Learn how to create a good training plan to set you up for success.
The time to start planning is now - January. Planning your racing season is about more than just hitting peak race form — it is about having a healthy and structured relationship with all your training materials, whether that is your bike or running gear. This assists you in your overall fitness and reaching your goals, and avoiding injury or burnout along the way.
Here’s how to create your annual cycling training plan, step-by-step.
1. Write down your race goals
Write it down. Start by writing all of your goals for the year this can assist your memory, strengthen your accountability and improve your chances of completing your goals. Then look at your list and define your a, b and c race. From here you can organise your calendar.
2. Create an annual calendar that includes your training phases
Then draw yourself a big on a sheet of paper and pop in these a, b and c races. This helps put the year into perspective and you can really see how much time you have between races. Begin by starting to count backwards from your “a” race.
For the different phases of training you will need to consider:
6 months of base training before a race
12-16 weeks to build up to a race
6-8 weeks to peak before racing
Only then can you start planning the rest of our season.
3. Base Phase: 6 months before “a” race
This is typically lots of long and slow training in Zone 1 and 2. The intensity is low with 2/3 times a week with high-intensity interval training. This is proven to assist aerobic fitness and cycling performance in an efficient and sustainable manner.
Ensuring good planning and sufficient rest will help you as an athlete to make sure you do not burn out.
4. Build Phase: 3-4 months before “a” race
During the build phase, your training load should steadily increase in both volume and intensity. The biggest difference between the build phase and the base phase is the introduction of “b” and “c” races and race-specific interval training. On the off-season, the focus should be on keeping you moving and you having fun, staying mentally fresh and motivated. During the build phase, you should begin race-specific interval training, such as sprints. At the same time, you should have a number of “b” races and “c” races to help hone your form and improve your race abilities. Slowly you will increase your weekly training load and volume while maintaining intensity.
5. Peak Phase: one and a half months to two months before “a” race
An increase in intensity will come during the peak phase. The goal of the peak phase is to put you in peak performance conditions for your goal race. This is accomplished by increasing your training load before moving into a taper
6. Taper time: 7-10 days out from your goal race.
Giving your boy and mind time to rest and recover is vital. It will help you absorb the training and come back to being in peak performance conditions. Consider adjusting the length and intensity of the taper based on your goal event, with a longer taper for longer events, and a shorter taper for shorter events.
7. Get guidance from a coach
The process of putting together your training plan can be overwhelming. Getting a coach to assist you along the way, be objective and help you plan your race calendar can be valuable.
References: Kreher, J.B. & Schwartz, J.B. (2012, March). Overtraining syndrome: a practical guide. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23016079/
Seiler, S. (2010, September). What is the best practice for training intensity and duration distribution in endurance athletes? Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20861519/