Rob has provided two powerpoint slides of the sessions that have been covered so far this year
Some sage advice from Joe Friel (I’m sure he ripped me off here!)
Here is my training philosophy:
“An athlete should do the least amount of the most specific training that brings continual improvement.”
The idea of limiting training is a scary thought for some. Many cyclists have become so used to overtraining that it seems a normal state. These racers are no less addicted than drug users. As is the case with a drug addict, the chronically overtrained athlete is not getting any better, but still can’t convince himself or herself to change.
Read the philosophy statement again. Notice that it doesn’t say “train with the least amount of miles.” Another way of stating it might be “use your training time wisely.” For those of us with full-time jobs, spouses, children, a home to maintain and other responsibilities, using training time wisely is more than a philosophy–it’s a necessity.
To help you better understand this philosophy I’d like to explain it using the Ten Commandments of Training. By incorporating each of these guidelines into your thinking and training, you’ll be following this philosophy and getting a better return on your time invested. Your results will also improve regardless of your age or experience.
I – TRAIN MODERATELY
Your body has limits when it comes to endurance, speed and strength. Don’t try too often to find them. Instead, train within those limits most of the time. Finish most workouts feeling like you could have done more. It may mean stopping a session earlier than planned. That’s OK. Do not always try to finish exhausted.
The biggest mistake of most athletes is making their easy days too hard, so when it comes time for a hard training day, they’re unable to go hard enough. This leads to mediocre fitness and performance. The higher your fitness level, the greater the difference between the intensities of hard and easy days.
Many cyclists also think that pushing hard all the time will make them tough. They believe that willpower and strength of character can overcome nature and speed up their body’s cellular changes. Don’t try it–more hard training is seldom the answer. An organism adapts best when stresses are slightly increased. That’s why you’ve often heard the admonition to increase training volume by no more than 10 percent from week to week. Even this may be too high for some.
By progressing carefully, especially with intensity, you’ll gradually get stronger and there will be time and energy for other pursuits in life. An athlete who enjoys training will get far more benefits from it than one who is always on the edge of overtraining. When in doubt -– leave it out.
II – TRAIN CONSISTENTLY
The human body thrives on routine. Develop a training pattern that stays mostly the same from week to week — regular activity brings positive change. This does not mean do the same workout every day, week after week. Variety also promotes growth. Later in this book you’ll see that there are actually slight changes being made throughout the training year. Some of the changes are seemingly minor. You may not even be aware of them, as when an extra hour is added to the training week during the basebuilding period.
Breaks in consistency usually result from not following the Moderation Commandment. Overdoing a workout or week of training is likely to cause excessive fatigue, illness, burnout or injury. Fitness is not stagnant–you’re either getting better or getting worse all the time. Frequently missing workouts mean a loss of fitness. This doesn’t mean, however, you should work out when ill. There are times when breaks are necessary.
III – GET ADEQUATE REST
It’s during rest that the body adapt to the stresses of training and grows stronger. Without rest there’s no improvement. As the stress of training increases, the need for rest also accumulates. Most cyclists pay lip service to this Commandment; they understand it intellectually, but not emotionally. It is the most widely violated guideline. You will not improve without adequate rest. Most athletes need seven to 10 hours of sleep daily. Professionals, with few other demands on their time than training, usually include naps to get their daily dose. The rest of us need to get to bed early every night. The younger you are, the more rest you need. Junior riders should be sleeping nine to 10 hours daily.
IV – TRAIN WITH A PLAN
This is fundamental to improvement in almost any endeavor of life, yet few selftrained athletes do it. Sometimes I find riders who use a sound plan from a magazine, but as soon as a new issue comes out, they abandon the old plan and take up a new one. Most people will improve if they follow a plan–any plan. It can be of poor design, yet still work. Just don’t change it.
V –TRAIN WITH GROUPS INFREQUENTLY
There’s a real advantage to working out with others — sometimes. Pack riding develops handling skills, provides experience with race dynamics, and makes the time go faster. But all too often, the group will cause you to ride fast when you would be best served by a slow, easy recovery ride. At other times, you’ll need to go longer or shorter than what the group decides to ride. Group workouts too often degenerate into unstructured races at the most inopportune times.
For the winter base-building period, find a group that rides at a comfortable pace. During the spring intensity-building period, ride with a group that will challenge you to ride fast, just as when racing. Smart and structured group rides are hard to find. You may need to create your own. Stay away from big packs that take over the road and are unsafe. You want to get faster, not get killed.
Use groups when they can help you. Otherwise, avoid them.
VI – PLAN TO PEAK
Your season plan should bring you to your peak for the most important events. I call these “A” races. The “B” races are important too, but you won’t taper and peak for these, just rest for three to four days before. “C” races are tune-ups to get you ready for the A’s and B’s. A smart rider will use these low-priority races for experience, or to practice pacing, or as a time trial
Last night I was fortunate to be a guest at the Action Medical Research “Champions of Cycling” Charity Gala at the Emirates Stadium. Even better was that I had a seat next to British and Olympic Champion Geraint Thomas. Inevitably our conversation was about cycling and coaching in particular. Geraint gave me an insight into the training of a top Tour de France rider and what is apparent is that long gone are the days when riders hung up their wheels for the winter and started training in January from a totally de-trained state.
Many of the newer members of the Club have come on in great strides over the course of the year, and I’m sure want to build on this base. For the more experienced riders we all want to achieve our best. Those riders who use me as a personal coach will know that I’m a strong advocate of “periodisation”, that is I believe that a rider should divide his year into different periods in which the focus of his training is very specific to the goal of being at peak form for a particular event. Since peak form can only be maintained for a few weeks or so, careful consideration needs to be taken to build to the peak and then hold on to it for as long as possible.
Each period of the year is called a “mesocycle” and will last from three to six weeks; each of these mesocycles will have a particular focus, for example improving aerobic capacity or power.
For most road, time trial and sportive riders, it’s around about this time of year when they ought to be beginning some base training. The aim of this period of six weeks or so should be to improve the body’s aerobic capacity, which is how efficiently the cardiovascular system can supply the working muscles with oxygen. By focusing on aerobic fitness the body will have a good foundation on which to build specific fitness later in the training programme, and of course the stronger the foundation the bigger and better the building, in this case you should be able to get fitter and maintain your fitness longer. To achieve this it is best to have a relatively high volume of training whilst not riding at too high an intensity, ideally a heart rate of 65-75% of you maximum.
Remember that recovery is equally important to have sufficient recovery from your training. As a rule of thumb I’d advise an easy day every third day and an easy week every fourth week to enable the body to adapt and recuperate from the training.
Next week, the annual plan.