Winter Training is just around the corner.

Over the past few months I’ve cycled close to 6000 km, giving me an average of somewhere around 750km/month considering only the months of 2017. However, my training was never consistent as it can be seen by the graph below.

I’d like with this post is to understand my necessities for next season and create a detailed plan of how I’m going to proceed with the training. As this year’s winter training is looming on the horizon, I need a lot of preparation and motivation to keep my training going all the way to April.

Setting Goals

This season was quite short on races on my part. I did not do as many races as I wanted to, neither trained as much as I should have. But, two structured 4-week training plans that I managed to complete during the season gave me an idea of what I should expect.

I want:
– To give myself the best chance of winning the local crits and perhaps take part on some road races by next year.
– To improve my hour FTP currently at 220W.
– To improve my climbing ability. Lose weight and lots of hard 5 minute efforts.
– To get better at the end of long efforts. Steady pace aerobic work.
– Lose weight. Currently 76-77 kgs. I can probably get to 72 kgs without losing much of my current form.

Limiting factors

Based on this year’s few races and the training done, time is the apparent liming factor.  I expect it to be less of a constrain once a schedule is set.

It seems like my ability to recover between hard efforts during a race is very poor. I want to address this with some very intense aerobic training.

If I use the FTP table present in the Cyclist’s Training Bible by Joe Friel I find myself at the bottom of Cat 4 cyclist category with something close to 3 W/Kg for a 20 min FTP.

Avoid getting fat

This is going to be hard. An easy to follow diet plan has to be made. NO CAKES AFTER LUNCH. Eat always lean meat and just enough carbs.

Mix it up – Volume, intensity and frequency

Both long rides and top-end training are important. I don’t wanna make the mistake of focusing on one and forget about the other.

The schedule should consider Tuesday high pace ride for around 1h30m and long rides (3h to 4h) on Sundays.

Be realistic

Unfortunately I don’t have 5 hours a day to dedicate solely to practice. I need to find some balance between work, training and social life.

Stop making excuses

Cycle, cycle, cycle. No excuses allowed. READ THIS AGAIN in case motivation is low.

Conclusion 

For my first winter training schedule I’d like to combine both intensity and base work. During the week concentrate on some specific and intense sessions,  when time is more limited. Leave longer rides to do over the weekend.

First block 4 weeks

Monday – Rest. Use the day to do some stretching or swim.
Tuesday – 1h30m ride
Wednesday – gym leg training
Thursday – 1h easy ride turbo trainer.
Friday – gym leg training.
Saturday – 1h-Swim
Sunday – 3h endurance group ride

Second block 12 weeks

Monday – Rest. Use the day to do some stretching or swim.
Tuesday – 1h power 4, 1, 3, 2, 4, 1, 3, 2, 4, 1, 3, 2
Wednesday – 1h steady pace recovery ride
Thursday – 1h30m power 1,3,2,4,1,4,1,2,2,4,2,3
Friday – Rest. Swim
Saturday – 1h-1h30m power sprints
Sunday – 3h endurance group ride

Power 1
15 min – Warm up
5 x (4 min high intensity + 2 min low intesity)
5 min cool down

Power 2
15 minutes – warm up (increasing intensity)
5 x (40 sec. very high intensity – 20 sec. low intensity)
3 minutes recovery
5 x (40 sec. very high intensity – 20 sec. low intensity)
3 minutes recovery
5 x (40 sec. very high intensity – 20 sec. low intensity)
3 minutes recovery
5 x (40 sec. very high intensity – 20 sec. low intensity)
5 minutes cool down

Power 3
10min warm-up
3min (semi-high intensity)
2min low intensity
8 x (3min high intensity + 2min low intensity)
5min cool down

Power 4
10min warm-up
3min (semi-high intensity)
2min low intensity
4 x (6min high intensity + 4min low intensity)
5min cool down

Power sprints
This exercise improves your maximal sprinting power through neural adaptations. You shall perform a
maximal sprint acceleration starting from slow speed (0-5 km/hr). Use a hard gear. Between each sprint you need full recovery (5+ minutes).

Training taken from http://www.training4cyclists.com/

Third Training Week – AN UNPLANNED RACE !!!!

