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Train to your strength or weakness?

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Train to your strength or weakness?

Old 12-08-09, 04:47 PM
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Train to your strength or weakness?

This winter is the first winter where I am consciously training in preparation for a racing season (which hinges on my motocross racing, but if I do ending race on the road, I will be ready), and I am starting to look past base and towards higher intensity training.

I am starting to plan out my spring training and I have a question, should you train towards your strengths in order to maximize your natural "talent" or towards your weakness to make up for what you naturally have?

At 5'2.75" and 120lbs (hopefully by spring), I am clearly built as a climber. So should I train to maximize my natural build? As in should I do lots of climbing and hill repeats, or should I train to make up where I am lacking? Mainly sprinting and just pure power. Which one would be a more effective use of my time?

Thanks!
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Old 12-08-09, 05:01 PM
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Um.

What are the races you are trying to do.

Besides, you're new at this. Go train everything.

Look at ze. Mofo's puny, but can sprint like a bat outta hell.
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Old 12-08-09, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by mike868y View Post
This winter is the first winter where I am consciously training in preparation for a racing season (which hinges on my motocross racing, but if I do ending race on the road, I will be ready), and I am starting to look past base and towards higher intensity training.

I am starting to plan out my spring training and I have a question, should you train towards your strengths in order to maximize your natural "talent" or towards your weakness to make up for what you naturally have?

At 5'2.75" and 120lbs (hopefully by spring), I am clearly built as a climber. So should I train to maximize my natural build? As in should I do lots of climbing and hill repeats, or should I train to make up where I am lacking? Mainly sprinting and just pure power. Which one would be a more effective use of my time?

Thanks!
how is this clear? you're not even out of puberty yet.
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Old 12-08-09, 05:05 PM
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train you weaknesses
race your strengths

is that right?
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Old 12-08-09, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
Um.

What are the races you are trying to do.

Besides, you're new at this. Go train everything.

Look at ze. Mofo's puny, but can sprint like a bat outta hell.
I don't know what I'm going to be able to do. I definitely will be at Bethel (which is a crit, so sprint speed is important), but if I'm not racing mx I'd like to do some of the longer hill races (housatonic, tokeneke, hilltowns).

My plan was to sort of train everything (maybe 2*20 oneday, hill repeats another and 1125211 intervals another with SST on other days.)

Originally Posted by botto View Post
how is this clear? you're not even out of puberty yet.
Admittedly, weight isn't clear yet, but I am already several inches taller than my mom and not far off my dad. My entire family is short.
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Old 12-08-09, 05:24 PM
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Honestly, too early to worry about.

Train everything.

Your strength will be determined based on which races you do well in. Bethel's an uphill sprint finish. If you have a good kick, at your light weight and lower drag (if your position's good) you should be able to do pretty well if you can sprint at all. I came 2nd in the 4's in the race there over summer and I barely hit 1000 watts. I just attacked before anyone else did and caught guys who were waiting on the others.
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Old 12-08-09, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
Honestly, too early to worry about.

Train everything.

Your strength will be determined based on which races you do well in. Bethel's an uphill sprint finish. If you have a good kick, at your light weight and lower drag (if your position's good) you should be able to do pretty well if you can sprint at all. I came 2nd in the 4's in the race there over summer and I barely hit 1000 watts. I just attacked before anyone else did and caught guys who were waiting on the others.
Thanks for the advice. When I did Jamestown the last little climb to the finish was my strongest point, but I lost some time to other guys on the downhill sprint right after it. If it had been an uphill finish I definitely would have beat all the kids around me (luckily they were in a different age bracket). I think I have a pretty decent kick, but w/o a powermeter there is really no way to tell. I'd like to think I'm rather aero. My bike is tiny (42cm) so that definitely helps. People hatee when I take pulls because the second in line barely gets a draft haha.
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Old 12-08-09, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by mike868y View Post
Thanks for the advice. When I did Jamestown the last little climb to the finish was my strongest point, but I lost some time to other guys on the downhill sprint right after it. If it had been an uphill finish I definitely would have beat all the kids around me (luckily they were in a different age bracket). I think I have a pretty decent kick, but w/o a powermeter there is really no way to tell. I'd like to think I'm rather aero. My bike is tiny (42cm) so that definitely helps. People hatee when I take pulls because the second in line barely gets a draft haha.
incorrect.
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Old 12-08-09, 05:44 PM
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You're finishing your base too early.

