Training Plans for a Fitter Me: the Bike

This could all be summed up with more of the same. Fundamentally I’m just going to continue doing what I have been since going full time. That means a weekly bike volume typically over 500km. Usually spread over 6 sessions, possibly 7 as I don’t always take a day off.

I have one or possibly two long distance rides per week. Going by time the main ride is over 6 hours and then that second ride is around 5. I like to extend those times a bit and go longer than I ever expect to in a race. In the last build up that led to 7 hour rides and I’ll aim to get back there shortly. My focus is more getting in time on the bike and I try not to fuss too much if I have flat periods where I don’t feel too strong. I do plan to bring a bit more discipline into these rides next year with long intervals at target power zones. It’s all too easy to let the mind wander and plod along at far to easy a pace otherwise.

At least one session per week will be a proper hill set. Fortunately the Gold Coast has some decent hills to pick from. I rode up Springbrook this morning to put me in the right frame of mind for writing this! Back in the Northern Hemisphere I’d go to the Pyrenees to get the really hard hill work in, but I can’t quite replicate that here. Still with good 30 minute plus climbs available there’s something to work with. Alternatively there’s always plenty of sharp rollers to give a session with more intensive bursts of power.

During the last build I didn’t really structure my hill work. I’d tend to pick a day to do some hills and go find them. Next year I plan to do a regular hill repeat set probably up Springbrook as it’s a decent length and not too steep. I used to quite like doing a set of 3 repeats back home, each one aiming at a slightly higher power than the last. It let me build up to going all out. Kind of a gentle introduction to hurting yourself.

Riding with others is an important part of the plan. Aside from time passing quicker the added motivation is a big plus. A lot of my riding has been with guys racing shorter than me and their training tends to be shorter and harder too. It’s tough workout whether it be trying to break away if I’m feeling good or just sticking on a wheel. There’s a lot of pace changes, attacking hills and turns on the front. Very different to how an Ironman is ridden, but I find it’s a good fartlek style session. No strict plan, but at some point people start ramping the pace up. Worse case if I’m tired I sit on someone’s wheel and still get some speed work in!

It’s all pretty basic stuff – some long steady rides, hill work for structured intensity and group riding for intervals. Then chuck in the odd easier ride to keep the legs spinning and the volume up and that’s the week. I’m riding with a powertap both to help guide the structured sessions and also to keep track of where I’m at. I find tracking the change in my threshold power a good indicator of how training is going. Whilst there was a very clean improvement in the first month or so out here, the second block of training where I feel I raced too much showed much more variability and less progression.

This is where the real change to my plan has to take place. I need to focus on what made the first block so successful. I could list plenty of potential factors, from initial motivation through to relative freshness. Certainly I think poor recovery and low motivation were issues in the second build period. This comes back to the earlier post on supporting the plan – the need for good stretching and more rest. The second block of training combined poorer recovery with plenty of racing. Essentially I worked myself into the ground so by the end I was pretty close to my limits! I believe a lot of that was under my control so the goal this time is to keep on top of this and ensure I can absorb all the cycling I’m doing.

I’ll accept an argument could easily be made for dropping volume to aid with this. Ride less and it’s more time for recovery along with less overall fatigue to deal with. However I do believe I am quite capable of training at the volume I have been. Should the next month prove otherwise expect a post revisiting this! I’ll also admit planned training camps where I know the bike volume is very high make ensuring I can ride day after day a priority too.

Looking beyond the short-term goal of Ironman Australia part of the aim is to develop my ability to train harder at this volume. It took over a year to move from 10-15 hours per week training to the 30 hour region. Another year on I expect to be more comfortable at that volume and able to work harder within it. Part of the training is getting yourself able to absorb a harder training load.

To wrap up – the short-term goal is to go to Ironman Australia and be in shape to deliver a ride around the 5 hour mark. I expect the course to be tougher than Western Australia based on my experience at the Half in Port Macquarie. So realistically this means I am riding harder than I did in WA. There’s work to be done to get there for sure, but 3 months to do it in. Having almost finished my first week back in training I’m generally feeling pretty good on the bike. Not quite at the level I was, but not so far off it either. Something to build upon.

(sorry no pics or videos this time! Jaggad may have a video of me on the bike in the future though… Rambled a bit this time, the run one will be better I promise.)

(Oh and those who know me probably also know I have something of an obsession with sharks. Unfortunately it looks like there was a fatal attack in Western Oz today. However a decade of terror?)