By ALP Coach Alison Powers
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.
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!