Okay…. so you’ve just had your best outdoor season ever-which is awesome! Right now however you are in an ideal position to make some major improvements to your cycling fitness, build upon the success you have experienced out on the road and get better in areas where you struggle, but you need to strike while the iron is hot.
Sure, it is nice to enjoy some fall riding out on the road and take in the autumn colors, but you can’t build your training and your goals for next season on these limited opportunities to ride as the temperatures drop and the days get shorter. If you delay too long in getting back to some structured training you risk losing this opportunity you have right now to use all of that summer endurance that you have in your legs. You need that strong endurance base to support the higher intensity efforts of indoor training, and these are exactly the types of efforts that will make you a stronger rider come next season.
You may feel that you need a little break from the bike before starting up any indoor training-we deserve it after the season we just had, right? A little break can be healthy, one or two weeks likely will re-motivate you, but longer than that is detrimental to your fitness. In just 2-4 weeks off the bike you can lose 5-10% of your hard earned fitness from the summer and you will waste the first bit of your indoor season just trying to rebuild your lost endurance before you can tackle any of those higher intensity intervals that will ultimately make you stronger. Rather than taking a long break now, plan on putting some mini-breaks into your training program throughout the winter months to keep you from getting burned out and giving your body the rest it needs.
Once you do make the move indoors, the training sessions will become shorter in duration, however you can make measurable improvement as long as you raise your level of intensity compared to the way you had been riding out on the road. This is the time of year to get stronger and when we get back out on the road next year we take that added strength, mix in some endurance training and voila we are riding faster.
Indoor training is designed to produce more sustained efforts that don't vary as much in their intensity. On the road your efforts vary greatly due to the change in terrain, direction of wind and whether you are riding by yourself or with a group. It is almost impossible to keep your effort the same very long when riding outside whereas indoors you can set the resistance or gear on your bike to produce the same feeling for the legs each and every pedal stroke you make. Because of the consistency of effort produced indoors, you will put a much greater workload on the body and in time the body adapts to these forces by getting stronger. It is exactly these controlled efforts indoors, at a proper intensity, that make you a stronger cyclist and will make outside riding easier and more enjoyable next season.
At PowerCycling we have the 16 Ride Performance Series which has been a proven training system helping individuals get stronger for over 10 years. This year I will be adding a new training component to PowerCycling to help you get even stronger, it is called Power Ratio Training.
Power Ratio Training requires you to sustain very specific intervals based on your Power Threshold (created during a personal evaluation), with intervals lasting anywhere from 15 minutes for a Tempo challenge, to a 1 minute sprint like effort to build your raw power. Your goal is to complete a certain amount of intervals while allowing only a 2 minute recovery between efforts. This type of training helps the body adapt to different types of demands and duration’s while conditioning the body to recover faster and create efficiency during a ride. Power Ratio Training is perfect for the triathlete and will help any athlete become stronger at time trials, give you the ability to lead a paceline more confidently, or just ride more effortlessly.
To enhance all areas of your riding abilities you will want to become stronger riding at your Power Threshold. Try this challenge from the new Power Ratio Training Set. As you get stronger try adding an extra interval or bumping the time period of the intervals up to 6 minutes.
10 min Warm-Up LEVEL 1 & 2
5 min @ 5-10 watts above Power Threshold (CAD 80-95)
5 min Recovery LEVEL 2
4 X 5 min @ Power Threshold (CAD 85-95)
2 min Recovery after each interval LEVEL 2 (CAD 80-95)
(Intervals begin @ 20, 27, 34, 41 min)
3 min Cool Down LEVEL 1 & 2