Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Tiger's girls say, "HAPPY NEW YEAR" !

Monday, December 28, 2009

Why plans/goals fail!

Ok, so you've read my previous blog regarding making a plan and setting goals for 2010... and you've made them...good for you. I assume a lot of you have already started your Annual Training Plan (ATP), and others are waiting until the New Year. Regardless, did you know that over 80% of athletes who make a plan and/or set a goal for the New Year will NOT stick to that plan or achieve that goal? Why is that? Here are some reasons:

a. Illness/Injury/Death in the Family- Perhaps you got sick or injured yourself...or perhaps there was a death in the family or loved one that put you in a deep funk/depression.
b. Lifestyle change- a major unplanned change in your life occured. Perhaps you lost your job, changed jobs with new hours, etc. Maybe your favorite training partner moved away from the area.
c. No Willpower- you lost self-control. You just can't resist or avoid temptations or bad habits.
d. Demotivated- you plateaued, you're not seeing anymore progress regardless of how hard you try. Your stuck in a rut..and can't get out.
e. Unrealistic plan/goal- perhaps your plan or goal is NOT realistic.
f. Weather- maybe you do all your training outside and the weather is just not cooperating.
g. Know-how- perhaps you just don't know how to make a plan or how to achieve your goal.
h. No time- there's just not enough time in the day to train properly with work, family, hobbies, etc.
i. etc.

I'm sure there are many more reasons why plans/goals fail. But the purpose of this blog is NOT to list the many roads to failure (and there's a bunch) but to make you aware that they exist and what to do when you come to them. Here's some of the things you can do to keep you on the road to meet your goal:

a. Illness/Injury/Death in the Family- The best way to stay healthy is to eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep. To avoid injury, be smart..don't go out riding at night in inclement weather. If there is a sudden or unexpected death in the family...use that loss to help inspire you to do your best. After all, wouldn't that person want you to be happy and achieve all your goals in life?
b. Lifestyle change- changes happen...good and bad. And, like REO Speedwagon says in one of their songs you've got to "Roll with the changes".
c. No Willpower- we all lose our willpower at some time or another. My advice is to stay away from what weakens you. If you're a drinker..stay away from the bars and don't keep beer/wine in the house. If you're trying to lose weight..don't eat at fast-food restaurants and don't buy junk food. Stay clear.
d. Demotivated- we all hit plateaus or get stuck in ruts in our training. Just know that these ruts are temporary and that you'll drive/ride through them. Stay motivated...treat yourself. Stay on track and keep pressing...there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you WILL see it.
e. Unrealistic plan/goal- if your plan or goal is unrealistic, re-evaluate and make new plans/goals. It's never too late to change!
f. Weather- I ride outside when I can NOT when I want. If it's bad weather outside, suck it up or get inside and train.
g. Know-how- if you don't know how, ask. Nothing wrong with hiring a coach that knows-how.
h. No time- sorry, you're not getting any pity from me on this one. If you don't have time..make time. No ifs, ands, or buts. If I can live out of a suitcase for work, and find time to train, you can too. If you don't know how to do me and I'll tell you how.

The main thing you want to do is recognize that SH$T HAPPENS in life. Things will get in the way of your plan/goal. Be flexible and roll with the changes. If you need a cheering section or support your friends and tell them to contact you for morale/support. Better yet, recruit them as a training partner. I met one guy over the internet from the UK that posts every one of his workouts and follows it up with a blog and/or video. Why does he do that? That's his motivation to stay the course. I email him occasionally to see how he's doing..and you know what? He's right on track.

Write things down..keep track of everything. When you write things down you are more apt to do the things you should and avoid the things you shouldn't. When I track what I eat, I tend not to eat junk...because I don't want it on my list. When I track my weight, I think twice about eating that bowl of ice cream after dinner because I know in less than 8 hrs. I'll be getting on that scale. When I track my workouts, I make sure that I not only do the workout..but that I complete it.

