CYCLING PERFORMANCE TIPS
Using a training log
Keeping track of your training - and using the information to improve - is an important part
of any training program. How do you use the information?? I'll reprint the comments of
Fred Matheny (from www.roadbikerider.com - an excellent on line resource). I'll emphasize what
resonates with me in bold.
From RBR's 12/21/06 Newsletter: Motivation & Inspiration: Best of Coach Fred. " How Do You Analyze a Training Diary?"
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Good question, Mark. Not many riders keep detailed training logs, which is a shame, and even fewer know what to do with a year's worth of information. Analyzing a training log is crucial to learning from your mistakes, understanding your successes and getting better each year. I'd like to see you and all RBR roadies start a cycling diary for 2007.
This task is easier now that computer-based diaries can be used instead of paper-and-pencil logs. (For an example, see http://www.cyclistats.com) With electronic diaries you can pull out average miles, average heart rate, number of hours at or above lactate threshold and much other potentially useful data.
But having said that, I admit to still using an old-school paper diary. I've gotten comfortable with this type during three decades, although I still find that turning all the data into actual improvement is more art than science.
You asked about my numbers. With two weeks to go in 2006 I've done 527 hours on the bike, 227 hours of other aerobic exercise (mainly hiking and snowshoeing) and about 50 hours of weight training. That adds up to around 800 hours of exercise. My totals have been pretty consistent in the last 17 years, averaging 650-800 hours annually.
But lump-sum hours aren't as meaningful as the hours spent near or above lactate threshold. In other words, quality is more important than quantity. And in this area my ability to analyze my training falls short. It's difficult to pull that information from a handwritten log. I rarely wear a heart monitor, and although I do have a power meter on a bike, I'm not always riding that one when I go hard. So quite a few power profiles of hard rides aren't recorded.
Periodically through the year, I read back over my diary to make a subjective analysis. I check the number of interval sessions I've done and their spacing. I look for rides that were hard even though no formal intervals were scheduled. Examples are spirited group rides, races and courses with lots of climbing.
I also check my body weight, looking for fluctuations that could indicate dehydration or overtraining.
But more important to me than intensity or hours is a subjective rating of my well-being. I find my mental state to be the best indicator that I'm on the right track or doing too much. Do I feel vigorous or flat? Am I eager to ride or am I going through the motions? Do rides feel so good that I extend them longer than I'd planned, or do I plod through a lackluster hour and head home?
Hard training doesn't, by itself, lead to improvement. Rest and recovery are the essential catalysts. If I don't rest enough, everything goes downhill. So for me, charting my mood against the objective numbers produced by my training is the most useful aspect of diary analysis."
Q. I've gone over your web site articles for training and I have a question. From reading, Max VO2 occurs at 90% max heartrate. On intense training days, how long should you keep pedaling at MaxVO2?
This is sample intense session:
Any advice would be appreciated. - JR
A. You have a nice balance of long day, rest days, and intervals. You can fill in the "x" with any length interval you'd like - it really depends on the event you are training for and your personal goals. With this balance in your program, getting better will happen as you put in the time on the bike. But don't forget to take off a day or two each week - that often takes more discipline than riding every day.
Q. I am taking part in a 24 hour mountain bike event in July. There will be 5 of us in a team, so we will be taking it in turns on a course that takes approximately 40 minutes. That means we will have roughly 240 minute breaks between rides. The question is how do you train for that? - KB
A. I would plan your weekly training program as if this was to be a single 40 minute, high intensity event, with a key element (or focus) being what you need to do to maximize your recovery in the 4 hour break between the 40 minute "events".
You should estimate the total mileage you will be riding in the full 24 hours - and be sure your baseline mileage (weekly) and long ride of the week, support this distance. And train with an emphasis on intervals to improve performance for the 40 minute events.
The few days before the 24 hour event, be sure you have maximized your total body glycogen reserves - and replace your expended Calories after each event using a liquid replacement as much as possible to minimize delays in gastric emptying and absorption. Finally, be sure you replace sweat loses - dehydration over the 24 hours is probably the biggest risk to your performance. See nutrition for performance, the interval ride section.
Q. I'm still relatively new to mountain biking. I wanted to ask what you mean by "have a base of at least 500 miles"? Is that a weekly amount?
A. The rationale behind developing a mileage base at the beginning of the season is the thought (speculation really) that if you push yourself too hard before your muscles and tendons have adapted to the stress of training (for a new activity) you increase the risk of injury. Thus the idea of "going easy" in your riding (probably 200 to 500 miles) to start the adaptation process in your musculoskeletal system before you begin to increase the training stress that will lead to improvement - more intense (intervals) and longer (time/distance) rides.
How do you measure base mileage? Is it the distance ridden in a week? The base mileage period is not time based. Sort of like the "break in" period of a new car where they ask you to keep the speed (and RPMs) down for a certain number of miles. Common sense suggests this is regular riding over more than just a few weeks to allow the body time to respond to and build up the tissue being stressed. I'd think more over 4 or 5 weeks. And you can do still some stress activities (like easy intervals). Just not full bore.