Angela Naeth Coaching

Optimizing Training Volume and Taper Schemes for Performance - Coaching

Optimizing Training Volume and Taper Schemes for Performance

  1. Fundamental Training Principles:

    • Excessive intense workouts can increase the risk of injury for endurance athletes.

    • An athlete's speed potential is based on their swim, bike, and run paces at threshold. 

    • The "speed potential curve" defines how pace changes with race distance.

    • There are minimum training volume thresholds, or "critical volumes," required to achieve speed potential.

  2. Critical Volumes Formula:

    • Swim: 9/3 of the event distance per week

    • Bike: 8/3 of the event distance per week

    • Run: 7/3 of the event distance per week

    • For single-sport events like marathons, critical volumes should be met for at least 5 weeks.

    • For triathlons, critical volumes should be met for at least 1 week during the final build.

  3. Boosting Run Performance:

    • Increasing bike volume up to 50% above the critical volume can further improve run performance.

  4. Periodizing Training Volume:

    • Year-over-year total volume should not increase more than 30%.

    • Build up to and exceed the sustainable volume from the previous year by up to 30% for at least 4 weeks before the final 2-week taper.

    • The final build week should be 20% above the sustainable volume.

  5. Prioritizing Critical Volume:

    • The primary focus should be on meeting critical volumes using low-intensity workouts.

    • Gradually add intensity, limiting to one intense workout per week on the bike or run.

    • Elite athletes may need to increase volume beyond just endurance.

    • Adding up to 50% more bike volume can provide additional benefits for run performance.

  6. Importance of Meeting Critical Volumes:

    • Failing to meet critical volumes can prevent athletes from realizing their speed potential and lead to issues during the race.

    • Professional Ironman athletes can maintain pace due to meeting critical volumes, unlike age-group athletes.

  7. Key points to address regarding critical volume:

    1. Critical volume refers to the minimum training volume required to achieve an athlete's full speed potential for a given race distance. Meeting this critical volume doesn't have to be done, but if it's not met, the athlete won't be able to reach their maximum performance potential.

    2. Even if an athlete doesn't meet the critical volume, they can still race and compete. The critical volume just provides the durability and endurance needed to fully realize their speed potential for that distance.

    3. The important takeaway is that meeting critical volume is highly beneficial, but not absolutely necessary. Athletes can still race and perform well without hitting those critical volume targets, they just may not be able to reach their absolute peak performance level.

    4. The emphasis should be on doing what an athlete is capable of with the training they can consistently manage. Even if critical volume targets aren't met, gradual improvements in volume and intensity over time can help athletes progressively get closer to unlocking their full speed potential.

    5. The goal is to provide athletes with the information about critical volume, but not to make them feel like they have to rigidly adhere to those targets. It's about using that knowledge to guide their training in a way that steadily builds their endurance and durability over time.

    The key is balancing the benefits of critical volume with the realities of what each individual athlete can reasonably handle. The aim should be continuous improvement, not perfection against a fixed target. Does this help summarize the main points regarding critical volume and how to apply it practically? Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions.

  8. Risks of Shortcuts:

    • Seeking shortcuts for speed gains can lead to a drastic reduction in race time but increase the risk of "hitting the wall" and injury.

In summary, the key is to focus on gradually building up to and consistently meeting the critical training volumes for the target event distance, while also incorporating quality workouts and prioritizing recovery and nutrition. This approach helps athletes unlock their speed potential and achieve their Ironman or triathlon performance goals.

Distance (targets) for Overload:

  1. Olympic Triathlon:

    • Swim: 9/3 of the 0.93 mile swim distance = 2.8 miles per week

    • Bike: 8/3 of the 24.9 mile bike distance = 66.3 miles per week

    • Run: 7/3 of the 6.2 mile run distance = 14.5 miles per week

  2. Sprint Triathlon:

    • Swim: 9/3 of the 0.47 mile swim distance = 1.4 miles per week

    • Bike: 8/3 of the 12.4 mile bike distance = 33.1 miles per week

    • Run: 7/3 of the 3.1 mile run distance = 7.3 miles per week

  3. Half Ironman (70.3):

    • Swim: 9/3 of the 1.2 mile swim distance = 3.5 miles per week

    • Bike: 8/3 of the 56 mile bike distance = 149.3 miles per week

    • Run: 7/3 of the 13.1 mile run distance = 30.6 miles per week

  4. Full Ironman:

    • Swim: 9/3 of the 2.4 mile swim distance = 7.1 miles per week

    • Bike: 8/3 of the 112 mile bike distance = 298.7 miles per week

    • Run: 7/3 of the 26.2 mile run distance = 61.3 miles per week

Estimating the approximate hours per week for the critical training volumes for each triathlon distance, based on an age-group standard time:

