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Just over a month ago I began my journey back to fitness. I had a few months with next to no exercise, was feeling sluggish and overweight, and something needed to be done before it all slipped away from me. Reviving my aerobic base was the first order of importance. I was able to get in about 13-15hrs of training a week which was about 85% of what I was shooting for. This was the most difficult part of the process simply because it was all about time on the bike. Now the fun begins…
Greg LeMond is always quoted, “It never gets easier, you just go faster.” I get the sentiment, but I don’t completely agree. When you’re out of shape everything is laborious. Your lungs burn, your muscles and joints ache, and it’s a chore just to turn the pedals over. After a while you begin to find form. It still hurts, but the pain is welcome. It becomes highly addictive. I think everyone in the world should experience, at least once in their lives, the luxury of being “in form”. It’s a sensation that is well worth the hard work.
You can read all about the aerobic phase of my training plan here. I did this for six weeks and I’m beginning to feel excellent, I’m maintaining a routine, and finding motivation. Up until this weekend I hadn’t thrown in the slightest amount of intensity. Despite this, I gave the legs a good nudge this weekend and it’s amazing how the strength and power will begin to come back with only aerobic conditioning. This feeling is extremely motivating and it hasn’t hurt in the slightest.
Note: It is recommended that the base period last 8-12 weeks. There are various segments to base training which work on different areas of endurance, speed and force. Taking into consideration my starting point and for the purposes of my own goals, I’ve cut this short.
The next phase of my training will start to include some moderate intensity. Endurance will be reduced but still be trained, and anaerobic endurance will be introduced.
Monday – easy aerobic ~ 90mins.
Tuesday – 3hrs – No need for a huge amount of structure, but ride the first hour easy aerobic, then 90mins in the hills (if you live in Melbourne: Kew Blvd, or Eltham is good – short rolling hills), riding a good tempo and pressing fairly hard up the climbs. You might call this an “aerobic-fartlek” session – fast efforts as you feel good, float the recoveries. Ride the last hour of this session quite hard. This will be a two-session set combined with Wednesday.
Wednesday – 3hrs – If in Melbourne the 2Bays ride is good. 3 reps of 2Bays road while seated in a big gear. Ride hard when returning back to Melbourne but keep controlled.
Thursday – Easy café ride – 60mins. This is a rest day.
Friday – 2 hrs. Warm up for 30mins. If on a fast bunch ride, sit on the back and put it into the 53”11 for ~6-8mins, then spin at 110rpm for 3-4mins, then repeat the cycle. If you do North Road, then the fast group back would be perfect – drive the big gear during the efforts, then switch to high cadence mode in the small ring for the “recovery” sections. You should be able to get in 3 of these efforts. The aim here is to mix the stimulus of the big gear with the neuromuscular contrast in the fast spinning. Today is the start of a 3-day loading phase.
Saturday – 4-5 hours – ride the first hour easy, then ride the next 2hrs at a solid temp (~250-280 watts for me). Next hit a good 15 minute climb 3 times. I’ll be going to the Dandenongs and doing the Wall and the 1/20. Even 3x Arthurs Seat will be find. The first two reps will be sustained in a big gear (60-70rpm) and the final rep will be a hard effort at race pace at a regular cadence. This is a hard ride. If there’s a race on, I’ll probably do it instead of this workout. This weekend I’m pumped to be doing Amy’s Gran Fondo (there are still a few spots left if you haven’t signed up). Read about last year here.
Sunday – Easy aerobic 3-4hrs. I’ll be tired after Saturday’s effort so this is all about time in the saddle and turning the pedals in zone 2. This might seem unimportant, but it’s the 3 day sets that will get the training stimulus that I’m after.
Repeat for 3 weeks.
Please note that this is a training program for me and my goals. It’s not highly technical (which these things can often be) but it incorporates the necessary elements to get me to where I want to be in December. The purpose of this example is to show you much and what type of work needs to be done to be competitive at the club level. Variations of this type of workout has been given to me by numerous coaches, but this one in particular was given to me by Dr. Stuart Morgan which I responded very well to and enjoyed.