Let’s face it, anyone can open up the last month’s cycling magazine and find a training plan or usually a partial training plan on how to ride or race strong for something. When I see these, I really question the author’s intent. I find so many out there, written by some of the top coaches in the country, that leave many things up in the air. I know these guys know what they are talking about and are experts, but are we really doing the athlete justice by letting them assume that an 100 word article can tell them everything they need to know about their goals? A good plan changes with the athlete’s needs over time. We all work, and we all have families. We all even get sick or hurt from time to time. So can that paper plan tell you what to do if one of these holes in the road foils your micro plan and how does that change your overall plan? Did the magazine ask you your medical history, and tell you what to do off of the bike that will make you faster on the bike? I don’t think your wife’s reps in resistance training plan should be the same as yours and vice versa. Finally if pro cyclist “A” is doing 10 hill reps, do you also need to do 10, or maybe 6-7 would suite you better. A good coaching group is exactly that, a group of coaches, fitness professionals, and health professionals that focus on specific needs of the individuals.
Some may say, I don’t want to race bikes, I can finish a century, and I am relatively fit. Why would I need a coach…? I always answer that question with several other questions. Are you competitive even with yourself? How did you finish that century and do you want to finish faster? Maybe you want to do it non-stop? Did you complete it wanting to feel “stronger” or wanting a better time? I am going to go ahead and say that cycling as sport and as recreation has just as much to do with what happens off the bike as it does when you’re training on the bike.
Generally the biggest training mistakes I see are expecting to work out at the same pace doing the same thing everyday and expecting to see drastic changes. In other words I see a commitment to the group rides and to group training scenarios as the only training aspects available. I also see a lack of periodized training. Training calendars must be broken down into segments, macro and micro, that reflect what each micro and macro goal is. Lastly I see on a daily micro level, a lack of rest and low zone training. Heart rate and power zones 1-2 are boring, but the cyclist training bible expresses this best. Are you going to run your prize Kentucky Derby race horse hard everyday? Of course not, so why are you always training in anaerobic training zones? When it comes to weight loss and men, that is what I see the most of and then they wonder why they hit a point in training where weight loss stops and fatigue sets in. It all boils down to going too hard.
Every coach is going to have one or two focuses within coaching. We will all know aspects of everything to do to train a cyclist. My focus is specific planning and fitness. Sure I can bike fit, look at techniques, and offer equipment suggestions; but I choose to focus on what I believe is the biggest part of training any athlete in any sport. Strength and conditioning is what a ton of people forget, because they feel they are doing that by riding alone. I look at some coaching plans and see gym day on the plan. I ask myself, “now what did the athlete do in the gym”. The only time that is acceptable is when the athlete has worked with the coach for a long time and even then the coach needs to be a bit more specific. I’ve even seen plans that say bike today for 2 hours… I mean really, do what for two hours. Just like a resistance training plan, the bike workouts need to be specific in what to do on each day. Lastly remember that this needs to be fun and open to schedules. If the athlete isn’t having fun and they can’t complete the workouts within their daily life, then we aren’t doing our job. There also should be a level of services for every athlete, although sometimes at the lower levels of our services I feel like I am doing an injustice and want to do more than what is paid for.
The Lead Pack Cycling Group is partnered with SFX Fitness to provide sport specific needs to all cyclists. We work with road cyclist, triathletes, and mountain bikers, both recreational and competitive racers alike. We don’t prioritize an elite racer over a recreational rider. All clients receive high levels of service and are special to their coach.
Kevin Lee- USA Cycling coach & fitness professional