Question: I’ve been unable to follow my regular training schedule because of work. In fact, I’ve done nothing but easy rides for two months. A friend talked me into racing a time trial next week. How can I get ready? — Brenda N.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I’m afraid there isn’t much physical progress you can make in one week. Exercise physiologists (and experience) say that it takes at least a month of a particular workout to generate measurable improvement.
The general rule is that you can’t get faster in the last week before an event, but you can definitely get slower. The temptation is to do too much and arrive at the race fatigued.
However, even in one week you can accustom your body to a time trial’s unique demands. You may not ride any faster, but you can be more comfortable and less likely to suffer an injury.
Do a couple of short interval sessions on the bike you plan to time trial on (or your regular bike set up for the time trial). This will acquaint your body with pedaling hard in the aerodynamic time trial position.
It may improve your breathing and muscle function, too, even if you don’t garner actual aerobic benefits in so short a time.
Don’t overdo these intervals. They should be ridden at 90% of your most intense effort for the distance (about 80-85% of your max heart rate).
Two sessions of three 5-minute efforts should do it. Do the second workout no closer than 48 hours before the event.