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ASK GCN: YEAR LONG TRAINING FOR A RACE

on November 02, 2018

Question: I’m currently now training on a bike and rock bottom at Strava. I’m fairly untrained, and of course, I signed myself up to a race (170km) next summer. How should I plan for an event roughly 48 weeks from now? 

You’ve got a year to train, which is a fair amount of time to get into shape for a race. With bad weather looming, it’s great to get on Zwift so you can train no matter what’s falling outside. Coaches agree that it’s smart to divide training into 5 blocks that you’ll attack over the plan.

  1. Endurance
  2. Unstructured intensity
  3. Structured intensity
  4. Core Specific training
  5. Taper and freshener

ENDURANCE

The endurance block covers the first 8 to 10 weeks and it’s about achieving consistent volume. You want to aim for 6 hours a week, but if you can up it to 10 or 12 hours, and do that consistently, that’s excellent.

INTENSITY TRAINING

The next period of training over the next 8 to 10 weeks should include some intensity. One convenient way? Participate in Zwift races once a week. They are great fun but definitely very intense. They’ll help you work out where your weaknesses are and simulate real race dynamics. For example, you may find out whether you’re weaker or stronger on short climbs, long climbs, or flat sections. These insights will shape your next block of training.

Next up, structured intensity training. This should last 12 weeks with specific interval training to address your weaknesses, with workouts two to three times a week. Zwift has some amazing interval training sessions that you can do. They are really hard but really useful.

For the next 10 to 12 weeks, focus on core intensity training. You’ll want to include some longer rides at least once a week because 170 km is a long way. Think about training specifically for the course such as weather conditions and the terrain. Keep in mind your nutrition plan, and how and when to stay properly fueled up as you go the distance.

TAPERING

The last phase is to stay healthy and well rested. You still want to stay sharp and keep up some intensity. So once or twice a week, engage in an intense effort but make sure you have plenty of days to recover between those efforts.

Last but not least, the recovery. Pro cyclists have called recovery and rest the hardest thing to train for and hardest thing to learn. It seems counterintuitive to relax, but that’s exactly what the body needs. You don’t faster through the training that puts stress on your body. Recovery from the stress is the what makes you stronger and fitter.

GET A BIKE FIT

Lastly, think about your bike fit. If you have any discomfort from riding a bicycle, then try to get a proper bike fit at a local bike shop All that training you’ll do may impact your bike position and body contour, and you may need a second bike fit as you improve. Good luck!

DOWNLOAD AND IMPORT THE WORKOUT

You can download the recommended workout here. Next, you'll want to import the workout into Zwift and get training. This article explains how to import.

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