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The best way to train is by going as hard as you can on every ride you do, right? Even though we’re in the age of HR, power monitoring and training periodization, it remains difficult for many to understand what smart training really means. People think that periodization is great for people who have time to burn, but for those under time restraints the way to get the best bang for your buck is by going hard every chance they get. This type of training results in a sickness called “Hammer Head Syndrome”
• Are you exceedingly proud of the average speeds of your rides and do you gauge your training progress by the improvement of your average speed from one ride to another?
• Do you find group rides fairly easy, but in a race you can’t seem to bridge to the winning move, keep with the final acceleration or stay with the group over the steepest part of the climb?
• Do you pride yourself on the fact that no rider has ever passed you on a training ride, even on your recovery days?
• Do you find it impossible to imagine that riding at 130 bpm could possibly be anything other than a waste of time?
• Do you have a maximum heart rate of 185, yet you haven’t seen it go above 170 since the season began?
If you answered yes some of these questions, you might be suffering from Hammer Head Syndrome.
Intensity on every ride with no recovery can result in a endless plateau of middle of the road fitness. Although there is a time and a place for zone 3 (over 85% HR), generally it is not considered hard enough to cause a desired physical adaptation. At the same time, it is too hard to allow for proper recovery. Therefore, you don’t want to be spending the majority of your time there. There’s an old adage that says when you go fast, you should be going REALLY FAST. When you’re going slow, you should be going REALLY SLOW.
Simply put – learn how to ride harder on the hard days, and take time to ride slow and steady on the recovery days.