For part II we’ll take a look at how to construct a training cycle.
When designing a training cycle you consider three main factors: your goals, your limitations (injuries mainly), and your base fitness. In my case, my goals are varied. I want to do some bike racing, do some multisports, and climb. Within these disciplines it get more convoluted in that I have some power-based goals (short gymnastic rock climbs) and crits), some mid-range goals (hard multi-pitch climbs, Olympic distance multis), and some purely aerobic challenges (adventures taking an entire day or more). I have two injuries to contend with: knee and shoulder. Both are doing okay but under strict surveillance and will require rehab-like attention. Finally, my base is sound. I’ve essentially had nearly a year of good base training. It began with a round of P90x and ended with a birthday challenge that didn’t do much to break me down.
The next step is to evaluate what you feel you need to work on. This is the big question when we’re talking about which energy systems you want to address. Here are three examples of three bike racers deciding what area needs work and how to best dedicate their training time.
Example 1 – a cyclist who never gets dropped from a group ride, can spend ample time taking pulls or trying breakaways, but can’t hold on in a sprint.
Example 2 – a rider who’s great on short rides, kills it whenever the group sprints for a target, but gets dropped when the pace increases in the latter part of races.
Example 3 – a rider who can both ride tempo all day and sprint but can’t drive a breakaway or time trial well.
Each of these riders has natural strengths that determine their weaknesses. Rider 1 will never be a sprinter. However, that rider can improve their sprint and use their endurance abilities to whittle sprinters out of the field. Power work can enable this person to win races from a select field and they should do well in stage races. Rider two will never be a stage racer but can develop their weaknesses enough to hang on and then use their natural power to win races. Since most races come down to a sprint, this rider has the potential to win more than anyone else. Rider three is the most versatile talent but has not trained properly. By increasing their ability to rider at threshold, they can become a danger to win any bike race on a given day.
The training timeline must be considered. Major changes can only be addressed during the off-season. If you focus on one energy system only, your performance in the others will drop. This compromise is often necessary. Changes in the phosphagen pathway are slower to obtain, so someone severely lacking may decide it’s worthwhile to only train this system and then make up their losses later, as it’s far easier to regain fitness than to alter your boundaries.
A timeline should then be created. The longer the timeline the greater potential for major energy system improvement. The shorter the cycle the more the need to overlap energy system training so you don’t lose fitness in one area. Again, it’s important to have a basic understanding of periodizational training and how timelines can be constructed.
Next time, I’ll address what I’m doing which should help you create your own program.
Here you’ll find my initial thoughts on this program, an explanation of its periodizational aspects, my goals, and my calendar with targeted peaks and objectives.
Here is part I of this article.