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What's your Inline-Skating, Cycling or Running Training Style: Periodization, Marathon-Training, or Haphazard?

eebee's picture

With this year's outdoor inline training season ahead, I've been wondering how I should best spend the precious time available to me and reap the best skate training rewards later in the year.

A few quick glances at The Lance Armstrong Performance Program book (for cycling, of course) by Lance Armstrong and Chris Carmichael, and the old staple Speed on Skates by Barry Publow, suggest periodization is key. Periodization also appeals to my stubborn tendency not to follow through on projects, by setting shorter goals with quantifiable results. I have started wondering how other people formulate a training plan, if they even have one, as well as what works and what doesn't.

Have you followed any online marathon training plans, such as the old Marathon Primer by Eddy Matzger, or Barry Publow's marathon training? If so, what did these programs do for you? 

Has your training consisted of hanging on for dear life at the back of an enthralling 16mph avg group skate? What did that bring you? 

Do you simply go out and skate whenever you feel like it and - to throw in some loathesome modern cliches - do you rock an organic training schedule? :-D

If you've had success with periodization, how did you decide what aspect of training to concentrate on in what month? For example, did you start off with endurance, then switch to speed, saving the climbing joys for last before your taper? How long was a period? The Chris Carmichael/Lance Armstrong book suggests not dwelling on the same element or skill for longer than 4 weeks. I like the instant-gratification of 4 weeks, but what am I going to do after I've gone through 3 months of endurance, speed and climbing? Start over again with endurance? And I'm not sure where all of this leaves skating technique drills.

I know that just going out and skating is going to get me in better shape after 5 months than sitting at the computer. But I've followed that path of least resistance before and this year I'm ready for more. I am also aware that I should practice whatever it is I hope to do well at in an event: skate lots of long-distance rolling hills for A2A & T2T, faster, steeper 30-minute hills for the US10K Classic, etc.  

If anybody has any books or other references to suggest that helped them, I'd love to hear about them.



skatey-mark's picture

less (skating) is more?

Last year ended up being an interesting training experiment for me. I probably did the least amount of skating I have done in many years, yet made a quantum leap in my A2A performance. I attribute this to all the time spent at the gym instead of on the road skating. Now, granted, skating is much more fun... But one thing abut only doing cardio is that you'll lose muscle over the season. I remember talking to my trainer and suggesting that I might switch out one of my strength training days for another cardio day once summer hit. He strongly recommended against it, saying that the weight training was even more important as a ramped up my mileage, since I'd be losing muscle on every 2+ hour skate I went on. Of course, his specialty is strength training, so that's probably his solution for everything... So take it with a grain of salt... But it's hard to argue with the results. I'm still doing rehab on my shoulder, so I'm pretty limited in what I can do at the gym these days. And the rehab exercises take so much time I don't really have any time left for the exercises I would be able to do anyway. (Just 30 minutes on the stair machine before I start my rehab exercises.) But back in the day, I was doing weight training 3 times a week (MWF) for 45-60 minutes followed by 30 minutes of cardio. (Usually on the elliptical machine, but sometimes on the stair machine.) Wednesday evening was usually a social skate, which barely counts as exercise. Saturday was a long skate. Sunday was almost always a rest day. Sometimes I'd get another cardio day at the gym on Thursday. So by the time A2A got here, I had absolutely no idea how I'd do because I had skated so little. (And had done so few hills.) But I had BikeFest and TTT under my belt, so I knew my endurance was at least okay - there was just no knowing what kind of pack I'd be able to hang with in a race situation. So I think for me, getting in really good shape overall helped more than putting in miles on the road. I guess all the leg presses I did at the gym made up for a lack of hill training. Now as far the the strength training went, we did do some periodization there. I think it ended up being three 90-day periods for the training. - SM -
JonathanS's picture

 How did that work out with

 How did that work out with your ankles?  I can't argue with your results, but me personally, when I only skate 2 days a week, I find I have trouble maintaining the endurance of my ankles.  There is no way I could have made it though the A2A on only 2 days of skating a week.  But then you've skated longer than I have.  

