This month we focus on racing and recovery. The number one goal is to arrive at each weekend ready to race at your best. The number two goal is to get in as much training as possible WITHOUT COMPROMISING GOAL NUMBER ONE. One of the worst errors you can make is dealing with a disappointing weekend by increasing training. If you are doing as much or more training than before and your performance is getting worse, you are either tired or overtrained, but certainly not undertrained. Don’t take the week off. Do as much as you can and still recover for the following weekend. If that means a lot of training, do it and you will have a long season. If it means not training during the week, then don’t train during the week but just do daily recovery rides. This will lead to a short season, and you may even have to train up again for the second part of the summer, but that’s better than arriving at your races tired.
So, here’s the program: Monday is an easy day after the hard weekend. Lift if you’ve been doing that consistently and you’re not whipped. Weights are light. Lifting sessions, not counting warm-up and cool-down, should be no more than thirty minutes. Don’t do enough reps or resistance to get sore or tired. Whether or not you lift weights, spin on the trainer, walk or swim at an easy pace for half an hour.
On Tuesday do a focus workout. The first possible focus is more recovery from the weekend so start your focus workout with a warm-up. If you feel good and your heart rate rises easily, proceed to a more serious workout. Otherwise, make it a recovery day (45-60 minutes easy pedaling below 70% of maximum heart rate). If you feel good and you are not racing the next weekend, do a training race. If you are racing the following weekend, pick an area of weakness and work to improve it. Work on basic skills, cornering, descending, staying on the drops, short sprints, drop-offs, run ups or riding aero bars. This SHOULD NOT BE A HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL SESSION if you are racing the coming weekend. If the only group ride in your area feels like a race and you plan to race for real on the weekend, skip the group ride. A great way to improve your sprinting is to do endurance on Tuesday, and then go to the track for an evening of racing sometime during the week.
Wednesdays are good for endurance. Ride as much as you have time for in the endurance zone, a mellow pace with no heavy breathing or jumping (70-80% of max heart rate for novices, 65-75% for elites). Make it long, but not hard. Just “chill”.
Thursdays are rest before a Saturday race, or another shorter endurance ride before a Sunday race. Never do Thursday Twilights or hard group rides before a Saturday race or an important Sunday race. Friday is a tune-up before a Saturday race, or a rest day before a Sunday race, and that completes the week. A Tune Up is a one-hour easy ride with a 5-7 minute interval near LT in the middle. You can do track on Friday, if you are not racing Saturday morning. You can race or do a hard club-ride on both weekend days if you want, but if you are doing a “real” race on Sunday but not Saturday, do a tune up on Saturday rather than a harder ride. If you are tired after a Saturday race, go for a long easy ride on Sunday. Racing or riding hard when you are already tired makes you weaker, not stronger
There are many subtle but important adjustments you might make depending on the importance of various races and the time between them. We can help you with these.
Over-training is a serious problem in racing season. Many, dissatisfied with their race results, go out and train harder to try to make up for perceived deficiencies. If you’ve been sticking close to the programs, you are not under-trained. You may need longer to respond to the training (VO2-max continues to develop through several months of training, lactate threshold as a percentage of maximum effort can continue to rise for several years, cornering, pedaling and other skills may improve for as long as you continue to ride), or you may need to work on tactics. (No one can win without being as good as the next guy or gal at drafting closely, echeloning in cross winds, cornering efficiently, descending, minimizing braking, sprinting neither too early nor too late…), or you may need technical help (no one can win, other than on the track or in a single-speed race, without using the shifters a few times), or psychological help (do you get so excited when racing that you go off the front until you are wasted, sit at the side of the pack and forget to draft, sprint early, go off course in time trials, forget to eat and drink in long events, forget to shift, lose focus and stop trying… If you do, talk to us about an appointment with one of our sports psychologists.) In any case, never do hard training (racing, intervals, sprints) unless you are feeling 100% recovered from previous hard efforts.
Note for Serious Cross Racers
If you care about cross far more than road or MTB racing, June is a good time to start building your base for cross. Plan to race out this month and then switch foci unless you are so strong that your road or MTB races are like endurance rides for you. If you are that strong, you can switch to a cross focus much later.
Remember that all club members are entitled to some free consultation with the coach. Call us. If you are feeling more serious, a personalized program and generous consultation costs only $97 per month working with Scott (925-933-7306) or $82 per month with Ron (925-337-1219) or Meredith (415-516-0409). For more information, check out our website at www.WenzelCoaching.com.
Check out Scott’s column in ROAD magazine, available by subscription as well as at better bike shops and bookshops
Scott Saifer, M.S.