Keep Your Eye on the Prize

No matter what’s happening around you, focus on YOUR goal

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  • With your eyes on your prize, you can run your own race
  • Others may be stronger at the moment, but they don’t have your goals or your plan
  • Achieving so-called “stretch goals” is difficult, and they take time…and refusal to give in
  • You won’t achieve your goals without a plan. Start with a solid plan.
[/content_box] [dropcap style=”default”]Trusting your training[/dropcap]

can be a challenge when everyone around you seems to be faster and stronger. But if you’ve built a solid plan, you have to stick to that plan, and trust that your hard work is going to deliver you to your planned peak in the best shape you can possibly be in.

I knew going into the 2015 racing season that it was going to be a season of evolution and change. Racing this season wasn’t for top 10 results — it was for training. (OK, I know… training, in order to be effective, has to have goals. But stay with me.)

I switched from racing Category 4/5 to straight Cat 4 this year. Needless to say, the riders were smarter, stronger, and yeah — faster. I learned that there were a number of racers who had spent quite a few seasons as Cat 4’s honing their skills.

[callout]If you have a significant long term goal, then you have to turn a blind eye to the achievements of those around you who are achieving comparatively short term goals. You’re on a longer road.[/callout]

“Oh, so that’s why you’re finishing at the caboose end of all the races, Sam?”

Well. It’s not that simple. Allow me to explain.

Intensity During Base Building

Racing started in early March, and my training schedule for this year simply didn’t prioritize any spring — or summer racing, for that matter. I have only 2 peaks for the year: Ohio’s Road Race Championship in late July, and the Haute Route Compact Dolomites, which rolls out of Geneva, Switzerland on August 31st.

With peaks so late in the year, I was committed to building a Great Big Giant Hairy Base.

There have been a number of debates on the web regarding the efficacy of base training. Not a few of them have been dedicated to “debunking” it.

However, much, much more experienced minds than I hold to the practice. I stuck to my base building guns.

Lots and lots of zone 2 riding. Lots of checking my Efficiency Factor to see if my heart rate and my power were in line with each other. If you’ve checked out my 3×25 Plan, then you’ll understand why I’ve only really just started working on intense intervals as the bulk of my training, even though we’re well into the start of the summer racing season.

The Combo Effect

By “catting up” from 4/5 to 4, and staying committed to a spring and early summer of base and early build that downplayed intense intervals, I simply wasn’t going to be competitive against riders who had been punching the VO2 limit during the winter. It’s been a real struggle to hit top end speed, and my sprint is essentially nonexistent.

But I have a much, much different focus…

Training for a Taste of the High Road

I just bought my airline tix for Geneva in late August. This just got very real. Ever heard of the Haute Route? 


I raced all through March, April, and early May. Road races, no crits. I completed every race with one exception (a puncture due to a pothole the size of my bike that I couldn’t leap…although I tried.) Criterium season is ramping up now, and it’s the type of racing that the midwest cyclists seem to just eat up: short time commitment, high speed. My focus however, looks like this:

Crazy, insane time commitment has been the order of the training day for me. For months. Why? Because 109+ mile routes over the highest mountain passes in Europe can’t be trained for like you train for a 50-mile road race or a 25-minute crit.

I’ve finished at the back end of the peloton in every race so far this season, thanks to my incredibly low amount of high-intensity training. In fact, road race season is essentially over where I live, but I do have a weekly time trial that allows me to push to the absolute limit every Tuesday. Among other things, it helps me to steadily increase my FTP, which is critical to climbing at a steady pace.

How then will I train for Alpine and Dolomite passes while living in the Midwest United States?

The next blog in the series will give you an overview of my training for the next three months. But to keep you comin’, here’s a hint:


View from atop Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina, USA, during the 2nd of my 4 planned “climbing weekends” in preparation for the Haute Route Compact Dolomites 2015

See you on the road…

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Sam Lowe

I've been a road cyclist with a penchant for speed ever since my first-ever paycheck holiday. I blew the whole wad on a turquoise Schwinn Tempo with then-new Shimano 105 indexed shifting way back in 1985. I've been a voracious consumer of racing-oriented information ever since. Training, nutrition, bike fit, racing techniques, and all manner of "kit." Between nearly 30 years of riding, racing, and reading about racing, I'm ready to help you get ready to race.

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