Treat/award yourself from time to time. It's ok to go out every once and a while and drink and eat that big dinner with dessert. Just don't make it a habit. Lastly, be patient, stay motivated..and stick with the plan. It's not going to be easy. If it was easy than everyone would achieve their goals. Most importantly, have fun with some new people..and ENJOY! BTW, when you finally achieve your your a$$ deserve it for all your hard work and sacrifice.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Power ON! Coach Rob

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tempo Endurance Ride

If a Tempo ride is Zone/Level 3 and an Endurance ride is Zone/Level 2, then what is a Tempo Endurance Ride? You guessed it, it's an endurance ride at a slightly higher pace. This ride will increase your ability to ride long endurance rides more comfortably and to ride them at a faster pace. This is a great ride during the base/build phase of the season. Make sure this ride is a minimum of 1.5 hrs. I like them anywhere between 2-3 hrs. Plus, there is nothing wrong at all with throwing a couple hills in the workout, like the elevation profile above. Just make sure that you don't stay at or above Zone/Level 4 (Lactate Threshold) pace for extended periods of time. This is also a good ride to rack up some TSS points. Personally, I think they're one of the most important training rides of the week.

Yes, I know, these are tough rides to get in this time of the year. But, when the good Lord gives you a near 50 deg F sunny day (the end of December) you get outside and take advantage of it- NO EXCUSES!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Magic Pill Workout

Just like there isn't a single "Magic Pill" that will take inches off your waist-line (that I know of) there isn't a single "Magic Indoor Trainer Workout" that will make you stronger/faster on the bike. Much too often, I see these "Magic" workouts prescribed in cycling magazines as part of a Winter Training Plan. The authors claim that if you do this particular workout you will become stronger on the bike. Well, I hate to say it, I could just about do ANY workout consistently on the bike and get some results? But what kind of results? Instead of "Magic Workouts" these authors should be labeling them "Mickey Mouse Workouts"- for fun. But, I guess "Mickey Mouse Workouts" don't sell magazines. More disturbing is that I see these same workouts being performed as part of an indoor spinning class...where you're jumping every other second...pedal hard...pedal soft...up/ These workouts are more mentally taxing for me than physical. (Trust me, I've done one recently at a local gym so I know). I've even heard some indoor cycling workouts include pushups off the bike. What the hell is that all about? The ONLY thing I can think of is that the sole purpose of the workout is to break-up the monotony and to build-up some kind of fitness...AND to make it fun. I don't know about you..but the primary goal of my workouts on the trainer is NOT's about doing HARD work now, targeting specific energy systems, that will make me stronger/faster later- NOW THAT'S FUN! And, unless you know of a "Magic Workout" that's NOT hard..that will make me faster/stronger in the Spring...please send it to me.

Don't get me wrong..I'm all about mixing it up during training workouts to keep it interesting (and fun)...but the sole purpose of a training workout should be to work on a particular weakness you have and make it a strength. (Remember, you train your weaknesses and race your strengths) Or, similarly, determine what particular physiological adaptation you're trying to achieve or energy system you're trying to improve upon. For example, if you're trying to improve your Lactate Threshold then you should be doing longer intervals (10-20 minutes) at Threshold power/heart rate. If you're trying to improve your VO2max, then you should be doing shorter more intense intervals (3-5 minutes) at VO2max power/heart rates. (BTW, two of my favorite workouts are 2x20s@ L4 and 5x4s@ L5.) If you want to improve your endurance, then you should be riding longer (2-3 hrs) at Tempo pace (L3). For improving anaerobic capacity (L6/L7) you may want to try tabata intervals. For improving cycling efficiency/economy/neuromuscular skills you may want to do some Isolated Leg Training, Spin-ups, form sprints, etc.

