training

Vacation Time

It never fails. After a winter of logging long miles and a spring of racing into top shape, summer rolls around and the bottom drops out of your form. With the first half of the season done and many target races come and gone, July is notorious for being many road and MTB riders' worst month of the year. A summer stage race or criterium series is a great incentive in the early season, but can turn into concrete shoes once it's over. It can feel like you haven't trained in ages, the heat's making you lethargic, and there's just no motivation to get out the door and ride anymore.

Sprinting For Success

Sprint training is an aspect that can and should be part of your training year-round, and is an aspect that many riders neglect, or often do incorrectly if they do include them. Making a well-designed sprint workout part of your weekly routine is crucial for any cyclist who not only wants to improve not just their final sprint, but also their ability to make speed changes in almost any kind of mass-start bike race.

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Swapping The Cycles

These days, there's an abundance of training information available that didn't exist even 10 years ago. Books written by Eddie B. and Greg LeMond were bibles in the 80s, and while they're still relevant today in some ways, they've been supplemented by more modern, scientific training literature. But despite all the good information that's out there, or maybe as a result of it, many racers still have the same question: what should I do for training today?

Opening Up For The Big Day

A common choice riders are faced with is whether to train through a week when there are races on the weekend, or pull up on training early to be better rested for the weekend's events. How to make those choices, and how to structure your training based on your choice, is based on a lot of variables. How important are the races? How important is the long-term fitness you're trying to build? What kind of training are you doing, or what kind of period are you in? And if you do rest, how do you make sure you feel your best on race day?

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You Can Take It With You

It's a common refrain for North American professional cyclists that traveling is the hardest part of the sport. This isn't unique to pros, though. It's crucial for racers at every level to consider how traveling can take away from your performance, and how much they need to prepare and account for it, just as they would with training. Bike racing is hard, of course, but it's something you prepare and train for.

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Training Weaknesses, Racing Strengths

By the month of May, most North American riders are done with base training for their summer season, or very close to it, and have anywhere from 1-3 months of racing under their belt. If you've had a successful spring, you should have a strong foundation of aerobic fitness, with the ability to ride at race pace for up to 60 minutes, enough endurance to finish your longest races, and the capacity to recover quickly from interval work and consecutive training or racing days.

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Training While You Work

Most of our clients at Cycle-Smart are not professionals. Or more specifically, they're not professional cyclists. The majority of people we work with are trying to be the best bike racers they can be within the context of their "real lives" - work, school, family - they have other commitments that they aren't looking to sacrifice in order to become a full-time bike racer. One of our biggest challenges as coaches is to help them find the balance between their professions and personal lives and their athletic goals.

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Training In Training Races

As February comes to an end, many of you in North America racers will begin racing in the next few weeks, if you haven't already. Unless you spent the winter somewhere warm where the early season races actually mean something, most of you will start the year with a month or so of smaller training races to get your feet wet (often literally).

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You Gotta Have A Plan

In the 15 years or so I've spent racing full-time and in the 8 years I've worked as a coach, the month of January has always stood out as the most dynamic, and perhaps most important of the season. In normal winters I would have two weeks off at the holidays to recover from cyclo-cross season and head somewhere warm for road racing in February or March. Some years I went to Europe after 'cross nationals and raced another 6 weeks without a break. Other years I attempted to be a year-round New Englander and spent 2 months Nordic skiing before I began structured road training in March.

Intervals For Cyclo-Cross

Cyclo-Cross is hard, plain and simple. There are very few sports that require the same level of intensity from start to finish as a cyclo-cross event. If you could take the feeling of two boxers going toe-to-toe in a wild melee of punches, and then somehow make that last for an entire hour, you might get close to the sensation of a 'cross race.

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