Sportive Blog - Chris - Back on the road


As previously reported, training on the road has been particularly difficult since the start of the year, due to the extremes of the weather. Last weekend (6 April) was the first road ride I’d been on without freezing half to death in the process. It was still tough, coming back against a very brisk north-easterly for about 40 miles, still all very character-building. I have also been without my power meter for various reasons for about a month now, and have felt somewhat bereft – training on heart rate alone just isn’t as good for a numbers geek like me.

This means that I’ve had to try and up my training load on the turbo and the rollers. I work full-time and have various duties to carry out at the weekend involving my 88 year old mother who lives 35 miles away, so time is at something of a premium. My pattern up until recently had been to do four 1-hour sessions in the morning before going to work on Monday through Thursday, with Friday and Sunday as a day off, Saturday morning being the long ride for endurance mileage (3-4 hours). This has worked reasonably well, but both my coach and I felt I needed to do more.

Hopefully I really can get out on the road on Saturdays on a regular basis now, but that tends to be relatively unstructured. So we decided to try to do two sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – 45 minutes in the morning before work and 45 minutes in the evening on returning from work on each day. It’s early days yet, but the initial indications are favourable.

I thought it might be of interest to share the type of training I’m doing, bearing in mind that long hilly sportives are the goal. It’s based on power zones as follows:

Zone 1 – Active Recovery (light spinning to flush out the lactate)Zone 2 – Endurance (brisk spinning at a slightly higher intensity, but breathing normally)Zone 3 – Tempo (breathing harder, but sustainable for a reasonable period of time)Zone 4 – Threshold (breathing deeply at a time trial effort)

That’s as far as we need to go at the moment. These zones can be based on your power output more accurately than perceived effort, of course, and as your power increases, the zones have to be recalibrated.

The programme looks like this:

Monday – Active Recovery (45 minutes Zone 1).

Tuesday – Telekom 40s. 40 seconds at Zone 4 followed by 20 seconds at Zone 1 repeatedly in a gear at least two higher than you cruise in. Each set will have 20-30 reps in it and no break in between each rep. I try to do two sets, one in the morning and one in the evening.

Wednesday – Tempo. In each 45 minute session, do 20 – 30 minutes at Zone 3, the first one being at a cadence of 10 rpm higher than you are used to

Thursday – UCI 8s. In each 45 minute session, do 6 big gear sprints from a standing start, aiming at 100+ rpm cadence. Each sprint lasts 8 seconds and there is 5 minutes between each rep.

Friday – Day off (yippee!)

Saturday – this should be a four hour endurance ride, but although it can easily be four hours, you’ve got to try and beat your mates to the café/village sign, haven’t you? If I had proper self-control, I wouldn’t get dragged into this sort of stuff, as actually it does little for pure endurance, but then it looks as if you’re wimping out…..

Sunday – there is some optional training, but divorce proceedings would ensue if I did any more cycling….

Of these sessions, I find the Telekom 40s the hardest, but the time passes quite quickly as there are frequent changes of pace. The first Tempo higher rpm session I also find quite hard, as spinning in excess of 100 rpm doesn’t come naturally to me and there is very little change of pace, so time drags. The UCI 8s are almost fun in comparison! Of course, warm-up and cool-down before and after the intervals is very important, coupled with some quad, hamstring and calf muscle stretches afterwards.

I also cycle into work (well, sometimes) and this helps for the evening session, as I can get straight onto the turbo as soon as I walk in the door in my cycling gear before I have time to talk myself out of it.

I’ll keep you posted on progress. Meanwhile, I’m starting to get interested in the possibility of doing some bike racing locally – something I’ve never done before, so another blog is in prospect…….