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  1. #1
    Senior Member sjmartin's Avatar
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    First Year Cat 5 - Can you provide some training tips?

    Hi All,

    I've been scouring the internet to find some decent training plans that are specifically tailored to track racing. I have found nothing.

    Can you guys point me into the right direction to good resources on this topic? Or even better can you provide what your weekly training schedule is like?

    I just joined up with a team, and this will be my first year racing, and first year on the track.

    I purchased a entry level track bike running 49/15. I've only been on the track a few times to mess around and get a feel for my base level.

    Currently I feel comfortable maintaining a 22 mph average (outdoors/solo) for about 10 laps (400m/lap). My max speed is at 33 mph. Obviously this is not great and i'm looking for ways to improve.

    When you guys were once lowly Cat 5 riders, what kind of speeds were you looking at? I'm trying to be as mentally prepared as possible when the season starts in June.

  2. #2
    Senior Member chi-james's Avatar
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    have you read the sticky thread "introduction to track cycling" at the top of this sub-forum?

  3. #3
    Senior Member sjmartin's Avatar
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    Yes, however it is not helpful; it contains nothing in regards to a training regimen.

  4. #4
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    What training you do depends entirely on what kind of racing you want to do. That said, as a total beginner you probably just need basic fitness and strength to begin with, with some speed work later on. Do you have a gym membership? Squats, deadlift, press and bench press are the bread and butter, twice or three times a week, depending on your schedule. Then maybe three or four rides a week, one working on sprints, an interval day, maybe one long day with some climbing and one easy day for an hour or two. And one or two complete rest days per week.

    That should get you started. Take any classes or clinics your track offers, learn as much as you can, and try some racing. Try an omnium. That will give you an idea of what you like and maybe what you want to focus on.

    Have fun!

  5. #5
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Here's what I did my first season:

    - I participated in (just about) every event that happened at the velodrome. Every skills class, every race, and watched other races.

    - I literally raced every week of the season

    - I read a lot on the internet. I bookmarked lots of good stuff and went back to read it later when I had a frame of reference.

    - I asked a lot of questions (like you are doing now). Specific questions are easier for us to answer, by the way.

    - I hired a coach. This isn't required, but I tell people that it's like learning the guitar. And there are LOTS more things out there for learning to play the guitar than learning about track racing. Yes, you can learn the guitar by visiting forums and buying books, but as a beginner if you have an instructor you can dramatically speed up the beginner parts of the learning process. Dramatically. If you ask 10 "trackies" or guitar players what you should do as a beginner, you will get 10 different answers with some overlap and LOTS of confusion.

    Guitar player A will say, "Learn scales and technique FIRST! All music is based on these scales." and player B will say, "No! Learn to play your favorite tunes FIRST! This makes it fun." Just as racer A will say, "Train to race. Training is the key." and Racer B will say, "Race all you can. Racing is fun."

    But, they'd all be right. The key is to do something...anything...and a lot of it.

    For me, my first coach actually had me do both. Train a lot and race every race that would accept me. I learned a lot.

    Like Baby Puke says, do a bunch of stuff and see where your strengths are. My advice is to play to your strengths and work on your weaknesses in the off season (winter). But for now enter EVERYTHING, match sprints, chariot races, points race, miss-n-out, etc... You might find that you have are predisposed to doing something well.

    Find a buddy and become training partners. Grow together. Even if you guys are on different ability levels. This helps a lot. 99% of track training is solo work, but just having someone with you at the track, bike trail, or gym makes it a lot easier. Then when times get hard and you lose your enthusiasm or steam, you guys can pick each other up.

    Which track will be your home velodrome?

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    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    So, to answer the original question:
    - Spend as much time as you can at the track, riding and/or watching.
    - Get a training partner.
    - If you can't get to the track often and you have a road bike, find a basic road criterium training program. A road sprinter would be a track endurance racer (think Mark Cavendish).
    - Track sprinting is a lot like track and field sprinting. Similar gym programs. It's about 50% gym 50% bike work depending on the time of year.
    - Rollers aren't required, but they help a lot with legspeed and fluidity. And you can use them as an indoor trainer when you can't get outside. They are sort of a nice to have for going to intermediate through advanced training, though.
    - As Baby Puke says, If you think you'd like sprint events (match sprints, flying 200M, 1KM time trial, 500M time trial) then you would benefit from getting in the gym now and integrating gym work into your training program.

  7. #7
    Senior Member sjmartin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baby Puke View Post
    What training you do depends entirely on what kind of racing you want to do. That said, as a total beginner you probably just need basic fitness and strength to begin with, with some speed work later on. Do you have a gym membership? Squats, deadlift, press and bench press are the bread and butter, twice or three times a week, depending on your schedule. Then maybe three or four rides a week, one working on sprints, an interval day, maybe one long day with some climbing and one easy day for an hour or two. And one or two complete rest days per week.

