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Old 09-18-07, 08:21 PM   #1
jslopez
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Want to give racing a try next year

So I'm using Trainingpeaks Virtual Coach (follows Joel Friel's training schedule methods), started the offseason training 9/10 and I currently have two scenarios.

Scenario A - Plan to peak at First Road Race (in February)
Scenario B - Peak at next Road Race (April).

Outside the timing of the peaks, I see that with scenario A, I immediately start with base 1 training (weights 2-3 times a week heavy load/ low reps, moderate cycling), while with B I have 5 weeks of Prep phase (light lifting/high reps 3 times a week, Isolated leg drills and light cycling) then move into Base.

I can see how the prep phase can help prevent injuries but will one scenario be more beneficial than the other in terms of overall improvement by the end of the season? I understand that a good base is vital to proper preparation but taking it further, dues a good prep phase then dicate that you will have a good base?

Anyways thoughts from you real racers are appreciated.
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Old 09-18-07, 08:22 PM   #2
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Peak at a RR in Feburary? Are you from Florida or Hawaii?
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Old 09-18-07, 08:31 PM   #3
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Peak at a RR in Feburary? Are you from Florida or Hawaii?
Not only that...

But, peaking for your first race is a waste of your time, and training time more importantly. You will most likely get it handed to you the first time out, like damn near everyone in the history of the sport. So, don't take it so seriously, and use your racing to help you build fitness.

Trust me when I say that no workout will really simulate the demands that a race (other than a TT) will place upon you. Racing, and seeing how and when it hurts, is the best way to get yourself in shape. I can do 2x20min intervals, shorter stuff, and sprints till I die, but those first couple of races really show you where you're at. They also serve as workouts, of the best possible kind.
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Old 09-18-07, 08:39 PM   #4
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Live in Sunny California actually.

I have no fantasies of being some wunderkind and riding away from anyone but I was trying to understand the pros and cons of a longer (30 weeks vs 20) base period. Specifically if you guys thought spending aroung 5 weeks in the Prep phase would be noticeably beneficial.

Thanks for the answers
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Old 09-18-07, 08:50 PM   #5
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Plan on getting shelled and calling it a 'learning experience'. Really, cat 5 races are a total crap shoot. Show up and ride.
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Old 09-18-07, 08:58 PM   #6
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I don't know exactly how virtual coach works. But I'd target a race 5 or 10 weeks into your race schedule as your " A" goal, thenuse the first 5 races or so to build fitness and gain experience. So Id' take the date of the "A" goal race as your first peak,and build the schedule back from there.
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Old 09-18-07, 09:08 PM   #7
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i am also doing the same training plan as you are. And this will be my first year racing (2008). Because I live in Michigan our first races are not until late April early May. My 1st peak is June 29th and second is middle of July. I decided to peak at a later date because I did not want to get burned out in "training" prior to the end of the race season.

I would say that you need to think about your chance of burning out at the end of your season. Do you plan on doing only a couple of races or a full race season?

Think of any other sports season let me use soccer for an example. The first game is August 15th, but practice (build) starts Aug. 1st. before that is 2 weeks of conditioning (base). The people that are starting in the first game are the people that worked hard the 5 weeks prior to conditioning preparing for the high demands of conditioning (prep.). To go further you do not want your season to peak at the first game, because there is little chance that you will sustain that level the entire season. Instead you would plan to peak at tournament time (Oct).

Well enough rambling I think you get the point........

My answer to your question would be to take the extra weeks for prep.
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Old 09-18-07, 09:16 PM   #8
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I don't know exactly how virtual coach works. But I'd target a race 5 or 10 weeks into your race schedule as your " A" goal, thenuse the first 5 races or so to build fitness and gain experience. So Id' take the date of the "A" goal race as your first peak,and build the schedule back from there.
Virtual coach pretty much makes your schedule for you (after you input certain factors about yourself and note your races - listing priorities of said races it computes your trainng schedule).

The question really isn't will I do well in my first race but rather what people thought of 20 weeks vs 30 weeks of base/build till the first race and how it affected overall improvement by the end of the season.
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Old 09-18-07, 09:21 PM   #9
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I'd do what most European cyclists do:

Go to a group ride as often as possible, race as often as possible, and just get out on the bike in general as much as possible in my first year.

