By Chris Carmichael,
One of the biggest questions I get at this time of year is, “What should I be doing in the dead of winter so I’m ready for a Spring Training Camp in February or March?” For many athletes, a CTS Spring Training Camp is the start of the season and they come in without much fitness. That's OK, we break the camp into groups so everyone is challenged but no one is overwhelmed. For those who want the camp to provide a boost to the fitness they built through the winter, what you should be doing now somewhat depends on where you’re living.
If you’re far enough north that winter cycling is a test of how long you can endure the freezing temperatures before your water bottles freeze, then a significant amount of your training is most likely indoors. Focus on 60-90 minute training sessions 3-4 times a week and try to get outdoors 1-2 times a week for 2+ hours, if possible. I’m not a big fan of indoor sessions longer than 2 hours; the monotony kills long-term motivation more than the extra time builds greater fitness.
Indoors, focus on lactate threshold and VO2 max interval training. Seem too hard for this time of year? It’s not. If you’re indoors and training fewer total hours, you have plenty of recovery time between workouts and the extra intensity is the only way to generate the workload necessary to make gains. A great interval set if you don’t have much time is a 10x2min PowerInterval (all-out, max efforts) with 2min recovery between intervals. Run all ten intervals in one set; if that’s too hard, split it into 2 sets of 5x2min PI.
If you’re looking for DVDs I recommend for this period, try the 2010/2011 ATOC DVDs, the Climbing Series, and the Performance Series. If downloads are more your style, go for the Progressive Power Series – do one class on Tuesday, the next on Thursday, do a 3×8 or 10 minute lactate threshold (SteadyState) interval workout and a group ride on the weekend, and then the next Progressive Power workout on Tuesday, etc. The 16-workout series then becomes an 8-week training program, just like we have here in the Colorado Springs Endurance Sports Club.
If snow is a once-in-a-winter or once-in-a-blue-moon chance where you live and you don’t even know what neoprene booties look like, then you’re probably not spending too much time training indoors. For you, the best thing you can do to prepare for a February or March Spring Training Camp is to ride long Tempo workouts and mix in some SteadyState intervals and fast group rides. The Tempo and SteadyState Intervals will help you gradually build your aerobic endurance and power at lactate threshold, and the fast group rides will ensure that you have some snap in your legs and that you remember how to ride in a group.
With Tempo workouts, pedal at 70-75 rpm in a relatively big gear so your power output is 80-85% of your CTS Field Test Power Output, or 88-90% of CTS Field Test Heart Rate (7 out 10 if using RPE). Start with 20 minutes at this intensity and gradually add time until you can sustain this workload for 45-60 minutes. A good starting point for the SteadyState Interval is 3×8 minutes, with 4 minutes recovery between intervals. Gradually build up to a 3×12 minute set. (Complete Field Test Instructions, workout descriptions, and intensity calculations available here)
What’s all this winter training moving you toward? Well, there’s obviously the entirety of next season, but looking at a shorter timeline you’ll be really well prepared for a CTS Spring Training Camp. There are 5 of them in 2012, and they’re a great way to build on your winter training and get a huge head start on your summer goals! Check out http://trainright.wpengine.com/camps/spring-training-camps/ for the complete schedule and call us at 866-355-0645 so we can help you figure out which camp will work best for you.
Carmichael Training Systems