Training Periods

The idea of a training periods is to vary the intensity and duration of your training in weekly and monthly intervals.

For example, in a week one, you may have your highest mileage week of the month. Then a relatively light week, before increasing mileage for the next two months. Then at the start of the next month, you have another ‘super mileage’ month or really heavy block.

The idea is similar to the general training principle of stress and recover. As you have hard days and easy days, we can also have hard weeks and easier weeks. For someone training for long distance cycle sportives or long distance rides. It gives chance to do a good block of endurance rides, and then enable more recovery in later weeks. It is also good news for those seeking to do a really long rides but don’t always have time to train. You don’t necessarily have to do really high mileage / duration every week. But, if once a month, you can do that duration, you will get most of the benefits of long distance training. e.g. if training for a 12 hour or 150 mile, you can aim to once a month have a really long 6-7 hour ride.

Monthly Training Blocks

As well as weekly training blocks, an athlete will consider monthly training blocks. Earlier in the season, the training may be geared towards improving the aerobic base and distance training. As the season progresses the mileage may decline, but intensity increases as you switch towards more race specific training.

Towards the end of the year, you may include a month of almost rest or at least easy riding.

This monthly training block schedule will be essential for an athlete who wishes to peak for a particular event. Two or three months before the event is the time to really increase the training load, up to the point of overtraining. Then in the final month, some of the intensity is maintained, but the duration is gradually reduced. This month, rest becomes a key part of training as it gives chance for the body to recover from previous heavy training schedule, leaving it in peak shape for big event to come.

Vuelta and World Championships

An interesting observation is the link between Vuelta form and performance in the World Championships which usually takes place just over a week after the Vuelta finish. Conventional wisdom would suggest to peak for the World Championship, you would need more of a taper than you get from three weeks hard riding in a Grand Tour. But, on the other hand, riding the Vuelta can give you very good form, which if you can hold for a week and recover satisfactorily enable you to do very well. E.g. after great form in the Tour of Spain, Bradley Wiggins gained silver in the World Time Trial Championship just a week later. Yet, others may come out of a Grand tour, and just be really tired. E.g. Geraint Thomas said he needed quite a few weeks to recover after this years tour.

For 2012, a track rider like Geraint Thomas will skip the Tour de France to concentrate all his training schedule on peaking for the 4Km team pursuit on the track. Clearly for the 4KM pursuit, you don’t want the tiredness from 3 long weeks in the saddle. However, Bradley Wiggins may try to get the best of both worlds, doing the Tour de France and then going for an Olympic event like the individual time trial and member of road race squad. He will be hoping that he can just carry his tour form into the Olympics which start soon after.

Individual Training Blocks

When looking at how Bradley Wiggins peaks for the individual time trial, doesn’t mean you can apply that to your own riding. A good training block schedule would
Olympic Cycles

For really top pro riders, they may think in terms of Olympic cycles and actually aim to peak for a particular Olympic year. For the majority of athletes, this is not really worth considering. It is more a question of trying to be as fit as possible for particular times each year.

My Own Training Periods

As I don’t have a coach, my own training blocks are somewhat trial and error and guess work.

  • In January and February no intervals no races just aerobic training ‘getting the miles’ (shame worst months for weather)
  • March – First hilly races – First intervals, nothing too strenuous but getting use to race pace.
  • April – Increasing intensity of intervals and more races. Though two weeks off racing in April.
  • May / June – Peak of time trial season. Frequently racing more intervals.
  • Last half of July / First half of August – Just racing, not so much intervals.
  • 2nd Half of August – no racing, just short training hill climbs
  • September – Hill climb racing and peak of training for hill climb season.
  • October – start tapering training after 1st week of October.

Within all these plans, you’re forced to make changes. e.g. Injury stopped cycling in Feb and March, but seemed to do no harm to overall fitness.

Last week (1st week of October) was down to be heavy week of hill climb training, but didn’t really feel like it, so training wasn’t too intense.

November / December – easier two months, going out when weather allows, no intervals.

In theory, this training plan gives two peaks throughout the year June / July for time trials. Late October for hill climbs.


6 Responses to Training Periods

  1. Ian Simpson October 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    Very interesting and informative article. I’m hoping to race come next spring and have no idea on how to gauge how to train at this part of the year. I have been working on my ftp of late (via a plan I received), but now after reading your article I’m wondering if it is far too early in the season to be doing this kind of work…..

    • tejvan October 19, 2011 at 7:07 am #

      Your lactate threshold level can vary depending on how fit you are. If you are a beginner it will be at a much lower heart rate than if you are an elite athlete.

      • Ian October 19, 2011 at 7:42 am #

        Thanks for the reply.

        I’ve been cycling for two years now. My lactate threshold seems to be around 174bpm (my max is 190bpm) at 265 watts. From what you’re saying an elite athlete would be able to maintain their lactate threshold at a higher heart rate thus the ability to produce more power?

        • tejvan October 19, 2011 at 8:12 am #

          a lactate threhshold of 91% max HR sounds quite high. Professional athletes would be a little higher but not much.

  2. Doug October 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    I agree: very informative.

  3. Lewis October 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Great article. Very informative :)

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