by ALP Cycles Coach Patricia Schwager
If you want to get stronger and improve your performance, then you should make sure your rides (or workouts- WO's) are high quality vs just adding up a lot of "empty training miles" or "junk miles". Working with athletes shows me that WO quality isn't always executed properly. How does one prepare for a ride or WO? Do you read the WO instructions clearly or do go out on your ride and loosely follow the WO instructions? Are you aware of your focus on the bike?
Below, are a few things that one you should pay attention to in order to make training more efficient.
Before the WO/ride:
-Read the WO instructions, export the WO to your bike computer (if your WO is planned with the TrainingPeaks WO builder) or write stem notes if necessary. Ask your coach if you have specific questions that relate to the intent or focus of the workout. The idea is to relate your training to your fitness and race goals. Think about a good route for your training. If you have intervals or efforts to do, make sure there is a good place / road to complete them within your route.
-check weather forecast and dress accordingly
During the WO/ ride:
-cadence: have you ever looked at the cadence distribution chart in your TrainingPeaks account? If you check the cadence distribution chart (in uploaded WO's) you can see how much time or % of your rides are spent with coasting (0-5rpm). Coasting is empty training time. Sure there will always be some coasting in an outdoor bike ride but if 30% of your 3h ride were spent with coasting then you waisted training time and your WO was not high quality. It's important to keep your cadence up to respond to pace and terrain changes. It also helps keep your muscles activated and alert. Pay attention that you keep pedaling while riding in a group, sitting on the wheel/ in the draft of a friend or while riding downhill.
-are you riding in your correct power, HR, or RPE zone(s)? Pay attention that you are riding in the zone you should be riding in. If you are doing an active recovery ride you should be riding in Zone 1 (RPE <3). If you are doing an Endurance ride you should be riding in Zone 2 (RPE 4-5). Make sure you also complete your intervals or efforts in the prescribed zones.
-rest between intervals is really important. Make sure you are resting properly in-between intervals / efforts. This will make sure you are ready for the next interval and you will also have better quality in your intervals. Note that there are some specific WO's that won't give you a total rest in-between intervals so make sure to follow the WO instructions.
-listen to your body: cut your ride time shorter if you are feeling tired or extend a ride for a bit if you are feeling great. Do not go out for a WO or ride if you are feeling sick.
Post WO /ride:
-refuel your body with a snack or meal within 30 minutes of finishing (ALP Cycles Coaching recommends to have a recovery drink from NBS!) https://nbs-nutrition.com/. Make sure you're getting enough protein for recovery.
-stretching, foam and lacrosse ball rolling
-upload WO to TrainingPeaks and add feedback/ comment(s) for your coach. (uploading WO's doesn't need to be done every single day but uploading your WO's every 2 or 3 days is key for your coach)
Remember riding longer isn't always the better option! It is better to do a high quality 2.5 hour WO/ ride instead of a low quality 3.5 hour WO/ ride. The same goes with how many intervals you are completing. It is better to do 4 high quality intervals vs 6 low quality intervals. If you struggle to hit the goal wattage of an interval/ effort then it is a clear sign that your body is tired and that you should stop the intervals. While most of your training is very structured, make sure you're having fun too! Incorporate an unstructured ride now and then to enjoy the bike.