Given the numbers of snowstorms and polar vortices that swept across the US last winter it’s sometimes difficult to believe that big summer events are just around the corner for pros and amateur athletes, and many feel like the harsh winter has put their training a bit behind schedule.
Have no fear; there is still time to get your training on track for great results this spring and summer. It will take some discipline and some work, but your best season is still within reach. Here are some tips for making it happen:
Don’t do anything stupid: No 8-hour death-march rides, no starvation training where you ride 5 hours fueled only water and a single piece of toast, and certainly no dehydration training! If it would sound like a bad idea to include in your normal training, it’s an even worse idea when you’re trying to make up for lost time.
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Shift to longer lactate threshold intervals: Many time-crunched athletes spent the winter doing short indoor workouts with high-intensity intervals. As you transition to longer outdoor rides you’re likely noticing that you have good power for hard efforts, but you’re lacking some of the stamina you have for more prolonged efforts. This is a good time to focus on aerobic endurance rides and lactate threshold intervals ranging from 10-20 minutes in length. A three-week block of lactate threshold training (2-3 LT interval workouts each week, aim for cumulative time spent at threshold) in May can set you up for a remarkably powerful June and July.
Jump into hard group rides: The weather has kept many athletes in their basements and garages, and reduced local group rides and runs to a few hearty souls. Now that it’s getting warmer, jump back into that fast Tuesday Night World Championship ride or the faster lane at the Masters Swim Session. Don’t worry that some athletes are faster than you; training with them will help you make progress more quickly.
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Be Consistent: When your fitness is on schedule or ahead of schedule you have more ‘wiggle room’ for missing workouts and being a little haphazard with training. When you’re trying to make up for lost time you don’t have that luxury. Be protective of your training time and get out there even when the weather’s iffy. It’s better to shorten a workout or transition an interval workout into an aerobic endurance workout than to skip it altogether.
Be Patient: One of the biggest mistakes athletes make is to over-react to being a little behind in terms of performance markers. You may want to accelerate the training process, but you can’t sidestep the principles of training. The only way to make progress is to stress your system appropriately and give yourself time to recover. It’s easy to ramp up the intensity or volume of your training and create more overload than you can recover from. Don’t fall into that trap.
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Avoid Caloric Overcompensation: One of the easiest ways to lose a few pounds is to keep your caloric intake relatively constant as you increase the intensity and/or volume of your training. Obviously there’s a limit to how feasible or beneficial this will be, and in the long run you’ll need to balance out your caloric intake and energy expenditure. In the short term, though, let the increased training workload create a small energy imbalance to help you shed those last few pounds of winter weight. An important component of this is avoiding the temptation to gorge yourself on sports nutrition products during workouts and in post-workout meals.
Schedule a Training Camp: Whether you create it yourself or come to a CTS Camp, scheduling a long weekend or weeklong training camp gives you a focused block of training to work into your training schedule. More than that, it’s also a great learning opportunity so you can take your skills to a new level, learn to train with power, etc.
CEO/Founder of CTS