So, forget about the "Magic Workouts" that claim they are easy and you only have to workout for 15 minutes a day. They don't exist. Isn't that why they call them "Magic"...because you hardly have to do any work and you "magically" get results? Just like the "Magic Diet Pill" all you want and pop a pill and you'll shed pounds instead of gaining them. To be honest with you, I'm glad such pills don't exist...because when I'm cycling and someone drops me on the ride...I want to know it's because he/she worked harder than me in the off-season, NOT that he/she found some "Magic Pill" or "Magic Workout" that you sit on your a$$ and get slimmer/stronger/faster. I guess that's because I'm a firm believer that ONLY hard work should be rewarded (whether it's on the bike or at work) in life...not cheaters. And, "Magic" stuff- is cheating or being deceptive in my book.

Power ON! Coach Rob

Monday, December 21, 2009

Periodization of Diet

Nice image (above) huh? Well, I didn't draw it. I just thought it was funny. I don't know about you..but this is probably what MY food pyramid REALLY looked like for the month of December (so far). It's probably the reason why I'm at least 10 lbs. overweight. But the REAL reason I chose this image (besides it being funny/realistic to some) is to highlight the title of the blog- Periodization of Diet. (TM Joe Friel)

Just like your Training Plan (I hope you have one by now) has a Periodization should your diet. Your Periodization of Diet not only differs from person to person (depending on age, body chemistry, etc.) but it's different at certain times of the year. For example, during the racing season most professional cylists are consuming up to 60% (or more) calories from carbs, 25% protein, and 15% fat. During the off-season these percentages will change dramatically. Why? Because these same athletes aren't training at the volume and intensity they are during the racing season and they just don't require the high percentage of carbs to maintain their high energy output. For some of these athletes, their off-season percentages may change as much as: 50% calories from carbs, 25% protein, and 25% fat. Notice that protein input stays constant throughout the year?

Personally, I like to adjust my off-season caloric intake percentages to: 50% carbs, 25% protein and 25% fat. It's just hard as hell to do during the holiday season when everywhere you go and everything you see is nothing but carbs (booze, candy, cakes, cookies, etc.). If I'm successful at keeping to these percentages I know I have a good chance of dropping some weight. And, THIS IS the time of the year to drop weight..not during the Build Phase of your ATP. BTW, this is the time of the year when I'm also at my highest body weight (10 lbs. higher than my summer riding weight). And, why am I sooooooo concerned about my body weight? In case you didn't know..the lighter you are the faster you're going to be able to climb hills. And, unless you live and ride at the shore (all the time) where it's're going to have to climb hills. Did you know that for every pound of excess body weight you have, you MUST pedal 2 watts more (on average) to pedal up a hill? So, if I lose 10 lbs. that means I can climb the same hill (at the same pace) at 20 watts less. I don't know if you realize it but if your FTP is 240w that's almost 10% increase/decrease in power. Trust me, as Tiger Woods would say, "That's HUGE". (BTW, where is Tiger?) Do you think you can increase your FTP by 10% by training on your bike as easily as you can by losing weight? I don't think so. So, think about that next time you pick up that cookie or have that 3rd or 4th beer. Listen to as I say..not as I do. haha

What should your optimal weight be (if you want to be a good climber)? According to Joe Friel, in "The Cyclist's Training Bible" (a must-have read), a good way to determine your optimal weight for climbing is by your weight-to-height ratio. Just divide your weight (lbs.) by your height (in.). So, if I weigh 180 lbs. and I'm 71 inches tall, my weight-to-height ratio is: 180/71= 2.5 lbs/in. Good climbers, according to Friel, are less than 2.1 pounds/inch. Wow! I'd have to drop 30 pounds. Well, that aint gonna happen anytime soon for me. I'll settle for 165 lbs. and a weight-to-height ratio of 2.3 instead. Wait a minute, that's 15 pounds less than what I am right now. Phew, I got a long way to go..bleh.