Last week I posted about my unsuccessful 7 days on my bike. Work and social life replaced training. It was a fairly slow week.

This week was a contrast compared with last week. The training was completed as previously thought and every session was done with an added bonus. I managed to finish my first criterium race!

My main goals are to improve fitness and have fun on my bike. In the beginning of the last week a friend from the club mentioned that he was going to race in Hillingdon on Tuesday (27/06/2017). A race on Tuesday would be just replacing a Sprint session with a race, which turned out to be very successful.

The weather on the day of the race wasn’t promising and it proved to be a big challenge. We used the way to the race circuit as a warm-up. It was 25 km of medium effort ride with a few slow hill climb. All the way in the rain.

The track it self is convenient for beginners with a few tight turns and fast pace.

Picture by imperialracingteam.com

Before the race we did a preride in the course to get acquainted with its turns, rises and descents. I instantly like the course and its challenges. During those laps a friend talked to me about where to stay and how to behave in the bunch.

All the riders lined up on the starting line. The rain didn’t stop and there weren’t many riders in the race. We started with something like 20-25 riders. Instantly the pace rose to around 40-45km/h average through the course. From the beginning I felt very comfortable, to the point of talking to other riders about my position and intentions.

The idea of racing on Tuesday was to add some high pace/sprint training to my week. Even though my final position wasn’t good I managed to finish my first criterium race. I rode with the bunch, fought for position, lead the bunch for a while, chased breakaway attempts. My only regret was of not holding the pace for the final sprint. I gave up during the last turn, around 300m to go with energy left in the tank.

Overall it was an awesome race where I learnt a lot about cycling in general.(Confidence while turning needs to improve. Pedalling out of corners)

Wednesday and Thursday I rode the planned training successfully. Although I need to point that underfeeding caused me probably low blood pressure on Thursday. I felt very light headed during the ride before stopping for a scottish egg and a cereal bar.

There will be a club ride tomorrow which I will ride to complete the weekly training. Tuesday training was now replaced by Tuesday racing.

FYI: I am writing this as I watch the first day of the Tour de France 2017. Go Froome !

 

Second week of training – That didn’t happen

Whenever personal/work life gets in the way of your training what do you do ? Whatever happens DO NOT DO what I did. I simply didn’t train. WHY?WHY?WHY?

My training week started with Tuesday Sprints which I managed to complete successfully (Strava Activity). I was a bit tired from the training done in the first week and motivation wasn’t at all there, perhaps 6 out of 10.

Wednesday threshold ladders (Strava Activity) were almost skipped for lack of motivation and some leg pain. But I realised that the training was necessary. The whole session was a pain but it felt good that I managed to convince myself of its importance.

For some stupid reason I decided to skip Thursday. Even worse I didn’t cycle at all for the rest of the week including Sunday club ride.

I am taking the time now to document this, hoping that it won’t happen too often. Tomorrow I must be back at it. At least I am pain free and legs are completely restored.

First week of training

Done. The first week of training comes to an end. This week I loved the riding I’ve done. I followed the routine every day as I initially set them out. A Monday rest day, Tuesday sprints, Wednesday threshold ladders, Thursday Steady Efforts, Saturday 1h30m and Sunday WVS Club Ride(110km).

This was perhaps a little over what I am comfortable with. I’ve ridden a total of 325km this week, something I was not really used to. Additionally, temperatures here in the UK reached 30 degrees celsius making the ride a bit tougher than it could have been.

Time for rest. Despite all the effort made this week, I feel good. The legs feel a bit sore and tan lines aren’t great. But I think I did accomplish something this past days and hopefully it wasn’t at the cost of the next week. I hope I will be able to follow the 3 weeks of training I want to do.

It didn’t seem right to start the training with a rest day. Now I know why the rest day is there. Legs need to heal !

Data today:
Weight: 76 Kg
Legs: Feel sore
Position: Can improve, saddle appears to be tipped to the right.
Learn: Never train for long on an empty stomach. Meal prep is important.

Training Week 1

In the days following my First Ever Race I decided for some unknown reason that I wouldn’t ride a bike. Stupid decision I know.  I don’t understand why but motivation levels are low.