These estimates are based on the following age-group standard times:

  • Olympic Triathlon: 2 hours 15 minutes

  • Sprint Triathlon: 1 hour 15 minutes

  • Half Ironman (70.3): 5 hours 30 minutes

  • Full Ironman: 12 hours 30 minutes

Olympic Triathlon:

    • Swim: 2.8 miles per week = ~2 hours per week

    • Bike: 66.3 miles per week = ~6 hours per week

    • Run: 14.5 miles per week = ~2 hours per week

    • Total: ~10 hours per week

Sprint Triathlon:

    • Swim: 1.4 miles per week = ~1 hour per week

    • Bike: 33.1 miles per week = ~3 hours per week

    • Run: 7.3 miles per week = ~1 hour per week

    • Total: ~5 hours per week

Half Ironman (70.3):

    • Swim: 3.5 miles per week = ~2.5 hours per week

    • Bike: 149.3 miles per week = ~12 hours per week

    • Run: 30.6 miles per week = ~4 hours per week

    • Total: ~18.5 hours per week

Full Ironman:

    • Swim: 7.1 miles per week = ~4.5 hours per week

    • Bike: 298.7 miles per week = ~20 hours per week

    • Run: 61.3 miles per week = ~8 hours per week

    • Total: ~32.5 hours per week

The actual time spent training may vary depending on the athlete's pace, efficiency, and other factors, but these estimates provide a general idea of the weekly training hours required to meet the critical training volumes for each triathlon distance.

It's important to note that these are the minimum critical volumes required to achieve the speed potential for each event. Exceeding these volumes, particularly on the bike, can provide additional benefits for run performance, as long as the athlete can recover effectively.

Building a Program : ANGELA NAETH COACHING

Standard 13 weeks: (strength and base)

2 weeks adaptive

8 weeks base

2 weeks specific - or longer with 1 week recovery

BUILD TO RACE: 13-15 weeks.

6-8 weeks aerobic

6-8 weeks strength

4-6 weeks speed

BSTs vs. Tabata

-BSTs - strength limited or low cadence - during Vertical phase of train (between base and anaerobic)

Tabata - aerobic sprints. - if anaerobic nature. Given anytime.


Taper 1: High Volume and/or more anaerobic athlete.




Semi build (progressive 3-week taper)

Reduced Semi-build


Taper 2 : Low Volume Athlete and/or more aerobic athlete





Taper 3: Non high value athletes, and/or more aerobic athletes






Other factors at play for TAPER:

Every athlete responds differently to training stimuli and recovers at varying rates. It's crucial to closely monitor an individual's physiological markers and subjective feedback to make personalized adjustments to their training program.

Some key factors to consider when fine-tuning volume and intensity include resting heart rate, heart rate variability, muscle soreness, sleep quality, and perceived exertion. Tracking these metrics can reveal an athlete's current state of fatigue and readiness to absorb additional training load.

If an athlete is displaying signs of overtraining, such as elevated resting heart rate or decreased heart rate variability, it may be necessary to reduce training volume or intensity for a period of time to allow for adequate recovery. Conversely, an athlete who is recovering well and displaying positive physiological adaptations may benefit from a gradual increase in training load to continue progressing.

By remaining flexible and responsive to an individual's unique training response, coaches can optimize the balance between overload and recovery, helping athletes achieve their peak performance potential.

Managing the Psychological Aspects of the Taper

The taper period can be mentally challenging as athletes transition from high-volume, high-intensity training to a reduced workload. It's common for athletes to experience anxiety, doubt, and impatience. Effective management of the psychological aspects is as important as the physical preparation.

Coaches should work closely with athletes to set realistic expectations and maintain a positive mindset. Regular check-ins, visualization, and confidence-building can help athletes stay focused and trust the process. Emphasizing the purpose and benefits of the taper can mitigate mental roadblocks.

Incorporating mental skills training, such as goal-setting, self-talk, and emotional regulation, can empower athletes to navigate the taper with confidence and clarity. By addressing the psychological factors alongside the physical preparation, coaches can help athletes maximize their performance potential and approach race day with a winning mindset.