What's Cool In Road Cycling

End of the Season Spice: Diversified Workouts

Wow, isn’t the race season over yet? It’s been a long and hard race season full of spills, thrills, and mega drama. At this time of the year, I know that the burnout rate is high and motivation is on the “DL”. The North America 2005 race season is well into the fourth quarter. For help ending your race season in style, read on.

The Good News First
If the end of your race season is 2 – 4 weeks away, fortunately there’s not much training left to do. All the hay is in the barn and recovery days begin to take priority over more difficult workouts. Instead of one day off per week, take two. In the two weeks prior to your last race, take three days off per week.

While I am advocating more rest, that doesn’t mean you should camp out on the couch the entire week. Believe it or not, one of the underlying scientific principles of a taper strategy is to decrease your volume and increase your intensity. With that said, pepper your mid week training with these creative workout solutions to remind the legs that great form is on the way.
Don’t be Lazy, Get Specific
Tired of the same ‘ol same ol? Right now, if you are like me, even the thought of an interval workout is revolting. However, there is another way: specificity. I’ve written about choosing specific length intervals before, but there are other ways to achieve similar physiological adaptations and avoid those mind numbing intervals.

Use your terrain: if you have varied terrain in your area go out and simply hammer the hills. Go hard from the bottom to the top and recover on the downhill. Ten second hills to 10 minute hills, its all good; just go as hard as you can! You can mix it up even further by adding a couple of different race simulations to these hills.

• Attack at the bottom of the climb with your best Vinokourov impression and settle into a sustainable intensity all the way to the top of the climb

• Conversely, settle into a hard threshold pace up the climb and before you reach the top, make your move: go all out as if you were racing towards an uphill finish

• Couple two or three hills together as if you were doing a “set” of intervals. Pretend the race heats up on the first climb, the smack goes down on the second, and the winning move is made on the third

• Don’t have hills? Then most likely neither do your race courses. Instead use crosswinds where available and decelerations in turns to mimic your races. Hammer a crosswind section of road and carry your speed into a turn. Exit the corner and stomp on the pedals accelerating as fast as possible to carry your momentum.

If you are able to train on the course of an upcoming race, by all means get out there and ride it! Use the bullet points above to force those physiological adaptations most specific to the course. If you can’t bring the course to you, maybe you can choose terrain and roads that are similar to what you will race on. After Paolo Pezzo won the mountain bike Gold in the 2000 Olympics, she revealed a replica race course built in her “backyard” all the way back in Italy. Her super double secret training consisted of riding fast up and down similar length hills as the Sydney mountain bike course.

Debunking the Myth: Group Rides
A well chosen group ride is another good way to take care of your motivation and specifically train for your final upcoming races. Group Rides tend to get a bad rap because athletes fall into several pitfalls racing the “Wednesday Night Worlds”. I tend to agree because there is a time and a place for group rides. However, now is the time to take advantage of all the beneficial aspects of a “spirited” group ride.

Use these group rides to train your weaknesses. For instance, if you have trouble making “the break” then cover plenty of moves during your group ride. Throw in an attack and work on making it stick. Once you’ve separated yourself from the group really dig in and cash in your chips to ensure the success of your move.

This is one of many scenarios underneath the overall theme to use a group to push you beyond what you can on your own. Like the workouts above, one group ride per week is about all you need. Remember in a taper, you are decreasing your volume and increasing your intensity. With that in mind, now would be the time of the year to challenge yourself with a harder than usual group ride. You might even surprise yourself!

Athlete’s Choice
There you have it: three diversified training options to keep you fit and fast through the end of the season. In my experience, teaching athletes to choose their training within these parameters results in more meaningful workouts.

More is less at this time of year in terms of training so take a rest day when in doubt. In the middle of the week, use your favorite ride and its undulating terrain to psych yourself into dropping the hammer in an ultra specific interval-like way. Finally, when available and appropriate don’t be afraid to test the waters and mix it up with a more challenging group of riders.

In the closing weeks of the 2005 race season, the balance between all the training you’ve done up until now will shift in favor of that all important training stress balance I’ve written about lately. Use the conceptual workouts described above, take an above average amount of rest days and look forward to ending your race season in high style: with great form.

Frank Overton
Frank is a full time Cycling Coach, category 1 road racer, husband, father, I.T. guy, and landscape artist. For more information on coaching programs thru FasCat Coaching, check ‘em out @
FasCat Coaching.com

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