Training: Training with the Seasons

Training can be a rather confusing topic..when to do what and why is often a question I get asked.

In the 12 plus years I have had my business working with chronic pain and exercise therapy, I have seen more injury, exhaustion and immune dysfunction come from over training coupled with stress then almost anything else. If you want to be a healthy human be smart about your training. Know what you want out of each workout and why. (In up coming articles I will go into using tools to measure your progress and examples of training programs you can use).

It is easy to forget how connected we are to the earth’s cycles. We no longer hunt and gather in this Western culture so the purpose for exercising gets lost in the volumes of magazine articles telling you what the latest greatest way to exercise is.

For the sake of this article I will talk about the Northern hemisphere. Speaking of which, skiing and winter sports are a big part of life for many of us but I am stressing in this article that no matter when the bulk of your activity is the bottom line is, we all need rest, relaxation and recovery periods between activities.

It is natural to feel like slowing down as the days get shorter and the temperatures get cooler.

Then as the days become longer you will notice people are more active. Spring training starts for professional sports, etc. Summer tends to be full of more activity with the days longer and temperatures warmer.

Training with the Seasons:

Living North of the tropic of Cancer (23.5N) our day light hours decrease and increase with the seasons more then they do South of 23.5N. November hits and most of us want to sleep, eat and rest more. It is simply a cozy time of year, compared to when the days become longer and longer and an increase in activity levels follow naturally. The fall is a sort of respite from the high levels of activity that most of us start doing in spring and continue through the summer.

In this article I am going to talk about how to use the changes in season to train more effectively.

Late fall and winter are really good times to do what is called long slow steady training sessions, along with some changes in nutrition. This is also a good time to include more strength training then in months where physical exertion may be longer and more intense. Flexibility and alignment should always be part of your routines to increase function and stay injury free.

Depending on the sport or activity you are involved in, your training schedule will vary. In general here is a basic layout of training over a year.

BASE Period: January – March

BUILD Period: April – May

PEAK Period: June – September

TRANSITION Period: October – December

Keep in mind that how long and when each of these periods occur throughout the year is purely a function of the goals of a specific person or athlete.  This is a generalized approach I have found to be suitable for most sports. IE: cycling, rowing, paddling, running, etc. Skiing and winter sports will have a slightly different emphasis but one can use this idea for any sport anywhere in the world.

Winter Training (Base Period)

Long, slow, and steady has been a mantra to most high-level athletes such as national and international cycling teams for many years. They simply go out for rides at low enough heart rates that they are able to carry on conversations.

For about 4 to 8 weeks of training during winter months I highly recommend metabolic efficiency training. Learning and implementing this way of training paired with your nutrition will help your body become a very efficient fat burner as well as simply be healthier overall. Sunny Blende, sports nutritionist and ultra marathoner as well as a very important mentor to me has written the following article:


Spring Training (Build Period)

Spring brings on longer daylight hours and people naturally begin to increase activity levels. Spring is a great time to start including more interval and sprint l training. As a general rule of thumb when intensity increases duration should decrease. This does not mean you drop long training sessions, it just means you need to be very mindful in planning your training sessions as intensity increases.

For example:

Monday: Interval train

Tuesday: Recovery day

Wednesday: Long slow training

Thursday: Strength and flexibility

Friday: Interval Training

Saturday: Long slow training

Sunday Recovery Day

(This of course is a general idea of one of many plans)

Summer Training (Peak)

Whether you have a number of races scheduled or you have a specific adventure or trip you want to do, this is the time you train specifically for an event or activity.

For example say you have a stand up paddle race a month from now. The first race day is a short sprint type race and the second race day is a long distance race (10 to 14 miles). Ideally starting one month before you will be most successful if you per-iodize your training up to the race. Here is an example of prep for Race the Lake of the Sky: Please keep in mind that this program layout is assuming you have been paddling enough to be able to train this much. You can switch around training days and include more recovery if needed. You can also use this plan for funning, cycling, rowing, etc.


When planning out a training program it is really helpful to have a goal. Many of you reading this will be racing in SUP, running, cycling or triathlon. For each of your races you want to plan training specifically for the type of event. Take into consideration the terrain, weather and conditions (ie high altitude, cold, hot, windy, etc), your health, what you want to accomplish (ie just finishing and feeling great, having fun, placing well), and plan in recovery time between races, events, and any activities. Remember above all that if you are experiencing higher then normal stress levels you will need more rest and recovery then when things are humming along stress free. In future articles I will address specific training for women and men. (A small snippet is that women usually need more recovery then men due to lower levels of testosterone).

Train smart and have fun!