22 January 2010

Six weeks to race ready

With only six weeks left until the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Tour here are a series of cycling training intervals and drills to help you meet your race goals.

"For top race performance you need to hone your mind-body connection with race-specific training that prepares your body for the kind of effort you’ll face during competition," says strength and endurance coach, James Hererra. 

Here, Herrera shares a series of cycling training intervals and drills that will build the kind of power, strength and stamina you need to succeed in almost any type of race. Choose the drills that will help you meet your race goals, then apply them to the six-week calendar below.



Perform 10- to 20- second sprints to fine-tune your jump. Include uphill sprints for increased power and downhill sprints for improved leg speed.

Spice up a two-hour aerobic ride with a 10 on the 10 (that’s a 10-second sprint every 10 minutes) following a 30- minute warm-up.

Also try sprints in a set: 5x 10 seconds with five minutes of easy spinning between efforts. Work up to six to eight sets per cycling workout.

If you know what to expect – grade, length and number of hills – in your upcoming event, try to find a comparable training course.

If you’re in for many short, steep pitches, you’ll need the horses to power up over and over again. Find a course with multiple, frequent hills. If you can find only one hill, it’s okay to repeat the same climb.

Start strong at the bottom and gradually accelerate your pace as you near the top. Recover on the descents. If you’re facing one never-ending ascent, you’ll need long, sustainable power. Find climbs that take 20 to 40 minutes and begin at your tempo pace.

Five minutes in, take it to your threshold and hold on until you reach the top. Synchronise your breathing with your pedal stroke – short, quick and rhythmic. For climbs of 45 minutes or longer, ride longer at tempo before building to your threshold pace. 

The length of your training intervals should be determined by the length of the course and your goal time.

For a 30-minute goal, do an interval progression – 5x5–6 minutes (that’s five effforts of slightly-faster-than-goal-pace for five to six minutes), 4x7–8 minutes, 3x10–12 minutes, 2x15–18 minutes or 1x25–30 minutes – moving through the sequence as your fitness improves.

Perform your final 30-minute interval as close to your goal pace as possible.

Rest between intervals should be as long as the interval itself (five-minute interval = five-minute rest); as you improve, cut your rest time in half. 

The day before your event – and perhaps the day of, as the completion of a good warmup routine – perform some short, high-intensity efforts to really fine tune your engine.

Try three to five 20- to 60-second efforts at full tilt with a 1:5 work-to-rest ratio. That means each recovery should be five times longer than each effort.

Visit Bicycling Magazine to sign up for a customised Argus training programme

For specific interval training select from the drills above.


 This is an edited version of a story that originally appeared in Bicycling Magazine.





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