The base layers I am currently using are from Nike and Body Glove; they are very similar to the Under Armour-type of base layer. I choose to wear base layers under my jersey because when I didn’t, my jersey would always stick to me and I thought that it felt weird, really warm, and pretty gross. But with the base layers I had, I always found that while my jersey didn’t stick to me, the base layer and jersey (and in turn, I) were still soaked after long, hard rides. I still thought they were doing a pretty good job of keeping me cool during intense rides.

That is, until I tried the SF-2 Base Layer Tee.

This weekend I did a pretty hard, very climb-y ride with a group of friends. 24 miles with 2900ft of climbing. I figured it would be a great time to test out one of these new base layer tees.

The description on the Louis Garneau website does not really do this base layer any justice. The shirt material is very comfortable; the “supra filo 2” fabric helps manage moisture and the mesh weave of the shirt increases airflow. Yes, there is a reflective accent on the front, but it doesn’t really do anything unless your jersey is opened up. I did find that the material was softer than the base layers I was using, and it was lighter, too.


With the SF-2 Tee under my jersey, I noticed I felt cooler than I had on comparable rides. Yes, I was still sweating; the white, salty residue of dried sweat on my gloves and jersey was enough proof of that. And that leads to my next point: with my other base layers, there was never any of that residue on my jersey. With the SF-2 base layer, there was. This tells me that the other base layers I was using kept the moisture on me, kind of “sealing in the flavor.” I’m not bacon, so there is no need for me to be cured in my own juices (I warned you this paragraph would be gross). The SF-2 base layer truly did wick the sweat away from my body, where it evaporated from the jersey. Like I said, I really felt much cooler than I had with my other base layers. The airflow and moisture management of the base layer were very noticeable when comparing it to what I had been using.


So, to summarize: This base layer is awesome and helps you feel cooler and drier. It doesn’t feel gross or icky after long rides. It is also available in sleeveless, if that’s how you roll. If you want a fancier material, Louis Garneau has a Mesh Carbon base layer that is right up your alley.

Questions? Comments?

Thanks for reading!


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Celebrate Movember with HALE Pilates and Triathlon LAB!

This Saturday, November 23rd, HALE Pilates is hosting a pilates mat class at 9:00 AM. All that is required is a donation for Movember, and all proceeds to go towards the Movember movement.

You may ask, “What is Movember?”

Well, if you’ve seen some of the men in your lives sporting facial hair when they normally don’t, Movember is most likely the reason. From the Movember website:

“As an official global charity, Movember’s vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health. During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of millions of moustaches on men’s faces around the world. Through the power of the Mo, vital funds and awareness are raised to combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges.”

HALE Pilates hosted a Breast Cancer Awareness class last month and it overbooked! Make your reservation as soon as possible!

Here is the link to sign up for this Saturday’s Movember class: https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/ASP/adm/home.asp?studioid=34450

For more info about HALE Pilates, check out their website: http://www.halepilatesmethod.com/

They are located at:

326 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 100
Redondo Beach, California 90277


Thanks for reading!



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