Frankly I don't understand the highly regimented approach for beginning racers. You don't even know what kind of racer you are yet, and you're laying your season down, basically day by day, with no real insight as to what abilities you have, and what you should be training to make up for any deficiencies.
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Old 09-18-07, 09:23 PM   #10
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Merlin's advice is sound to plan your peak 5 or 6 races into the season so you have some racing experience when you are at the 'top' of your fitness. As to the extra time in prep phase, it won't hurt. However, unless you have a ton of spare time, I wouldn't reccomend doing much training in the weight room. I would spend most or all of your training time on the bike. And since you are just starting, I would spend as much of that time doing group rides as you can. You will gain pack riding skills, fitness, and learn tactics by doing group rides. The skills and tactics are more valuable than fitness when you are just starting (to a point, of course). As you approach the racing season and enter the late base and build phases of Friel's plan, work in intervals accordingly to supplement the group rides you do. Just my 2 cents.

Have fun and don't take it too seriously for the first few races.
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Old 09-18-07, 09:57 PM   #11
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I would say approach it all with an open mind. You will get shelled, and it may take a season or two to figure out what works both training and racing. Accept that, keep plugging away, try a few different programs and see what works/what doesn't.

Race as much as possible and train as little as possible. If you have a choice between intervals on a Tues and a club race, do the race.
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Old 09-18-07, 11:41 PM   #12
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I'd do what most European cyclists do:

Go to a group ride as often as possible, race as often as possible, and just get out on the bike in general as much as possible in my first year.

Frankly I don't understand the highly regimented approach for beginning racers. You don't even know what kind of racer you are yet, and you're laying your season down, basically day by day, with no real insight as to what abilities you have, and what you should be training to make up for any deficiencies.
+1

One hard group ride a week will help out a lot....
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Old 09-19-07, 12:33 AM   #13
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It's interesting that most of the experienced racers here will tell people to "just get out and ride" but few of them do that to maximize their own training.

Technically, I'm only in my second year of "racing." I raced 9 times, with 2 more to come here. I raced 4 times in the 2006 season. I ran a highly regimented training schedule and benefitted greatly by doing so. Group rides are few and far between, and ones that simulate any sort of race scenario happen 3-4 times per YEAR in my area.

Virtual Coach is a great tool, but Friel's methods are becoming more and more outdated for good offseason base training. It helps you set goals and back plan your schedule from races you want to do well in. I personally wouldn't do any of the strength training that Virtual Coach offers, and would use that time on the bike. If you have an option between being on the bike and being in the gym, the bike will do you more good unless you want to be a great short sprinter only. Strength is not a limiter to your cycling endurance.

I'm looking at what Virtual Coach would give me, and in base training I see little to no threshold improvement training. 2x20's, or anything of the sort. That's a serious flaw in the system, imo.

Anyway, if regimenting your training will help motivate you to train in preparation for racing, then do it. You'll benefit from the regimented training and as long as you're enjoying it, that's what matters. If you start to get burned out on the tedium of a regimented plan, then just get out and ride and enjoy being on the bike. That's the most important thing of all.

Edited:
And to answer your original question: I would plan a peak later in the year, but race as many races as you can once they start happening in February. Substitute the races in for hard interval days that Virtual Coach recommends during the build periods. Likewise, be flexible on group rides. If you can get in some really hard group rides, then swap out hard interval days with those. Then use all the other endurance stuff.
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Old 09-19-07, 01:41 AM   #14
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I'd do what most European cyclists do:

Go to a group ride as often as possible, race as often as possible, and just get out on the bike in general as much as possible in my first year.


Frankly I don't understand the highly regimented approach for beginning racers. You don't even know what kind of racer you are yet, and you're laying your season down, basically day by day, with no real insight as to what abilities you have, and what you should be training to make up for any deficiencies.
you're not alone.



for the OP, here's my advice (and start immediately).
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Old 09-19-07, 03:18 AM   #15
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you're not alone.



for the OP, here's my advice (and start immediately).
And don't forget this.
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Old 09-19-07, 03:29 AM   #16
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And don't forget this.
always helpful, and most importantly, one should NEVER forget this.
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Old 09-19-07, 05:57 AM   #17
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It's interesting that most of the experienced racers here will tell people to "just get out and ride" but few of them do that to maximize their own training.