Jonathan S

skatey-mark's picture

ankles were fine

Ankle strength was definitely a concern going into TTT and A2A.  But they were fine.  I expect that some of the plyometric exercises I was doing at the gym helped with the ankles too.  But there's definitely no substitute for time on skates.  The last 2 months before TTT I was doing at east 50 miles on my Saturday skate.  A third day during the week would have been nice, but I just didn't have the time in my schedule for it.


I'll probably do a similar training plan this year.  Although I'm kicking around the idea of doing the 24-hour Montreal race again (solo).  That would require a lot more skating if I do.  I'm just not sure I'm ready to put my body through that again yet!  :-)


- SM - 

eebee's picture

Weight Training during the main season

I agree with you Skatey-Mark. Supplemental plyo jumps and static squats with dumbells have actually helped my climbing a great deal in past years, as long as I also lost any extra weight at the same time. And weight training seems to help me lose weight. I remember having an ever-decreasing-circles argument with APRR's KenO a few years ago about this, where he came from the point of view of all the training manuals, that weight training during the summer months would only serve to hamper my progress.

It's good to know it worked for you! My results are a bit less quantifiable, because some years it was all I could do to even go skate once a week. So weight training would have been better than nothing.

Working my quads, glutes and hams helps me not lose muscle mass, which happens even in the Summer within mere days of me not skating steep hills. However, this theory does go against all the training programs I've read. It probably comes down to how we'd best spend our workout hours, because very few of us are able to go move to the Alps and train for 8 hours a day.


eebee's picture


Hey! It's great to hear from you! I'm glad you're back for more skating. I still find it hard to believe we left Spongebob in the Portapotty at Stone Mountain...chalk it up to immense stupor at 71 miles.
JonathanS's picture

been here

Hey!  I've been here reading, I just haven't posted until now.  Immense stupor or not, that 87 miles at A2A was the most fun I have ever had, and I will be there again.  Maybe I will see a few of you guys at the Skate Strong at the end of the month.  

 But on subject, if you were to break your training into 3 groups, assuming training for the A2A, they would be increasing your top speed, hills, and then I'm a little stuck for the third.  Endurance? 

Jonathan S

eebee's picture

Those are the big 3

Hills and endurance are nicely handled by Summer weekend training skates, where we tack on to a large group bike ride or two (Tanglewood Training Rides). So that leaves top speed, which so far I have not yet experienced :-). I'm so glad you had a great time at A2A!
MikeB's picture

Periodization vs. Activity

Periodization: isn't that a fancy term for concentrating on a set program for a limited amount of time, then mixing it up so you don't get board? Workout advice is weird to me. If you ask 100 different trainers you'll get 100 different variations. Not that any are bad or good or one leaps and bounds better than another. This is true with a lot of things - ask 10 different financial planners what you should be doing in your given situation/scenario and you could well get 10 different answers. Are some spot on right? Are others completely off base wrong? Or is it feasible that each plan would have its advantages and disadvantages, with each moving you forward toward your desired goal at various but similar speeds? The latter is probably more accurate. But one thing is for sure inaction or paralysis by analysis is the way to go nowhere. My Periodization happens every morning. After brewing some java and firing up the ipod, I head upstairs from 5.30a - 6.15a. Some mornings it seems a good idea to work abs, other mornings legs, and never really know what I'm going to do until I get up there, look over the equipment, and see what strikes my fancy. Point being - action of some kind will always beat inaction. At least for me. So sure, read the books, learn more about nutrition, workout routines, sleep cycles, specific exercises muscle isolation and techniques, weight training, cardio training, etc. Then implement what works for you, creating your own personal hybrid plan as best you can. And as you know, flexibility has got to be a part of a roadskater's regimen since weather can dictate the "what-where-when-how long" aspects of skate training. I could go on and on - but my mysterious D.R. cousin is here, ready to inject my backside w/ some kinda muscle enhancing drug that I know isn't tic-tacs. I got a discount since A-Rod is no longer his customer. ;-)
eebee's picture

Diversify your Sportfolio

"...ask 10 different financial planners what you should be doing in your given situation/scenario and you could well get 10 different answers. Are some spot on right? Are others completely off base wrong?"

