The philosophy of training proposed in The Cyclist’s Training Bible may seem unusual. I have found, however, that if it is followed, serious athletes improve. Here is my training philosophy:
"An athlete should do the least amount of the most specific training that brings continual improvement."
The idea of limiting training is a scary thought for some. Many cyclists have become so used to overtraining that it seems a normal state. These racers are no less addicted than drug users. As is the case with a drug addict, the chronically overtrained athlete is not getting any better, but still can’t convince himself or herself to change.
Read the philosophy statement again. Notice that it doesn’t say “train with the least amount of miles.” Another way of stating it might be “use your training time wisely.” For those of us with full-time jobs, spouses, children, a home to maintain and other responsibilities, using training time wisely is more than a philosophy–it’s a necessity.
To help you better understand this philosophy I’d like to explain it using the Ten Commandments of Training. By incorporating each of these guidelines into your thinking and training, you’ll be following this philosophy and getting a better return on your time invested. Your results will also improve regardless of your age or experience.
I – TRAIN MODERATELY
Your body has limits when it comes to endurance, speed and strength. Don’t try too often to find them. Instead, train within those limits most of the time. Finish most workouts feeling like you could have done more. It may mean stopping a session earlier than planned. That’s OK. Do not always try to finish exhausted.
The biggest mistake of most athletes is making their easy days too hard, so when it comes time for a hard training day, they’re unable to go hard enough. This leads to mediocre fitness and performance. The higher your fitness level, the greater the difference between the intensities of hard and easy days.
Many cyclists also think that pushing hard all the time will make them tough. They believe that willpower and strength of character can overcome nature and speed up their body’s cellular changes. Don’t try it–more hard training is seldom the answer. An organism adapts best when stresses are slightly increased. That’s why you’ve often heard the admonition to increase training volume by no more than 10 percent from week to week. Even this may be too high for some.
By progressing carefully, especially with intensity, you’ll gradually get stronger and there will be time and energy for other pursuits in life. An athlete who enjoys training will get far more benefits from it than one who is always on the edge of overtraining. When in doubt -– leave it out.
The human body thrives on routine. Develop a training pattern that stays mostly the same from week to week — regular activity brings positive change. This does not mean do the same workout every day, week after week. Variety also promotes growth. Later in this book you’ll see that there are actually slight changes being made throughout the training year. Some of the changes are seemingly minor. You may not even be aware of them, as when an extra hour is added to the training week during the basebuilding period.
Breaks in consistency usually result from not following the Moderation Commandment. Overdoing a workout or week of training is likely to cause excessive fatigue, illness, burnout or injury. Fitness is not stagnant–you’re either getting better or getting worse all the time. Frequently missing workouts mean a loss of fitness. This doesn’t mean, however, you should work out when ill. There are times when breaks are necessary.
III – GET ADEQUATE REST
It’s during rest that the body adapt to the stresses of training and grows stronger. Without rest there’s no improvement. As the stress of training increases, the need for rest also accumulates. Most cyclists pay lip service to this Commandment; they understand it intellectually, but not emotionally. It is the most widely violated guideline. You will not improve without adequate rest. Most athletes need seven to 10 hours of sleep daily. Professionals, with few other demands on their time than training, usually include naps to get their daily dose. The rest of us need to get to bed early every night. The younger you are, the more rest you need. Junior riders should be sleeping nine to 10 hours daily.
IV – TRAIN WITH A PLAN
This is fundamental to improvement in almost any endeavor of life, yet few selftrained athletes do it. Sometimes I find riders who use a sound plan from a magazine, but as soon as a new issue comes out, they abandon the old plan and take up a new one. Most people will improve if they follow a plan–any plan. It can be of poor design, yet still work. Just don’t change it.
There’s a real advantage to working out with others — sometimes. Pack riding develops handling skills, provides experience with race dynamics, and makes the time go faster. But all too often, the group will cause you to ride fast when you would be best served by a slow, easy recovery ride. At other times, you’ll need to go longer or shorter than what the group decides to ride. Group workouts too often degenerate into unstructured races at the most inopportune times.
For the winter base-building period, find a group that rides at a comfortable pace. During the spring intensity-building period, ride with a group that will challenge you to ride fast, just as when racing. Smart and structured group rides are hard to find. You may need to create your own. Stay away from big packs that take over the road and are unsafe. You want to get faster, not get killed.
Use groups when they can help you. Otherwise, avoid them.
VI – PLAN TO PEAK
Your season plan should bring you to your peak for the most important events. I call these “A” races. The “B” races are important too, but you won’t taper and peak for these, just rest for three to four days before. “C” races are tune-ups to get you ready for the A’s and B’s. A smart rider will use these low-priority races for experience, or to practice pacing, or as a time trial to gauge fitness. If all races are equal, don’t expect much.
This book will show you how to peak for “A” races two or more times in a season. Each peak may last for up to six weeks. You will still race between peaks, but the emphasis will be on re-establishing endurance, strength and speed to prepare for the next peak.