.

Key word experienced. Yea after 20 years or so you can get pretty specific about what it takes to get yourself ready. Know what works and what can be skipped.

Starting out there is no way to know yourself that well. As stated elsewhere in this thread you dont even know what kind of racer you are. Example you may be selling a great sprint short by how you train. So maximize Racing opportunities. A great schedule would be do a Tuesday or Thursday training series, race Saturday and Sunday, 40 to 50 a season can teach you a lot and get you in great shape.
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Old 09-19-07, 06:50 AM   #18
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And don't forget this.
Wait, are we supposed to shave our legs?

Oh, and for the OP -- do NOT hang your training investment on your first few races. If you have any control over when you peak, shoot for later in the year. Having a great engine under an inexperienced driver is wasteful. It's like those guys that buy a Corvette and have to leave the traction control on to keep it out of ditches.
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Old 09-19-07, 07:49 AM   #19
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Virtual Coach IMHO is just a guide. The problem I have is that it dosent know if you are a CAT 5 or CAT 1 racer and what your weaknesses are. For me the Virutal Coach plans didnt have any rides over 2 hours all year where even as a CAT 4 racer most road races are over 2 hours.

With that said enter your first few races and train your weak points that will be exposed (example recovery from hard efforts). I would set my first A race after I had 2 or 3 races under by belt.
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Old 09-19-07, 07:59 AM   #20
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Virtual Coach is a great tool, but Friel's methods are becoming more and more outdated for good offseason base training. It helps you set goals and back plan your schedule from races you want to do well in. I personally wouldn't do any of the strength training that Virtual Coach offers, and would use that time on the bike. If you have an option between being on the bike and being in the gym, the bike will do you more good unless you want to be a great short sprinter only. Strength is not a limiter to your cycling endurance.


I think Friel's methods work if you are at the top of your game (fit as you want to be) and just want to maintain. The mental and physical break during the winter with the reduced and cross training does help these type of athletes.

Agree with you that time on the bike wins out over time in the gym no matter what time of year it is. This year im not cutting out hard efforts during the winter as Friel suggests although they wont be nearly at the intensity level of my mid season workouts or durations. Everytime I back off and do base mile / LSD work over the winter I feel sluggish when racing in the spring.

back on topic.........
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Old 09-19-07, 08:59 AM   #21
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you're not alone.



for the OP, here's my advice (and start immediately).
Again, this needs to be sticky'd.
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Old 09-19-07, 07:46 PM   #22
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I'd do what most European cyclists do:

Go to a group ride as often as possible, race as often as possible, and just get out on the bike in general as much as possible in my first year.

Frankly I don't understand the highly regimented approach for beginning racers. You don't even know what kind of racer you are yet, and you're laying your season down, basically day by day, with no real insight as to what abilities you have, and what you should be training to make up for any deficiencies.

I plan to get as much racing as I can for next year but that's still a few months away. What are the experienced racers doing in the "off season" just finidng group rides and blasting away?
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Old 09-19-07, 08:11 PM   #23
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Base miles
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Old 09-19-07, 08:22 PM   #24
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What are the experienced racers doing in the "off season" just finidng group rides and blasting away?
Off season? In SoCal I sometimes wish there was one. My season ends in early october and restarts in late January. I still ride a lot, but I probably get more mental rest.

And I'm another vote for just riding and racing a lot in your first season or two. There's *way* more to racing than just fitness. I've seen really experienced guys in terrible shape beat really fit guys who have no tactical sense consistently.
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Old 09-20-07, 05:34 AM   #25
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Too much t-h-i-n-k-i-n-g.
Not enough r-i-d-i-n-g.

You (OP) are being far too analytical for your first race. When the gun goes off, your first race will be a blur. And while you can (scientifically) be at your physical best, you will hardly notice any of it above the beating of your heart, the gasps for air, and the shear panic of being in the race.

And afterward, you will wonder what happened.

Go out and ride miles over hill and dale. Hard, easy, fast, slow. Come back to your studies later in the year after your initiation.
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