Our 4-week time trial training plan is ideal for intermediate/advanced riders who want to bolt on a time trialling specific block to their winter training. It is a perfect lead into your first race against the clock of the season.
Who is it suitable for?
Our 4-week time trial training plan is aimed primarily at riders who have completed our Pre-season Plan and are looking for a final racing specific lead in to their first event of the season.
If you have not been following one of our plans but are keen to target some time trials, this plan could still be suitable for you. However, you will need to have trained consistently through the winter and built a solid strength and endurance base. Don’t be tempted to leap into these relatively high intensity workouts as a get-fit short cut. If you haven’t put the base work in over the winter, you will be risking potential injury and slipping into a state of overtraining. You should look to invest time in a structured plan to build the required base, such as our Off-season base builder plan, postpone trying to develop race fitness and maybe adopt a more structured approach next winter.
How much training is involved?
The peak volume of this plan is seven and a half hours. This may be significantly less than the volume you have been used to during the winter, but the aim of this plan is to develop form, not accumulate fatigue. As the four weeks progress, volume decreases as the intensity rises. The higher intensity sessions provide strong training stimuli for your body to adapt to but won’t tire your legs in the same way that longer rides can. By the end of the fourth week you will be sharp, tapered and race ready.
Is it all cycling?
Like all the British Cycling training plans, you are given the option of a cross training session. However, with a mind to racing, you should take care that the activity you choose doesn’t impact on the quality of your bike sessions or add significant fatigue to your legs. Any strength training especially should be viewed as maintenance rather than pushing for progress. There is also an option of a bonus session and, for this four week block into the season, you may feel that this will be of more benefit than cross-training. However listen to your body and, if you can’t achieve the quality of efforts required by the sessions or are feeling overly fatigued or flat, opt for an additional rest day or a restorative activity such as yoga, Pilates or swimming.
What equipment is involved?
There is no need to own a specialist time trial bike to take part in time trials but, if you do own one, you should aim to complete the majority of sessions in your race position. However, the longer weekend rides are more suited to being completed on a road bike.
Most of the midweek sessions should be completed on an indoor trainer and again ideally the efforts should be made in your time trial position.
Accurate pacing and monitoring of intensity is essential to both time trial racing and training. If you have been following the Pre-season Plan, you will already be familiar with using either heart rate, power or a combination of them both. A power meter does represent a significant investment but, as long as you take the time to learn how to use it and interpret the data it provides, it can be invaluable for time trialling. For higher level efforts especially, where heart rate lag can be an issue, a power meter ensures that right from the first pedal stroke you are riding at the correct intensity.
How important is threshold testing?
Whether using heart rate or power, testing for threshold and using this figure to calculate your training zones is essential. Also, for time trialling, knowing this key number is crucial for pacing.
If you are training and racing using power, it may be necessary to conduct two threshold tests as power output can differ significantly between your road position and time trial position. If this is the case, perform the test on your time trial bike on the Tuesday of Week 1 and then, having taken a full rest day, re-test on your road bike on the Thursday.
How flexible is the day to day structure?
With at least two rest days and the potential for three, there is plenty of scope for adjusting the day to day structure to suit the demands of your life.
Always try to schedule in a rest day before and after any of the sessions. The only exception to this is the longer weekend ride which can follow one of the other workouts but not precede them. Quality is more important than quantity so don’t be tempted to try and squeeze all of the workouts in if you can’t allow the corresponding amount of rest and recovery time.
What happens at the end of the plan?
The final lower volume week should deliver you feeling fresh and sharp to the start line. If you want to compete on a regular basis or even multiple times each week, such as a local 10 mid-week and another event at the weekend, this can be accommodated.
If you have an especially important event or are aiming for a personal best, precede that week with Week 4. If not, keep rotating through the plan, substituting one of the midweek sessions for a race and then also either the weekend bonus session or longer ride depending on your event schedule.
There is no need to complete the threshold test every time you go through Week 1 but you should aim to re-test every eight-to-12 weeks. If you are regularly riding 25-mile time trials, these will provide a good indicator of changes in your FTP/FTHR also but it is always worth repeating the dedicated test in a rested state for an accurate figure.