Your Christmas Lists

December has come and gone.  Hopefully you were good little boys and girls and put some good training on your Christmas lists.  Guess what …..  March is right around the corner so you will need those Christmas wishes to come true! 

The 2010 Spring Series was awesome – great venues, solid racing and competitive fields.  Big Dave did a fantastic job taking the reins of the event.   Next year’s series looks as though he has stepped-up the game another few notches.

March 21st is the opener for the 2011 Spring Series at Deer Creek.   For many local cyclists, the Spring Series is not only a highlight of their season but also a major goal.  Where else can you find so many races in your own back yard?  Many of my clients have the Spring Series as a major objective on their 2011 Goal Sheet.  Even if your objective is to use the series as training, it is good to go into it with solid form.   So, what are the nuts and bolts of getting ready?  What do you need to do to hit your target for the series?

Ideally, your preparation should have started in October by taking that month off and letting your body and mind recover from the 2010 season.   Time off is just as important as the physical training you did all season.  It can set the tone for the training you are about to undertake again.  Bike racing is not only consuming in terms of time spent training, but is physically and mentally demanding as well.  You need down time to rejuvenate and get that fire back in your belly. 

Now it is December, and you may be asking, where do I go from here?  How do I get fit for the 2011 Spring Series?  Given your off the bike commitments, what can I do to maximize my training?  Remember, training is about QUALITY, not QUANTITY!  A very common mistake made by many. 

Winter training has multiple phases:

  • Weight Control
  • Gym Work
  • Base miles
  • Trainer Time
  • Putting it all Together 

Weight Control

There is no getting around it – the leaner you are the less work your body has to do to propel forward, especially up hill.  Diet and weight control are critical in the winter.   Your saddle time is limited to the trainer and short rides outdoors; less riding time = less calorie burning.  ‘Tis the season to over-indulge, so make smart choices!  Being focused on the long term goals and staying fit is much better  than trying to shed those pounds when it is crunch time. 

Gym Work

 It’s not too late ….. start a gym program!  As long as I have been racing (25 years now) I have been hitting the gym in the off season; October through the end of February.  The gains made in the gym are crucial to the competitive cyclist.  The goal is to build a solid base of strength without bulking up; remember you have to carry that muscle up a hill!

Not only does the gym serve the purpose of building strength, but it also adds diversity to your winter program.  By dedicating at least 3 months to working out in the gym at 2 sessions per week (separated by at least 1 full day), you will see and feel the gains you’ve made when March comes around.  A structured procedure is key to your program. 

Base Miles

This is your foundation.  Before you do any structured efforts, you have to have base miles in your legs.  This prepares your legs and cardiovascular system for the coming workload.  Are there a set number of miles you need to achieve?  That depends on your level of racing experience.  For a Cat. III cyclist, I would say a solid 1,500-2,000 pre-race season miles (November to March) are acceptable.   This is done on the weekends, of course when the weather lets us. 

Base miles is simply that; spending maximum time in your Tempo / Endurance Zone.   That means no racing your buddies on the Sunday Ride, no sprinting for the county signs or racing up a hill.  Short 1 to 2 minute bursts are “okay” as long as you have plenty of recovery time afterwards. 

Trainer Time

No way around it, you HAVE to hit the dreaded trainer.   Unless you can just fly off to Majorca or Tucson to spend your winters, the trainer is a valuable tool.  For me, 2 hours indoors is my MAX!  The great thing about a trainer is the quality you get out of it.  There is no scientific equation, but my estimate is that 1 hour on the trainer equals 1.5 to 2 hours on the road.  This especially holds true if you are doing structured efforts.  Try to dedicate 2 trainer rides per work week and on Saturday’s and Sunday’s if you are not able to ride outdoors. 

So, what should I be doing on the trainer now???  Well, I can’t give away all my secrets, but you want to start with the same principle you are applying to your time on the road – base time or base efforts.   It is a building process; you need to get your body ready to do those short, hard intense efforts.  To get there, you need base efforts first.  You are not going to get maximum benefit from a 1 minute 100% effort unless your body is prepared for that work. 

Putting it all Together

When March rolls around and you can put all those pieces together; you are at your fighting weight, your time in the gym has given you some good base strength, the base miles you have logged have given you a good foundation and your knife has been sharpened by doing structured work on the trainer. Now, you are ready for the Spring Series and a great racing season! 

Don’t let the winter fool you.  Now is a crucial time in your preparation for the 2011 Spring Series.  If you are thinking about getting a coach, now is the time.

Be Safe!