Thursday, April 3, 2014

Training Lens

As mentioned in my last blog post I’m taking a planned break from the race scene and therefore, a forced break from the race blogging.  So instead, I’ve decided that now is a great time to answer some of the questions that I often get about my training. My plan is something that is always a work in progress and my coach and I are constantly dissecting it and tweaking it and really in the end these training plans eventually become quite a work of art.

How many hours per week do you have available to train?
When I first signed on with Matt and CTS in November 2012, I was asked in a questionnaire a simple question; "How many hours per week do you have available to train?" I remember thinking, wow, I actually have a say in this matter? My answer I believe at the time was 8-10 hours. Truthfully, I had a lot more time available than that as I had just recently put in 15-20 hour weeks training for an Ironman. However, I no longer wanted that lifestyle. I wanted balance. I made the decision that day to give cycling its “place” in my life. It felt incredibly empowering.

What does your training plan look like?
My plan is what I would like to label as "low volume, high intensity."   I surprisingly don’t possess the OCD gene…although at times I really wish I did.  As a result, I’m lucky to be working with a coach and an organization that that has compiled a significant amount of training data and research that proves that low volume, high intensity plans can work effectively, so long as they are applied appropriately.  

My personal plan differs from those plans in the above book, but similar methodology applies.
During the winter months I struggle with the trainer (I freaking hate it!). Therefore, I usually train only an average of 6-8 hours/week.  Since this is a very low volume training plan for someone seeking to be competitive in the pro mountain bike scene, nearly all of my workouts are incredibly intense.  I would say that about 75% of my winter workouts involve me on the trainer suffering my way through a set of VO2Max/lactate threshold/sub-lactate threshold intervals.  Sounds like fun, eh?  

When summer rolls around I feel invigorated and excited about being outside and therefore my volume usually picks up to around 8-12 hours/week depending on the A race that I am currently targeting.  The good thing is that when the volume picks up, the intensity goes down.  I do 95% of my rides outside, avoiding the trainer at all costs. Weeknights are lighter and weekends are heavier.  

How many days per week do you take off?
2 Days!!  I take nearly every Monday and Friday off from training.  Prior to working with CTS I was lucky to get 1 day off/week and at times I went 3 whole weeks without taking a single day off.  I remember pushing back initially, expressing that 2 days was too many days off.  Thank God it fell on deaf ears, because the positive impact these 2 days have had on my life is absolutely immeasurable. These free days allow me an opportunity to keep up with other aspects of my life that are important.  It gives me time run errands, keep things in order and meet up with friends for happy hour. These free days also provide me the flexibility to move workouts around when a last minute work dinner or other obligation pops up.  They allow me to keep balance.

Having been an endurance athlete for quite some time, I will be the first to tell you that this training plan will not work for everybody. What’s important about this plan is that it “works for me.” I’ve never really been a fan of secret training or “sandbagging” as we like to call it :) So there it is, all laid out for you.  This is what I’ve been up to for the past year and a half. 

Next week I plan to dive more into the heart rate vs. power meter questions as well as some tips on how to keep variety and focus your training.

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