CYCLING PERFORMANCE TIPS
My approach to your training is based on the belief (supported by many papers in the sports physiology literature) that every person is unique in their response to exercise. For example, none of us will react exactly the same to the same to a 3-hour hammer ride on Saturday. For some the ride will be nothing but a stroll, while for others it could be a near death experience. And how each person recovers from this ride will shape the development of the rest of their training program . The bottom line: You must take the time to learn what works best for you and how your body reacts to the conditions of training or a heavy exercise programs.
As you think about designing your own training program, take a few minutes to answer the following questions:
Each of these 4 week blocks are designed within 3 training season periods - which cover the training year (Pre Season, In-Season and Post Season). These three periods form the training base for year 1, which is critical for the development of year 2 and so on. On the micro level you can even focus on special aspects or subunits of training (we'll call them mini-blocks) within each 4 week training block. It is in these mini-blocks that your answers to the 2 questions posed above will help to tailor a program specific to your goals.
Now that you understand the jargon relating to blocks, periods, and mini-blocks we can talk about designing your own plan to get the most from your training time.
DESIGNING A TRAINING PROGRAM
From time to time Ill reference Dale Knapp as an example of what to do and what not to do. Dale started riding his bike for fun and to improve his fitness about 7 years ago. During this time he has gone from local guy to local hero, on to a national competitor, and finally to one of the top 20 MTB pros at the world championship level (23rd place) as a Cyclocross racer. Dale is a great example as he was a regular guy with a normal job and monthly financial needs (rent), which makes this training program much more tangible to the average rider. The key to his success was finding the training which worked best for him and then applying it.
Developing your own program does require some trial and error along with a good dose of patience. These programs work best if you are honest with yourself and adjust your training accordingly. Early on Dale was under the impression that the best way to train was at 100% all the time. He quickly found out this was only a short-term fix. His form was good for a short while, but before you knew it overtraining set in his legs, mind and body were toast - and it was only May.
To avoid these pitfalls one must schedule and adhere to rest as an essential part of the training program. Rest is the most important part of training. Without rest you cannot recover, and without recovery you will never close the distance between you and the next guy. So Dale learned how to rest and his results became more consistent. He knew when to expect good days and bad days.
Rest means different things to different people. For most it is either no riding or very little activity. For others it may consist of 60-90 minutes of riding in the little ring with low Heart Rates, (which is what I recommend). Assuming you have a "normal" week with Saturday and Sundays as your long ride or race days, Mondays will be your rest days (you earned them and should enjoy them.) However, if you find that on Tuesdays you are still tired then Tuesday should also be a light day. This makes Weds/Thurs hard days and Friday is again light. The only person that can determine the best schedule for you is you. Some people will alternate every other day easy/hard. You will have to experiment to see what works best. With this in mind you can now set-up a weekly program based on how you need to rest and when you can go hard.
Every fourth week is set aside as a recovery week. The prior weeks (1 to 3) increase progressively in intensity which means longer intervals, more mileage, and more Anaerobic Threshold work. So by the time the 3rd week is over you are ready to just go out for some spins during the week with the normal races/rides on the weekends. These rest weeks are critical and need to be included in your planning for the main events of the season. Some riders, like Dale, feel better after they have resumed their training cycle rather than right out of the rest week. Again this is something that your legs and lungs will tell you if you listen.
In the following weeks I will be adding additional links to provide more detail and suggestions for the training periods described earlier. These will include examples of the different types of rides that might be included in each period as well as specific goals for blocks within those periods. But remember, the underlying keys to your success are you and your flexibility in approaching your own clearly identified goals.