It's certainly a bad idea to put all your nest eggs in one Madoff basket!!

"Periodization: isn't that a fancy term for concentrating on a set program for a limited amount of time, then mixing it up so you don't get board?"

Maybe the renounification of an already verbified noun. The outcome is less burnout, I'd imagine, but I think a lot of coaches focus on changing up the routine to keep the muscles on their toes.

So spontaneity's your thing? I have used that for the past decade or so, and for the most part it works, but without a goal and some kind of path to get there, my training becomes yet another unfinished project. In other words, I can't stand my own company if I'm out skating for an hour, three days a week, with no particular purpose to my skating. Sure it's fun, but not much when I'm on my own, unless I'm focusing on heart rate intervals or some sort of drill.

Cardio machines or weight training for me are pointless bores unless they relate directly to my skating prowess and/or muscles. And firing up the iPod for me would have to involve a blowtorch at 5.30am...not much of an early bird here :-)

I do already sorta have a hybrid plan for the training season, but this year I wanted to get a bit more specific than say 6 months of cardio base training, and 3 months of hard hill climbing. LOL.


skart's picture

Structure is good!

Well... I guess I use what you can call a periodized training plan. I picked up a copy of Joe Friel's "Training Bible for Cyclists" a couple of years ago and found that his approach works for me. What he is suggesting in the book, is that a season is split into several big cycles culminating with a Peak and, most likely, an "A" race (as opposed to B and C races that are used mostly for training and learning). Usually, there are a couple of those "super-cycles" in a season and they are split into smaller blocks - base, build, peak/race. The idea of a base cycle is to get an overall aerobic capacity up to where your body can accept higher work loads. In a build cycle you work more on a top end stuff - more sprints, high tempo, etc. In addition, every "big" block is split into 4-5 one-week long chunks where the workload and intensity get progressively bigger/harder as you go through the "chunk". Every "chunk" is followed by a rest week that maintains similar intensity to a just finished period but at a much lower volume... Anyway, when I first started following this program, I really did not pay much attention to building my base. I jumped straight into high intensity stuff and ended up over training and missing on some of my season's goal. I stepped back then, re-adjusted my approach and ended up having the best and the easiest "A" race performance yet. That convinced me that the approach works. Now, I am following the general guidelines of the program but adjust it for my skating needs: I spend one day a week at the gym doing lower body and core exercises with low weight (high reps). I also do at least one workout a week on a slide board. The rest is pretty close to what J.Friel is suggesting but while I can do some of the workouts on my bike (while commuting to work), I do a lot of other (suggested) workouts on the track on skates or on the road. Anyway, we will see how my 2009 season goes, but I feel stronger than I felt last year around this time :-) Hopefully, this is a good sign :-)
eebee's picture

New Athletic Nutrition Book (Enabled by Skart)

Being easily influenced, I wasted no time in placing an inter-library loan for the Joe Friel book Skart mentioned above. The book showed up out of the blue after about 4 weeks of no communication from my local library. I rushed to the library to get it. It seems very informative but there's a lot of info in there and I haven't read the whole thing yet. The chapter about athletic nutrition and the timing thereof after a long workout, grabbed my attention right off the bat. Here I found in a few short sentences what I remember asking myself about ten years ago when I started skating long distances many hours at a time. What's the missing link between eating healthily, and eating enough of the right kind of stuff so I don't bonk or can't recover? Sugar and wheat aren't all they're cracked up to be. Friel referenced another one of his books, which goes into more detail about this, called the Paleo Diet for Athletes. The title alone gives me warm fuzzies and a feeling of hope. Ignoring my skinflint tendencies, I clicked through to Amazon and ordered a good second hand copy of the book within minutes! It just came in the mail and I'm excited about it. I will post a book review if I finish reading it (no self-pressure!).
roadskater's picture

