I’ll apologise in advance for a very quick Tuesday Training this week. We’ll be going back over the progress notes of our guinea pigs starting next week, and we’ll also be having another quick clinic to sort out the questions you’ve sent in.We’ve got the last week of your current training phase which will undoubtedly see you cursing thanks to an old favourite training session. We’ll be back to our usual top tips, and individually tailored plans next week but for now I’ve got some urgent business with a new spud seedling!Here’s the next phase of the training plan for the rest of you.The weekly plan
Your legs are probably still creaking from the weekend, but as this is the last week of the current phase, we aren’t letting you ease off just yet.“Pyramisery”
This is a classic pain tolerance session that helps you realise just how hard you can push yourself when you have to – ideal for the last ten minutes of the lap or the last hill of the day.
Find yourself a stopwatch or similar device with blindingly obvious minute / second counter then warm up gradually for ten minutes until you’ve got a bit of a sweat on.
Then – wherever you are in your gear selection – just move up one gear, but keeping the same spin. Hold that spin and gear for a minute then move up another, and just carry on changing up every minute until you push through that aerobic threshold you’ve been nudging for the past two months. Things are going to get really nasty now but keep your teeth gritted as this is where the real progress can be found.
Just keep changing up every minute, concentrating on steady spin and ignoring or pushing the pain away in your head. You’ll be amazed what relaxing your shoulders and face and just pushing on through can do to melt the misery away. There will come a point when you simply cannot hold the gear you’re in, let alone contemplate the next one up, so instead drop a gear at the end of the minute.
A word of warning; Despite the fact you’re now theoretically decreasing your effort every minute, this often won’t be nearly fast enough for your screaming legs. Hold with the step down though, as training your body to work through and process the accumulated lactic acid will pay massive dividends on hard rides in summer. Swear as much as you like, but stick with it.
Carry on dropping a gear a minute until you’re back at a gentle recovery spin and then ride home gently to help your body flush the waste products out of your muscles.
Obviously you will have hills (up or down) that will get in the way of straight gear progression and you’ll also find that your gears don’t go on a simple small, middle then big ring string of ratio’s. You can see what the idea is though, so just concentrate on increasing the intensity with every passing minute, and don’t suddenly find yourself dawdling along because you’re trying to work out what gear comes next. Different folk will also get further up the gears than others, but all you have to do is make sure that you get as far as you possibly can then count to ten and see if you can get any further. Whether that takes you 5 minutes or half an hour, the relative personal development will be the same for each of you.
You should be in no doubt that this session will hurt like hell, but as you’ve got a whole week’s rest ahead of you next week, you’ve still got one session to do.
So your tired brain hasn’t got to cope with anything new or clever it’s just a repeat of the first week of the cycle, but we’ll stick it in here again so you don’t have to go looking.
Really concentrate on mentally preparing yourself to nail each part of the session. Just keep remembering that making the effort now for the final part of each set will make sprints, hills and anything else you care to tackle a whole lot easier come summer.
Warm up gradually for ten minutes until you’ve got a bit of a sweat on.
Then increase speed until you hit the threshold level you worked out last month. If you need a clue – it’s somewhere between the point at which your legs start to burn, and the point where you start having to think about trying. You shouldn’t have enough breath to hold a conversation, but your shoulders shouldn’t be rolling and you shouldn’t have gritted teeth.
If you ride once a week hold this intensity for three minutes. If you ride twice a week hold it for four minutes, if you ride more than that hold it for five minutes.
Now relax and spin (drop down a whole chainring’s worth of gears at the front) for a minute before accelerating up to threshold level again.
If you train once a week repeat the ride and rest sequence five times. If you ride twice a week repeat it 7 times, if you ride more than that go up and back again 8 times. You’ll probably (in fact ‘hopefully’ if we’ve done our job right) find that you aren’t nearly as strong as usual with this session but keep going until you really are feeling ropey and can’t hold the pressure without heaving and rolling your shoulders. Then once it’s done, roll home for a very well deserved rest.Where?
Now you’re getting used to training pace, you can ride more varied terrain. Ideally find an offroad loop you can ride a lap of hard in the appropriate time. This has the added advantage of letting you practice corners or other technical sections repeatedly, increasing you speed and smoothness through them each time. You’ll soon be railing the singletrack ready for race day. Just one word of caution though, don’t include anything too steep – either up or down – or it’ll be hard to keep your pulse rate downWhen?
As it’s a hard session it’s best to get this one early in the week so you hit it fresh. If you’re running multiple sessions per week we’ll leave you to play it by ear. If you’re tired then take it easy, if you’re raring to go fit another hard session in. Keep concentrating on your base fitness with firm continuous rides rather than short sharp shock sessions. You’ll have plenty of time to sharpen up with them later in the year, and pushing too hard now will leave you a spluttering, coughing wreck by Easter.Why?
By repeatedly taking the body to the threshold between efficient muscle use and flat out burn, you train yourself to recognise that level, as well as being able to accelerate up to it easily. This will be particularly useful coming out of slow corners or winding up for the last charge of a race. The sessions also allow you to spend more time at the threshold than a continuous session for the same cumulative effort, and it’s much easier to hold the level for two minutes than it is for a whole 30 minutes.
This creates a more responsive fitness base for everyday riding situations as well as preparing you for the sprint / technical bit / sprint / technical bit nature of most races.