For Road and MTB Racers who have been Racing a few Months:
By now you should have been racing or doing hard club rides every weekend for a month or two and the super-fitness that can come only from regular extreme efforts should be coming on. If you want to win races this year, dedicate the week to preparing for each weekend’s races, and to maintaining as much strength and base as you can without compromising the races. Your races or club rides will now provide most of your training intensity. Do a maximum of two days in seven or three in ten of intensity above endurance, not counting short sprints or a Tune Up interval. This means that if you race twice on the weekend, there should be no intensity or intervals whatsoever during the week. If you race hard on the weekend, there’s really no need to do any other intensity above endurance except perhaps for sprints. Remember that the upper limit of the endurance zone is at 80% of your own personal maximum heart rate, and that 220 minus age is pretty close to useless for determining maximum heart rate.
To develop a high level of aerobic fitness (which is what you need to win road or MTB races), you need to ride a lot of miles at a steadily pushing pace. No fancy-doodle hill-sprints, VO2-max intervals or one-leg exercises are going to do it. The truth is not sexy, but the truth is what you’ll get from a good coach. Your coach will also teach you to ride with your team-mates and against the other teams. When you get into a speed-duel with a team-mate on a training ride, you are not only ruining your own chances for the following weekend, but the chances of anyone on your team ride. Don’t do it!
So, assuming that you raced or rode hard Saturday and/or Sunday, Monday is a restful day. If you’ve been lifting, go to the gym and do a light workout. Hit all the major muscle groups but don’t do enough to get tired or sore. If you haven’t been lifting, this is not the time of year to start. If you haven’t been lifting, go for an easy spin or a walk or a swim. Just do a good warm-up followed by a cool down with nothing in between. This should get you loosened up and recovered from the weekend more than would a day off.
Tuesday is Focus day. Warm up thoroughly and then ask yourself if you are recovered from the weekend. If you feel good and your heart rate is rising as easily as ever, do some exercises that help you correct any weakness in your riding. If not, do a recovery ride (45-60 minutes at 59-70% of maximum heart rate). If you are energetic, Tuesdays might be dedicated to sprinting, endurance-pace hill climbing, descending, cornering, riding single-track, riding the TT bike, practicing dismounts and run-ups or anything else that has held you back in your races. You might even play “ease-out” or bumping games with your buddies. Whatever you do, warm up thoroughly and be sure to obey the rules about how many hard days to include in a week. Short sprints of 30 seconds or less do not count as hard days in this scheme. Make the full ride at least an hour and up to the length of your longest race. Coaches Ron (Ron@WenzelCoaching.com) and Meredith (Meredith@WenzelCoaching.com) have suggestions for things to do on focus day. Please email them.
Wednesday is Endurance and Power day. Warm up by spinning at endurance pace (70-80% of max) for about twenty minutes, and then ride endurance heart rate for at least an hour and up to the length in time of your longest race. Switch back and forth every five minutes between a gear you can spin 60 rpm and one you can spin 90 rpm on the flats. Pick these gears at the beginning of the ride and continue to use them even when you go up hill. You may end up shifting to 53×15 half way up a steep hill. So be it. When you are 10-20 minutes from home, switch to a spinning gear and roll home.
If you are racing or going on a club ride on Saturday, Thursday is a rest day and Friday is a Tune-Up. If you are racing on Sunday but not on Saturday, do a short, spinning endurance-zone ride on Thursday, take Friday easy and do a Tune Up on Saturday. The rest day you should take entirely off or spin on a trainer for up to half an hour. The Tune Up day is generally a total of about an hour riding: Warm up, do one or two intervals near LT or a few jumps, cool down and go home. The Tune Up ride is most effective if done 18 hours or less before your start time. If you are short on base riding and looking to peak later in the year, extend the Tune Up to 90-120 minutes.
When you race, race to win. Do no unnecessary work, but be ready to give your all when the hammer drops. Do a good warm-up before every race. A good warm-up takes at least 45 minutes. An hour is better. Roll easy and let your heart rate come up naturally rather than forcing yourself to warm up hard. When you are loose and feeling good, do a couple of one- or two-minute intervals near LT with a few minutes rest in between. For a detailed warm up routine, send your maximum and LT heart rates to ScottSaifer@Wenzelcoaching.com. (LT should be measured with a Conconi test, a lactate sampling test or by approximation of the chat-no chat threshold. 20 minute field tests and similar are close to useless for determining LT). After a race, always, always, always, always go for a ride of at least 20 minutes in total noodle or endurance zones. If you are still energetic and not racing the next day, practice whatever seemed to be your weakness in the race: climbing, cornering, sprinting…
For Racers Coming Off a Cross Season
Starting at the middle of this month, you can follow the plan above for Road or MTB racers. The first two weeks of this month are the same as the final two weeks of last month.
Training programs including a detailed calendar and consultation time for club members start at $82 with the Ron or Meredith coaches. We also offer complete bike fits, threshold testing, 40-Point Ride Along Road Tests, observed training, nutritional consultation and consultation on your training or racing. For more information about Wenzel Coaching programs or services, call Scott at 925-933-7306 or e-mail ScottSaifer@Wenzelcoaching.com or check out www.WenzelCoaching.com. Happy riding.
Scott Saifer, M.S.