Diligence and Persistence and PaleoSouthBeachness

Thanks a lot for your interest in these topics and your sharing of it with us all. In particular it was good hearing parts of the South Beach book again as we were pondering skating or not a couple of days ago. I'm sure one of us will put in what we recall here when time allows. I got my copy of the book free from the Ed McKay's used bookstore free shelf a few weeks ago, the same day I got a book about a young doctor's first year of medicine in Bryson City years ago, which one of my family members is now enjoying reading. Anyway, thanks, eebee, for the follow up and I saw that training bible book that skart mentioned and it looks really good. I might need to pick up some used books on Amazon too, as I'm thinking these books won't show up on the free shelf!
eebee's picture

South Beach Diet and low glycogen stores

It's good to finally make sense of how some regimes work and whether they ruin or help one's training. For me, food is a huge part of skating because I do put weight on easily, which basically ruins so much of what I've worked hard at for months to achieve by skating several times a week. But sports-nutrition gurus have been pushing bread, pasta, 'sports' drinks and massed-produced carbs down our throats now for a few decades. I have never been able to get the balance right between calorie intake and expenditure, because despite my best intentions, I usually fall far short of my training goals and end up skating less than I'd like. The South Beach diet and the Paleo Diet both come from the low-fat protein, nuts & veggies camp, taking wheat and refined sugar out of the picture completely. The Paleo Diet for Athletes puts some of it back in, which I am looking forward to reading about. Non-athletic couch-potatoes lose a lot of weight in the first stage (2 weeks) of SBD because their glycogen stores are lower from the lack of starchy carbs, and their bodies hold less water. I just read in the Paleo book that 1 gram of glycogen stored in your body holds 2.6 grams of water. This is why starting the SBD is a bad idea if you're in the middle of a training schedule for long distance skating. The SBD uses 'foods' that Stone-Age man would not have had at his disposal (e.g. Splenda!), but it's a good reference if you suspect you are eating too much refined flour and sugar, whatever your health reasons. Anyway, I'm still not 'on a diet'! Just trying to figure out what works for me, finally.
roadskater's picture

Thanks for the notes. Any favorite quotations?

Any quotations or page numbers I should be looking for in The South Beach Diet book and the Paleo Diet for Athletes books? I looked around for the South Beach Diet book and I think I have loaned it to a skater! I remember you had found some interesting paragraphs about the whole eating after exercising issue and some other things. I was thinking about finding those and typing in a few sentences or at least finding the page numbers. Any suggested paragraphs, pages or quotes that inspire you? Also, to all, I'm interested in your favorite paragraphs from training books, plus sports drink and sports bar recipes (others too). Thanks for your enthusiasm on this topic, eebee. Those of us that skate with you will have much to learn as we go down the road, so I look forward to some good education on skates as you go over what you've learned again when I can't get it all straight (or pretend I can't so I can go eat USAfied Mexican food, ha). The last few days I've been justifying my badness by thinking that fat slows down the spike in carbs. It seemed to work with those Cadbury mini-eggs. Someone sent me a photo of a chocolate cake with white cream icing last night! How tempting is that? I was glad I had eaten chocolate eggs before I got the photo so I didn't run out and buy a similar cake of my very own. Thanks again for your sharing on this.
eebee's picture

My favorite quotation

Sure! How about "Cadbury's Mini Eggs"? Well I don't really want to turn a paceline into a conscience-nagging session about eating healthily :-). Obviously most endurance athletes understand ahead of time that the South Beach Diet is best suited to the Great American Couch Potato, and not to folk who like to skate 50 miles in 85 deg C weather. Why am I so intrigued by the South Beach Diet book? Because it works! However, it's a recipe for bonking at this point in the season. The Paleo Diet for Athletes is even more strict, but the authors spell out what nutrients to eat, when, to maximize your training and not detract from it. I'll be reviewing it soon but in the meantime I'm trying to figure out how to remember it all.
eebee's picture


Thanks for the reply, Skart. What you've described sounds much like the stuff I've read about so far. How could you tell at the end of a 'block' that you had made progress, i.e., were you recording your stats, or did you just go by how you felt? I must admit I don't sit and scrutinize my Garmin spewings on my computer afterwards, but the stats are there if I need them. These are great, varied responses. Thanks!
skart's picture

