Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Train with Consistency

By now, most of you (racers) should have built a good base on which to develop higher intensity training; the same intensity that's required to be competitive during your races.  You should have also had at least one race under your belt too.  That race, regardless of the result, should help you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.  Train your weaknesses and race your strengths.

Training hard, at higher intensity, will stress your body physically to new highs.  Just as important as the hi-intensity training is the recovery period.  During the recovery period is when your body will adapt and get it's IMPERATIVE that you train hard and rest afterwards.  This training cycle is what's called adaptation or super-compensation (see my former blogs on supercompensation).  It's this training effect that will make you ride stronger, faster and longer.  It's a physiological adaptation.  The older you are the more rest you'll need.

But, what I even think is MORE important in your training is your "consistency".  You can't ride hard one week then take off on vacation another week- completely off the bike.  Otherwise, your body will think that your "hard" week was just an aberration of sorts and maintain its current fitness level.  That's why some racers seem to plateau.  On the contrary, you can't keep going hard EVERY week or you risk over-reaching or burnout.  So, there's a balance that's required.  That's why some racers utilize a four-week training block of 3 weeks on and 1 week off...even during the racing season.  Except, the off-week doesn't mean "off the bike" it just means an easier lower volume week.  You still want to throw in some short hi-intensity workouts and spirited solo or group rides.  For your big 'A' event..don't forget to taper so you are fresh for the race.

Ok, so how do you keep this balance and be consistent?  For me, I try to enter a practice race at least once per week.  Since I live out of a suitcase during the week for business, I enter a practice race on Tuesday Nights in Southern MD.  (I drive so it's easy to take my bike.  If you fly, rent a bike..I've done it)  Some weeks I'll go out with the 'A' guys, the Cat 2/3s and just try to hang on.  Other weeks I'll go out with the 'B' guys, the Cat 4/5s, and try to win the race.  There are plenty of them just have to look.  For you Philly area racers, there is Greater Valley races on Thursday night.  That race has it all: Cat 1-5s. The practice race will allow you to try things like: breaking away (if you're strong enough), sitting-in more and conserving for the final sprint, moving through the pack, practicing cornering skills, accelerations, etc. all at HIGH race-pace intensity.  The following day is a rest/recovery day- OFF the bike.  Heck if you ride/race hard, you won't want to ride the next day.  After the rest day, if I'm not entered in a race, I try to find a fast group ride with better/faster/stronger riders.  Don't worry about being dropped or hanging on.  It's all about the high intensity training..nothing more.  Leave your ego at home before you ride.  For some of you, finding a fast group ride that challenges you may be a difficult task.  So, you may have to drive an hour after work to find such a group..but they're out there. 

This is what a consistent, high intensity week might look like:
Monday: Tempo/fun ride
Tuesday: Practice Race or Fast Group ride
Wednesday: Rest/Recovery ride
Thursday: Practice Race or Fast Group ride
Friday: Pre-race Workout (no more than 1 hr.)
Saturday: Race Day
Sunday: Day OFF (go to church, spend time with the family, go fishing, relax read a book, etc.)

If you can't make a Practice Race or Fast Group ride during the week, I like to fit-in my Anaerobic Capacity Workouts with 15 or 30sec sprint intervals.  You can do them on your trainer or find a 1/4 mile hill (with an 8-10% grade) in a residential neighborhood.  One hour is all you need..including rest intervals.  I like the latter since I'm tired of looking at my trainer.  Besides, there is no substitute for training on the road..cause that's where you race..not in your basement on a trainer.  For me, I increase my FTP at least 20w from April to June with this training/racing schedule...and I'm an old fart.  You may see higher increases.

The other thing you MUST keep in mind when training is to ensure your training is "race specific".  If you're a Crit racer, a long 3-4 hr. ride is NOT going to help you as much as a shorter hi-intensity ride (1-2 hrs.) that includes sprint intervals.  For you road racers that go on group rides, target the hills if you can..because you WILL see them in a race and you want to be prepared for them.  Hit em hard and hit em often.  Actually, you want to look forward to them in a race...not dread them.  Every training session should have a purpose.

For the athletes I coach (and race), I'm done coaching for the year at the end of this month.  Why?  Because I'm just too busy with work, vacation, my own training, training camps, racing, fishing, photography, spending time with the family, etc.  I don't want to cheat you the time in preparing your weekly training schedule. Besides, it's racing season now..and that's how you'll be training and getting racing.  I'll be checking in with you to see how you're progressing.  Just keep it going.  The key is consistency!  Good luck, ride/race safe...and have fun.  Power ON! Coach Rob

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