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This year will be the second race season for me. I was not pleased with my performance last year even though I trained hard. So this year I decided to research the topic and try to train smarter. As a result my training schedule has it’s first A race on April 8th. This date is about 11 weeks away. So my training calendar at this point is set for four weeks of Lactate Threshold intervals. They effort days will alternate with recovery days resulting in seven effort days each two week period. The following 6 weeks are scheduled for VO2 max intervals leaving the last week before the event as a taper off week. The VO2 max interval weeks are scheduled for two effort days and one tempo ride each week and the rest of the time is recovery efforts. Am I on the right track or should I revise the schedule?
 

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What category?

wheelmac said:
This year will be the second race season for me. I was not pleased with my performance last year even though I trained hard. So this year I decided to research the topic and try to train smarter. As a result my training schedule has it’s first A race on April 8th. This date is about 11 weeks away. So my training calendar at this point is set for four weeks of Lactate Threshold intervals. They effort days will alternate with recovery days resulting in seven effort days each two week period. The following 6 weeks are scheduled for VO2 max intervals leaving the last week before the event as a taper off week. The VO2 max interval weeks are scheduled for two effort days and one tempo ride each week and the rest of the time is recovery efforts. Am I on the right track or should I revise the schedule?
What category are you racing this season?
 

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Honestly...

wheelmac said:
For your training for cat. 5 racing, you are doing way way too much if you ask me. In order to succeed at category 5-3 racing you need to be able to sprint. Most races are going to come down to who can sprint the fastest at the end of the race. Most.

Here's what you should do instead of making this rigorous not very fun schedule you've laid out for yourself. Ride your bike and enjoy it. Does this 5-6 times per week for about 2 hours at a time. Throw in some short intervals about a month from now, and learn how to sprint well. You're a cat 5 and just starting racing, don't make it labor intensive, because right now, it's about having fun and enjoying the ride on your bike. Honestly. If you put in 12 hours per week of rides as a cat. 5 you're going to have possibly the best fitness out of the guys you are lining up against. Back in my day... No, but seriously, when I was a cat. 5 that was probably the most fun I've had on a bike. Learning how to ride, and learning how to race. If you do all of this work, I don't think you're going to enjoy it. Enjoy it, and work your way into a cat. 4, and then start putting in this time and energy into specific training. It's never bad to go out and train with intent and purpose, but for now, just ride your bike, get some more miles under your legs, and don't take it so seriously.

That's my advice.
 

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magnolialover said:
For your training for cat. 5 racing, you are doing way way too much if you ask me. In order to succeed at category 5-3 racing you need to be able to sprint. Most races are going to come down to who can sprint the fastest at the end of the race. Most.

Here's what you should do instead of making this rigorous not very fun schedule you've laid out for yourself. Ride your bike and enjoy it. Does this 5-6 times per week for about 2 hours at a time. Throw in some short intervals about a month from now, and learn how to sprint well. You're a cat 5 and just starting racing, don't make it labor intensive, because right now, it's about having fun and enjoying the ride on your bike. Honestly. If you put in 12 hours per week of rides as a cat. 5 you're going to have possibly the best fitness out of the guys you are lining up against. Back in my day... No, but seriously, when I was a cat. 5 that was probably the most fun I've had on a bike. Learning how to ride, and learning how to race. If you do all of this work, I don't think you're going to enjoy it. Enjoy it, and work your way into a cat. 4, and then start putting in this time and energy into specific training. It's never bad to go out and train with intent and purpose, but for now, just ride your bike, get some more miles under your legs, and don't take it so seriously.

That's my advice.

Thanks for the encouragement but I don’t want to be a cat 5 racer. I need races to move up. I don’t like to loose and I hate being dropped. I look forward to the tough workouts and feel good after they are over. Riding is fun but being able to crank out miles at continuingly faster paces is more fun. I can’t accomplish this without hard work. Therefore, these workouts are not going to burn me out on the enjoyment spectrum. What they are going to do is enable me to enjoy the ride by being able to improve the overall speed of the ride. My concern is that I may have too many weeks of the VO2 max intervals together and run the risk of reaching the point of diminishing return. Where a modified schedule might allow me greater improvement.
 

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don't believe us?

If you don't believe magnolialover, than perhaps I would suggest getting a copy of the cyclists training bible by joe friel. He will tell you the same thing, for new riders/racers just ride a lot and forget formal workouts and training. Hold on to the book and read it, then next season plan out some killer season with intervals up the wazoo...