    That should get you started. Take any classes or clinics your track offers, learn as much as you can, and try some racing. Try an omnium. That will give you an idea of what you like and maybe what you want to focus on.

    Have fun!
    Thanks for the reply. I think i'm going to follow Carleton's path and simply try everything as I don't know what i'm good at. I feel like I would be suited for shorter, more explosive races vs. longer "endurance" races. But again, I don't know since i've never raced and i'll need to compare myself to others.

    I did not previously consider gym time, however I'll give it a shot. Does upper body workouts as you suggested really make a difference?

    How do you do your sprint workouts? What i've been trying is simply going around 2 or 3 laps at a casual pace and then sprint all out for the 200m, repeat.

    Would that be considered an interval workout?

    What would you consider a "long" day? 50-100 miles?

    Out of curiosity, how long have you been racing? Do they have equivalent "Cat" levels in Japan? It looks like your flying 200 is about 37mph average. What would you say your generic pace would be when you are not sprinting?

    What benefits do straps have over clipless pedals? It seems most of the bikes in your pictures all have straps.

    I appreciate the feedback! Thanks!

  8. #8
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Yeah, pretty much do what Carleton and BP said- it's what we all do when we start: ride a lot, race a lot, don't try to specialize until you've tried a lot of things. Do a lot of road riding, race some crits and road races even. Do road rides 2-3 hours, or more if you enjoy it. I was still doing 5 hour mountain road rides when I had my best track seasons, but you don't necessarily need to do that. And if you decide you really like it and want to get more competitive, a good coach will help you advance further faster than you will on your own or by getting help from friends/teammates.

    btw - what track are you at? Since you said 400 m laps, I'd guess northbrook.
    Track - the other off-road
    http://www.lavelodrome.org

  9. #9
    Senior Member sjmartin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    Here's what I did my first season:

    - I participated in (just about) every event that happened at the velodrome. Every skills class, every race, and watched other races.

    - I literally raced every week of the season

    - I read a lot on the internet. I bookmarked lots of good stuff and went back to read it later when I had a frame of reference.

    - I asked a lot of questions (like you are doing now). Specific questions are easier for us to answer, by the way.

    - I hired a coach. This isn't required, but I tell people that it's like learning the guitar. And there are LOTS more things out there for learning to play the guitar than learning about track racing. Yes, you can learn the guitar by visiting forums and buying books, but as a beginner if you have an instructor you can dramatically speed up the beginner parts of the learning process. Dramatically. If you ask 10 "trackies" or guitar players what you should do as a beginner, you will get 10 different answers with some overlap and LOTS of confusion.

    Guitar player A will say, "Learn scales and technique FIRST! All music is based on these scales." and player B will say, "No! Learn to play your favorite tunes FIRST! This makes it fun." Just as racer A will say, "Train to race. Training is the key." and Racer B will say, "Race all you can. Racing is fun."

    But, they'd all be right. The key is to do something...anything...and a lot of it.

    For me, my first coach actually had me do both. Train a lot and race every race that would accept me. I learned a lot.

    Like Baby Puke says, do a bunch of stuff and see where your strengths are. My advice is to play to your strengths and work on your weaknesses in the off season (winter). But for now enter EVERYTHING, match sprints, chariot races, points race, miss-n-out, etc... You might find that you have are predisposed to doing something well.

    Find a buddy and become training partners. Grow together. Even if you guys are on different ability levels. This helps a lot. 99% of track training is solo work, but just having someone with you at the track, bike trail, or gym makes it a lot easier. Then when times get hard and you lose your enthusiasm or steam, you guys can pick each other up.

    Which track will be your home velodrome?
    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    So, to answer the original question:
    - Spend as much time as you can at the track, riding and/or watching.
    - Get a training partner.
    - If you can't get to the track often and you have a road bike, find a basic road criterium training program. A road sprinter would be a track endurance racer (think Mark Cavendish).
    - Track sprinting is a lot like track and field sprinting. Similar gym programs. It's about 50% gym 50% bike work depending on the time of year.
    - Rollers aren't required, but they help a lot with legspeed and fluidity. And you can use them as an indoor trainer when you can't get outside. They are sort of a nice to have for going to intermediate through advanced training, though.
    - As Baby Puke says, If you think you'd like sprint events (match sprints, flying 200M, 1KM time trial, 500M time trial) then you would benefit from getting in the gym now and integrating gym work into your training program.
    I plan to do the same thing you did. For better or worse, i'd like to make it out to every race this season no matter how horrible I am.

