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  1. #1
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    Training suggestions for first year racing?

    Hello forum,

    I'm going to do some collegiate racing this year and I have never raced before.

    I just completed a month of roughly 16 hours/week riding including a couple of tough 6 hour rides with climbing. We did individual time trials a month ago and I clocked 25:09 on a 5 mile climb with a 2-10% grade before the month of training.

    I just repeated the same individual time trial and finished 24:51. Although it was an improvement, I was hoping to improve a lot more after all of the riding I've been doing. A few of the skinny guys had slower times than me a month ago and train less, but improved by 2 minutes this time around. The coach expected the slower riders to have large gains, and somehow I fell short.

    The coach collects data from the guys riding with power meters and according to his formula, my average power output for the effort 25 minute effort was 265watts.

    I weigh 91kg's but I'm also embarassingly short so my BMI is quite ridiculous. I manage to win a lot of the sprints and I know the crits will be my only outlet, but I still want to get faster for the road courses.

    For someone with my W/kg numbers, what should I shoot for in terms of development, increase strength and/or drop weight?

    The coach enforces riding zone 2 at this early point in the year. For a rider like me, the 6 hour ride with 4500 feet of climbing at some point becomes survival mode in my granny gear 36x28.

    Should I hit the weights on the side to strengthen my legs? Or should I stick to the zone 2 riding and focus on dieting?

    I lost about 6 pounds before the 1st time trial, but since then, the weight has not budged. I've been eating a lot to avoid bonking and to help recovery. Do cyclists alternate bulking and cutting as in weightlifting?

    I am quite possibly overthinking everything, simple answer may be just to ride, but I want to make sure I get the most bang for my buck in terms of training because all of this riding takes away from my school work. I'm applying to med schools this spring, so school is still the biggest priority. Most of all, its disappointing to become the slowest guy on a team.

  2. #2
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    So the problem is that, even with all that riding, you're not showing any improvement. A few things come to mind. You evidently aren't riding with a PM. Expense? Are you using a HRM? If so, what does that show? What's your log of your MRHR look like? IOW, are you overdoing it? Or do you have a nice cycle of raised MRHR after loading up with workouts and then a nice low number after resting? The usual way to get faster is effort and recovery, which assumes some base. So you did 16 hours/week of what?

    3 W/Kg isn't bad, it's just not great. At your weight, with that power output and that recent history, I'd say definitely concentrate on losing weight. You can do gym work if you need more hours/week, but only high rep, aerobic lifting with your HR never dropping out of Z1. But better to get on the bike and keep it in Z2 - more loss that way.

    On your long ride, you mean it's difficult to keep it in Z2 on the climbs? NS. Is that what you mean by survival mode, or that you get exhausted?

    Are all your rides team rides? Do you have a trainer or rollers? There are efficiency/economy drills you could do on the side that will help a young rider like yourself.

    Mostly improvement is going to come from weight loss. Dieting isn't the right term. You just need to reduce your caloric intake. So clean up your diet. No junk food. No sodas. No beer or wine. No cheesecake or brownies. Etc. You can eat during a ride, as much as you want. Have a recovery drink or meal immediately after the ride, but watch it and don't overdo it. Don't eat until you feel full. Always stop short of that point and have a cup of green tea instead of that extra food. "Leave it on your plate." That's your new motto. OTOH, don't go around hungry all the time. When you get hungry, have a little something, but less than you'd think. Wait for the body's response to the food. Personally, I like 15g of whey protein in plain water for a snack. Does no harm and maybe some good, and only ~60 calories. You ride that much and eat sensibly and the weight is going to just flow off your body.

    But watch out for overdoing it. That's the easiest thing in the world to do in a team environment. When you're the slow one, you're going to work harder to keep up, so you're always going to be a zone higher than the skinny guys. That will take a major training toll on you. I've found that college coaches pay way too much attention to the concept of "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" and not nearly enough attention to those who are doing exactly that, but aren't on the front.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattdizon89 View Post
    The coach enforces riding zone 2 at this early point in the year.

    Should I hit the weights on the side to strengthen my legs?
    No. At your weight your legs should be more than strong enough.

    Or should I stick to the zone 2 riding and focus on dieting?
    I've been eating a lot to avoid bonking and to help recovery. Do cyclists alternate bulking and cutting as in weightlifting?
    Stop eating so much. If you're actually staying in zone 2 most of your energy while riding will be coming from fat stores and you shouldn't need to take in as many calories as you would for more intense rides. Cycling is an endurance sport and cyclists don't 'bulk'. Now is the time of year to be dropping weight with longer easier rides. It becomes more difficult when you increase intensity later in the season.

    I suspect your lack of performance was because you're tired. 16 hrs/wk is a lot of riding depending on what you were doing before and you could just be worn down and need an easier week. Also, if you're riding with your team on rolling courses you'll be doing more work than the lighter riders and may not be staying in zone 2.

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    thanks for the responses.

    I havent been training with power or a HRM. I plan on buying a teammates HRM soon.
    All of my riding is with the team, and I definitely ride harder to keep up with the z2 of others.

    By survival mode, I meant exhaustion. The Saturday ride with 95 miles/4500 feet of climbing was by far the hardest of my life. My mind is focused on just finishing. The team has a No Drop policy but I've seen/heard what goes on when other riders take to long to get to the top. I was on the football team in high school, so I'm accustomed to a system that pushes weaker athletes harder until they catch up.

