It's Ground Hog day in a couple days. Wonder what Punxsutawney Phil will predict for 2018? Legend has it, if Phil sees his shadow and returns to his hole, there will be six more weeks of Winter-like weather. If he doesn't see his shadow, we'll have an early spring. Regardless of what Phil predicts, will you be ready for your first early Spring ride/race in March or early April? If you just started training, I hope you're not planning on peaking until mid-May..because that's about how long it will take. For those of you that started training the end of December or beginning of January, you're in better shape.
So, how do you prep for your first ride/race? Do you do any indoor interval workouts? Are they High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) indoor workouts? Are your rides long Tempo rides outdoors on the weekend?
Here's how I approach my first ride/race. Since my first Gran Fondo type ride (I don't race anymore) is April 7, I count back from that day to today's date. This tells me how much time I have left to train. So, I have 67 days or a little over 9 weeks of training left. The ride is an 80 mile ride with 6000' of climbing. So, it's going to be a hilly ride. And, since I anticipate riding at an average speed of 16 mph (including rest stops for something to eat/drink and to go to the bathroom), that means I'm going to be 5 hrs. in the saddle. That's a long ride for early Spring since it's hard to get long rides in over the Winter. (Normally, I don't do any century rides until Summer.) Then, I look at the elevation profile of the ride (see below):
It looks like there are 13 distinct climbs over 200 ft. of elevation gain each. And, the percent grade on some of the climbs is close to 15% (which is pretty steep). The good thing is that most are short climbs between 1-2 miles long (which should only take 3-5 minutes to climb). Those climbs will be in the L4/L5 power ranges which is Threshold/VO2max. You'll need to generate that much power on 15% grades just to climb at 6-8 mph. It looks like there's at least 5 minutes in-between climbs too, even though it looks like it's one climb after another on the elevation profile. So, right away I'm thinking L4/L5 intervals with 5-10 minutes of rest in-between intervals. In weeks 1-2 of training I'm looking at two interval workouts during the week: 1) a sweet spot interval workout like 2x10s or 2x12s and 2) an L4/L5 interval workout like 4x3 or 5x3. On the weekends I'm going to ride a minimum 2 hr. Tempo ride with plenty of hills. In weeks 3-4, I'm going to do the same interval workouts: a sweetspot and an L4/L5 workout. This time I'm going to increase the duration to say a 2x15 sweetspot workout and a 7x3 L4/L5 workout. And, I'll up my time in the saddle on the weekend Tempo ride from 2 hrs. to 2.5 hrs. In weeks 5-6 I'll continue to increase the progression of all workouts. I'll do this up to the 7th week. Then, I'll decrease the duration and increase the intensity of the interval workouts. Here's where I'll start the HIIT intervals (add some Tabata intervals). Week 8 is sort of a taper of the volume (time)..where I'm not going very hard either. I'm just going to maintain my fitness and form and be ready for the ride in week 9. There it is, easy peasy. You can follow the same training protocol if your 'ride' is a 'race' instead. My rides like this are not beach cruiser rides. I ride hard trying to maintain a specific average speed or power. Not sure what my goal will be for this ride yet. I'll make that determination the closer I get to the ride. Good Luck with your training.
Power ON! Coach Rob