Or, ignore our advice, and read what friel has to say on interval training, zones, and boosting lactate threshold, and do the workouts anyways... You will ultimately make the choice, but trust us when we say to take your time and just ride and have fun. Formal training structure can suck the fun right out of riding, which will make you want to ride even less...

either way, good luck and have fun!

gears
pmiska
 

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pmiska said:
If you don't believe magnolialover, than perhaps I would suggest getting a copy of the cyclists training bible by joe friel. He will tell you the same thing, for new riders/racers just ride a lot and forget formal workouts and training. Hold on to the book and read it, then next season plan out some killer season with intervals up the wazoo...

Or, ignore our advice, and read what friel has to say on interval training, zones, and boosting lactate threshold, and do the workouts anyways... You will ultimately make the choice, but trust us when we say to take your time and just ride and have fun. Formal training structure can suck the fun right out of riding, which will make you want to ride even less...

either way, good luck and have fun!

gears
pmiska
What category are you and magnolialover? I logged 6000+ miles on the road for the past three years - this is not counting the time on the trainer in the 5 to 6 months of winter. I have read Friel and others about training. I was hoping to get some help from some experienced riders in a more specific manner. But thank you for the time you took to respond.
 

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I'm a Cat 2 looking to get my Cat 1 upgrade this year and this will be my first year where I'm planning on doing some really structured training intervals.

You can get a lot of the same/similar benefits of doing LT intervals and VO2 Max intervals as you can by simply doing a lot of very fast group rides/training races in addition to simply racing a lot. Assuming there are fast people at these rides you will probably get more out of those and it will be more fun than doing intervals by yourself.

One of the things I try to do is to simply improve not peak. I want to be better this year than last year and better in September than I will be in March and then try to continue to improve in '07. If I did intervals every other day I don't know how long I could keep that up. It is hard physically and mentally to have a schedule like that and just doesn't seem sustainable in the long run.
 

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magnolialover said:
For your training for cat. 5 racing, you are doing way way too much if you ask me. In order to succeed at category 5-3 racing you need to be able to sprint. Most races are going to come down to who can sprint the fastest at the end of the race. Most.

Here's what you should do instead of making this rigorous not very fun schedule you've laid out for yourself. Ride your bike and enjoy it. Does this 5-6 times per week for about 2 hours at a time. Throw in some short intervals about a month from now, and learn how to sprint well. You're a cat 5 and just starting racing, don't make it labor intensive, because right now, it's about having fun and enjoying the ride on your bike. Honestly. If you put in 12 hours per week of rides as a cat. 5 you're going to have possibly the best fitness out of the guys you are lining up against. Back in my day... No, but seriously, when I was a cat. 5 that was probably the most fun I've had on a bike. Learning how to ride, and learning how to race. If you do all of this work, I don't think you're going to enjoy it. Enjoy it, and work your way into a cat. 4, and then start putting in this time and energy into specific training. It's never bad to go out and train with intent and purpose, but for now, just ride your bike, get some more miles under your legs, and don't take it so seriously.

That's my advice.
I think things may have changed since your days as a Cat5. Structured training has hit the lower levels with a vengeance. Example: I just did an indoor time trial in the 50+ catagory (predominantly 4s, but a few 3s and 5s) and turned in a time that would have taken second place three years ago. This year it wasn't even good enough for the top half - 9th out of 16. About half the bikes have Power Taps and a lot of the riders now have coaches. - TF
 

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I'm with TT, I dono where you other guys come from, but out here, everyone trains, everyone that does well, trains with a structure, no matter what cat. they are in. When the upper eschlons get faster, it raises the bar for everyone else. Personally, I like intervals, it's less boring than just riding, and personally, with out structured training, I would ride less, not more. I guess it depends on what type of person you are, your personality, why you are racing, and riding.
 

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Cat. 1

wheelmac said:
What category are you and magnolialover? I logged 6000+ miles on the road for the past three years - this is not counting the time on the trainer in the 5 to 6 months of winter. I have read Friel and others about training. I was hoping to get some help from some experienced riders in a more specific manner. But thank you for the time you took to respond.
Cat. 1 now with about 12,000 miles per year over the last few years.

I'm not saying that good structured training isn't going to help you, of course, it is going to help, it's just a matter of returns on it. In order to get out of Cat. 5 you need to ride 10 races. That's it. Doesn't even matter if you don't finish all of them, you can still "upgrade" to a 4 after 10 races. If you feel like you're going to get good benefits out of the structured training plan, by all means, do it. I never did structured training for the most part until I upgraded to a 2, and even then, I didn't do a whole ton of it, and still managed to be OK.

Lots of people are riding around with powertaps now, paying out the nose for coaching, but it doesn't seem to help too many of them, as I see the same guys in the same categories year after year with little to no improvement. I think a lot of people these days "say" that they're doing this specific training, but their results tell a different story. If you've got some guy (hypothetical example here) who has been a cat. 4 for 2 seasons, and has used coaching, and his powertap for both of those seasons, and has still yet to win a race, either he's doing 1 of 2 things:

1. He's not following his own training plan or his coach's plan
2. He's not even remotely athletically gifted

I still think that if you ride, throw in some harder days here and there, as a cat. 5-3 you're going to be a-OK.
 

