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In recent months we’ve been working with the team at Dig Deep Coaching to help answer your questions about training, nutrition and more. In this sixth instalment former world track champion Colin Sturgess, Stephen Gallagher and Dan Fleeman from Dig Deep answer another bunch of your questions, providing insight that everyone can benefit from.
Thanks for the opportunity to ask a training question.
Currently in the winter my training is focused mainly on endurance, power training twice per week and an occasional cyclocross ride at sub-threshold or a CX race to give the VO2max a little boost.
I was wondering if it would be better to do more intensive training first and boost my FTP and VO2max and then continue with the endurance and work towards the start of the new season. The reason for doing so is that I would start from a higher level and the end peak shape would also be higher.
Never tried it myself but I was wondering if my theory is right.
Thanks for your question and I hope the training is going well so far. What you are talking about is something similar to reverse periodisation which is turning the traditional training periodisation pyramid on its head by building intensity first and then extending the volume and intensity length as fitness progresses and as you approach your goal.
This is something I have used on athletes in the past to success but it is not for everyone. Boosting your intensive efforts before you start increasing the volume/base to an optimal level can work for riders which may have had a longer history in the sport and/or competed at a higher level of fitness. This allows them to be able to handle higher intensity before the volume is added.
Depending on the particular event you are aiming for you will need to gradually increase your training stress and this is done by both volume and intensity so you need to have these at an optimal level before you begin to taper. Increasing only one of these (either volume training or higher-intensity training) on the final approach to your aim will leave you short in some part of your performance.
I would recommend trying a two to three-week build of intensity and maintaining your aerobic training to a level that will allow you to maintain some ‘good’ base fitness. But the effects of the volume training allows you to recover well enough to make the most of the intensive efforts.
Once this is seen to be progressing after a few weeks you could flip it around and lower the intensive efforts but gradually increase volume over a two to three week period. By this point you would have gradually increased your training load. The final ‘block’ of training — combining longer, intensive efforts in areas which you need to focus on for your goal, along with some volume work — will hopefully see you reach a peak fitness.
Again, reverse periodisation is not for everyone but it can be effective if done correctly and balanced with proper structure/coaching.
Hope this helps and good luck in 2015.
Answer by Stephen Gallagher.
My question is: I have been in B grade track racing for a while and I moved up recently to A grade. I’ve been struggling to be on the podium. What are some things I can improve on?
I’ll try my best to answer your question, given I’m unsure as to whether you are an endurance rider, or a sprinter.
Firstly, be patient. You’ve just moved up a category and therefore the competition is by its nature harder. The results and improvements will come; you just need to allow time to adapt to the different racing style, speed, intensity and sometimes distance.
Look at your gearing. If the racing is significantly faster in A grade then using a larger gear may help give an extra edge. Ask around, take note of what ratios your competitors are using and when. If you’re going on to larger gears you may need to increase your power/strength, and get used to a slightly decreased cadence. Hill reps are a tough but hugely beneficial way of increasing all-round power/strength.
Tactics and positioning are crucial in elite races. Tactics will come from thinking things through, analysing your race, and watching and learning from more experienced riders. Don’t be afraid of asking questions of other riders too … and learn by your mistakes!
I tend to favour a lot VO2max efforts for track racing, in combination with ‘sweet-spot’ work. It doesn’t work for everyone, but getting behind the derny or motorbike is a fantastic way of achieving a workout that includes VO2, endurance, power, and bike-handling skills.
I hope this gives you something to think about Terance. Good luck, and no doubt you’ll be on that podium soon enough.
Answer by Colin Sturgess.
I’m a Cat 1 racer, and normally ride around 500km a week, with most of that being a 50km round trip to work, with a few longer rides in the evenings and on weekends. I have been training to power and have been gradually adding SST (sweet-spot training) blocks, starting with 2 x 10-minute blocks twice a week and progressing to 2 x 15 minutes.
My first race isn’t for a while so I am holding off any sprint/high-intensity work until a month or so out from the race. I’m just wondering if it’s worth carrying on as I am, adding more duration to my SST blocks? I’m currently getting three-week blocks of 16-18 hours done with a ‘rest week’ of around eight or nine hours at the end of the month. So overtraining isn’t an issue, I’m just wondering what the best plan of action is going forward!
I think what you are doing sounds good and I would continue to increase the SST blocks until you get to a max of around 2 x 30 minutes. You could even do 1 x 40 some days. About a month out from the first race I would start to add in some V02max efforts.
Start with 4 x 5-minute efforts with five minutes recovery and slowly increase the number of reps to a maximum of 8 x 5 minutes. Once you start racing you can decrease the number of reps but also decrease the recovery period so the sessions become more “tolerance” work.
5 x 5 minutes with only three minutes recovery would be a very hard session. I would still recommend keeping a couple of SST workouts per week even when you start the V02 work.
Hope this helps and that the hard work pays off once the season starts.
Answer by Dan Fleeman.
I have been recovering from an injury which has made my training a bit stop-start over the past few months and I’m unsure what I should be doing now. Normally I would be increasing the intensity at this time and I don’t want to lose out on anymore of my fitness after being injured. Should I continue as I normally do or go back in preparation?
Thanks for any help on this.
Thanks for your question and I hope you are recovering from your injury. The situation you are in is one many cyclists have been in and it can be frustrating when you see your fitness start to stagnate.
I would always recommend sitting back and looking at the bigger picture to see what you need to do and how to best manage your training. From what you have said I think going back a step and rebuilding your training will have bigger benefits later in the year. Pushing too much now to hit more intensive efforts might bring around a small peak in fitness but it will leave you fighting to push that fitness higher as the season progresses. Not doing that ‘build’ phase can create problems later in the season.
Sometimes you need to sacrifice an early season goal to get the basics right again and to be at your best for events/races later in year. As I said it can be a very frustrating time but keep positive and always look at the bigger picture.
We wish you a successful and injury-free season!
Answer by Stephen Gallagher.
Do you have questions you’d like to ask of the Dig Deep Coaching team? Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Dig Deep Coaching question” and we’ll forward it on to the appropriate person at Dig Deep. The team will select some questions to answer in the next instalment in this series.
Follow the links below to read previous instalments in this series:
- Part one: August 5, 2014
- Part two: September 4, 2014
- Part three: October 13, 2014
- Part four: November 13, 2014
- Part five: December 16, 2014
To listen to and watch a webinar we recorded with the Dig Deep team in September, click here.