In addition to adjusting your percentage of carbs/fats/protein throughout the year, you should adjust them throughout the day as well to meet your training demands. In the off-season, particularly the Build Phase we're in now, my highest carb intake is typically during breakfast (cereal/pancackes/etc.) and lunch (wheat bread) and prior to my daily workout before dinner. I try to refrain from eating carbs AFTER dinner. Notice I said TRY? It's hard. I always IMMEDIATELY follow a workout with carbs and protein to assist in muscle recuperation. I just read an article the other day that said if you pop an advil/aspirin after your workouts, particularly for old farts like me, it will help build muscle strength:,6610,s1-4-21-17040-1,00.html

Adjust your Food Pyramid or Periodization of Diet Plan...not only during the year but during the day. In case you're wondering, the only way you're going to be able to determine your percentages of carbs/fat/protein is with a calorie counter software program. You can get a bazillion of them (FREE) on the internet. I use a program called I like this one because I can use it on my PC as well as my Blackberry. Just make sure the program graphs daily carbs/protein/fat percentages. Start countin' NOW. Power ON! Coach Rob

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lower and Upper Training Thresholds

(chart ref. Dr. Andy Coggan)

If you'be been around cycling for a while you've undoubtedly heard the terms/words: Lactate Threshold, Aerobic Threshold, Anaerobic Threshold, Ventilatory Threshold, etc. All of these words are mostly used to describe significant reference points for setting up power/heart rate training zones.

Technically, Lactate Threshold (LT) is the point where lactate levels in the blood first increase over your baseline levels. When your lactate levels reach a point that is 1 mmol/L above your baseline, it is referred to as your Lower Training Threshold (LTT)- designated LT1 (see graph.)

Wonderful, but how the heck do I know when my blood lactate levels reach this point? (I'll answer that question in a little bit). After all, it's not like everyone (or even me with all my toys) has a blood lactate analyzer in their back pocket to measure their blood lactate levels during exercise. And, if there is a Lower Training Threshold (LTT) is there an Upper Training Threshold (UTT)? Yup, there is. That point is the highest level of intensity at which your body is able to process the by-products associated with carb metabolism at the same rate they are being produced. Simply put, as exercise intensity increases more lactate is released into the blood to a point where production is faster than your body can process it and starts to accumulate. Thus, an upper point or Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation (OBLA) designated LT2- see graph.
The key words here are "increase" (where LT1 occurs) and "accumulation" (where LT2 occurs)- see graph. As a rough rule of thumb for most athletes: LT1 occurs at 2mM blood lactate and LT2 occurs at 4-6mM blood lactate. But, I repeat, that's a rule of thumb and everyone is different...let alone it also differs between sports. This the primary reason I do NOT own a blood lactate analyzer or have a reason to buy one to find FTPs for my athletes. I'd be able to find LT1 pretty easily but how do I know if/when the athlete is at LT2? Is it 4mM, 6mM, 8mM, etc? You can see from the first graph that there is a pretty substantial power range between 4-6mM. (No, this is not my chart..I can only dream of an FTP that high)
Ok, so how do you measure both your LTT and UTT without going out and buying a $500 portable blood lactate analyzer and sticking yourself every minute to find both these points on the graph? According to Thomas Chapple, author of "Base Building for Cyclists" (and a recommended read) the best way to determine your LTT is to do a Critical Power test for 30 minutes, aka CP30. (CP30 is nothing more than your average sustained power during a 30 min. Time Trial.) Your LTT will be 55-75% of your CP30 power. So, if your CP30 is 300 watts, your LTT range will range from 165-225w. How about your UTT? That will be 85-95% of your CP30 power, or 255-285w. BTW, your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is a good indicator of your UTT. That is why I use Hunter Allen's 20 min. FTP test to determine Power Training Zones for my athletes vice the 30 min. TT that Mr. Chapple suggests.
During the base training phase (the phase you should be in right now in your ATP), you want to be spending the majority of your traning time/power in the LTT range. The UTT will usually drop and the LTT will rise during this early base phase. Say what? That's right..according to Thomas Chapple, your UTT will drop and your LTT will rise. What's happening is that you're actually bringing the fitness ceiling down so that you can build a larger foundation that will support a higher, stronger ceiling. It doesn't take as long to put the ceiling back up as it takes to build a larger foundation. I know..I're probably thinking (like I was when I first read this) that this is a time of year I want to increase my fitness level (or FTP)...NOT decrease it. But, you have to remember one VERY IMPORTANT takes YEARS to develop your aerobic energy system and only a couple MONTHS to develop your anaerobic energy system (or ceiling). Oh, and in case you haven't figured it out yet...the LTT is ridiculously low if you're one of those guys that like to ride hard 24/7- 365 days a year. (You can see from the 2nd graph that it's in the L1/L2/L3 power levels). In fact, I really doubt you'll be able to effectively train in this range at all because you're going to convince yourself that it's a waste of your time. If you think I'm nuts or completely lost it..go back and read my blog about Base Building and read the benefits of riding in the lower power ranges. These benefits are well documented, and proven, by the best PhD weenies in the business. And, who can argue with them? I can't. At least I'm not ignorant enough to argue with them.
Yes, you MUST go slower BEFORE you can go faster. What you want to do during this base building phase is to build a large foundation that will support a higher, stronger ceiling. Makes sense to me..hope it makes sense to you. Power ON! Coach Rob

