Winter Wake-Up Week 1

For snow-bound cyclists, March is the time of year we really start looking for open roads. Some have been able to get away to someplace warm and sunny for a week of road riding. Most have been stuck indoors, staring at basement walls. sweating on trainers - or should I say those of us with enough motivation have been doing that. Others have been cross-training with some cross-country skiing, hockey, or maybe even running. For those of you who are looking to attend the ABA Spring Road Camp and feel you need a little training focus to get you going, I've designed a 4-week program to help you out.

This program isn't a full base training system, rather it's a mini system designed to get your cycling legs moving again and your aerobic system primed for a big week of riding next month. I've actually designed two plans, one for those who've not really done much at all this winter, and the other for those who've at least been active with some cross-training. On the other hand, if you've been fairly consistent with your cycling through the winter, then you can use some of these workouts to mix things up for you, but otherwise just stick to your current training plan and you should be ready for a great week of riding in April.

If you can get started with one of the plans this week (the week beginning March 7), then you should be all set to go to camp on April 9. You could start next week (March 14), but will need to make a slight adjustment in week 4 as you'll be heading to Penticton at the end of that week.

Primary Goals of Both Plans: Technique & Endurance

Every cyclist benefits from an annual return to working on pedaling technique. High spin training reinforces your neuromuscular pathways and always helps to develop an efficient pedal stroke. When you later increase your strength, your efficient pedal stroke will put it to the best use.

Cycling is, of course, an endurance sport. Endurance requires efficient energy systems for burning fats and glycogen (stored carbohydrates). Basic endurance riding and some Tempo muscular endurance work at this time of year gets those energy systems working again.

That's about it in these plans - work on technique and work on endurance. There are no junk miles. The plans are focused, can be done easily on an indoor trainer and should fit just about any working cyclist's available training time.

The Winter Wake-Up Plan is for those who haven't done much at all this winter. The Winter Get-Back Plan is for those who have been active and can stand a little more intensity and volume while they get back to riding.

Notes on Exertion Levels in the Plans

I'll refer to Heart Rate and Perceived Exertion Zones based on the 5 zone system as follows:

Zone 1 - Recovery. Very light feeling in your legs.
Zone 2 - Basic Endurance. A little work is felt in your legs, but nothing overly hard.
Zone 3 - Tempo. This begins to feel hard. You can keep up this level of work for long periods of time, but it really feels annoying to be working this hard. It takes some motivation to keep up this effort.
Zone 4 - Sub-threshold. Now things are beginning to feel very hard. At this level of exertion, you could ride a 1hr time trial if you're really motivated. When training, you might be able to squeeze out repeated 10 minute efforts, but you'll be doing well to simply get through repeated 5 minute efforts.
Zone 5 - Threshold and above. Now you're working really hard. Repeated 3 minute or less efforts is all you'll manage at this level.
Winter Wake-Up Plan Week 1

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 45mins Endurance riding - Zone 2.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 1hr15mins Endurance riding - Zone 2.
Sunday: 1hr Endurance + SpinBlock ride - Zone 2. After 30mins of riding spend the next 10min block riding @ 115-130rpm. Pick an easy gear that lets you spin without your legs feeling heavy. Try to keep your pedal stroke fluid without bouncing all over your saddle. For some feedback, fill your outermost jersey pockets with loose coins and try to keep them quiet while you spin. Finish your ride by returning to a steady Zone 2 Endurance pace.

Winter Get-Back Plan Week 1

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 1hr Endurance riding - Zone 2.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 1hr30mins Endurance+Tempo riding - Zone 2. After 30mins of riding, spend the next 15mins riding at a solid Zone 3 Tempo effort with your cadence between 80 and 90 rpm. Finish the ride back in Zone 2.
Sunday: 1hr15mins Endurance + SpinBlock ride - Zone 2. After 30mins of riding spend the next 10min block riding @ 115-130rpm. Pick an easy gear that lets you spin without your legs feeling heavy. Try to keep your pedal stroke fluid without bouncing all over your saddle. For some feedback, fill your outermost jersey pockets with loose coins and try to keep them quiet while you spin. Finish your ride by returning to a steady Zone 2 Endurance pace.

That's it for this week. Next week I'll be back with week 2 of each plan.

Related Posts:

ABA Spring Camp Returns to Penticton in 2011
Winter Wake-Up Week 2
Winter Wake-Up Week 3
Winter Wake-Up Week 4