training

You Gotta Have A Plan

In the 15 years or so I've spent racing full-time and in the 8 years I've worked as a coach, the month of January has always stood out as the most dynamic, and perhaps most important of the season. In normal winters I would have two weeks off at the holidays to recover from cyclo-cross season and head somewhere warm for road racing in February or March. Some years I went to Europe after 'cross nationals and raced another 6 weeks without a break. Other years I attempted to be a year-round New Englander and spent 2 months Nordic skiing before I began structured road training in March.

Intervals For Cyclo-Cross

Cyclo-Cross is hard, plain and simple. There are very few sports that require the same level of intensity from start to finish as a cyclo-cross event. If you could take the feeling of two boxers going toe-to-toe in a wild melee of punches, and then somehow make that last for an entire hour, you might get close to the sensation of a 'cross race.

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Hang On To That Form!

While it might be approaching cyclo-cross season for some of us, just as many still have a month or two of road or mountain bike racing left to their season. This late in the year it's very difficult to find the energy or motivation to train hard unless you've take an extended break in the summer. If you started your season sometime last winter there may not be any form left for you to acquire this year, and all the improvements you can make have been made. So, how then to approach the remaining events and avoid completely cracking or burning out?

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You Can Take It With You

Memorial Day is fast approaching, and that means one of the biggest weekends for bike racing in America. Whether it's the Tour of Somerville in the Northeast, or maybe Snake Alley in the Midwest, this weekend is one where many riders make what might be their first big road trip of the year.

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Treading Water

It's going to happen to all of us at some point in year. Things are going well, you're on top of your form and riding strongly, and then it starts: scratchy throat, stuffy nose, itchy eyes-- that's it, you're sick! Many riders make the mistake of overtraining (or underresting) to get themselves vulnerable in the first place, and then don't give themselves enough time to fully recover from fear of losing fitness. Both approaches are recipes for an early end to your season.

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Training While You Work

Most of my clients are not professionals. Or at least, they're not professional cyclists. The majority of people I work with are trying to be the best bike racers they can be within the context of the rest of their lives--work, school, family--they have other commitments that they might not be able to sacrifice to be a full-time bike racer. One of my biggest challenges as a coach is helping them find the balance between their professions and their personal goals on the bike.

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"Training" in Training Races

Many of you will begin racing in the next few weeks, if you haven't done so already. Unless you're somewhere warm where the early season races actually mean something, most of you will start the year with a month or so of training races to get your feet wet (often quite literally). Training races are a great way to evaluate your early season fitness, sharpen your skills for the real races coming up, and get some higher intensity, variable power training done in a mentally easier environment.

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Surviving The Trainer

If there's one thing I can't endure, it's working out indoors. For me, the enjoyment in cycling isn't just the essence of training. It's about being outside, seeing different roads and landscapes, and racing. I always prefer playing sports to "working out" so riding the windtrainer in the winter is the pinnacle of drudgery. I would rather ride outside in 33 degrees and rain than strap myself to a machine indoors.

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Training Weaknesses, Racing Strengths

It's mid-May now, and most riders are done with their base training for the first part of the season, or very close to it, and have anywhere from 1-3 months of racing under their belt. If you've had a successful build-up to the summer racing season, you should have a strong foundation of aerobic fitness, allowing you to ride with a high power at threshold for up to 60 minutes, enough endurance to finish your longest races, and the ability to recover quickly from your hard training and racing days.

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Sprinting For Success

In my last article, I described the outline of the base training period. One aspect that I intentionally left out was sprinting. Sprint workouts are a feature that can and should be part of your training year-round, and they merit an article of their own. It's an aspect that many riders neglect, or often do incorrectly if they do try to include them. Making a well-designed sprint workout part of your weekly routine is crucial for any cyclist who not only wants to increase their speed, but their strength and power as well.

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