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magnolialover said:
Cat. 1 now with about 12,000 miles per year over the last few years.

I'm not saying that good structured training isn't going to help you, of course, it is going to help, it's just a matter of returns on it. In order to get out of Cat. 5 you need to ride 10 races. That's it. Doesn't even matter if you don't finish all of them, you can still "upgrade" to a 4 after 10 races. If you feel like you're going to get good benefits out of the structured training plan, by all means, do it. I never did structured training for the most part until I upgraded to a 2, and even then, I didn't do a whole ton of it, and still managed to be OK.

Lots of people are riding around with powertaps now, paying out the nose for coaching, but it doesn't seem to help too many of them, as I see the same guys in the same categories year after year with little to no improvement. I think a lot of people these days "say" that they're doing this specific training, but their results tell a different story. If you've got some guy (hypothetical example here) who has been a cat. 4 for 2 seasons, and has used coaching, and his powertap for both of those seasons, and has still yet to win a race, either he's doing 1 of 2 things:

1. He's not following his own training plan or his coach's plan
2. He's not even remotely athletically gifted

I still think that if you ride, throw in some harder days here and there, as a cat. 5-3 you're going to be a-OK.

Or, of course
3. He has a bad coach.
4. He has no idea how to train effectively, with or without a pm.

I always marvel at the money cyclists will spend to try to make themselves faster, weather it be a lighter bike, coaching, or various gadgets and gizmos (of which I am a believer in when used properly) rather than take some time to learn something that can be applied to training/racing.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
whoawhoa said:
Or, of course
3. He has a bad coach.
4. He has no idea how to train effectively, with or without a pm.

I always marvel at the money cyclists will spend to try to make themselves faster, weather it be a lighter bike, coaching, or various gadgets and gizmos (of which I am a believer in when used properly) rather than take some time to learn something that can be applied to training/racing.
I am looking for some good advise so I can "learn something that can be applied to training/racing" with out spending money on a lighter bike, coaching, gadgets or gizmos. I am thankful for the responses but the only feedback that I have on my proposed training schedule so far is that it is too aggressive (thanks for these responses). Others have defended my choice to have structured training (thanks for these responses). I would still like some input on the content of the schedule and advice if the schedule makes the max of my training time.
 

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Depends upon the area, and your strengths. You'll get better at what you do more.

I don't think having a massive organized plan is necessary, but I'm starting my this season as a freshly-minted cat 4 and I've been training a silly amount -- heck, I LIKE training, riding my bike, getting faster, all of that stuff, and I'd like to be able to be competive with it, too.

The big thing that I've noticed in the (admittedly few) races I've done, and the more experienced racers on my team, is that, like Mag says, cat 4/5 flattish races almost always end in a massive sprint.

However, almost nobody in those fields can climb a ladder. If your area has some hillier races and you're a reasonably light rider, work on your climbing TECHNIQUE (cadence, timing, etc) as well as your lactate tolerance + power to weight, and when you put the hammer down on the first big climb the field will just shatter.

Mostly, though, just train. I don't know if you've ridden enough to have milked all of the benefits that come simply from progressing from an untrained to a highly trained state. I rode about 10,000 miles last year, my first, and though I am following a plan for this season I still feel I'm getting faster just by being out on the bike. YMMV &c/.
 

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wheelmac said:
I am looking for some good advise so I can "learn something that can be applied to training/racing" with out spending money on a lighter bike, coaching, gadgets or gizmos. I am thankful for the responses but the only feedback that I have on my proposed training schedule so far is that it is too aggressive (thanks for these responses). Others have defended my choice to have structured training (thanks for these responses). I would still like some input on the content of the schedule and advice if the schedule makes the max of my training time.
I would say you're on the right track with making it a goal to raise threshold power, this is the most important piece of cycling-specific fitness. I would extend this period and focus on it for longer than I would v02max. Best done with long efforts around threshold. Vo2max work is important as well. If you have time, I would leave a threshold workout in during v02max blocks. And of course, longish tempo rides are good as well. Your best bet is to continue reading, not just this forum, but others, as well as anything else.
 

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magnolialover said:
For your training for cat. 5 racing, you are doing way way too much if you ask me. In order to succeed at category 5-3 racing you need to be able to sprint. Most races are going to come down to who can sprint the fastest at the end of the race. Most.

