Colorado has been blessed with an unusually pleasant October, so cyclists have yet to be banished to their indoor trainers. Yet, it is time for most of us to begin thinking about the 2015 season and how we are going to handle our off-season.
There is no shortage of options for how to structure a winter training plan, but I think a few essential guidelines that I will be following and prescribing to the VR7 riders.
#1 – Do a benchmark test once you begin riding indoors more often than not.
Hop on your trainer, and bust out some intervals and record your power and heart rate data. Pick whatever intervals you will be working on this winter. If you really want to improve your 1 minute power, do 5 x 1 minute intervals and record your average power and heart rate. Use this as your starting point for the winter and re-test every 6 weeks to gauge progress.
#2 – Be consistent
It may not be fun to ride a trainer, but it is predictable. Pick a few days a week to ride and stick to it. Doing a morning and a afternoon session is an easy way to get in some volume without the monotony of 3 hours in a row on the trainer.
#3 – Forget base building
Everyone defaults to a base building mindset for the winter. This is unfortunate because people tend to ride a ton of Zone 2 on their trainers, but not put in enough volume to get any benefit. I propose to forget all about base building until you can get outside again. Ride hard, do intervals, mix things up. Come March, put in some big aerobic miles if you think that type of training helps, but don’t sweat it while you are locked inside.
Coaches always warn about burnout if you ride hard during the winter, which is a baffler. Trying to do big volume in the winter is the fastest way to burnout if you ask me.
Remember, we race crits, not Ironmans.
#4 – Lift a weight?
Sure lift some weights, but make sure you do it in spandex 😉
Honestly, weight training has some great benefits. Get with a trainer or your coach and come up with a plan to add some weight training to your routine. There is a reason track sprinters are in the gym more than they are on the bike. Strength is a big deal, and not just on the track (I am looking at you crit racers.)
Try it in the winter, see how your benchmark test has improved (or not) and continue through the season if it works for you.
#5 – Have a minimum goal for weekly hours
Try to maintain 3.5 hours a week on the bike. This should be enough to keep your fitness stagnant or maybe slightly declining. If you are feeling spry, log some more hours and you might even get fitter over the winter.
#6 – Get a “performance manager”
Get a power meter, and get on board with some type of performance management software, or make your own if you are a smarty pants. It takes some of the mystique away from training (love it or hate it), but it really helps in evaluating your training load, fatigue and progress. My cycling never improved faster than when I started seriously evaluating the quality of my training and managing it with a goal in mind.
That’s all for now, happy training all.