Ian's Training Notes

cycling

I've been busy, so this is a two-week update. Additionally, my work schedule is about to get much more crowded, so these Notes will probably be less frequent from now on (perhaps centred around an entire training block leading up to an Event). This will also give me more time to spend writing actual cycling articles, a change of focus that I've been meaning to get around to for a while.

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It was back up to speed again this week. It felt good to resume my full training load following the taper.

I did four long workouts, plus the usual recovery and commute rides, adding up to 650 km. I included a few intervals on the Tuesday endurance ride, and of course the Saturday group ride had some fast sections, but the rest of the time was endurance pace with a relatively small amount of aerobic threshold work.

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Recovery was the theme this week, and what do you know: it actually seemed to work!

Unfortunately, I can't know for certain just how much it worked, as the race I'd tapered for fizzled out in a rather strange way. More on that below.

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This marked the culmination of a rapid increase in my training load; I've averaged over 20 hours and 570 km per week for the last month, including some pretty high-intensity rides.

By late this week, I could tell it was time to back off for a while: the two weekend rides in particular featured heavy legs and fading energy levels. I didn't even get any weight training done, which is another sign that I'm due for a break.

However, it's been a great last few weeks, and I'm happy that my training seems now to be firmly heading in the right direction again.

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I had my biggest week for a very long time this week, and I'm feeling great (but tired!).

The polarized training is in full swing, and seems to be working wonders for me. After an easy start on Monday, I did a nice Free Ride with just a couple of 8-minute intervals, during which I took advantage of my new power meter to pace them.

I knew I hadn't quite emptied the tank on the first interval, so on the second I increased the power and managed to hold on for the full duration, getting an extra 13W overall. Very painful, but effective.

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Things really started to gel this week. Since making the realization that I'd been on the wrong track for the last few months, I've taken a big change in direction with my training, and this week I also went back and re-studied the most important research that aligns with my chosen approach.

There are various endurance training philosophies, such as high-intensity interval training and threshold training, but the one that I think has the most empirical support (from scientific research, from looking at how elite cyclists train, and even from looking at what I was doing last year when I was at my best) is polarized training.

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It was very much a transitional week this week; as discussed last time, I've moved away from intervals for the time being so I can focus on ramping up my training volume, relying on the weekend rides to get my high-intensity work.

To that end, it wasn't a great week; flat tyres forced premature conclusions to two of my rides, and I missed the fast group ride on Saturday as I was needed elsewhere. This meant I fell short of my targets both for hours and intensity.

However, since it was a Post-Event week and I've got three more weeks to build before the next taper, it was hardly disastrous.

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The big change this mesocycle was taking seriously the need to taper my training in the lead-up to my race. In accordance with scientifically-accepted best practice, I didn't reduce the intensity or frequency of my riding, but the volume came down by about one third.

Following Monday's Leg Speed ride, I did some tough Anaerobic Intervals on Tuesday. The first two were 2-minute efforts, which are horrible; you don't pace them, you just go flat out like you were doing a 30- or 40-second interval, then try to hang on as best you can. Nasty! These were followed by six 1-minute reps. Ten minutes of anaerobic work is plenty for one session.

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With a short turnaround between races, there wasn't time for a full cycle and so I skipped straight to Build 3, to stay on schedule for my race next Sunday.

It was a very good week; I did three great rides and am starting to feel noticeably stronger.

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A recovery week, although a rather backloaded one; Monday and Tuesday were both rest days, and were followed by a rainy active recovery ride on Wednesday.

Thursday brought Under/Overs, but I was far from comfortable with these and only got through a couple of sets before switching to a simple sweet-spot ride.

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