The Importance Of A Training Plan
Over the winter my training has completely fallen off. All I’ve been doing is riding, not training. I need to do this once in a while in order to relax and refresh, however I’ve been riding inconsistently, picked up some some bad habits, and haven’t achieved any decent results this winter.
When I say “training”, I mean sitting down and figuring out what your goals are, working backwards to determine the timing of the different training blocks, detailing your workouts before you’ve even begun, and carrying it through. When you plan your training this way you’ll be able to see things from a 30,000ft view with some objectivity before you’re fully immersed in it. This is much different than saying to yourself “Okay, I’m going to ride hard on Tuesday and Thursday, and do a long ride on Saturday, then race on Sunday.” This is what I’ve been doing for the past few months. If I keep down this track I’ll just continue to be packfill. Some talented cyclists can get away with this (damn you!), but I can’t.
I’ve written a fair amount about training on this blog but I never get too specific because everyone is at different stages of their fitness, has different goals, and has different strengths and weaknesses. It’s a difficult topic to both generalise and actually give out useful information at the same time.
It’s impossible to properly prescribe the same training program to everyone, but over the next 12 weeks I’m going to give you an insight to my training program. I’ll explain what each training block and each workout is all about. You can adapt this to your goals and timeframe as you see fit. I think the best way to approach this topic is by simply giving an example of what a training plan actually looks like so we can go through the whole process.
A goal of mine is to do fairly well at the Tour of Bright and Scotty’s Race. They are my favorite races on the calendar and they’re only 12 weeks away (first and second weeks in Dec). This is the perfect amount of time to build up through the various training blocks and plan to hit peak form. Every race in-between now and then will be part of the process, not aiming for results.
I’ve heard lots of people write-off training plans as hogwash and simply say “all you gotta do is ride your bike hard and you’ll get results.” Well this will probably get you fit, but a few things I can almost guarantee will happen:
1. You will quickly plateau if you don’t understand the progression of periodized training.
2. You will probably time your performances incorrectly. You’ll hit “peak form” without even knowing it at a time where there’s not even an event close by. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see happen all the time .
3. You will try to hold onto “peak form” for too long and your performance will begin to diminish. Often you’ll get caught in the trap of riding more to regain your fitness, when what you really need is to take a step back and rest. Many cyclists are mistaken by the notion that you get to peak form and stay there. It doesn’t work like this.
A training plan will help you time your form properly, avoid overtraining, and help you reach past those plateaus. Most of all, a proper training plan will motivate you to wake up in the morning with a goal in mind and understand exactly what that ride is achieving.
Previous Training Posts
Here are some links to previous posts that will serve as background to what I’ll be writing about once a week for the next 12 weeks. Please note that I’m not a certified coach. However I have experienced the training process many times through various coaches and have a good idea of what’s involved to reach better form for the events that matter (while holding down a family, job, hobbies, etc) at an amateur level. If you want to go through the process yourself the best thing to do is go out and hire a coach and hold off buying that new set of wheels. The knowledge you gain and the results you’ll get will pay off a thousand times over.
A great blog to read about different training techniques and strategies is Training4Cyclists.com. The best book I’ve read on the subject of training for cyclists is Joe Friel’s “They Cyclists Training Bible”.
Of course, if you’re not interested in training and just want to ride for the enjoyment of being outside on your bike, that’s completely fine too!