Make Your Own Way
This article is being written at 35000 feet, somewhere between Santa Barbara, California and Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The load in the early portion of the year isn?t high enough to lead to significant improvement, and by the time you get to the more intense portion of the year, you?re starting to ramp up from a lower fitness level than you could be.
I?ve scared more than a few amateur cyclists by progressing them through harder interval workouts normally reserved for the Preparation or Specialization (competition) periods months before their goal events. Their apprehension stems from the idea that doing hard work too soon will hurt their chances of reaching peak performance later in the year. However, for the athlete who has limited time, adding intensity may be the best way to get the most out of training. The increased training load from progressing through shortened Preparation and Specialization training blocks leads to greater aerobic power than we see when time-limited athletes focus solely on aerobic conditioning during the same time period. You still have to follow a periodization plan and focus on one aspect of training at a time, but the progression from one step to the next is more rapid with this approach.
After these more intense early-season training blocks, time-limited cyclists can progress into a more traditional Preparation Period of training, complete with the typical long, sustainable power intervals, and then move into the Specialization Period that leads them to peak condition for their goal event. The key is to take advantage of your relatively low weekly volume to increase intensity and start the second Preparation/Specialization sequence with a higher level of fitness than you would have otherwise. The pros have the luxury of volume, you have the luxury of recovery.
Clean Out Your Closet
Far be it for me to tell people how to spend their money, and I like a tricked-out bike as much as the next guy, but things are getting out of hand. With the quest to have the newest lightweight gadget or the same bikes the pros ride, I?ve seen riders wearing four-year-old, worn out cycling shorts and jerseys from 1996 while riding brand new $8000 machines.
When you?re done reading Roadcycling.com, go to your closet and evaluate the age of your cycling clothing. If you?ve been riding in a pair of shorts for more than two seasons, replace it . The changes in performance fabrics, chamois shape and design, and seam placement in the past few years may not have grabbed headlines, but they have made a huge difference in comfort and temperature regulation. You?ll feel better, and in turn perform better, with updated cycling clothing.
Also check your heart rate monitor. New heart rate monitors , like the Nike Triax , are easier to use than previous generations of heart rate monitors. The new generation of monitors has improved features and can be downloaded into your computer. You can even download workouts from your computer into some monitors. You may also consider adding a power meter to your arsenal of training equipment. You?ll get more out of your training from using new monitors than a