    Instead of getting a coach, I joined a team. I figured i'd be able to train and ask them questions however they are mostly a road specific team, and the track side of things will start things up in May so i'm trying to get a head start.

    When weather permits, i'm going to make it out to the track at least 3-4 days a week.

    What type of routines do you do when you go to the track?

    What was your max speed when you started and how about now?

    What would you say the average speed of other riders are in you category?

  10. #10
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    sjmartin wrote:

    I did not previously consider gym time, however I'll give it a shot. Does upper body workouts as you suggested really make a difference?
    -If you are a sprinter/kilo rider, yes. It makes a big difference for standing starts. But I think if you haven't been in the gym at all, general full-body strength training would be good preparation for a beginner. Track is much more explosive than road, even for endurance riders. If you get to the point of specialization, you'll know whether weight training should be a permanent part of your program or not. The "Starting Strength" book by Mark Rippletoe is an excellent way to start.

    How do you do your sprint workouts? What i've been trying is simply going around 2 or 3 laps at a casual pace and then sprint all out for the 200m, repeat.
    -This would take pages to answer! What you mentioned would be a sprint interval workout, and could certainly be good. If you want more details about what I personally do, PM me.

    Would that be considered an interval workout?
    -Stuff you find online about road intervals is also applicable to track.

    What would you consider a "long" day? 50-100 miles?
    -I never ride for longer than 3 or 4 hours, and those are rare, but then again I'm a "sprinter". It depends what you do with those miles. For me, one or two hours at an easy pace is a recovery ride, and is usually the longest I'll spend on my roadbike. If you're a pursuiter or points racer, though, you'll want more intensity out of long road rides. Carleton is right, at this point ANY training is good training for you, and ANY racing should be educational. Just be sure you rest and recover enough. Overtraining is far worse than not training enough. I learned this the hard way in my younger days.

    Out of curiosity, how long have you been racing? Do they have equivalent "Cat" levels in Japan? It looks like your flying 200 is about 37mph average. What would you say your generic pace would be when you are not sprinting?
    -I did roadracing as a young guy for about four or five seasons in the 90's, then started track racing about three years ago over here. BIG gap there. The Japanese system is really weird as far as categories go, I'll still learning how it works. The team I'm on now includes professional keirin racers. I don't understand why, but it's cool!

    As far as my 200 goes, yes, legspeed is a major weakness for me... Oh, and generic pace-- forget about it. All that matters is the pace you set during your effort. When you do training efforts, if they are sprint efforts, the pace is 100% during the effort and 0% during the rest. Learn to expend zero effort while riding. This is actually harder than it sounds.

    What benefits do straps have over clipless pedals? It seems most of the bikes in your pictures all have straps.
    -No benefit. It's just the way we do things over here. It's all trickle-down from pro keirin here. When I came to Japan, I was using spd-sl's, but I had to switch in order to join the club, and I find I like the feel. Not going back, but probably there's no advantage.

  11. #11
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    Also, forget about speeds. I threw away my cycle computer. All that matters is what the stopwatch says. I found the computer distracting and not helpful, so I stopped using it. Try to learn what a fast effort feels like.

  12. #12
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baby Puke View Post
    Also, forget about speeds. I threw away my cycle computer. All that matters is what the stopwatch says. I found the computer distracting and not helpful, so I stopped using it. Try to learn what a fast effort feels like.
    Yeah, I've never used a computer on the track. We have a seconds clock at the pursuit line during interval sessions, and on the rare occasion that I do a TT I have someone call splits. For mass start racing all that matters is crossing the line before the other guys.
    Track - the other off-road
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  13. #13
    Senior Member sjmartin's Avatar
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    I understand the need to not have a computer. I'm trying to figure out some baselines for myself as i'm training solo until people start showing up on the track in the next few weeks. I figure the only way I can get a feel for it is to "compete" against myself and trying to get faster times via computer until I can interact with actual people.

  14. #14
    Senior Member sjmartin's Avatar
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    I found this that I think is helpful for me. Again, i'm just trying to figure out a baseline. If I weren't able to break a 10mph average looking at the stats below I would know i'm not close to being able to compete and should stay away.

    It's not really about average-speed so much as max-speed:

    cat-4/5: 24-27mph ave, 32-33 max
    cat-3: 26-30mph ave, 35-40 max
    cat-1/2/pro: 28-32mph ave, 42-47 max

  15. #15
    Senior Member melville's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sjmartin View Post
    I found this that I think is helpful for me. Again, i'm just trying to figure out a baseline. If I weren't able to break a 10mph average looking at the stats below I would know i'm not close to being able to compete and should stay away.
    If you can go 22 solo, you can go 30 sucking a wheel. Really.

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