Coach John Hughes jokes that the key to your best season ever is choosing the right parents. But unless you’ve got a time machine, you’re stuck here with the rest of us and will have to actually train to reach your goals for the season.
The real key for us mortals, he says, is following a specific, personalized plan that fits your training needs, your available time, your family commitments and is targeted toward achieving your main goal(s) for the season.
It’s not, to be clear, just a question of piling on the miles.
Last week, Coach Hughes mentioned the famous quote from the great Eddy Merckx about his method for improving: “Ride more.”
According to Coach Hughes in his new eArticle, Your Best Season Ever, Part 1: How to plan and get the most out of your training, Merckx didn’t quite have it right.
“When Merckx raced, cycling science was in its infancy. The thinking then was that riding more boosted aerobic capacity (VO2 max), which was thought to be the best predictor for cycling success.
“Modern research, however, debunks that. A study looked at the aerobic fitness of 309 cyclists ages 17-18 during the period 1996-2002. In 2008 the researchers looked at the same cyclists’ resulting cycling careers. Cyclists were considered to be professionals if they had been on a UCI team for at least three years.
“Hard to argue with Merckx, but:
If riding more isn’t the road to improvement, then what is? As Coach Hughes lays out in Your Best Season Ever, Part 1, improvement results from:
The right kinds of workouts — Different workouts bring about different kinds of improvements. Further, the right kinds of workouts for you are tailored to your personal athletic abilities, fitness, goals, strengths and weaknesses.
At the right times — If you try to work on most or all of your weaknesses at once, you’ll have middling success. Different workouts are most effective at different times of your riding season.
In the right amounts — The optimal amount of training for you depends on your fitness, how well you recover and how much time you have to train. The goal is to achieve maximum fitness, not maximum fatigue!
Resulting in continuing progress — If you do the right workouts at the right times and in the right amounts, then you should continue to improve up to and through your season.
In the new eArticle, Hughes quotes Abraham Lincoln: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
How do you sharpen your individual axe, he asks? By creating and following a personal plan, not a more generic plan.
In Your Best Season Ever, Part 1, Coach Hughes walks you through how to create your own specific, personalized training plan and then get the most out of your training.
“This means creating a plan specific to your own abilities, requirements and goals,” Hughes says. “You will use the tools and steps laid out in this article to create a detailed plan for yourself—just like a coach would do for you if you paid him or her (a lot more money!). When it really comes down to it, who knows you better than yourself in terms of your capabilities, requirements of your daily life, etc.?”
The article covers how to categorize and prioritize your planned events, how to assess your individual strengths and weakness and set appropriate personal objectives.
You then use this information to build a plan including personal training volumes for different periods and months throughout your season.
A plan is only a piece of paper or a spreadsheet, though. As Coach Hughes points out, to have your best season ever you need to implement your plan by training effectively, which includes:
“Creating your plan is work and takes time,” Coach Hughes says. “Every year for each client I create a personal plan, which then guides what I write for specific workouts each week. I’m going to show you how to create the sort of plan I’d create for you if you were my client. But you have to be prepared to put in the time to prepare your plan. The hours you put into creating your plan will pay 10 times the benefits of any training you could do on the bike.”
Coach Hughes’ 32-page eArticle Your Best Season Ever, Part 1: How to plan and get the most out of your training is available today for only $4.99 ($4.24 for Premium Members after their 15% discount).
Part 1 of this article series will flow naturally into Part 2, which will take what you’ve learned in the first article and build on it to help you achieve your ultimate goal(s) for the season.
Your Best Season Ever, Part 2: How to use your training and skills for your best performance, is slated to be completed next month. Stay tuned for more details.