Question: It’s hard to accumulate base miles here in wintertime Scotland. The days are short and wet. If I can do three rides a week (one for four hours and two for two), what’s the best use of this on-bike time? – Craig D.
Coach Fred Replies: If you’re training for fitness and local events, three rides totaling about eight hours is plenty of base for this time of year. For racing, you’ll want to add some intensity.
Here’s one effective way to structure the rides.
- Do the long, four-hour ride at a steady, moderate pace. You can throw in some accelerations away from stop signs and up short hills, but don’t get carried away. This ride is to build your aerobic base.
- Do the two shorter rides mostly in the base-building aerobic zone, but add some intensity. On one day, do a 20-minute steady time trial-like effort at a heart rate about 10 bpm below your summer TT intensity. On the other day, hit the hills a bit harder.
Here’s another concept. For a rider who has limited off-season riding opportunities, some coaches suggest what’s called “reverse periodization.”
In standard periodization, steady and moderately paced endurance miles come first during the winter. Then power and speed are added in the spring closer to important events. In reverse periodization, the harder efforts come first when rides are limited by early darkness and nasty weather. Then long endurance miles are added when it’s easier to get outside.
What I’ve suggested at the top is somewhere between these two periodization approaches. I’ve found it works well for me.