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Setting S-M-A-R-T Goals for 2010

Hard to believe it's almost 2010..just a few more weeks. If you haven't done so already, NOW is the time to be setting your goals for 2010. But, it's not enough just to make a generic goal- like I want to get stronger and ride faster (who doesn't), you should make your goal more specific. Make your goal realistic, specific and measurable.
Here is an acronym (S-M-A-R-T) I saw while reading an article the other day that will help you remember what's important in creating your goal(s) for 2010. And, there is nothing wrong with making multiple goals. The article was written in some Chesapeake Bay magazine (of all places)- can't remember which. (But, at least I remembered the acronym.) The article didn't apply to cycling per se, but you can easily apply it as follows:
S- Specific- be specific with your goal. Do you want to podium? Do you want to move up from Cat 5 to Cat 4? Do you want to just hang with the pack? Do you want to hang on your local group ride?

M- Measurable- make your goal measurable. Do you want to break the hour mark in a 40k TT? Do you want to improve your FTP from 290w to 300w? Do you want to average 250w on your group rides?

A- Attainable- here's the one that is abused the most. Do NOT make a goal that is NOT attainable. You're only setting yourself up for failure if you don't. Trust me, it's a lot easier to make an attainable goal, achieve it...and make another one than to make a lofty goal that you can't attain. We all want to be a Cat 1 Pro (even though some of us say we don't) but don't make that goal if it's not attainable. And, don't say my goal is "to be a BETTER sprinter" when you know damn well you don't have a fast twitch muscle fiber in your body. I hear that all the time. Get over're NEVER going to be a sprinter. Sorry!

R- Relevant- I'm not quite sure how this applies since it's just common sense to me. Why wouldn't I make a relevant goal. i.e. Why would a goal be to podium if I don't race? Well, I suppose that's the problem..some people don't use common sense. I suppose it almost goes hand-in-hand with my example above (attainable) about being a better sprinter if it's not in the cards.

T- Time-bound- I like this one the best. I think it's one of the most important. What good is making a goal if you don't have a date to attain that goal by? That's the whole point in making a gives you something to work towards, some motivation to help you attain. And, be specific with the date. Don't just say I want to move up from Cat 5 to 4 this summer. When this summer? June, July, August? Even if you're not sure about the month at least you can say at the beginning of the summer or mid-summer, or by the end of the summer.

Make a goal for 2010...and be S-M-A-R-T about it! Power ON! Coach Rob

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Let it Snow..

Hate to say it, but there is no excuse NOT to get outside in the Winter to ride...regardless of the conditions. This morning, Jim Ludovici (pictured above) and I headed out to the canal towpath (NJ side) to ride from Stockton to Frenchtown NJ and back. Enroute, we did 2-3 hill intervals on Stumpf Tavern Rd- a 1.2 mile climb of 400+ vertical ft. It was slow-going on the canal towpath (for me at least). It felt like I was riding through sand at points (because of the snow) with my Mtn. Bike.

