Cyclist off the back in a race

7 steps to Avoid the Hope Training Plan

A winter full of “riding for fitness” is the equivalent of hoping you’ll get faster in the spring.

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  • Gifted beginners are often rudely greeted in their 2nd season
  • Starting a simple plan NOW will carry you past Cat 5
  • Planning for success has 7 focus areas
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One of the realities

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of being a beginning racer in category five races, is that you will be racing with riders of all speed levels.  While the experience of nearly every rider will be small, some of them, nonetheless, will have picked their parents very well. That means, their genetic predispositions mean they will be fast from the get-go.

You may be one of those people. If so, congratulations. Most of us cannot relate!

It’s possible, therefore, if you are naturally fast, that your first season will be a breeze.

Although this will mean your first season will be a lot of fun, it can give you a false sense of success. All that is required to move up from category five to category four, is that you complete 10 races. You don’t have to get on the podium. You don’t have to finish in the top 10. You simply have to finish them.

Examples of screens from the free video series, "6 Laps to Confidence"

FREE SPEED! C’mon…who doesn’t love that?

This is covered in our free video series, “6 Laps to Confidence.”

If you are finishing your Cat 5 races extremely well, and doing so without any kind of structure to your preparation, it will be easy for you to think that you will be able to achieve the same level of success as a category four racer.

I hate to be the one to break the news, but that’s not likely to happen. Unless, of course, your family name is Merckx, LeMond, or Cancellara.

Simply “riding lots” isn’t going to up your endurance, your ability to ride at threshold, or your ability to close down attacks or unleash bursts during that final climb.

 

[callout icon=”hb-moon-bike”]If you are finishing your Cat 5 races extremely well, and doing so without any kind of structure to your preparation, it will be easy for you to think that you will be able to achieve the same level of success as a category four racer.[/callout]

 

To go from category four to category three, you must consistently place at the upper end of the pack.  At that level, you cannot trust your training or your fitness to chance. Otherwise, racing simply becomes an evolutionary exercise of weeding out the weak over time. And that just isn’t any fun. Racing ultimately is like playing chess. If you’re not strategically improving yourself, you’re not playing the game. You simply become prey.

Every training ride must have a specific purpose. Every training ride must either be to improve a specific weakness in your riding, or be an active recovery ride.

 

Here is a big picture plan that can assist you in planning for a specific upcoming race.

  1. Choose a target race
  2. Back out at least 12 weeks
  3. Divide those 12 weeks into periods including Preparation, Base Building, Build Phase, Peak Phase,  and finally, your Race
  4. Set physical benchmarks, such as your Lactate Threshold Heart Rate, or your Functional Threshold Power
  5. Calculate Your Training Zones
  6. Determine which aspects of your racing need the most work in order to do well at your target race
  7. Perform workouts in each period designed to improve your weaknesses, and at the intensities and lengths appropriate for that period

 

These seven points illustrate the foundation of what is called, “periodization.” It is a method of systematically and mindfully increasing the stress on your body in incremental ways leading up to a targeted event. The closer you get to your target race, the more like the actual event your training will become.

Training in this structured way, and also including strength training and appropriate nutrition will see you experiencing consistent, incremental gains in your fitness. Which is a fancy way of saying you’ll also get faster

 

[icon_box icon=”hb-moon-bike” icon_position=”left” align=”left”] Question: Are you currently riding “by feel,” or are you training according to a structured plan? Tell us about it, here.[/icon_box]

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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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