Piece your training elements into structured plan and take your cycling to new heights | SierraSun.com

Piece your training elements into structured plan and take your cycling to new heights

Julie Young
Fit to be Tried

Editorand#8217;s note: This weekand#8217;s Fit to be Tried column is the third installment in a three-part series focusing on cycling training for the XTERRA Nevada triathlon.

Now the fun begins and#8212; piecing the training elements together into a structured plan to take your cycling experience to new heights.

An athleteand#8217;s past training, present fitness and future goals combine to determine the individualized systematic workout plan. Below is a sample season-long training scenario for an intermediate to advance athlete.

To use this type of training, it is important to determine your heart rate zones either via a field test or at a sports performance lab.

While some perceive this testing as reserved for the elite, it is equally advantageous to the master athlete who wants to maximize his or her limited training time. A minimal investment in a heart-rate monitor and#8212; Polar, Garmin or Timex, to name a few and#8212; will allow the athlete to monitor training levels during individually prescribed workouts. This will ensure they are training specific physiological systems, removing the guess work and guaranteeing quality training.

A workout plan is tailored to each individual and formatted in four-week blocks, with the first three weeks progressively building in volume and duration in ride and/or interval times. Each block has a soup du jour and#8212; the featured physiological system to be trained and#8212; muscular endurance, and sub-lactate and lactate threshold. The fourth week is dedicated to rest and recovery, both mental and physical.

The base period is spent riding long endurance miles. During this two- to three-month period, it is also important to include one to two days of speed skills and slow frequency repetitions, and a tempo interval day.

Following this base period, which builds muscular endurance, specific cycling strength and cardio engine, it is time to up the ante and include one to two, four-week blocks of tempo intervals. Start with 3×10 minutes, two sessions per week, one on rolling to flat terrain with higher cadence and one on climbs with more resistance and lower cadence to gain strength. Both sessions present opportunities to hone pedal efficiencies at different RPMs. Increase duration of interval time by two to five minutes every one to two weeks, up to three to eight reps, with total interval time of 90 minutes. During this one- to two-block period, continue to include speed skills, slow frequency repetitions, long endurance days and two rest days per week.

During the next one to two four-week blocks of training, ramp up the intervals to sub-lactate threshold, six to eight beats below an individualand#8217;s determined lactate threshold (determined via the in-field time trial or in the sports performance lab). Intervals will progress from six to 12 minutes for a total interval time of 30 to 60 minutes. Again, it is beneficial during this block to perform two sessions per week and#8212; one on flat to rolling terrain and the other on climbs. Usual suspects of speed skills, slow frequency repetitions, long endurance and rest days continue to play a role.

Finally, we crescendo with pure lactate threshold intervals and#8212; the punctuation and point to our training pyramid. As with the other system-specific training blocks, determining the number of blocks will be based on the athleteand#8217;s progress, strengths and weaknesses, and goals. Start with three to four minutes and every one to two weeks increase interval time by one to two minutes, up to a max of 10 minutes. Build from two to six reps. Two sessions per week, one flat/rolling and one on climbs, are ideal. Continue to include speed skills, slow frequency repetitions, long endurance and rest in the weekly plan.

Complete the cycling workouts with a cycling trunk stability/core strength workouts three times per week, and post-ride stretching regiment. A consistent weekly practice of yoga and pilates is instrumental in maintaining body awareness, maximizing proper biomechanics, efficient flexibility and a safety net for injury prevention.

These extracurricular activities coupled with systematic training and a properly fitting bike will allow you to maximize your workout investment and seize your cycling.

If you would like more detailed information on determining your heart rate zones via the in-field test or sports performance labs offering the tests, contact Julie at o2fitness@sbcglobal.net.

and#8212; Julie Young is a Truckee resident and owner of o2fitness. She is a former U.S. National Team member and pro cyclist who currently competes in triathlons and trail runs.