This was a great 3 hr. endurance ride with challenging terrain (hills, slick spots, snow, etc.)- just what the doctor ordered. There is no way I'd be able to get a similar workout on the road (this time of year) with my road bike...since the main roads were still icy and had too much salt on them for my taste. So, for those of you that think the "canal tow path" is for sissies on their beach cruisers..think again. This was a GOOD workout for me with a TSS=230. For Jim, I'm sure it was a stroll in the park- but still a good ride.

So, don't let a little snow (or cold temps) keep you inside on the trainer this Winter. Even though the temps today were in the low to mid 30s...I was sweating for much of the ride. The warm sun helped though. So, until next time...let it snow..let it snow...let it snow. Power ON! Coach Rob

Friday, December 4, 2009

Training too hard too soon?

I thought this pic/icon would get your attention. Just a word of advice/caution/etc. for you: when starting your new Annual Training Plan (ATP) do NOT try to jump back on the trainer and think you're going to be able to pump out 2x20s @ L4 (workout) at your summer FTP. It aint gonna happen. And, if you try to make it happen..I can assure you you'll look like the guy/gal in the pic. It's just not realistic to think that even after a relatively short transition/off-season phase you're going to be even remotely close to where you were in mid-summer- power wise. So please don't try it. This is a good reason to be re-tested NOW if you haven't- to establish your new FTP (and power training zones) for the start of the 2009-2010 season. Also, even if you've been re-tested recently you do NOT want to jump into a 2x20 @ L4 workout. I suggest you start with a 2x10 or 2x15 @ L3/L4 "sweetspot" workout instead. You want to concentrate on building a good base this time of year..and you don't do that by jumping into a 2x20 @L4 workout and puking. Lastly, if you start an interval workout..and you're not feeling so's better to quit or knock-off one of your intervals instead of dogging/cheating on one. Just this morning I was doing a 2x15 @L3/L4 workout and I could barely finish the first interval. So, just 30 minutes (15 min. warmup) into the workout- I quit. To be continued on another day...not a problem. At least I got a solid 30 minute workout in instead of nothing.

So, don't beat yourself up this early in the season. There is plenty of time for that this Winter. If you're not feeling good during a workout..nothing wrong with quitting. Conversely, if you're feeling good..nothing wrong with adding a little more to the workout. Power ON! Coach Rob

Google it!

Ok, hopefully you're off and running with your new Annual Training Plan. If not, I suspect you're waiting until the first of the year to get started. Regardless, you'll want to post all of your workouts on some kind of calendar or software program. I use Google Calendar for posting my workouts. In fact, I use Google Calendar for posting my athletes workouts too. (Shhh, don't tell Training Peaks I said that). It's just so easy to share workouts..and the best's FREE! I also use Google Documents to store all of my workouts. I just cut/paste workouts from my huge database/library into my calendar. Oh, and you guessed it..I email my athletes with Gmail. But wait, there's more..if you have a GPS device like I do, you can save all of your rides in Google Earth. You can even upload FREE add-ons such as USGC Topo maps so you can see the elevations of your route/ride. No, I don't have any stock in GOOG (trading at $586/share), I just think they offer great programs for free. BTW, you want to see something cool. Go into Google Earth and click on View in the menu system, then click on Water Surface. Now, scroll over to the Atlantic Ocean and check out the canyons off the NJ coast. If you watch the elevation pointer it will show you the depth. There's one more thing I like about Google...all of their programs are supported on my Blackberry (or iPhone if you have one). So, you can see ALL of your programs on the road. And, you thought Google was just a search engine. Shame on you!

As not to leave the other guys out...I want to give you a link to another FREE program called SportsTracks by ZoneFiveSoftware. You can download this great program at: It does EVERYTHING you could possibly want in one program.