Here's what you should do instead of making this rigorous not very fun schedule you've laid out for yourself. Ride your bike and enjoy it. Does this 5-6 times per week for about 2 hours at a time. Throw in some short intervals about a month from now, and learn how to sprint well. You're a cat 5 and just starting racing, don't make it labor intensive, because right now, it's about having fun and enjoying the ride on your bike. Honestly. If you put in 12 hours per week of rides as a cat. 5 you're going to have possibly the best fitness out of the guys you are lining up against. Back in my day... No, but seriously, when I was a cat. 5 that was probably the most fun I've had on a bike. Learning how to ride, and learning how to race. If you do all of this work, I don't think you're going to enjoy it. Enjoy it, and work your way into a cat. 4, and then start putting in this time and energy into specific training. It's never bad to go out and train with intent and purpose, but for now, just ride your bike, get some more miles under your legs, and don't take it so seriously.

That's my advice.
he might want to move up, for me i will be a cat 5 for as short as i can be, as i want to race with my team who are all 3s, so i know my fitness will be need to be alot better
 

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Discussion Starter #17
whoawhoa said:
I would say you're on the right track with making it a goal to raise threshold power, this is the most important piece of cycling-specific fitness. I would extend this period and focus on it for longer than I would v02max. Best done with long efforts around threshold. Vo2max work is important as well. If you have time, I would leave a threshold workout in during v02max blocks. And of course, longish tempo rides are good as well. Your best bet is to continue reading, not just this forum, but others, as well as anything else.
Thank you very much.
 

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A Lot of Good Advice on This Post, but...

..keep in mind that everyone's training program should be personal. It's OK to start out with a rigid schedule and structure, but ultimately you have to listen to your body, and the results. The level of competition you'll be facing really depends on the part of the country you are in, but its more important to gauge your own progress against yourself rather than others.

To give you a prime example I started racing last season after having been away from the sport for many many years. I was "talked into it" at the last minute, and really didn't have time to do proper winter base training. As a result I was getting dropped quite a bit in my early races. This didn't bother me as I knew it was a matter of finding the right combination of training for myself. Eventually after much experimentation I found a formula that worked. I went from getting dropped to hanging in to taking flyers, to contesting sprints and taking primes. In a little over 2 months time I also managed to drop over 4 minutes of my 40Km TT. The key for me was structuring my training in such a way that I challenged myself at the right times, and allowed enough time for recovery. Once I found that formula I stuck to it, and made visible improvements from week to week while fine tuning things even more in the process. I didn't so much do structured intervals, but rather looked for the right riding situations. For example I'd do a training race on Wednesdays, a hard group ride on Thursdays, and then a race or two on the weekend. Adding recovery days in between allowed me to carry the gains made in the middle of the week to the weekend races without burning out.

I'd encourage you to experiment this year, but don't expect instant results. If something doesn't seem to be working after a few weeks try something else. Keep a training log, and note the days where you feel sluggish. Maybe you need to change your plans to recovery on those days. On the other hand if you are feeling great after spending two days doing hard intervals you probably aren't training hard enough on those days.

Keep in mind that training programs out of a book, or even from a coach (at least initially) are not individualized, and you ultimately need to find what works for you. Use them as a guide, but be flexible.

At the risk of opening up a firestorm on the board my guess is that all of the Cat 1 and 2 racers reading this would probably agree that their training has evolved over the years, and even so they are probably making constant small tweaks to their program to try to address weaknesses, and improve in general.

Train with a purpose, but don't be a slave to your training plan!
 

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Positively agree!

magnolialover said:
Lots of people are riding around with powertaps now, paying out the nose for coaching, but it doesn't seem to help too many of them, as I see the same guys in the same categories year after year with little to no improvement.
I still think that if you ride, throw in some harder days here and there, as a cat. 5-3 you're going to be a-OK.
You are the voice of good solid sense on this thread for sure. When I raced I never went passed Cat3, but go there by doing just what you're saying. Not going nuts with crazy "plans."
 

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ftf has a good point. here in nyc guys are as competitive on the road as they probably are closing a big real estate deal or landing a huge client for their investment bank. cat. 4s are out here blogging about their latest LT tests and trying to shave 10 seconds off their TT time. for most of the guys out here, racing is seen as much more than recreational--it's a huge pissing contest (NTTIAWWT).

there's one "developmental" team out here of cat. 5s and 4s who are all on structured training. they are pretty much required to follow a program. i think one of their mandates is to have 1,000 base miles by march.

i just talked to a friend of mine who recently joined a team. i asked him to go riding with me on saturday: a nice, 40-mile tempo ride with a little hill work. he declined because his team is limiting him to LSD rides under a heart rate of 130.

FTF said:
I'm with TT, I dono where you other guys come from, but out here, everyone trains, everyone that does well, trains with a structure, no matter what cat. they are in. When the upper eschlons get faster, it raises the bar for everyone else. Personally, I like intervals, it's less boring than just riding, and personally, with out structured training, I would ride less, not more. I guess it depends on what type of person you are, your personality, why you are racing, and riding.
 
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