Training

Learning how to train properly, and to improve your cycling and overall fitness, are keys to becoming a better road cyclist, and to better enjoying your time on the road. From specific training techniques and fitness-boosting workout tips to the psychological side of cycling, we offer an array of helpful advice.

The Comeback, Part 1: No Sweat

RBR Editor John Marsh recently fractured his collarbone; he had surgery on April 27. The surgeon told him that he shouldn’t ride the trainer for two weeks or until the incision is healed – to avoid sweating on it and risking infection. John just got the OK to resume showering and trainer riding a couple days ago, a bit ahead of schedule. The following was written before that time to give John and anyone coming back from such an injury an array of activities that can be done before resuming trainer riding and, ultimately, road riding. I'll follow this column with ongoing advice over the next 2 issues.

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Where Are You Going on Your Bike?

Last week I shared with you the plan that I wrote for Randy Brich to train for the Gravel Grinder he's doing in June. Randy knows where he wants to go; he just didn’t know how to get there. Training plans are divided into phases for several reasons. A rider will get maximum improvement if the rider focuses on just one type of training at a time. To keep improving, the training must keep getting harder; however, at some point a rider plateaus (or burns out). To keep improving, the type of training needs to change rather than just increasing the volume.

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How to Use Spring to Prepare for a June Event

Last week I described how to train effectively this spring. Today I'm focusing on a specific real-world example of how to prepare for a June event. Reader Randy Brich wrote in using the Ask RBR a Question feature open to Premium Members. My answer to Randy's query follows. (Quick reminder: Premium Members, if you have a specific cycling-related question you can't find an answer to on our site and would like to ask one of our experts directly, fire away.) 

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Ride Like A Pro This Spring

March is our heaviest snow month in Boulder, Colorado, where I live, but spring is finally here and the days are getting up into the 60s! Many pros live here. The top pros are in Europe training or racing, while the domestic pros are getting ready for the domestic season ahead. When I’m riding with my buddy, we play a game “Spot the Pro.” We look for certain signs that tell us the rider is a pro. Most of those signs involve what the pro is NOT doing so early in the year: hammering, high-intensity riding, riding with bare legs on cold days, etc. 

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Why Your Max Heart Rate May Be Irrelevant

I’m very pleased that 87% of RBR readers monitor your intensity while riding, because training by intensity is the most effective way to train! However, setting your training zones based on max heart rate isn’t the best way. The coaching consensus is that heart rate training zones based on a rider’s lactate threshold (LT) are better. “Wait a minute,” I can hear you thinking. “Last week Coach Hughes wrote about “Why Your Lactate Threshold May Be Irrelevant.” Lactate threshold takes into account your fitness – and that’s why it’s a better way to set your training zones.

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How Can I Get Fit Fast for an Upcoming Event?

I confess – I didn't ride very much during the winter. But I want to get in shape for a metric century on the Memorial Day weekend. Is there any hope? Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Don't panic, Calvin. You and everyone who had a less-than-productive off-season can gain sufficient fitness for a big spring event. If you want to do a 62-mile (100-km) ride then, let's assume that you have 9-10 weeks to prepare. That's enough time if you start now. Here's how.

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How Much Should You Train?

How much should you train? The answer: Probably not as much as you think. My friend and fellow cycling coach Neal Henderson says that 65% of the athletes he sees train too much, 25% train too little and 10% get it right – the pros who are paid to perform. Henderson is the head of Apex Coaching and was named the 2009 USA Cycling Coach of the Year. He coaches clients ranging from novices to World and Olympic champions. And he says only 10% of his clients train the proper amount!

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The Week Off: Finding Balance Between Training and Recovery

I’ve been cross-country skiing for 13 weeks and having a blast! I’m skiing better than I have in years. After months of great conditions, though, we now have temps in the 40s in the mountains. The ski trails are thawing during the day and freezing overnight, resulting in terrible conditions. I want to ski! But I’m forced to take time off. Turns out, despite being a coach, I'm just like every other athlete when it comes to finding balance between training and recovery. But I'm taking this week off, following my own advice to dial back the training and increase the recovery.

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Staying Fit for Life

At age 66 I’ve been a roadie for almost two-thirds of my life. When I had my annual physical last year I told my doctor his job was to keep me riding for (at least) another 20 years. When I started riding in my 20s, each spring we rode centuries and the annual Davis Double Century to get in shape for touring. In my 30s I found that I excelled at long-distance riding and I became very competitive. As I got older, though, I started exercising more for fun and fitness and less to prove anything. Today, I exercise for recreation. If it's not fun, I don't do it.

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How to Deal with Aging and Recovery

For the last 20+ years every March, I've coached at PAC Tour Training Camps in southern Arizona. We ride 60-125 miles per day for a week. If I train with consecutive longer rides on weekends beforehand, I feel pretty good at camp—but when I get home it catches up to me and I need a couple of weeks of easier riding and rest to bounce back. It didn’t used to be that way. When I started riding in my late 20s, I could push hard every day for several weeks. I was full of youth, strength and enthusiasm. But over the years my recovery time has lengthened inexorably.

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Can a Sauna Build Heat-Riding Tolerance?

Living in Seattle, there is not much opportunity to build heat tolerance by riding in hot weather, assuming that even helps. Recently, while sitting in the steam sauna, I wondered, if done regularly, would that help. If so, would the steam sauna or dry sauna be more effective. Of course, I'm really looking for any excuse to spend more time in the sauna.

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