Monday, March 21, 2011

Assessing your Winter Training Program?

The warm mid 70 degree temps last Friday should tell you that Spring/Summer is near.  In fact, today is the first day of Spring..yeah.  Too bad it doesn't feel that way...especially if you woke up to the brief sleet/snow shower like I did this morning.  Regardless, Spring is here..and Summer is right around the corner..and that means..RACE SEASON is ON!  If you're not eyeing up your first should be.  Because, regardless of how well (or hard) you trained this Winter the tell-tale sign of a good/successful Winter Training Program is your first race result.  If you already raced, how did you do?  Did you place well?  Did you get dropped?  How was your endurance?  How was your power?  How was your speed/accelerations?  Your first race is a good time to assess your strengths and weaknesses.  You want to continue working on your weaknesses.  If you're like most racers..your power will be adequate but your speed and endurance will be lacking.  That's ok.  The endurance will come when the weather gets nicer and there is more daylight to train after work and you get those longer rides in on the weekend.  And, if you have a good training should be starting to work on developing your Anaerobic Capacity (AC)..that is your sprint speed, accelerations and power.   For AC work, I like to find a hill in a residential neighborhood that is approximately a 1/4 mile long with an 8% grade.  I like to do my 30s intervals on the hill and use the remaining 3/4 mile of a loop to recover.  For increasing my Power, I like to find a longer hill that will take me approximately 3-5 minutes long to climb.  I do hill repeats until I can no longer maintain my VO2max power.  Each week, or other week, I like to see if I can add one more climb.  On theweekends, I like to get a "hilly" 3-4 hr. ride in..and include some sprints along the way.

If one of your goals was to lose weight over the Winter (like mine), you should be nearing that goal.  You do NOT want to be losing weight during the racing season...because usually with that weight're going to lose some power. I already observed that this Winter.  I lost 11 lbs. from November and dipped below the 170 lb. mark for the first time since High School.  Yes, High School.  I feel much better..especially climbing.  But, I do know I lost some of my power..which is evident by my last FTP test.  However, I didn't lose much..maybe 5-10 watts or so.  That is an acceptable trade-off in my opinion..especially since a 12 lb. weight loss equates to nearly a 10% power gain when climbing.  That is, if I required 300 watts to climb a given hill in 3's only going to take 270 watts to climb the same hill in 3 minutes.  So, the net effect is about a 20-25 watt power increase over last year.  I can already tell I'm climbing better than I did last year.  I don't feel like I'm as gassed after reaching the top of familiar climbs. 

So, get out there and race.  If you don't race, join a fast group ride.  Who cares if you think you are ready or not.  Don't worry about your placing or getting dropped in a race or group ride.  Just use the race/ride to assess your Winter Training Program.  Start working on your weaknesses BEFORE your 'A' priority races.  There's a long warm/hot summer ahead of us with plenty of time to get stronger/faster.  Your training should also start mirroring your races and becoming more "race specific".  That is, if you're signing up for a Crit...start working on your sprint/acceleration training.  If you're signing up for a longer Road Race..make sure you get out on the longer rides on the weekend and upping the pace/effort. 

Good Luck this year!  Power ON! Rob

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