Question: This is my first season doing Cat 4/5 road races. So far I’ve ridden a few criteriums and just finished a stage race. I’m happy with my results and starting to think about how to be in really good shape for next season.
To gain experience, I’m planning to continue competing once or twice a week — a short Thursday night criterium and then a longer weekend race. Is this the right approach? How should I structure my training during the rest of the week? — Clancy S.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: It’s difficult to do a high-quality workout more than twice a week.
After you ride really hard, you need plenty of recovery time. So a crit on Thursday and a race on the weekend might be the maximum without eventually sliding into overtraining.
You can experiment with a short interval or sprint session on Tuesday, but be careful and monitor your body to make sure you’re not overdoing it.
Here’s another thing to consider: Racing is great for fitness because it’s specific to what you’re training for. But in a race, what you “work on” is dictated by the ebb and flow of the race itself. Depending on the course and how tactics play out, you may not get a chance to work on your weaknesses.
For instance, in the Thursday night crit, you probably won’t do any climbing. If your top-priority race involves lots of uphill, you won’t be prepared. So it’s important to forego racing sometimes in order to train specifically for long-range goals.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred's full bio.