To describe training variations across the annual cycle in Olympic and World Champion endurance athletes, and determine whether these athletes used tapering strategies in line with recommendations in the literature.
Eleven elite XC skiers and biathletes (4 male; 28±1 yr, 85±5 mL x min(-1) x kg(-1) VO2max, 7 female, 25±4 yr, 73±3 mL x min(-1) x kg(-1) VO2max) reported one year of day-to-day training leading up to the most successful competition of their career. Training data were divided into periodization and peaking phases and distributed into training forms, intensity zones and endurance activity forms.
Athletes trained ~800 h/500 sessions x year(-1), including ~500 h x year(-1) of sport-specific training. Ninety-four percent of all training was executed as aerobic endurance training. Of this, ~90% was low intensity training (LIT, below the first lactate threshold) and 10% high intensity training (HIT, above the first lactate threshold) by time. Categorically, 23% of training sessions were characterized as HIT with primary portions executed at or above the first lactate turn point. Training volume and specificity distribution conformed to a traditional periodization model, but absolute volume of HIT remained stable across phases. However, HIT training patterns tended to become more polarized in the competition phase. Training volume, frequency and intensity remained unchanged from pre-peaking to peaking period, but there was a 32±15% (P
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