Rest and Recovery
Dear Joe and Dirk,
Help me understand “recovery days.” I know what all the training manuals,including yours, say, and my body sure seems to need them. My problem is,I never hear about pros having them. Every time I read about a pro’s trainingschedule, it involves riding three to six hours a day, and none of it soundseasy. I asked a member of Sierra Nevada, our local pro team, about recoverydays and he looked at me like I was insane. Or, read Bob Roll’s descriptionof training with Lance for a week in “Bobke 2” — no recovery days there,I’ll tell you. So are the pros just special, or what?
If the pro you spoke to said he doesn’t take recovery days, he is notreaching his potential as a bike racer. He may be pro, but he also canbe faster with proper recovery.
I’m sure Lance can go for more than a week without what you and I mayterm a “recovery day.” It just depends on what week you observed, or readabout. Also realize the definition of a recovery day is different for Lanceversus the rest of us. To you and to me a three-hour ride at any pace,no matter how slow, may not be a recovery day. But a three-hour ride forLance at his easy pace may be a rest day. I’m also sure Lance canride very hard for more than seven days, without a recovery period, withno detriment to his training. In fact he probably has to do just that inorder to prepare for the Tour de France. But I’m sure he does take recoverydays. Just as any smart professional does.
A lot of what you read may be overlooking the recovery periods. Bigname pros do take easy days.
Good luck in your training, and resting!
Joe and Dirk Friel
Dear Dirk and Joe,
Our team is already beginning to look at options for the upcoming winterand the months leading up to next season’s races. We are planning to havea series of Saturday and/or Sunday rides during this time. However, simpleriding out-and-back to a few known destinations can grow a little tiresome.It would be useful to integrate true team-building, fitness developmentand tactical experience into some of these sessions in a meaningful way.Having a list of options available would be handy. These would be specificdrills to develop the team’s understanding and familiarity with lead-outs,forming chase groups, and other skills or techniques. Could you respondin your column with a menu of team drills? I think many groups would findit useful.Thanks in advance.
This is a very good request. Good teams do tend to practice race tacticswithin training camps and early season races. Of course, it is beyond thescope of a weekly column to describe the full range of choices availableto group training sessions. But here are a few, along with the correspondingabilities they develop, that may spark some ideas with your team:Endurance- Heart rate zones 1-2
Mix up endurance rides and make them more entertaining by splittinginto groups and practice rotations and pace lines. This will help developan acute sense of wind direction as each member must rotate in the correctdirection and angle relative to the wind. This will also help develop theability to think ahead as turns appear and resulting wind directions change.As wind changes the group needs to think alike and change rotation angles,speeds, etc. accordingly. A smart road racer knows the turns that are aheadand how that will affect the group. Placement within a larger peloton thenbecomes crucial in order to avoid being caught at the back and out of anypossible splits in the peloton.The best example of how winds can split a peloton has been within thepast few years at the Vuelta. The Spanish stage race is known for it’scrucial windy, flat stages and many times the group will shatter into fiveor more groups. During these times you want your team to be aware of thechanging winds and be able to react quickly to situations which split thepeloton. Remeber, you don’t need a team director with a map, weather chartsand a radio to tell you what to do. Try to understand what’s coming upand be ready. Closer to home, many of the road races in Western UnitedStates can split within the first ten miles, even within a 60+ mile roadrace, due to the brutal spring winds.A lot of road racers do not know the best way to maximize pace linesso older, more experienced riders can help explain why to rotate in certaindirections. Training within rotating pace lines and echelons also developsan overall sense of comfort within tight quarters. An efficient rotationwill be close, tight and each member works in a coordinated group effortto maximize energy output. If one member is not holding close, or is rotatingtoo slow (or fast) it will affect the entire group negatively. Be sureto not criticize one person too harshly, but instead show them the logicin the system and how they can better maximize their efforts.Groups of 4-6 are maybe best for this and keep the pace well under control(within heart rate zones 1-3), so the session stays focused on developingskills and endurance, not threshold or anaerobic abilities.Tempo sessions
Same as the above group session but once every team member has becomecomfortable with rotations, and the time of year calls for more advancedability rides, increase the speed to a higher speed (zone 3-4).Tempo plus Threshold finish
If the group needs some harder threshold sessions you can have theabove tempo ride end at the base of a climb and each member then climbsto a finish line at their own personal threshold pace. This is great forsimulating hill top finishes just before the season begins.Anaerobic Endurance Group Chase
There are times in races where a team needs to get to the front quicklyin an attempt to bring back a breakaway. Simulate this by having groupsof 4-6 ride at an all-out effort. Remember sometimes it is best to havethe slowest member simply rotate through quickly so the speed stays constantand in order to give a bit more rest to the others who can stays on thefront longer.Lead-outs
Do the above session but have a designated sprinter sit on the backof the group. Increase the speed over a three- to five-minute stretch andthen have the sprinter come off the draft and sprint. If you have a safeenough section of road you can have a battle royal against two groups.This is seen many times in the sprint finishes at the Tour de France wheretwo or more teams are going head to head. Try to evenly distribute teammembers so each group is relatively equal. Then see which group does abetter job of rotating, and of course see who is the better sprinter too.Have fun, hope this helps with some group training ideas.Joe and Dirk Friel
Joe Friel is the author of “TheCyclist’s Training bible.” Dirk Friel is a co-founder of TrainingBible.comand coaches along with Joe at Ultrafit Associates. For more informationon coaching and training software please visit www.Ultrafit.comand www.TrainingBible.com.If you have questions for this column, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org