With the ﬁrst few days of summer and some serious endurance challenges looming for 2014 what’s the best advice David George can give to you as you plan and approach your training for the coming season?
Be consistent with your training. It’s better to give the body consistent stimulus rather than cramming all your workouts into one or two big sessions a week. The body responds to repetitive stimulus and only by repeating the same isolated workout many times can we hope to make the desired physiological adaption to improve performance. It’s better to ride ﬁve to six times a week than doing three big rides.
Double sessions are a great way to increase the amount of training sessions per week if you’re crunched for time. If like most of us you are working a full day, an early session in the morning backed up by an afternoon workout is a great way to stress the body enough to adapt and improve.
Be sure to have enough time, ﬂuids and nutrition during the day to recover enough for your evening session though, as a starved and under hydrated body will only lead to fatigue and failure to complete the next workout. Be aware of your level of fatigue. Although necessary to achieve adaption, fatigue gone unchecked will have the reverse effect of what you were aiming for in training.
Be speciﬁc about what your goal is for every single ride that you do, even if it is a recovery ride understand the objective before you head out so that you don’t get tempted or distracted to doing something else. Also choose a riding partner that is on a similar preparation cycle to you, that way it will be easier to remain focused on the session ahead. And don’t turn speciﬁc workouts into a race! Stick to the brief and rather use quantiﬁable metrics like a power meter as a comparison for performance than your sparring partner.
Do intense workouts on fresh legs. Don’t try to do an interval session the day after you have done a ﬁve hour ride. Conversely the endurance rides are always best done the day after an interval session. Make sure your endurance training is done at the desired level of intensity and not a level higher that could lead to fatigue or failure to complete the full ride. A ﬁve hour ride at endurance intensity is not the same as a hard three hour ride of dicing with your mates!
There is no short-cut to a good endurance base. Many books have been written about time crunched training programs for a working week but unfortunately there is no way to really simulate the real effects of long endurance training other than putting in the hours on the bike.
Increased capillarization and recruitment of mitochondria are fundamental in the transfer of oxygen to the muscles, these systems are mostly stressed towards the end of long training rides and races. If you are only doing three hour rides at a time and plan to do an Epic where stages are ﬁve hours plus for eight days in a row, then your body is in for a rude awakening!
Be active in your recovery from a race and or hard session. I always advise, and it worked for me too, that you stay active in the day or two after a race or hard session and then take a day or two off later in the week, if you have to. Active recovery allows the body to recover while moving blood to the parts of the body that are fatigued clearing lactic acid and reducing inﬂammation. Similarly be active in your approach to an objective or race. Most people make the mistake of resting all the way up to an event and end up feeling completely lethargic on the day.
Your body is like an engine that needs a few revs before it starts to purr. Rest in advance so that you have a few days to open the body up and expose it to a similar level it will be expected to respond to during the race. Don’t go mad the day before but brief intervals and some jumps the day before your race often leads to better performance on the day.
Feed your engine with good things. Nutrition is an article on its own (so be sure to read Rochez’s column every month) but a little bit of common sense will tell you your car won’t run without gas. Be sensible and attentive to what you put in your body. If you have any doubts and need a tailored program seek professional advice from someone that understands the demands of what you are asking your body to do. There you go, now you’ve got seven solid tips on how to ensure you’re in good shape for those late summer races. So get out there and ride.