March 10, 2017
By Alison Powers, ALP Cycles Coaching
For most of us, we don’t have 15-25hrs each week to train and ride our bike. We have to make the most of what time to train we have. For this reason each training ride or workout session must be quality. The secret, then, is knowing if your ride or workout really was good quality, or if you were just going through the motions. When I look at an athletes ride file, one of the first things I do is look at time spent in various training zones. If the goal of the workout was a steady 2.5hr Zones 2-3 endurance ride and she spent 65min in Zone 1 and 10 min coasting, I know that was not a quality ride. Zone 1 (>55% of Threshold) is good for the start of a warm up, cooling down, doing a recovery ride, and recovering between hard efforts. Zone 1 is not good for building endurance, as it doesn’t tax any energy system hard enough to create a training response. This means, an hour of this athlete’s ride was wasted and she only got a good 90min of training time. Ok, minus 15 min easy warm-up and 15min mellow cool down and she still has 35 min of wasted training time—plus 10 min of coasting, which does absolutely nothing for fitness (unless resting from going very, very hard).
With 9-14hrs of training time a week that most of us have, we have to make every single workout count. Everything has to be quality, or else you are wasting your time. The question then becomes, how do I know if it’s quality? The answer is through goal setting and focus. Every single workout and training ride must have a goal. The goal of the workout might be specific time in Tempo, or speed limit sign sprints, or a steady endurance ride at a specific cadence, etc. Even recovery rides must a have goal and focus. When you ride, make sure you are accomplishing that goal.Want to give it a try?
You must also stay focused on the little things like staying relaxed and keeping your shoulders down, working on a specific cadence, spending some time in your drops, keeping your head down when riding your TT bike, etc. Every little thing matters and you must stay focused on the goal of that specific workout.
My most favorite training tip for getting a super quality ride is- no coasting and no soft pedaling. You’d be amazed by how taxing and tiring it is to go ride for 2 hour at zone 2 without coasting or soft pedaling. Want to make it even harder? Aim for a 95+ cadence- the entire time. That is a quality 2 hour ride that will beat out any 3 hour ride with time spent coasting, surging, and soft pedaling. Your weekly training hours are precious. Make the most of them and make every bike ride and every workout count.
Happy (quality) Training!
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, 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://alpcyclescoaching.com
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