It’s official; the training season has officially begun. Whether you’re getting ready for your first race, your first organized ride or your first 50 – 100 mile ride, following a training program can make your end goal seem like a walk in the park. The phrase “work smarter, not harder” may not have been coined on a bike seat, but it certainly should be stamped on one. If you’re like me, you ride your bike because you like to ride your bike; racing and other milestone rides are bonuses. But these days time is money, so spending quality time on your bike is a must while working towards your goal, even if it means staying off your bike. WHAT? Stay off your bike to be more proficient on your bike? That’s right! Countless hours on the bike can actually do more harm than good. Following a training program helps you think about the rest needed to repair and build muscles damaged by training. It also helps you make the best use of your time.
However, not all training programs are created equal. Selecting the right training program depends on your final goal and how much time you have until your planned event. A racer training for a 2 hour race will follow a different training plan than a person wanting to complete their first 100 mile ride (aka a century). No matter what plan you choose to follow, aspects of the plans are constant — hard days, easy days and rest days. The duration and frequency of each of workout or rest day depends on what your end goal is and where you are in the training program.
So……Where do these training programs come from? Search any of the top bicycling periodicals, websites or books and you’ll be able to find generic training plans for most riders and rides like this one. Specialty training sites like Training Peaks will set up a training plan specific to your needs using a questionnaire to help determine your goals. For the more serious riders, a personal trainer may be the ticket. I recently spoke to Kevin Livingston from Pedal Hard Training Center in the basement of Mellow Johnny’s bicycle shop, the one Lance owns, about training, pedal-hard and it was truly enlightening. I must admit, I have some work to do on my training program, or lack thereof after talking to him, and in weeks to come, I hope to share my progress with you. No matter which style you choose, the key is to write it down and follow it. I’d be willing to bet if you’ve never followed a structured training program before and make an honest effort to follow one you’ll be amazed at the time it saves actually spent on the bike and the rate at which you improve.
My riding tip for this week is more like a resting tip. Rest is the most important day in a training cycle. It’s when all the good stuff happens. Riding hard or long tears muscle fibers down. These fibers get repaired and grow during the rest days and recovery days. Even during interval training, the rest phase is not to be skipped to cut down the work out time.
In the coming weeks I hope to make some changes to my own training program dealing with my rest and duration in preparation for the upcoming race season and report on my progress. I hope to see your progress as well but until then, remember to kick back once in a while and put your feet up and rest!