For Road and MTB Racers
Riders for whom Cross is much more important than Road or MTB should be focusing on Cross by now (see below). Those for whom Cross is a goal but not so important can do an abbreviated transition starting in August. Here’s the July plan for those who are focused on road and MTB. It is pretty much the same as the program for June, with some minor changes in philosophy. Monday is a recovery day after the weekend. Do a little light swimming or spinning on the bike for half an hour or so.
At this time of year, burn-out becomes a serious issue so the first rule of training this month is that if you are racing regularly you must be very careful not to train above recovery pace until you have recovered from your races. This means that if you have a really hard race on the weekend, you might do recovery rides all the way until Wednesday, at which point you start resting up for the following weekend. If this is the case, you will soon lose your base so you should consider skipping some races to add a few endurance rides. Remember that recovery days are easy rides, not days off. If you take multiple days off you will certainly lose your base quickly and race poorly.
The rest of this note assumes that you are well recovered and feeling peppy. Tuesday is focus work. If you are still tired from the weekend, take a recovery day. If you are feeling good, choose an area of weakness to work on. This is the day to work on climbing, cornering, basic skills, bike handling, descending, sprinting or whatever else you most need to improve to get the placings you want. If you raced twice on the weekend, do not make this a hard day. Talk to me (925-933-7306), Ron Castia (925-337-1219) or Meredith Neilsen (415-516-0409) about how to practice the skill you want to practice without making it a hard day. Avoid doing more than two tiring days per week. If you raced only once on the weekend and your recovery is good, this could be a hard day such as a session on the track or a twilight race.
Wednesday is the only extensive training day left in the week. Do three moderate intervals if you are not racing the coming weekend or a spin ride (over 90 rpm and heart rate 70-80% of max) if you are racing that weekend. A moderate interval should be four times as long in minutes as your weekly long ride in hours. (If you get in a three hour ride every week, do 12-minute intervals.) Between intervals, rest for about half the interval time. Warm up for at least 20 minutes before the first interval and spin for at least ten minutes after the last one. Intervals should be done in the moderate zone, about halfway between 80% of max and your LT. Talk to me if you’re not sure what this is. Do them on terrain that challenges your weaknesses. Do you need to improve your descending, flat time-trialing, hill climbing, crit-cornering…? Use the moderate intervals to improve your weakest area, rather than to enjoy your strengths. However, if you are tired from the racing, if your muscles are sore, if you might be getting sick or if your morning heart rate is more than 10% high, take a recovery day instead of training: just roll around for an hour or so very easy, no pushing, no hard breathing, no competing.
Thursday through Sunday are the same as they have been for the last few months. If you are racing Saturday then rest – tune-up – race – race (or endurance if you are cooked). If you are racing Sunday then endurance (about 1-2 hours) – rest – tune-up – race. As before, a tune up is a ride of about one hour with some hard jumps or an LT interval near the middle. A tune up ride is most effective if done in the final 18 hours before the race and shortly before a meal, so you’ll generally want to do them in the afternoon or evening before dinner.
If you are starting to feel cooked or burned out, it is best to take an easy period before you are tempted to quit entirely. Take one week each month in July and August really easy, doing only recovery zone (heart rate below 70% of maximum) easy spinning rides on Monday through Thursday, and then jump back into your normal schedule for that weekend. Another great way to revive your motivation is with an achievement ride or a social event. Set yourself a new one-day distance record or do a century with less-trained friends. Don’t expect to race well on the weekend following a recovery week. The second weekend you should be flying however.
For Serious Cross Racers
If cyclocross is your highest priority you should already have done a month or so of base and be ready to increase volume and power work, while keeping the intensity under control. In July, keep adding an hour or two per week to the time you trained in June. Ideally you are riding five days per week and one of those rides is three hours or longer. Most of your rides this month are Spin Endurance (90-110 rpm cadence, heart rate below 80% of max). One per week should be Push Endurance (same heart rates, but 70 rpm cadence after the warm up), and another can be Standing Intervals (same as a Spin Endurance Ride, but stand on the climbs as long as you can keep your heart rate below 80% of max, then sit). Only start Push or Standing Intervals rides after you’ve got at least three weeks of spinning base rides behind you. By the end of July you should be doing at least 8 hours per week if you hope to be competitive in the coming season, and more like 15 if you’ll race As.
You still don’t have to start running in July, but it’s not a bad idea. If you do start running and you haven’t been running in a few months, start with five minutes in the first session and add five minutes per session. Keep the pace easy on these runs. Aim to run 2-3 times per week, but always with at least one day between runs. If you have been running already, keep adding five minutes per week to the length of the runs until you are doing half-hour to one-hour runs.
If you started gym work in June, keep going 2-3 times per week. Keep doing the same exercises you’ve been doing but start adding 10% per week to the number of reps you are getting in each exercise, and keep adjusting the weights so that you can finish the sets with a good rhythm. Warm up for at least twenty minutes before lifting and stretch afterwards.
For All Club Members
If you are wondering about your training zones or a good target racing weight, call me to schedule a testing appointment. Club members get a discount on testing services. For $90 you get a determination of your anaerobic threshold, maximum heart rate, and heart rates for your training zones (Rest, recovery, endurance, moderate, threshold/hard and maximal training). I’ll even throw in a free body-fat percentage test and blood pressure and lung volume. A small amount of consultation is free for club members. Additional consultation is $120 per hour. A forty-point road test to help you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses takes about two hours and costs $150. Call or write for an appointment. Also check out www.WenzelCoaching.com and Scott’s column in ROAD magazine.
Scott Saifer, M.S.