Measuring Performance

Per Friel's book, I skate an 8 mile TT in the end of each block. Although, conditions are never the same (wind, temperature, etc.), it gives me a good idea of how I am doing comparing to prior blocks. In addition, I skate 400m sprints on a track every other week or so to see where I stand. However, a lot of times I would be more concerned about how I feel over a longer skate or if I can hold a certain level of effort for a certain amount of time. Generally, I am much better with explosive efforts (I would consider sprints to be my forte) and, therefore, I try to spend as much time as possible working on my muscle endurance (my weakness). And, for what it's worth, working on endurance for me is not a slow and steady pace in HR zone 1, it is more of tempo work in HR zone 3.

eebee's picture

the 400m crawl

400m - that's once around a typical track, right? I tried that in January to see how long it'd take me and it was well over a minute!! I notice the 400m running sprint record is something like 43 seconds... :-(. Still, that sounds like a good way to check for progress once in a while, but like you said I guess it's best to try to replicate the same wind/fatigue conditions each time.

I haven't yet gotten the hang of being able to 'sprint' much longer than 150m!

Interesting what you said about working on endurance. I need to go look at my Garmin records. Thanks so much for all this info.


ETA: Oops! Mine's actually a 533m lap. I don't feel so bad now :-)

What I have done in the past

What I have done in the past is just skate on a regular basis, slowly increasing my distance.  When I train for  T2T I try and go out on a fixed route of 15 miles 3 days a week. and then do 20-30 one day over thge weekend.  As for seeing results it is easy.  Since I am do the same route during the week, I judge my progress by watching my ave speed go up and my time for the route go down.  Usally when I start in April, I am runing about 9-10 mph and by mid aug, I am pushing 13-14 mph for the same route.
eebee's picture

Thanks for the details

Hey Ken, thanks for the details! That seems like a reliable way of charting progress, too. I tend to avoid skating the same route for months at a time, but that'd be a great way to find out if any particular method is working.

Skating same route.

Skaing in and around High Point doesn't leave a great variety of choices. I try and avoid the main roads of ovious reasons. Over the last couple of years I have had to modify my routes a little to avoid road work and Some areas I have been chsed by dogs. Also If any one has a heart monitor or GPS (I have a Garim Forerunner 201) I have been using a great free program call SportsTracks. This allows you to imput your data directly from your unit into the program, then disect it 6 million ways from tomorrow. It also has a mapping features that allow you to see where you skate on a map, by the GPS track as well as tack speed, distance, and elevation. The program is mostly for runners or cyclists but works just as well skaters. You can found at: http://www.zonefivesoftware.com/SportTracks

Hope this helps.


roadskater's picture

Been Meaning to Try SportTracks

After someone recommended this to me several times I downloaded but never got to it. Then I deleted it 2 days ago to make room for some educational videos (really, I mean it). I might have to try it. So it is lots better than the Garmin Forerunner program?
Bryan's picture

So it is lots better than

So it is lots better than the Garmin Forerunner program?
But what isn’t? For all you Mac heathens out there, try Ascent.

SportTracks Blows Garmin away

You can't even compare the two. There is a whole community that has sprung up around this program, and several users have created plug-ins. Two of my favorites are a picture plug-in and a yearly view. The picture plug-in allows you to scan any directory and import photos. They are imported based on the photo time stamp, then associated with any GPS-recorded activity at that time. So, it gives you a mini photo album for each activity. The yearly view basically shows you a calendar for the whole year, with colored marks for the day you have an activity or multiple activities. Everyone should check it out.

I'm in the gym a few times a

I'm in the gym a few times a week just getting my cardio up running and using the bike. People see me there so often when races come around they offer me steroids but i turn them down i can't even take asprin or any other normal pill the last thing im doing is taking something like that.
roadskater's picture

Lean and Ready

Hey MikeB you looked lean and ready at Tour de Lions. It was a warmish day as long as we were out there and I think things would have been easier had you guys taken off sooner when my hub broke (once it was clear all was fine). You guys did great. It was a windy one too, it seemed to me. That training is paying off, MikeB, and I'm glad people are offering you steroids but that you're not taking them!

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