Periodising For A Single Event

Matt Noble
December 18th 2020

Something that comes to a lot of people’s minds in the run up to an event is “what should I be doing?”, “am I doing the right thing on the right day?”. 

This event could be anything, such as an epic cross country bike ride with friends, or maybe a competition on a weekend, it could be the CrossFit Open (5 workouts over 5 weeks judged to a standard), or it could be a charity run like this weekends 100km challenge. 

These are thoughts that I have to myself, and there also questions I’m asked from others within the last few days before the event. More often than not they have a subtle glaze of panic on their faces that reads “what the chuff am I getting myself into”. In a friendly sadistic way, this pleases me, to me it means that this event means something to the individual, they’re focused on the task ahead, but perhaps need a little direction. 

This blog is written from my experience and I must add that for a one off event like what we’re talking about, there isn’t any real scientific, uber efficient way to  approach it. Sure if it’s a marathon or an important sporting event that you’ve set as a medium term goal, we can get scientific. But we’re talking here about an event that anybody can enter, any body can have a go at, but at the same time it’s going to be a tough day. 

My answer “Do what you always normally do on the run up to the day of the event.” That’s the answer that’s worked for me over several of these types of events. 

E.g Great North Run, competing at the Castle Games, completing the Paras 10, the Coley Canter trail run. As well as this coming weekends event. (100k Challenge)

Then the glaze of panic across the persons face intensifies as if to say “I don’t know what I’m doing, Help Me!” It’s simple, take this weekends event (Sunday 20th December) 100km challenge for Cancer Research UK. 

Coach - “Would you normally train on the Wednesday?”

Member - “Yes.”

Coach - “Okay train, would you normally train on the Thursday?”

Member - “Yes.”

Coach - “Cool, so train. What about Friday?” 

Member - “No I don’t train Fridays.”

Coach - “Okay cool, so rest Friday, what about Saturday, the day before the event?”

Member - “Yeah I’d train Saturday, but coach........” 

Coach - “so train” 

In my opinion this is what the body is used to doing, if your someone that has a pretty consistent routine dialled in throughout the week. It’s normal for your body to be moving on these days. Why would you throw it out of sync. It’d be like trying to drive a car away in 3rd gear. Sure drop the intensity, adjust the volume scale the movements........scaling really is magic. But let the body do what it always does on that day. Sure it’s probably not the best to smash a full “Cindy” out the day before a half marathon for example. But perhaps 20min of 2 pull ups, 4 push ups, 6 air squats. I’d say that’s spot on. This is going to let the body go through its regular regimen, the bloods flowing, it’s a chance to see if there’s any niggles that might flair up on the day. But more importantly, in my opinion it’s a great opportunity to get to know what your body’s capable of. In the situation of an event like the 100km challenge if you normally train on the Saturday and you don’t, it’s going to take some time for the body to get up to speed, the body has just come off rest day. It’s super chilled, nothings firing then before you know it your over worrying about being warmed up enough for a simple bodily task like running, so you add a tonne of unnecessary volume to the day by doing a way over exaggerated warm up. 

For me my first day of full training after a rest day is always the hardest, I’m feeling out what’s still sore, hows that movement feel for me today etc.. etc....Like I said, this could be a tonne of unnecessary volume throughout the day that’s not needed. 

So to answer those questions/ thoughts a little more specifically. “Don’t throw your body out of its rhythm, sure adjust intensity and volume in the days prior, but let the body move, that’s what it’s wanting to do, that’s what it’s designed to do. Do what you would normally do.” 

“The human body is an incredible machine, but most people only get out of that machine what their minds allows them to.” - Rich Froning.

Matt Noble