It’s not essential to have a coach but the role of the coach is not only to prescribe training schedules but also to listen to the feedback coming from the athlete and make the necessary adjustments. So even if you are self-coached it is important to understand the basic principles and to record information and feedback from training for cross-referencing. The most important part of training is to listen to your body.
- Fitness improves during recovery from training stress or overload as your muscles, heart and lungs repair themselves.
- If you do the same type of training for too long, the body will become efficient at that type of training to the point that the training will cease to cause stress or overload to the body.
You must cause damage to your body and then give it proper recovery in order to increase your fitness. In order to maximize results, you need to find the optimal amount of overload and the optimal amount of recovery time for your particular body. Too much overload leads to over-training and too much recovery will yield less than stellar results.
This rule begs several questions and applies on several levels. First, on a daily basis, e.g. how many intervals should you do and how much recovery do you need between intervals? Then on a weekly basis, e.g. how many days of intensity per week do you need and how many recovery days do you need? And then on a monthly basis (how many weeks of intensity can you do before you need a week of recovery?). The response to these three questions depends completely on the individual rider and the type of training that they do but here are some basic guidelines to help you figure out your own limits.
These recommendations are starting-off-points that you can use to launch your own training program:
- On average, most riders can handle 3 days of intensity per week. Some can only handle two and others can handle 4. Remember; more is not always better!
- On average most riders can handle 3 weeks of progressing intensity before needing a rest week. Some riders can only handle 2 and others can handle 4 or 5.
- On average, the body starts to become efficient and ceases to adapt after 2 to 4 weeks of the same type of training.
You will have to test yourself and keep a journal to find out what works best for you. As you begin to test your abilities and your limits, follow the basic rules laid out below:
- You should be able to do all your intervals during a given workout without losing significant amounts of power. If you notice a significant drop in power or the time taken to complete a set interval, then it is probably time to wrap it up.
- The same applies to your weekly load. You should be exhausted by the time you get to the last interval session of the week, but not to the point where you can’t complete the session.
- Each week of your training cycle should become progressively harder either in intensity or mileage or both. If you have to pull back before the end of the cycle, you probably started the first week too hard.
- By the last interval of the last day of the last week of a training cycle, you should be utterly wasted. This is called overload. It is different to over-training.
- However long you decide to make your cycle (whether it is 3 or 5 weeks long), you should be able to recover from it in 3 or 4 days. By the end of your 7 day recovery week, you should be climbing the walls feeling rested and itching for intensity. Don’t forget; although it’s called ‘recovery time’ it doesn’t mean ‘don’t do any cycling’ – you’ll recover faster if you just keep the legs turning.