March 29, 2019
by Alison Powers ALP Cycles Coaching
Two weeks ago, while in Leadville for ALP Cycles Racing's Winter Training Camp, a few of the riders asked me if I had started to train yet, and if so, how it's going. A bit of history here: 3 months ago, I signed up for the 141 mile Steamboat Gravel race in August. My reply to the if I had started to train or not question was, "I'm more in the training to train phase. Meaning I have to get my body back to a place where it can handle a training load required."
I quit professional bike racing 5 years ago. During this 5 year span, I have continued doing many of the things I did when I was racing, but more at a just have fun level. Things that weren't fun or were costly disappeared (stretching, core strength, massage, body maintenance). Things that were fun, I had the freedom to do more of (short lunch time rides, rides with friends, no riding if I didn't feel like it).
During these 5 years of retirement, in addition to nearing 40 (aging), my body was starting to slowly fall apart. After 2 career's of professional sports (ski racing and bike racing), the injuries that comes with those, and 10 surgeries, I was starting to feel and ache like an old woman. Bike rides started lasting 60-90 min not because that's all I wanted to do, but because that's all my back could handle on the bike.
Signing up for this gravel race was just the kick starter I needed to start taking care of myself again. My goal for this race it to ride it fairly fast, faster than any other female. The training required to win this type of race is very different than the training to just finish a race. Plus, I've never ridden 141 miles at one time in my life.
This brings me back to the "I have to get my body back to a place where it can handle the training load" statement. If I can't ride for 90 min without pain, how am I supposed to train for and race an 8+ hour race and expect to win? I can't, that's not realistic.
For the past 3.5 months, I have backed up, and started from ground zero. Consistent strength training and core strength have been the base of my "training". I'm back to stretching and rolling every day. I visited Specialized Boulder for a Retul bike fit. This work on top of the body work I was already getting and I no longer feel like an old woman. I did a 2.5 hr ride and not once did I have to stop, get on the ground, and do some kind of strange twist or stretch to try to relieve my back pain. My body is starting to feel like it will be ready to train again. To handle the training load required to ride fast and hard for 141 miles.
The training before the training might be the most important training period in the yearly training plan. However, it is the step that is most easily brushed aside, and forgotten about. As coaches, we recommend that athletes stick with coaching on a year round basis. We can help you work on your weaknesses in the off season, and build a strong base of "functional" strength and fitness before focusing on the bike.
It has taken me 3 months to start feeling like I'm in a place to be ready to train. While I haven't officially started training yet, imagine if I had waited until March or April to start thinking about my bike fit, my core strength, how to deal with my back pain, etc. I would be way behind the 8-ball and would not be in a good place to reach my race outcome goal in August.
No doubt, I will need to stay diligent on my core strength, and mobility through this process (and throughout life), and I'll be able to focus more and more on the bike soon (but first cross training, Nordic skiing, strength training) to reach my outcome goal in August.
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ABOUT ALISON POWERS
Alison Powers only recently retired from cycling, finishing her final season on the UnitedHealthcare Women’s Team. Her career has spanned a wide array of wins, including the 2013 USA Cycling Professional Criterium National Championship where she won in memorable fashion by soloing after an early breakaway that obliterated the pro women’s peloton. Other standout results during the 33-year-old’s 2013 season include the win at Redlands Bicycle Classic, second at the Tour of Elk Grove, third at the US National Road Championship and the US National Time Trial Championship, and stage wins at Cascade Classic, Tulsa Tough, Tour of the Gila and Redlands Bicycle Classic. Hailing from Fraser, Colorado, Powers has been racing bikes professionally for eight years and is a true athlete with her career beginning as a teenager in mountain bike racing. In her mid 20s, she added in alpine ski racing before switching over to the road. In addition to being the current Criterium National Champion, Powers has two other national championships (Time Trial, Team Pursuit) and 2 NRC titles (2009, 2013).
About ALP Cycles Coaching
ALP Cycles Coaching is located in the mountains of Colorado, and is a cycling coaching company with over 25 years of professional sports experience. ALP Cycles Coaching is unique in that we have 4 coaches, Alison Powers, Shawn Heidgen, Jennifer Triplett, and Patricia Schwager who each brings her own coaching strengths and personal experiences. We work together to create a training plan that works for each and every person. Visit them online at http://alpcyclescoach
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Pactimo is a Colorado company known for quality, reliability and unsurpassed customer service. Since 2003, we’ve shipped nearly 2 million garments to Olympians, national champions, teams, clubs and individual cyclists around the globe. We hope you feel the inspiration of Colorado and our passion for cycling in everything we do.
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