You can get to 80% on base alone. The last 15% comes fast. You never get to 100%. Lay down the base you need to be successful, if you have the time.

I'll be finishing my base period two weeks after my first race this year, if that tells you anything about my priorities.
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Old 12-08-09, 05:52 PM
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Agree with everything so far.

To recap:

You probably don't know what kind of a rider you really are going to be yet.

Being small favours a climber but there are some pretty successful sprinters who aren't all that big. It's a power to weight thing.

The best advice I've seen so far is to get a solid base and then target specific events. That will dictate your training. If you want to focus on hilly events then climb more. If you want to do crits do more intervals and work on your sprint.

Good luck.
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Old 12-08-09, 06:11 PM
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I agree as well. Get yourself fit. Your limiter initially is likely to be FTP. Don't leave your intensity hanging out to dry though -- when you're getting close to races (6 weeks or so) get in the AWC intervals (such as 1125211 or 6xWRI) and the VO2Max intervals (like 5x5').

After a couple races (or even really hard group rides) you'll learn where you're failing. Use performance and failure to determine limiters, then associate that with something you can train to correct. Note that not everything will be fitness/strength training -- skills come in to play just as much, strategy, knowing the field, etc.

It's not about winning your next race. It's about becoming a better racer.
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Old 12-08-09, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by ZeCanon View Post
You're finishing your base too early.

You can get to 80% on base alone. The last 15% comes fast. You never get to 100%. Lay down the base you need to be successful, if you have the time.

I'll be finishing my base period two weeks after my first race this year, if that tells you anything about my priorities.
I'm not finishing base yet, just trying to plan ahead. Bethel is like the only races I know I will be able to do though, so I want to make sure I am pretty sharp there. I wish I had as much time to do base as you. Hopefully I can get at least 1 long ride a week in, but that is going to be tough (I got 75 in last saturday and hopefully 85 this coming sunday, so I'm making an effort).

Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
Agree with everything so far.

To recap:

You probably don't know what kind of a rider you really are going to be yet.

Being small favours a climber but there are some pretty successful sprinters who aren't all that big. It's a power to weight thing.

The best advice I've seen so far is to get a solid base and then target specific events. That will dictate your training. If you want to focus on hilly events then climb more. If you want to do crits do more intervals and work on your sprint.

Good luck.
Thanks for the recap. There is so much to learn about racing and training that it is insane. As much as we all love to mock bf, there really is some great info here.
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Old 12-08-09, 06:24 PM
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Random thoughts:

1. You don't even KNOW what your strengths are yet. And you probably won't figure that out until you've done 20+ races. (BTW, training crits are a GREAT opportunity to find out what you're good at. It's a perfect environment for experimenting.) The bottom line is that you might actually be surprised to learn that you have strengths that you didn't expect to have.

2. When you DO discover your strengths, follow the age-old formula of training your weaknesses, but racing your strengths. For one thing, it's a matter of trainig-cost effectiveness. If you are already good at something, you have less room for improvement. So you might put in 30 hours a month working on something that might give you a 3% improvement. OTOH, if you have an obvious weakness, you probably have lots of room for improvement. 30 hours of work might give you a 10% improvement. That's much better bang for your training buck.

For a real-life example, Alberto Contador could have concentrated his training on his greatest strength, i.e. climbing, when prepping for the TDF. Instead, it was obvious during this year's TDF that AC must have spent a LOT of time working on his TT'ing. In the end, it was AC's greatly improved TT'ing that likely secured his TDF victory.

Bob
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Old 12-08-09, 06:34 PM
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When I went to college I was 103 lbs. I thought I was the next Lucien Van Impe (a climber who won the Tour 1x but the Polka Dot maybe 5x?). I could accelerate from a standing start to 42 mph on a flat bit of road (next to the "golf ball" arena at UCONN, before the golf ball was built). I was 112 lbs when I left UCONN 4 years later.

