EPS operates year round on the basis that if you are not training you are de-training so instead of entering each new year at a slightly higher level you enter it at the same, or lower, level as the previous year. If you do that it's impractical to expect you will reach a higher level by the end of the year - something many athletes and triathletes are apt to do.
In Australia the season normally begins in late April (southern states), late May (northern states) and October (Australian Northern Territory).
The periodised Sprint and Olympic programmes begin with a two week rest immediately following the last race and then move on as follows:
Recovery & Transition: 6 weeks.
General Preparation: 14 weeks.
Specific preparation: 12 weeks.
Pre-Competition: 6 weeks.
Competition: 12 weeks.
The Ironman/Ironwoman programs are built around a 13 week Specific Preparation period. This specific preparation period assumes the athlete is already fit - new athletes need to allow an extra period of at least 6 weeks for basic speed and low end aerobic endurance.
Unlike the vast number of programs that either schedule no recovery weeks or work on a three or four to one week cycle EPS programs are based around the concept of two weeks hard followed by a one week recovery.
There are three major reasons for adopting this protocol:
Over more than 30 years of coaching athletes from beginners to elites Tony Benson has found very few athletes who are mentally, physically and psychologically capable of sustaining high volumes and/or intensities for more than two weeks unless they are full time athletes who have adequate time to rest.
Scheduling a week 'off' allows the opportunity for testing, which in turn provides information about the athlete's state of well being and allows the coach to adjust the intensity of the program long before any 'over-training' can occur.
The one week off allows the coach to include some 'fun' workouts that have a competition like effect. This in turn keeps the athlete in touch with the requirements of competition on a year round basis, which in turn, means the length and intensity of the Pre-competition period can be reduced.