VII – IMPROVE WEAKNESSES
What do riders with great endurance, but not much speed, do the most of? You guessed it — endurance work. What do good climbers like to do? Why of course — they like to train in the hills. Most cyclists spend too much time working on what they’re already good at. What’s your weakest area? Ask your training partners if you don’t know. I’ll bet they do. Then spend more time on that area. The Cyclist’s Training Bible will help identify your weaknesses and teach you how to improve them.
Few of us trust our training when it comes time to race. There’s a great fear as the big race approaches that we haven’t done enough, so we train right up to race day. I’ve seen people the day before an important race go out for a long ride because they think it will help. It takes 10 to 21 days of reduced work load for the human body to be fully ready to race, depending on how long and hard the training has been. Cut back before the big races, and you’ll do better. Trust me.
IX – LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
A few years ago after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I attended a talk by the former head of the East German Sports Institute. After conceding that East German athletes had indeed used illegal drugs, which he felt was a minor aspect of their remarkable success, he went on to explain what he saw as the real reason for their great number of Olympic medals. He described how elite athletes lived regulated lives in dormitories. Every morning on awakening, each athlete met with a group of experts — an event coach, a physiologist, a doctor or nurse and a sports psychologist, for example. The group checked the athlete’s readiness to train that day and made adjustments as necessary to the schedule. In effect, they were listening to what the athlete’s body was saying. The athlete trained only to the level they could tolerate that day. Nothing more. It would be nice if each of us could afford such attention. We can’t, so we must learn to listen to our bodies for ourselves. If you listen to what the body is saying, you’ll train smarter and get faster. Cyclists who train smart always beat athletes who train hard. The Cyclist’s Training Bible will teach you how to hear what your body is saying every day.
X – COMMIT TO GOALS
Talk is cheap. If you want to race farther, faster and stronger this season you need to train differently and may even need to make changes in your lifestyle. What could be holding you back? Is it too little sleep? Maybe you need to go to bed earlier. Or perhaps you eat too much carbohydrate and not enough protein. You may benefit from putting more time in the weight room in the winter to build greater force. Maybe your training partners are holding you back.
After you set your goals in a later chapter, take a look at them and determine how they relate to your lifestyle and training. Determine that if change is needed, you can do it. Only you can control how well you race. It’s time to put up.
Future Tense » Last Future Tense race of the year up in Seattle! Be at Cal Anderson Park at 6:30pm.
Velo-Dromo » Try the track event for urban riders at the Velodromo Mataro in Spain. Great session program including training and racing. Runs from 6pm to 9pm.
Bella Biciclette » A fancy showcasing of fancy bicycles in Boston. Plenty of vintage bike porn for in one cool gallery-esque setting at Superb Bicycle from 8pm to 10pm.
Chutes And Ladders » Alleycat in San Francisco to celebrate the 10th annual Bicycle Film Festival. Meet at Pushbike at 4pm.
Cranksgiving » Benefit alleycat race and food drive to fight hunger in Minneapolis. Gold Medal Park at 2pm.
Daytona Alleycat » Alleycat in Central Florida with an afterparty at Tir-Na-Nog Irish Pub. Race starts at 3pm from City Island.
GABA Bike Swap » Bicycle swap meet in Tucson, AZ. Goes from 8am to 2pm at Fourth Ave between 6th and 9th.
Long Beach Cyclocross » Cross racing action at El Dorado Park in Long Beach, CA. This is the eleventh race in the SoCal Cross Prestige Series.
Southern Discomfort » The grand old bicycle race of the south. Starts at Twain’s in Decatur, GA at 2pm.
Vuelta De Los Angeles » Downtown’s Finest presenting this epic alleycat race all over LA. Meet at the Five Stars Bar on 2nd and Main at 1pm.
SLO Cross » Cyclocross racing at Coast Union High School in Cambria, CA. Race #12 in the Socal Cross Prestige Series.
Tough As Nails » San Francisco alleycat for the ladies and transgendered. Meet at City Hall at noon.
Urban Cyclocross » Turkey Cross! Cyclocross race at Marina Green Park in Long Beach, CA.
USAC Upgrade Criterium » Build your race resume and get your upgrade points with this series of crit races in Carson, CA.
Bare Bones Track Race » Sprinting events all weekend at Burnaby Velodrome. Match sprints, Keirins, Chariots and more. Check it out!
Bicycle Film Festival - Athens & San Francisco » Film screenings, parties, shows, races, rides and exhibitions hit both the Bay Area and the land of Zeus this weekend. Check the schedule and keep an eye out for all the fun little side-events.
Okay a delayed start to today’s posts. Here’s the second installment of the RTBL Book Club.
The Cyclist’s Training Bible is exactly what the title implies — the ultimate guide for racers and riders looking to improve their own fitness levels, whether for competition or to meet one’s own personal goals/challenges. It’ll to help you design a comprehensive personal training program tailored to your needs. Be your own coach!