I need now to create a training structure that I can introduce to my daily routine and would be easy to follow. This training structure must have:
– Sprints 10 out of 10 efforts.
– Long ride to be on Sunday when club run happens
– Be able to use commute as warm up
– Mondays and Fridays Rest/Easy ride days

Looking on-line for training schedules that accommodate  my requirements I found This Simple Change to Your Training Week Yields Big Improvements!. A 3 day block + 2 day block with some power intervals seems to be ideal for what I need.

The schedule will be as follows:

Tuesday
PowerIntervals – 3 sets of 4x1minute intervals with 1min recovery between intervals, 4minutes recovery between sets. Cadence should be 100+rpm. Interval intensity is 10/10

Wednesday
Threshold Ladders – three 9-minute intervals with 5 minutes of recovery between them. During each 9-minute interval you’re going to hit three separate intensity ranges. The first minute is a PowerInterval (see above). Then you step down to ClimbingRepeat intensity (9/10, 95-97% of CTS Field Test Heart Rate, 96-100% of CTS Field Test Power) at 90-95rpm for 3 minutes. After that the final 5 minutes of the interval are at SteadyState intensity and 90-95rpm (8-10, 92-94% of CTS Field Test Heart Rate, 90-95% of CTS Field Test Power).

Thrusday
SteadyState Intervals – 3x10minute intervals at 90-95rpm. 5 minutes easy spinning recovery between intervals.

Saturday
1h30m – 2h group ride pace

Sunday
2+ hours long Group Ride with Watford Velo Sport

I am planing to start this schedule from the 11/06/2017.

Follow me on Strava

 

First ever bike race! More cardio work!

Few months ago I started thinking about having a go at cycling racing. I knew it was going to be a challenge so I joined a cycling club (www.watfordvelo.com) for training partners and help with motivation through the winter. The cycling club rides and chain gangs the club organises helped me to achieve a good level of confidence riding very close to other riders.  When I felt that my riding skills wouldn’t affect anyone cycling around me, I applied for my BC race licence, chose a race close to where I live and a few days later signed up for it.

Choose a race

The race I chose was Bovingdon Bomber Criterium:

Bomber Circuit – https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/158733/The-2017-HHCC-Bovingdon-Bomber-Criterium-Series–6

This particular circuit is relatively flat, but in the few hundred meters before  the starting line there is a slight uphill followed by a hairpin turn. The full race lasts for 40 minutes plus 5 laps, whatever time it takes for riders to complete the 5 laps.

FWI: A criterium, or crit, is a cycling race that takes place in a closed circuit with a couple of kilometers, and lasts a certain amount of time.

I used the way from my workplace to the circuit as a warm up and rode around the circuit for about 10 minutes before the race started. We all lined up at the starting point at about 19:05, received a simple brief and started the race.

I started the race on the right side of the track which gave me a good starting position right at the beginning of the race. Within 2 or 3 laps everyone found their position and the painful laps started.

During the first few laps I felt strong and that I would be able to finish the race with the bunch. For that reason, on the 6th lap I decided to move up a few places. I had in my mind that I should try to be in between 10 to 15th position for the entirety of the race. That single move proved to be very costly.

Even though I felt well for the few first laps, to be able to move up positions I had to go close to my max for a couple of seconds. A few crank turns after I put my nose in the wind and moved up positions, the slight uphill and hairpin came up. Because of my lack of racing experience I didn’t know how hard it was to sprint out of a corner every minute or so for 40 minutes plus 5 laps ;-].  In that single lap I moved up 3 positions, could not follow all the riders on the way uphill so I lost around 15 positions and lost contact with everyone on the sprint out of the hairpin turn. My race was finished in about 30 seconds because of my lack of fitness and race experience. I did another few laps alone in the circuit decided to finish my first race. But being dropped and cycling with my face in the wind for most of my race proved too much for my lungs.

All the experience was very exciting and I will definitely prepare myself better to go back to the starting line of a race. Now I have a better idea of what it is required to participate in such an event. Examining the race afterwards I can say that the race wasn’t ideal for my fitness and experience, but I think it can be considered as a good practice overall.

Result – DNF

Next training block will be full of sprints and breathing exercises!

Power And Speed profile of HH Bomber Race #6