Creating An Annual Training Plan

Mike and James on the approach to Zoraster Temple Grand Canyon. The culmination of 23 years training in the Grand Canyon. Photo Credit: Brian C.

Creating an annual training plan is the first step in effective program design for the year and/or preparation for a single specific event. Periodization is breaks the year down into periods of around 4 weeks (mesocycles). Following a structured training program helps athletes prepare for the unpredictable nature of the mountain environment.

Step 1: Decide On Your “A” Events For The Year

The first step in creating an annual training plan is to decide on your “A” events. An athlete can usually only perform at their best or “peak” 2-3 times per year. In an Annual Training Plan (ATP) these are your “A” priority events that are a culmination of months of progressive training. A events require a full tapering phase of 2-3 weeks to absorb the months of intense training and insure you show up for your adventure rested and ready. I always encourage my athletes (and myself) to pick A events that scare them at least a little bit. This provides strong motivation to train and prepare for the trip. A events also usually require a few weeks of recovery afterwards

Step 2: Pick “B” Events to Serve As Benchmarks For Your “A” Events

“B” Priority Events are intermediate goals that serve as benchmarks in preparation for you primary goal. They serve as a test to see if your training is properly preparing you for your A Event. B Events usually involve a shorter taper (4-7 days). It can also serve as an assessment to identify any weaknesses that need to be addressed in upcoming training phases.

Step 3: Pick “C” Events that help to build towards your A and B events

“C” events are usually the weekly long endurance training sessions that don’t require a structured taper or need a long recovery period after. These workouts also serve as the framework for the short term training plan (12 weeks or less).