As an overview, here are the phases we will work through during our season:
I'd like to bring to your attention the different phases of training we utilize during a year-long training progression. While we could make this conversation quite in-depth I'd like to keep it simple to run home some important principles, but not overcomplicate things.
There are 4 Phases we are going to utilize to break up your yearly training.
The winter training (what we are accomplishing now) in the so called "off-season" is also known as Base training. This is the time when you build a large amount of endurance in preparation for the upcoming riding season. You can think of this phase as the foundation for the house you are going to build throughout the season. This also includes pedaling skills and strength training. During that program we work through each of our energy systems (See them below in the Week 1 discussion) in a methodical way to prepare your body for some tough training come race prep time. We'll start at low intensity, with longer duration rides and work our way into the more intense energy systems, even to sprint sessions.
The next phase is called Race Prep. This is a phase that will prepare you for your specific planned races during the season. The duration of race prep depends on the length of your race. Short, intense racing usually requires shorter, more intense prep, and longer endurance races a longer prep. This can last anywhere from 6 weeks to several months depending on your event. Because our race season starts approximately 8 weeks after the onset of our season we will plan on a 7 week prep for our first race.
The last phase leading up to any event is going to be your taper, where you give your body a rest in preparation for the big event. You want to come in fresh with strong legs and little fatigue. You are basically absorbing all the preparation you've done to this point in order to perform in the race. This can be anywhere from 1-2 weeks. We'll plan on 1 week in our preparations.
The last phase in our program is called recovery. This is where you body and mind get a brief break from training as a chance to recharge. This will typically be right after a race for a few days to a week, and a couple of weeks in the late fall, after you finish your riding season.
It's important to realize that you can't train at 100% effort all of the time. You might see some short term fitness gains, but in the long run your body would wear out and you would likely see illness and injury. This is why we break down our larger phases (listed above) into smaller, manageable blocks. We do a few weeks of hard work with gradually increasing load then follow those weeks with a recovery week so we can absorb all that fitness we have accumulated. Many of you have heard the phrase "train hard, recover harder." This emphasizes the importance of training in cycles and resting appropriately to make all that hard work pay off.
Periodization can come in many formulas. A very popular method is 3 weeks training, 1 week recovery. Some people require more recovery, some less, depending on the athlete. For our program you'll notice that we follow this formula with 3 tough weeks of training with increasing load, followed by a recovery week.
***Please take your recovery seriously, it's frequently the difference between those who burn out and those who excel. We'll talk more about recovery and what that really means next week.***
If you want to learn more about periodization, phases or training, or just about anything else regarding endurance sports, check out the training articles on this link: TrainingPeaks.com. There is a plethora of information to help you out. Great resource!
How to measure your training: Heart Rate and Power
So now that you are all familiar with training zones and have them memorized (yeah, there’ll be a test later) we need to know how to measure each zone accurately, based on your effort. This can be done using 2 different tools; heart rate and power. The most economical of the two is definitely tracking heart rate. The most accurate way to measure is with a power meter that actually tells you how many Watts of power you are producing. Lets stick with heart rate for our discussion...
Heart rate monitors are readily available, affordable, and used by most endurance athletes. The more popular cycling brands are going to be Wahoo or Garmin. Either will work great and It’s best if you can pair them with a cycling computer to track your heart rate while you ride. Some smart watches also sync with these heart rate monitors.
Ok, now that you bought your heart rate monitor and have it synced with your head unit (your cycling computer) you are ready to track your efforts during each prescribed interval in the ride. If you notice, each of the sections of the intervals has an associated ‘zone’ listed. Check out how this works below:
1. Recovery <50-60% max HR (heart rate)
2. Endurance 60-70% max HR
3. Tempo 70-80% max HR
4. Lactate 80-90% max HR
5. VO2 90-100% max HR
6. Sprint 100% max HR
All right, now we we need to figure out your maximum heart rate. Some common equations that people use are 211-age= max HR, or 211-0.64(age)= max HR. These are simple, but not terribly accurate since each person is build a little differently.
Here's a simple exercise you can do to figure out your maximum HR:
Find a long steady hill, or set up on your trainer.
After a 15-minute warm-up, complete the following:
1. Start off at a quick pace, increasing your speed every minute.
2. For about five minutes, stay seated.
3. When you can’t go any faster while sitting, get out of the saddle and sprint as hard as you can for 15 seconds.
4. Immediately take your heart rate, and you’ll have your max heart rate.
This may hurt a little, but it is very important to know your maximum heart rate if you want to set up your training zones correctly. Enjoy. Embrace the suffering.
I would highly recommend you calculate your heart rate for each zone listed above and write them down. Have them somewhere handy during your trainer workouts so you can pace yourself appropriately during each interval session (like taped to the wall in front of you).
What is Aerobic conditioning and why does it matter? As cyclists, aerobic conditioning is our primary goal. Better aerobic fitness = faster cycling = more fun on 2 wheels. Right? Lets break this down to learn why we train certain ways for certain events or goals. Here we go...
Aerobic conditioning, in is simplest form, has 2 components:
1. How fast can we go?
2.How do we maintain speed for longer durations of time?
All serious cyclists will train to maximize both of these components, but the fine-tuned focus of your training will be based on your end goal and what type of cyclist you want to become. Are you a track sprinter who cycles for a few minutes at a very high speed or an ultra-endurance cyclist who needs to ride for hours or days on end? Each type of cyclist will train for a different focus, but touch on multiple training zones to become aerobically fit.
In order to explain how we train across the spectrum of cycling focuses we need to talk about 6 different energy systems, or zones.
Energy System (zones): Duration (how long you can ride at this effort):
Peak Power (Sprint) <30 seconds
Anaerobic Power 1-4 minutes
Vo2 Max 8-16 minutes
Lactate Threshold 30-60 minutes
Tempo 2-4 hours
Endurance >4 hours
Training all six of these ‘zones’ of intensity is critical for all cyclists. Balancing the amount, and at what point in the training year, each energy system is emphasized makes up an effective training program.
During our 24 week program we are going to move you through each of these energy systems during your Cycling Trainer/Indoor workouts. The goal in doing so will be to make you a well-rounded cyclist by the time your season hits. Once the season starts we can start you into a race specific progression that will make you super fast and give you super endurance in just the right combination to peak for your races.
Please keep these 6 zones in mind, as we will refer to them in future posts. Mui importante!!
Stay tuned for week 2 tips where we will talk about training by heart rate and power and help you set up your individual training zones (yep, each of these zones can be identified and tracked by how fast your ticker is pumping).
We are going to cover 6 different important areas over the 6 months to make you a lightning fast cycling and overall awesome and durable athlete.
If you are reading this you are likely interested in off-season training. Hopefully you are preparing to start our program next week on Jan the 11th. Here are a few tips that will help you succeed while training thru the winter, indoors. Read on...
Riding indoors can be miserable if you don't have the right setup. There are many ways to set up for success, but here is what I recommend.
Indoor cycling/Pain Cave Setup must-haves:
Strength training must-haves:
This is where you will find your weekly tips to becoming a stronger, faster cyclist. We'll help you succeed in your physical and mental fitness to not only become a great cyclist, but a healthy, strong human.
This is a guide for racers and people who like to be generally active. Please take the time to read it! This knowledge could mean the difference between having a great race and performing your best and completely bonking!! Nobody likes to bonk!