Author and world-renowned coach Joe Friel touches on the many details that a cyclist needs to pay attention to from gauging your current ability to planning your training year to scheduling your weekly and daily workouts. There are also great chapters on recovery, nutrition, weight training and staying motivated. Friel doesn’t go into great detail on any of those subjects (there are other books that specialize specifically in details like that) but that helps keep the book a quick and easy read.
The best part is that The Cyclist’s Training Bible is a guide that encourages you to set your own goals and set up your training program to work on what you need to work on. While the book was written for road/endurance cyclists, us trackies can derive a great benefit from following Friel’s training principles. The menu of workouts makes it just as easy to focus on top speed as it is to focus on endurance or power. You assume the role of coach in this book, unlike some other training books on the market which do the coaching for you.
If you can’t afford to hire a coach, I highly recommend The Training Bible to aid your training and keep you focused. Even if you have a coach, it’s still a great read to help understand things like periodization, the dangers of overtraining and the importance of proper recovery. So no matter what your goals are for the upcoming season, check out The Cyclist’s Training Bible to help you achieve them.
The latest edition of The Cyclist’s Training Bible is available at VeloGear. Joe Friel has a lot more where that comes from too. You can check out some of his other books but I definitely recommend following his blog for free training tips during the season.
The big news from the Euro Championships yesterday is that Sir Chris Hoy was beaten out of the Sprint tournament in the first round by 18-year old Irish rider Felix English.
Apparently Hoy was just too confident. Thinking he had his opponent beat, Hoy let up in the last half lap of the sprint to conserve his energy for the rest of the day. The young Irishman closed the gap and beat Hoy by half a wheel length. Huge facepalm for Chris Hoy — especially considering that he reluctantly turned down the Commonwealth Games to compete in this tournament for the Olympic qualification points.
Felix English, who’s usually a road racer and was just competing at European Champs for the experience, was probably the most shocked. He had the slowest qualifying 200m time of the day — over a second slower than Hoy’s 9.999 second 200m time. The final sprint of their race was even slower at 11.752 seconds. Lucky kid!
Anyway, Denis Dmitriev from Russia won the men’s Sprints. Sandie Clair of France won the women’s side of things. For full results check here.
The Keirin tournament, Madison and the rest of the Omnium events will be contested today to conclude the 2010 European Track Cycling Championships. Live feeds are available!
Beer Pizza Cross Yes!!! » The Juice group ride from Orange20 Bikes to check out the cyclocross course in Griffith Park. Meet at Orange20 in East Hollywood Bicycle District at 4:30pm. After checking out the course, everyone returns to O20 for ‘zas and bevs.
The Fifth Of November » West LA’s bike co-op Bikerowave is hosting a party tonight with some bands and some DJ’s. Starts some time in the evening.
Downtown LA Bicycles Grand Opening » Come celebrate LA’s newest bike shop with an alleycat race around Downtown. There will also be a BMX bunny hop jam. All starts at noon.
Fortune 700 » Two stages, all fixed gear race at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. First stage is a ten-mile two-man team time trial. Second stage is a 20-mile circuit race. Afterparty to follow. Definitely a fun time starting at noon.
Cycle World Ride Challenge » Get a team together and compete in this weekend of fun rides and challenges. Both races (Sat and Sun) follow a checkpoint format. Saturday is the “Urban Ride Challenge” with funny crap to do at each checkpoint. Sunday is the “Fitness Ride Challenge” with tougher riding and tougher challenges at the checkpoints. Starts from the Cycle World parking lot at 7:30am each day.
European Track Cycling Championships » Trackies battle not just for European Champion titles, but also for early Olympic qualification points. Expect Great Britain to send their greatest hopes. Taking place at the GBZ Arena Velodrome in Pruzkow, Poland today and continuing through the weekend. Click the link for live feeds.
Live At The Greek! » Two days of UCI-sanctioned cyclocross radness at the Greek Theater in Griffith Park. First sanctioned race in Griffith Park in about 15 years. Holy crap! It’s gonna be fun.
Sorry about my absence in posts yesterday. I’ve been fighting this nasty cold all week and it got the better of me yesterday so I was pretty out of it.
I may have been bed-ridden yesterday but this morning I decided to get on my bike and ride despite the sore throat and stuffed nose. Of course, I feel so much better once I’m pedaling. Everything clears right up. It feels like the activity in my body and increased metabolic rate helps to fight the cold quicker. Or maybe I’m sweating it out, I don’t know — but now there’s no denying that riding helps make you feel better.
According to a study done at the University Of Wales Institute in Cardiff, statistics show a significant decrease in sickness-related absences with both students and faculty since they started heavily encouraging cycling as a form of transportation a few years ago. So if you’re feeling sick, try getting on your wheels. Rest and recovery is great and all but wouldn’t you rather be riding than laying in bed?