And, last but not least..I can't leave my friend Hunter Allen out and the folks at Training Peaks. They have THE BEST cycling program for downloading and analyzing workouts on the market..especially if you own a Power Meter. I use Training Peaks WKO+ Unlimited edition ($149) for my coaching service and some of my athletes use the athlete edition ($99). They also offer the WKO+ Professional Edition. So, check em out on

Start planning, recording/tracking and analyzing now! Power ON! Coach Rob

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Base Training

It's December..whoo hoo! Only 25 more days until Santa brings that new bike, wheelset, power meter, computrainer, etc. I can't believe the regular college football season is over though..I'm bummed. It seems like only yesterday I was basking in the sun in Beaver Stadium watching the Nits beat-up on the Zips. Regardless, I hope most of you have been X-training like I have. I've really enjoyed riding my mountain bike this Fall so much lately I can't even tell you the last time I was on my road bike. About now, all of you should be thinking about starting your Annual Training Plan (ATP) if you haven't started already. And, whether you're planning on sticking to the traditional training plan that consists of a distinct Prep, Base, Build, Pre-Race/Peak, and Race Phase (ala Joe Friel) or you're considering one of the newer High Intensity Training Plans (ala Carmichael) you still need to establish a Base. Ok, let me say that again..before you start your ATP, or as part of your initial ATP, YOU NEED TO ESTABLISH A BASE.

What is a "Base"? I'm sure you hear it quite often, during a group ride, this time of year, i.e. "I'm just taking it easy today..building a base" or you hear, "What the hell is that guy doing pushing it so hard this time of year...he should be building a base?" No, it's not a baseball base like the pic above. A base is exactly what Mr. Webster says it is, "the bottom or foundation of something". In regards to an Annual Training Plan (ATP) the definition is no different- it's the foundation; the foundation of fitness that you'll build "other stuff" to later on. (BTW, that "other stuff" is the higher intensity stuff- down the road).

So, what are the physiological adaptations or benefits of Base Training? And why so important? Here are some reasons:
a. Muscles and connective tissues are strengthened, enabling them to handle increased volume and intensity later on. (Remember the "other stuff")
b. Your body learns to burn fat and spare glycogen, enabling it to go longer/further.
c. Your body learns the neuromuscular coordination required to perform smooth, efficient movements. Exercise performance becomes more economical and fluid.
d. Your blood volume goes up, increasing the ability to deliver oxygen to working muscles.
e. Your heart becomes able to pump a higher volume of blood with each beat, increasing this ability even more.
f. Your muscles build more capillaries to deliver more oxygen to working muscles.

How do I effectively build a base and what intensity should I be riding? I believe the best way to effectively BASE train is by riding long at aerobic intensities. How long? Well that depends. If you're a Crit racer or Sprint Distance Triathlete that's a couple hours. If you're an IM Triathlete or road racer that could be 3-5 hrs. What intensity? I said "aerobic" intensity which means the L2 and L3 levels/zones. Yes, I know you can ride "aerobically" at L4 (Threshold) but this is NOT the time of year to be riding long at L4. Keep in mind that your Zones/Levels this time of year are also NOT going to be the same as they were during the summer/peak season. So, if you're not sure what your levels are- test yourself and re-establish new zones. In addition to riding long (yes I know the weather outside is getting colder and the days shorter) this is the BEST time to be working on: Isolated Leg Drills, Form Sprints, Spin-ups, and high cadence drills. (see prior blog)

In addition to riding long and honing your pedalling skills this is also a good time of year to get back into the gym to start strengthening your core muscles and doing a little resistance training. (check out my archives for weight training for cyclists) Just yesterday I saw a Tweet from Lance Armstrong where he said he just finished up a Yoga session. Wow, Lance Armstrong doing Yoga. I guess if it's good for Lance it should be good for us. Well, I think it is. I'm not a Yoga fan but I do like Pilates. My ailing back (2 herniated discs) appreciates it too. This is all part of establishing a Base...strengthening your muscles and preparing your body for the more intense stuff to come.

So, let that hotshot go off the front of the group ride and push it hard. You now know that he/she is NOT establishing a proper base and is probably going to end up injured or burned out in February when the real intense workouts start. So go ahead and say, "What the hell is that guy doing pushing it so hard this time of year...he should be building a base?". That's what I'd say!

Power ON! Coach Rob