Welcome along to this month's blog. A recurring theme from my cycle coaching recently is that I am encountering cyclists who generally train, and therefore race, to their strengths. In doing so they avoid their weaknesses, to the detriment of their performance. I’ve suggested to many to vary intensity, frequency, duration and mode of training to improve performance and stimulate mental freshness. The Revbox is a useful tool in varying not only the mode (indoors vs outdoors) but also duration and intensity, typically shorter and higher respective, sessions.
Here are some examples of cyclists and their strengths, reflected in how they train and what they can do to improve.
First up is a cyclist and ex-Black Stick who has an exceptional anaerobic capacity and psychological strength (he embraces competition like it’s his mother). However, due to time constraints this cyclist has to make up for his lack of endurance with mental stubbornness. There is a limit though to human endurance and he suffers at the pointy end of races longer than 50k. If he’s not able to hang with the front group due to attacks or hills his killer sprint won’t be a threat so he needs to focus on long slow miles. From my experience, this cyclist is an exception rather than the norm as the ability to rack up long miles seems endemic among our sub culture. However, if you think you’re another exception then perhaps a research of Arthur Lydiard training systems would be wise and more time on the road.
Next is a clothing designer and self labelled ‘plodder’ just loves to chew miles*. In contrast to the previous cyclist, she has no problems with her aerobic base. To be fair she is not overly concerned with the competitive side of cycling as much as the social and therefore has rarely considered interval training as part of her programme. However, she wouldn’t have to compromise her beloved tenacity to plod all day even if she were to incorporate higher intensity training as this has been proven to enhance endurance. Additionally she will stimulate her physiology in radically different ways which will significantly enhance her top end (race) speed.
The Revbox provides the perfect tool for training your anaerobic system. Intervals as short as 5 seconds and up to 2-3 minute will largely be targeting your alactic (without lactic acid production - energy provided from ATP - PC) and lactate anaerobic energy supply.
A tax lawyer and family man who is time limited, means his strength in training is that he rides at an high percentage of his maximum. An additional annoying strength (to everyone else he races) is that he is being bloody hard to drop, because he’s use to always riding hard. Unfortunately his mono-speed of training (some liken this to the triathlete way) causes him difficulty in changes in racing speed.
Also not knowing how to train easy, while normally a good thing, is to his detriment when (actively) recovering from sickness. If training short and hard all the time sounds like you, you will benefit from learning how to ride easy as there comes a time when you will need it. This is also necessary for training sessions focussed on developing your sprint/anaerobic alactic power.
Using the indoor training for recovery rides should be given serious consideration - often battling the elements and terrain will never allow recovery. The Revbox can also be a useful tool in recovery as the focus on sessions can turn to pedalling technique (for example single legged pedalling), rather than cardiovascular overload.
The final example is a librarian who is a slave to her strava account where every training ride is a race to improve on not only her pb’s but to climb the social-media-ladder. This cyclist is not too dissimilar from the lawyer I train as her strength is in that she knows how to ride fast and hard. Unfortunately, while she can hide behind the anonymity of her username and laptop, come race day she ultimately fears failure in a real public arena and chooses not to try to succeed. The advice here is the old adage: train to race not race to train!
If you’re a strava user then you will have to accept a loss of (public) recognition for your training if you move to using your Revbox/indoor trainer unfortunately.
The take home message, even if you don’t fit any of the mentioned ‘categories’, is vary your approach to training rides with the aim of both providing new stimulation to your cycling physiology and working on weaknesses that potentially inhibit your optimal performance.
If you don’t know of any weakness or you’re stumped to think of a different way to train then it could be as simple as looking at how your friends ride, asking a coach or even google. Finally the best advice for those that have a race to train for is to look at demands of the course, the starting field and your goal, and specifically train to these.