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Article posted: 27/03/2014

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Nik Cook’s goal for 2014 is to convert his forty year old ultra endurance physiology to the higher end demands of Individual Pursuit on the track with an end goal of competing at the Masters World Championships in October.

Despite the atrocious weather, I’d somehow managed to put together a decent start to the year following the Advanced British Cycling Sportive Training Plan . Even for an event that’ll hopefully only last well under four minutes, a strong endurance and aerobic foundation is essential for success. Too many riders make the mistake of trying to up the intensity of their training too early and without adequate foundations. For sportives a solid endurance base is paramount for success but, even for shorter time trials and road racing, if you’re lacking those foundations, you’ll always under perform.

Along with the British winter, work, illness, family and social commitments seem to continually conspire to scupper consistent training. However, as you can see from the screen shot from my training log below showing weekly volume, through February and early March I managed to put together as near to a perfect block as possible. There have certainly been some tough sessions that I’ve really had to dig deep in but,

following the plan and being able to stick with it, has certainly delivered me into spring into my best cycling shape ever.

Five pleasingly perfect weeks in the training log


Week 6: February 10th - February 16th

First week back from a recovery and the week that I officially become a “Master” with the passing of my fortieth birthday. I really look forward to my Tuesday SQT (Structured Quality Training) on the week after recovery as my legs feel super fast and fresh. This week was no exception and I always try to remind myself of that feeling when my legs are feeling sluggish, tired and heavy at the end of three weeks of build. I celebrated my birthday with a mountain bike ride in the morning and then hill reps in the evening. Four six-minute low cadence reps with 15 second sprint finishes felt brutal but my power numbers were woefully low. Maybe turning forty had had an immediate impact? Fortunately, it turned out that the battery on one of my Vector pedals had gone flat and I hadn’t suddenly aged overnight. Celebrations and storms down in Wiltshire at my parents meant a couple of missed sessions but a really solid 115 km ride on the Marlborough Downs finished off a decent enough week.

Distance for week: 251.5 km

Week 7: February 17th - February 23rd

A tough week that, as well as a reasonably high volume, also upped the intensity and focus. Three ten-minute over and under intervals on Thursday evening were a real challenge but I managed to hit my targets of 334W for the off minutes and 408W for the on minutes. With that session, and Tuesday’s SQT in my legs, Friday’s endurance ride saw the introduction of specified efforts. The 2X20 minutes at my sweet-spot of 281-333W would not normally be any problem but, in the second hour of the ride and with a fair amount of fatigue in my legs, they weren’t so sweet. I also think that calling my pathetic 15 second efforts every 10 minutes in the third hour “maximal sprints” would be slightly disingenuous!

Distance for week: 322.8 km

Week 8: February 24th - March 2nd

Last week of build and I can honestly say my legs are trashed. Riding with an ex-pro on Monday, almost 63 km covered on the track on Tuesday’s SQT, sweet-spot, over/under and threshold efforts on Friday’s endurance ride and then a bonus SQT on Saturday. Sunday was supposed to be an easy spin round the Mansfield RC Big Red Reliability Ride with some club-mates but a combination of ridiculously high winds and getting in with a competitive group turned it into the final coup de grâce for my already battered thighs and backside, I really need a recovery week.

Distance for week: 428.8 km


Week 9: March 3rd - March 9th

No problem with taking an easier week. If the SQT after recovery is a joy, the one following three weeks of build is usually purgatory and this was no exception. Feeling a bit coldy mid-week I backed right off and, for a bit of a treat and variety, rather than ride on the road on Friday I went to Coed Llandegla and had a thrash round the trails with a mate. With the embryonic cold not quite gone, I bailed on Sunday’s Club Run when it started to get a bit frisky happy in the knowledge that my recovery from the previous three weeks’ work would do me far more good than squeezing out a pointless extra 50-60 km.

Distance for week: 173.8 km

Week 10: March 10th - March 16th

A great first week of build, winning all 6 sprints and taking a lap on a 60-lap points race at Tuesday’s SQT. With some decidedly spring like conditions and a few dry days on the trot, I couldn’t resist skipping Thursday’s scheduled intervals and taking the mountain bike out instead. I rode the climbs hard and, as well as being great fun and a bit of much needed variety, was a brilliant strength and power workout. Friday’s ride was a solid 3-hours and, holding an average power of 283W with a Normalized power of 302W, I really feel confident that the endurance base box is well and truly ticked.

Distance for week: 364.9 km

With just two weeks to go of the training plan, I’m feeling really good. Once I get to the end of it, I’ll follow a few weeks of the super flexible Modular Plan which is designed to take riders through the season and can be fitted around races and events. This plan will be available to Members on the week of the 21st April here. This will take me through to a week riding in the sun and a final endurance push in Majorca before coming home, testing my fitness against the clock with some time trials and starting to build event specific fitness before Master’s Track Nationals at the end of June. It’s then that I really go into the unknown and out of my long distance comfort zone. I’ve had an inkling of what to expect from my SQT sessions but I think my body could be in for a bit of a shock.

As a British Cycling Member, as well as having access to all of the training plans and supporting resources, you can e-mail us at insightzone@britishcycling.org.uk  with any of your training questions.

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