    I'm the only slow but dedicated rider. The team did well at conference and nationals last year. I don't think anyone including the coach is accustomed to having slower riders who stick with the program. I've seen quite a few people show up for rides, get dropped, and stop coming. I have the utmost respect for the coach, but I'm not sure anyone knows the best way to deal with someone like me.

    I will definitely follow your suggestions about eating. I think I may be overdoing it.
    The current schedule involves long rides saturday and sunday, rest day monday, 2 hour rides T-R, and relaxed Fridays. Would it be beneficial for me to rest more and only ride Sat, Sun, Tues, Thurs?

  5. #5
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattdizon89 View Post
    thanks for the responses.

    I havent been training with power or a HRM. I plan on buying a teammates HRM soon.
    All of my riding is with the team, and I definitely ride harder to keep up with the z2 of others.

    By survival mode, I meant exhaustion. The Saturday ride with 95 miles/4500 feet of climbing was by far the hardest of my life. My mind is focused on just finishing. The team has a No Drop policy but I've seen/heard what goes on when other riders take to long to get to the top. I was on the football team in high school, so I'm accustomed to a system that pushes weaker athletes harder until they catch up.

    I'm the only slow but dedicated rider. The team did well at conference and nationals last year. I don't think anyone including the coach is accustomed to having slower riders who stick with the program. I've seen quite a few people show up for rides, get dropped, and stop coming. I have the utmost respect for the coach, but I'm not sure anyone knows the best way to deal with someone like me.

    I will definitely follow your suggestions about eating. I think I may be overdoing it.
    The current schedule involves long rides saturday and sunday, rest day monday, 2 hour rides T-R, and relaxed Fridays. Would it be beneficial for me to rest more and only ride Sat, Sun, Tues, Thurs?
    I have had the best success with riding 5-6 days/week. I'd advise letting them go on Saturday. Talk your your coach about riding the route, but riding your own ride. Hold it to Z2 mostly, but climb in Z3 and hold Z3 after the top for a bit. Most team rides will go hard on the climb and then recover after the top. You can make up a little by keeping it up and keeping aero. You might even get back on if you can descend well, and you should be able to at your weight. Just be careful. Just do the mileage, don't dig deep.

    On Sunday, you can go harder, but limit your Z4 to only 40 minutes or so. If you can't hold last wheel on the weekday rides and stay in Z2, you might go a little harder if necessary, but not much. If you can't, talk to the coach about riding your own rides for a while. I think you'll improve faster if you take it easier mostly and then have the energy to go harder than you are now, when you need to.

    So yes, get a HRM immediately and work with your coach to get your zones established. You want to be in the zone he wants you to be in. He's in charge, but you have to figure out what you can do to comply. And start taking your MRHR daily. Log everything, distance, average, HRs, MRHR, weight, waist measurement. And watch for HR being lower than it should be on a familiar climb. That's the quickest sign of overdoing it to pick up. You want an "easy revving heart," I call it. A HR that responds to effort. If it won't rev up, you're losing blood flow, and thus oxygen and nutrients aren't moving as fast as they should be, so your power drops off, and you need a couple of days completely off.

  6. #6
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    Agree that you were probably tired on the test day.
    You can use the power calculator at noping.net/english to estimate your power on a climb. That's more accurate than going by your teamates power meters. They are probably not pushing as much weight uphill as you are, so you're putting out more power at the same speed.

    This sucks on hills but on the flat its reversed and the light guys will be hurting to stay on your wheel. As one of those guys I dread it when some big dude goes to the front and starts hammering.

    Now's not the time to be worrying about being fast on the training rides. Follow the coaches plan, he should be bringing you to a peak for the most important race(s) on the schedule.

    It's tempting to try to lose weight fast, but much more than a pound a week (average) is going to make you miserable and impact your training.

  7. #7
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    Be careful about overtraining.

  8. #8
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    keep riding as you are.

    focus on nutrition and droppin some significant weight.
    You didn't say how tall... "just embarrassingly short"

    now's really the best time to work on the weight loss program, along with bettering nutrition.

    most riders can get along at reasonable speed, in a pack, on the flat. But you'll never be able to climb with any race success in a race situation, carrying a lot of weight.

    A 45 min. crit can be very stressful, but no where near what longer road race distances will do.

    drop the weight, and then develop the strengths.
    along the way you'll develop insights on how to minimize the weaknesses and have them improve also.
    if you can motor well on the flats, then focus on learning short race skills. There are usually always a lot of crits on the calendar. Things you learn in crits will help you ride better in road races.
    Sounds like you'll never be a front of the pack climber, so working towards that will be ineffective.

    as you lose weight, the overall road strengths will also improve.
    once you're past the winter, your coach may have you doing intervals.

    awful stuff, but maybe the best way to see dramatic results (if well integrated into the general riding plan).
    stick with it. you may be 'slow' now, but you will improve.

    don;t get behind on the studies
    beleive me, its very easy to lose focus on the education if you allow athletics to be all-consuming.
    can't do it all, something's gotta give...
    studies, cycling, partay... is your choice.
    Golden rose, the color of the dream I had
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    A never to grow old

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