I could never, ever climb. Forget it. First guy shelled, maybe second.

Luckily I did crits too, and I started winning crits when I turned 18 (freshman year).

Weight, until your body settles down, is all relative. And fast twitch and slow twitch don't change too much either.

Someone on BF said something that really resonated with me. FTP gets you to the finish; max power wins races. I can do well in races where I can finish, but due to my lack of aerobic strength I rarely finish races other than flatter, slower races.

So if I were you, I'd always work on FTP (climbing, TT, etc). I'd work on sprints too, but not at the cost of FTP.

If you're good at sprinting (max power, usually perceived as having good acceleration), you'll need to work on it infrequently, maybe 1x a week. If not, no amount of work will make you a substantially better "accelerator", but you can do stuff like make it really, really hard on sprinters and take them out of the equation. That last bit relies on FTP, which means going back to climbing, TT, etc.

A typical 3 day hard cycle is something like Day One - sprints; Day Two - 5 min efforts; Day Three - 20-30 minute efforts. You do max power, anaerobic, aerobic. If you do this Tue-Thu, you have Fri to recover, race Sat/Sun, Mon recover, and repeat. It's an over-simplification, but I'm trying to point out that you can train all parts of your riding without necessarily sacrificing one or two specific parts of your repetoire.

I can't climb or TT because my aerobics basically suck. I do some reasonably significant amount of TT type efforts, ditto climbs, but I've learned it really doesn't matter. The only time I felt really good was when I just trained a lot and raced really, really, really hard (see my Belgium blog post).

Although most people (including me) think of myself as a sprinter, it's not because I "train" at sprinting - it is always kinda sorta there. I just have to get fit enough to race.

There's a guy that basically kills me in all sprints where we end up head to head, has done so for, oh, 15-18 years. He's a multi time National Champ in crit (Masters), track (Match Sprint and other events), and is a guy that, at least for a few years, would carry 240 points on his license from just wins and second places (forget about 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, and 6ths - he expected to win $1000-1500 every weekend in prize money, doing 5-6 races - Masters, 3s, and 1-2-3s, or, later, Masters 45, Masters 35, and 3s). But at a big national level race (but in the Cat 3 event - Tour of Nutley, NJ) I watched a "non-sprinter" lead him out and basically go so fast that the incredibly good sprinter couldn't come around him. The non-sprinter won the field sprint.

Doesn't answer your question, really, but basically ride lots, train everything. Your talents will bubble to the surface.

cdr
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Old 12-08-09, 07:34 PM
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Research has shown that it takes around 7 years for your body to complete most of the changes related to becoming an endurance athlete.

Honestly, don't worry about this now.

A lot of people try to peak for the spring series (bethel/plainville). That's great and all, but those are spring training races. If you burn out after that, you'll see everyone fly by you in the summer.

Use the spring races to get into race shape and do base through them ala what ze is saying.
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Old 12-08-09, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
Research has shown that it takes around 7 years for your body to complete most of the changes related to becoming an endurance athlete.

Honestly, don't worry about this now.

A lot of people try to peak for the spring series (bethel/plainville). That's great and all, but those are spring training races. If you burn out after that, you'll see everyone fly by you in the summer.

Use the spring races to get into race shape and do base through them ala what ze is saying.
If I was going to race all summer, i would do that. But I race motocross (motocross>cycling...) so that takes up almost every weekend during the summer. I will probably be able to get various races in here adn there throughout the summer, but honestly, bethel is the only series I am guaranteed to be doing.

Regardless, it seems as though I should just do general training routines and make myself a better rider overall and see how I fair...
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Old 12-08-09, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by mike868y View Post
I'm not finishing base yet, just trying to plan ahead. Bethel is like the only races I know I will be able to do though, so I want to make sure I am pretty sharp there. I wish I had as much time to do base as you. Hopefully I can get at least 1 long ride a week in, but that is going to be tough (I got 75 in last saturday and hopefully 85 this coming sunday, so I'm making an effort).
What about Plainville ?
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