Thursday, January 15, 2009

Designing a Training Plan

As I shared earlier, Phil and I are fortunate to be working with a coach this season. That hasn’t always been the case for us; self-coaching is the norm for most cyclists.

If you are willing to put in some time and effort you can design a personal training strategy that can be quite successful.

Based on our prior experience and some tips in a recent VeloNews article
by Frank Overton, the head Cycling Coach at, here are four steps to use for designing a 2009 training plan.

Step 1: Get Organized
The first step in designing your plan is to have everything written down and organized.

Break down the entire 2009 calendar on a weekly basis. If you know in advance when you'll be taking a vacation away from the bike, or travelling for business, mark it on the calendar.

Step 2: What are you training for?

The next step is to identify precisely what you are training for. Having a tangible goal to work for will give you the motivation to get on the bike each day with a purpose.

Your season plan should bring you to your peak for the most important events. I call these "A" events. The "B" events are important, too, but you will not taper and peak for these, just rest for three to four days before. "C" events are tune-ups to get you ready for the A and B events. Use these low-priority events for experience, or to practice pacing, or as a time trial to gauge fitness.

Enter all these events into the calendar. Define how many weeks you have from now until your “A” event(s).

Having the big picture of your event schedule gives you the ability to focus your training week-to-week.

Step 3: Advanced Planning

Now that you your goals are defined, begin to fill in your plan with more detail. Concentrate on the number of weeks you have before your race season begins.

Remember, designing your own training plan is a not a one-time exercise; it's a work in progress. Know that illness, injury, crappy weather and other unplanned-for interruptions and distractions may arise. You can go back to the plan and adjust as often as needed – but keep your main goals in mind as you do that.

Write down how many hours you can train each week between now and when your season begins. Keep your estimate realistic. Stay accountable for the hours you commit to.

Step 4: Day to Day Plan Design

Take the weekly hours from your big picture plan and pencil them in for the week ending each Sunday. For example, you might plan eight hours for the week January 18th - 24th. To fit in those hours, you can do three one-hour mid-week workouts and two 2.5-hour rides over the weekend. Alternatively, you might do one three-hour ride on Saturday and a two-hour ride on Sunday. The benefit of designing your own training plan is that you know the limitations of your schedule and how each week/weekend shapes up.

Every two (if you are over 45 years old) or three weeks (if you are a fresh-faced kid) plan a recovery week with fewer hours than you would normally ride. Give yourself more complete off days during the work week and ride once on the weekend. Try to train especially hard in the week and the days before your planned rest.

Repeat your day-to-day training plan design once-a-month using a monthly calendar. Always plan ahead based on what has happened with your previous training.

Keep a training log. Are your legs heavy? Is your heart rate unusually high? Are you hungry and cranky? Or do you feel great and can’t wait for tomorrow’s workout?

Record workout details, perceptions of effort, stress signals, event results and analyses, signs of increasing or decreasing fitness, equipment changes, and anything else that describes your daily experience. Most athletes also find that keeping a log provides them with a sharper training focus and more rapid growth toward their goals.

Mix up your training plan with endurance rides, tempo workouts, intervals, core and flexibility work and cross-training off the bike, if you can.

Here are two sample interval workouts for you to try:

The 10- to Two-minute Descending Ladder

Start with a 10-minute hard effort followed by two minutes of easy spinning for recovery.

Your second interval will consist of eight minutes hard effort and another two minutes of easy spinning.

Each hard set decreases in time by two minutes while increasing slightly in intensity. The easy set remains the same.

The workout ends when you reach two minutes of hard effort.

Cool down and call it quits for the day.


Pyramids are a variation of the above workout. Usually pyramid workouts consist of gradually increasing periods of hard effort, then gradually decreasing these periods of hard effort.

For example, after a normal warm-up, you could go one minute hard, one minute easy, two minutes hard, two minutes easy, three hard, three easy, four hard, four easy; then descend to three and three, two and two, and one and one.

Or you may choose to keep the time element constant and gradually increase the load. For example, pick a steady cadence and go to a smaller rear cog every two minutes until you reach your highest gear, at which point you lower your gear by one cog every two minutes. (Beginners may wish to use one-minute intervals instead of two minutes.)

Good luck!


  1. Hi there, Ι enjoу reaԁing all of yοur аrticlе.
    Ӏ liκe to write a lіttle comment to suρpoгt yоu.

    Also visit my blοg :: core training pilates

  2. Hі! I’vе been folloωing
    your weblog foг a whіle noω and finаllу got the bгaveгy to go ahead
    and giνe уou a shout оut from Porter
    Јust wanted to tell you keep uр the grеat jоb!

    Fееl free to surf to my ρage: сοre training
    exercіѕes -

  3. Wоndеrful artіcle! Wе ωіll be linκing to
    thіs рarticulаrly great post on οuг
    wеbsіte. Keep up the gooԁ writing.

    Нerе is my web-site; losing weight after 50

  4. Heya i am for the primary time here. I came
    acгoss this boагd аnd ӏ find It really useful & іt helpеԁ me out a lot.
    I hοpe to offer one thing back and help
    others like уou aided me.

    Here is my webpаge; organic рotting soil []

  5. Heуa i’m for the first time herе.
    Ι found thiѕ boаrd and Ι find It truly useful & it helped
    me out a lot. I hope to giνe something baсk anԁ help
    others like you helρed me.

    Stoρ by my ωeb pаgе :: οrgаniс pоtting soil :
    : :

  6. Your ѕtуle is ѵeгу unique сοmpагed to otheг folκѕ I
    hаve гeаd stuff frοm. Thаnκ you fοr
    pοstіng ωhеn you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmarκ thiѕ web ѕіte.

    my web blog :: core training pilates

  7. Hellο! I ϳust ωant to offer you a big thumbs up for youг gгеat іnformation
    you haѵe got here on this post. I am returning to yоur website for more soon.

    Hеre іs my blοg what is going green