Peaking For Competition

By Dan Browne | May 03, 2018, 12 a.m. (ET)

The art and science of peaking for competition is a critical aspect in your training program.  It must be individualized and disciplined in order to achieve the peak performance that you’re looking for.  Ultimately, confidence in your plan is of critical importance. 

In this short article I’ll focus on what peaking for fast running successfully looks like.  In modern pentathlon the laser-run event is a combination of running and shooting.  The total distance of running is 3200 meters broken up with four series of shooting targets.  This combined effort requires a mix of both stamina, speed and skill technique as shooting and running vary greatly in the training requirements.  The complexity of this endeavor doesn’t escape me however for the purposes of this article I will focus on how to prepare for the running portion of the laser run. 

Throughout your season as you train the goal is to develop a solid base of running fitness through a combination of intervals, lactate-threshold running (tempo) and general running weekly mileage.  The culmination of all this training will equate to your running fitness which varies widely depending upon the speed at which you accomplished your training.  When it comes time for the peaking phase one of the main principles to remember is that you’re trying to sharpen what you’ve built through the longer base building phases of your training.  This sharpening happens by dropping your weekly mileage volume and adding in some higher intensity sessions with good recovery. How long and how much to taper your mileage prior to your event is truly an individual decision based on previous competition experiences and communication between your coach who has likely seen a good amount of your training.  Everyone is a little different when it comes to this so there’s no one-size-fits-all.  A good rule of thumb in general is that for your most important competition you should do no more than 40-50% of your average training volume in your final training week.

With an ideal peaking phase after a strong training build-up you’ll have the feeling of a caged Lion that is ready to pounce and defeat any competition.  This feeling comes as your body becomes more rested after weeks of intense training and your running fitness shows through.  Confidence is key and believing in all your hard training you’ve accomplished is critical.  Discipline in not doing too much training at this final phase is also something that will help you perform better on race day.  Remember, everybody wants to win when they toe the line……the KEY is wanting to win on those other 364 days.