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With work, family and other commitment, most of us are limited to 8 to 12 hours of training time per week. To get the most out of limited training time, every workout must have a focus and every single pedal stroke must count or else you are wasting your time.
Each workout session must be quality, and the secret, then, is knowing if your ride or workout really was good quality or if you were just going through the motions.
When I look at an athlete’s ride file, one of the first things I do is look at time spent in various training zones. For example, if the goal of the workout was a steady 2.5-hour Zones 2-3 endurance ride and the athlete spent 65 minutes in Zone 1 and 10 minutes coasting, I know that it was not a quality ride.
Zone 1 (>55% of Threshold) is good for the start of a warm up, cooling down, doing a recovery ride and recovering between hard efforts. Zone 1 is not good for building endurance, as it doesn’t tax the energy system hard enough to create a training response. This means, an hour of this athlete’s ride was wasted and she only got a good 90 minutes of training time. Even if you subtract 15 minutes of easy warm-up and 15 minutes for a mellow cool-down, she still had 35 minutes of wasted training time—plus 10 min of coasting, which does absolutely nothing for fitness unless you’re resting from going very, very hard.
So how do I get the most out of my training?
The answer is through goal setting and focus. Every single workout and training ride must have a goal. The goal of the workout might be specific time in tempo or speed limit sign sprints or a steady endurance ride at a specific cadence. Even recovery rides must a have goal and focus like staying relaxed and keeping your shoulders down, working on a specific cadence, spending some time in your drops, keeping your head down when riding your TT bike, etc. Every little thing matters and you must stay focused on the goal of that specific workout.
My most favorite training tip for getting a super quality ride is: no coasting and no soft pedaling.
You’d be amazed by how taxing and tiring it is to go ride for two hours at zone 2 without coasting or soft pedaling. Want to make it even harder? Aim for a 95+ cadence the entire time. That is a quality two- hour ride that will beat out any three-hour ride with time spent coasting, surging and soft pedaling.
Your weekly training hours are precious. Make the most of them and make every bike ride and every workout count.
Happy (quality) Training!
ALP Cycles Coaching is a Boulder-based coaching company with three female coaches at the helm: Alison Powers, Jennifer Sharp and Patricia Schwager.
Each coach brings her own coaching strengths and personal experiences. Roading racing, track, endurance mountain biking, time trialling, making the leap to living and racing in Europe – they’ve got you covered. Find out more about Alison Powers and her Alp Cycles coaching company at here.