Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Make your training rides count!

All too often, I see many riders getting wrapped-up in the SAME training routine week-in and week-out.  They just go out on the same solo or group ride during the week thinking these longer semi-spirited rides til dark are money in the bank for their endurance races on the weekends.

The problem with this is: most riders will choose a group ride where they know they can hang. i.e where the pace will suit them for the duration.  Well, this may be good for the ego but it's NOT good for your training, and improving your performance, because most of the miles you log on these rides will be "junk miles".  What are "junk miles"?  These are miles you log on your bike where you're riding in the L3 Tempo Zone...that do nothing more than burn a few calories.  (These "junk" miles may be great for the off-season or during the build-phase of your annual training plan, but not for the racing season.)  On the contrary, you don't want to choose a group ride where you are dropped on the first hill climb either.  What fun is that?  What you want to choose is a group ride where you can JUST hang-in for the duration.  A ride where you are glad you're finished with little fuel left in the tank.  This type of ride will include the majority of your time in the L3/L4 Zone (or what I call the Sweet Spot Zone) with periods of Threshold and VO2max efforts..and even some brief time in the Anaerobic Capacity Zone (L6).  Very little if any time will be spent in pure L3 Zone.  You may have to look around for such a group..and you may even have to drive to the start...but it will be well-worth your time.

High intensity training is an important, or even critical, part of endurance training.  You only get faster by riding faster! The best way to increase your speed, in my opinion, is to ride with those who are much faster than you are. If you can't find a group ride, joining a weekly training crit may be the ticket here. Get out and hammer with the big boys and girls. Be forewarned, though: it can be humbling for a while, if not for a long while. But you’ll get faster for the long haul.  If you can't find such a group, and you'd rather train solo, turn a favorite local route of yours into a race.  That's right, ride it as if it was an actual race.  And, each week, see if you can better your average Normalized Power.  Notice I said, "better your average Normalized Power" and not your "average Speed"?  The last thing I want you doing is blowing stop signs and stop lights (and risking getting in an accident or causing one) so you beat your personal time.

Another bonus of this type of (hi-intensity) training is, on race day, you won’t get dropped right from the get-go when the lead pack of riders takes off like they’re doing a 40km time trial- which they usually do. You want to be able to hang with them in the first hours.  As my friend Jason aptly says: you want to "weather the storm".  I like that.  Power ON!  Coach Rob

Photo: Seth Houston on breakaway attempt.  Photo credit: Anthony Skorochod, http://www.cyclingcaptured.com/

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