Monday, March 25, 2013

8 Steps for an 8 Week Training Plan - Peter Kay

1.) Have an objective in mind; try to be specific in identifying your Focus. A certain finishing time is good, but a better way to approach the final leg of training is to concentrate on one or two aspects of the ride that may become an obstacle on event day. 

What is it that you need to work on most between now and the event? The Assaults are a rare blend of distance, climbing, and flat-out intensity. Though you can’t improve everything in two months, you can hone essential skills and improve a specific weakness or two. 

  2.) Count backwards from your goal date; starting with the Taper. How long does it take you to taper for a big event like the Assault on Mt. Mitchell? This can be anywhere between 4-10 days depending on your body, so you’ll have to plan accordingly. And remember, tapering IS NOT the same as “time off the bike” or a “recovery week.” Tapering is a lowering of duration and some intensity in order to be recovered and “fresh,” but includes enough of these to keep from becoming “wooden” or “stale.” 

 Read more: The Taper and One Week to Go... 

  3.) Plan a Recovery Week in the middle. Divide the time between now and the beginning of the taper in half, and place the middle of the recovery week at that point. You’ll need at least 6-7 days of easy rides/rest days to rebuild muscle and rejuvenate your determination. Include part or all of a weekend; don’t limit it to Mon-Fri. 

4.) For the remaining, undesignated days, create a Realistic & Achievable Weekly Schedule based on Time (rather than distance). Use your current pattern of rides, making only a few changes and additions. Most of your gains in the coming weeks should be made through focus rather than a sudden increase in volume (which can easily lead to burn-out and over-training). 

How many days can you expect to ride per week? How many hours on each of those days? Remember, regularity and frequency are key when preparing for an event like AoMM; riding every day a week for one hour is better than only riding one day a week for seven hours. Make any adjustments you may need with this in mind. 

5.) Give every ride a Purpose. Whether it’s a long endurance ride, a short easy spin, or an all-out intervalfest, before you click-in to the pedals, you should have a clear objective in mind for that day. This can help alleviate questions/doubts/stress about a ride, freeing your mind to enjoy the day. 

6.) Allow plenty of time to Recover between difficult rides and hard efforts. Muscles are stronger after they’ve built back up. A monotonously heavy workload will make no gains. Riding for an hour as hard as you can is less effective (in the long run) than doing three 20 minute intervals with 10-15 minutes of easy spinning in between each. After you catch your breath, or after a day of rest, you’ll be able to go faster and work harder when it’s time to do so again.

Dig a hole; climb back out.
Dig a hole; climb back out.
Dig a hole; climb back out,and when you’re done,
you’ll be on top.

Dig a hole within a hole,
and then keep digging. . .
and you’ll never get out.

7.) Be Flexible. Good training plans combine focus and flexibility. The majority of cyclists – we “mere humans” – are not able to adhere to an idealistic structure. These best laid schemes often go awry as weather, family life, and work obligations change. For that reason, it’s important to plan alternatives, and be mentally prepared to miss a few days here and there. 

As tempting as it is, one of the worst things cyclists do is try to “make up for” missing a ride by adding intensity or volume to their next ride. If it’s an important ride (intervals or intensity), then some adjustment to the plan may be needed. However, in most cases, missing a single day will not be detrimental, whereas doubling or intensifying rides in an attempt to “make up for” a day can tear down the muscles too much; burying you in the hole you’ve dug. 

Reevaluate your plan once or twice as you go along, and you’ll be able to make intelligent and more objective adjustments, but avoid revamping your schedule too often or attempting to adhere to the original plan at all costs. 

8.) Be Creative and Have Fun! When making your schedule, use an assortment of techniques to achieve your objective. There are many ways to target certain muscles or improve certain techniques. Use multiple recourses to create an assortment of interesting and fun workouts for the next several weeks. 

Remember, riding a bike is enjoyable. Achieving your goals is rewarding. The moment you begin to dread the bike is the moment your training plan is off-track. Sure, there are days that are physically challenging or mentally tough, but these should not be a source of anxiety. In keeping with the seventh step above, if you find yourself truly dreading the next ride regardless of its purpose, then either rest or. . . just go out and pedal around for fun. Explore a new neighborhood or ride up to the coffee shop or something like that. 

For me, building variety in workouts and exploring new routes help to keep my rides fresh, interesting, and enjoyable!

Peter Kay

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