Friday, January 9, 2009

Building a Training Program for Cycling

I won't find a better time than now to sit down and work on my training program for 2009. For people focusing on the summer crits and track, it could be a little late but for me, aiming for the road season, it is the perfect time. I am still nursing the injured shoulder, and not sure when I will be able to get on the bike so I have moved the beginning of my Base for the end of February.

As mentioned too many times on this blog, I can and have been on the trainer a lot since October last year. Like many, I have slowed down considerably during the festive season and now find myself struggling a bit to get back on the trainer. With that comes the extra weight, which brings those nightmares of never being able to loose the extra kilos and get back to my race weight.

Funny how we can be so negative about things. Now, choosing to look at things in a more positive way, I am having a good rest and I still have plenty of time to finish with the last details of the program. And the extra kilos? Lets call them "reserves" for when the hard training begins.

The first thing I have done is choose the type of program, which can be an overwhelming task on its own. Based on my experience and having a good look at what has worked for me and my past results, I decided to use a program based on Heart Rate indicators. It has a long Base (4x4), Build (4x4) and Race (4x4) format which will take me to my main events (events A) at the end of the year.

For some one, thinking about doing the same, I wrote this basic list of points to consider before choosing the program and getting the pen on paper for the long, long process.

  • Experience - there are programs for beginners, experienced, juniors, masters, etc. Choose one that matches your own experience;
  • Level - what level (grade) are you going to race, there is a big difference in between "C" and "B" and "A" grades on Open events, even at masters level;
  • Type of racing - we can race all types of events but we must be prepared for the events we enjoy the most. Crit racing will not prepare a rider for the ITT State championship;
  • Lifestyle - training and racing isn't just about getting on the bike and riding. A lot of time is needed for recovery (we need more sleep), massages, gym work, stretching sessions, bike maintenance, travelling to events. It becomes THE lifestyle and family and friends need to be supportive;
  • Finance - be ready, it is not cheap!!!
  • Health - Basically, with all the strenuous physical work, the body gets a little tired and chances of getting sick can increase. We don't just need to sleep more, we need to eat more and healthier.

Ok, the list could be more complex, in fact as complex as one wants. A couple of good books will come really handy for the whole process and there is a lot of stuff on the Net... or a coach, they can be good. Ah, and a big desk.

Programs based on Heart Rate monitoring are a bit old and not the in thing but they are still largely in use. The truth is I am still waiting for my SRM power meter sponsorship to get approved, so the Polar will do for now.

The program I chose allows me to race all year around. To me, that is an important feature as I enjoy racing and believe that the more I race the more I learn about myself and about tactics. And, as it is all supposed to be fun, I can have fun all year around.

Having experimented with a couple of training methods, I am confident that it (with a couple of modifications) will work for me. I have a good idea of what has worked in the past and what my limiters are, important considerations when putting training programs together.

If I don't win the World Championship... there is always another season!


Buttsy said...

How do you find the Polar Power meter, I have one but took it off my bike as I never really used Power, I mainly use HR and speed and the feeling in your legs....must put it back on as I am reading a bit about it all...and when you get your SRM sponsorship put in a word for me too as I am sure I should get SRM too....

AMR said...

Hi Buttsy,
I will talk to the SRM guys in Adelaide and will mention your name... They might already know about you.
The Polar is rated as a good unit, apparently a bit flicky with the calibration. Have another go at it and let us know how you go.

Buttsy said...

JUst kidding about the SRM I would love it, but there are other things in life that take priority......All reviews seem to indicate that the Polar unit works well under steady state but is no good in racing or in riding with lots of surges....but will get it back on my bike, someday.....veru busy at the moment and going away on Friday for 10 days......HOLIDAYS

Cycling MInd said...

The normal three weeks on and one week off training cycle naturally builds in a period of proper recovery into your cycling training program. The training is different, more short, more intense, mentally it's not as demanding as building for a seven-hour road race.
Road Bike Training

AMR said...

Thanks CyclingMind,
I have just finished a twelve-week-block in preparation for a 228 km race. The intention was to do the 3-1 but that was modified because of the way I felt and the need to keep building for the distance. I ended up with:
I finished the event with the leading bunch and got the KOM on the way. A good result, I think. It re-enforces the need to look at the individual and how he/she feels during the training. Great site, BTW.

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