These days, there’s something to be said for designing your own training program. Athletes that are willing to put some thought and dedication into designing a training calendar can be quite successful, more so than just riding around and hoping your form comes around.
It is also helpful to have your own game plan on paper even if you plan to take advantage of the help of an expert.
For those of you who like to do it yourself (DIY), here are four steps and two documents to use for designing a great 2013 training plan.
Step 1: Get Organized
The first step in designing your plan is to have everything written down and organized on one sheet of paper like the one pictured. To download this worksheet visit FasCatCoaching.com.
In one view, this worksheet breaks down the entire 2013 calendar into 39 weeks. Start by figuring out when you are going to start (and stop) racing. If you are lucky enough to attend a training camp, write and plan that out, too. Even knowing in advance when you’ll be taking a vacation away from the bike is helpful.
Step 2: What are you training for?
The next step is to identify precisely what you are training for. Having a tangible goal to work torward will give you the motivation to get on the bike each day with a purpose. For starters, write down your three most important races. Then enter those races into the calendar. Define how many weeks you have from now until your first goal race.
Having the big picture — the 30,000-foot aerial view, if you will — of how your races are setting up this spring and summer will give you the ability to focus your training week-to-week.
Step 3: Advanced Planning
Now that you are organized, and your goals are defined, begin to fill in your plan with more detail. Remember, designing your own training plan is a not a one-time exercise; it’s a work in progress. In January, concentrate on the number of weeks you have before your race season begins.
Write down how many hours you can train each week between now and when your season begins. Weigh the possibility for a late winter or early spring warmer weather training camp (or a long weekend) to wrap up your “base.” Conversely, plan around potential business trips and other limitations (we all have to work, right?). Perhaps most importantly, plan on riding after work beginning March 11th with daylight savings.
As you know, the more training the better, but keep it realistic. By having weekly hours written down, you automatically give yourself the motivation to achieve those goals and ride those hours.
February and March
By the time February and March roll around, most local racing associations have posted their 2013 racing calendars. Begin to review and choose which events you want to race before and in-between your major “A” races. Also use this advanced planning opportunity to look at what races aren’t going to work for whatever reason. You do not and should not race every weekend from April through September. Schedule a healthy dose of non-competitive weekends during which you ride for fun in a productive way.
We also recommend a mid-season break for all athletes (one week of no riding and racing to recharge mentally and physically). Mid-season breaks are a great time to balance your life outside of cycling.
Step 4: Homework
Revisit this worksheet in February and March and adjust your weekly hours based on how easy or hard they have been to achieve so far. Once your racing is underway and you have seen how successful you are, and are going to be, revisit your race program and your goals based on your successes or shortcomings so far.
Now that you have your big picture training plan taken care of, you are ready to zoom down to the day-to-day design. You can download a calendar to use for your design by visiting FasCatCoaching.com.
Take the weekly hours from your big picture plan and pencil them in for the week ending each Sunday. Say, for example, that you planned out seven hours for the week of January 9th. Working off of those hours, you could do three one-hour mid-week workouts and two two-hour rides over the weekend. Alternatively, you could do one 2.5-hour ride on Saturday and a 1.5-hour ride on Sunday. The benefit of designing your own training plan is that you know the limitations of your schedule and how each week/weekend shapes up against basketball games, business trips, carpools and if you are going to be able to hit the Saturday morning group ride throw down.
Every two or three weeks, plan a recovery week with fewer hours than you normally would ride. Give yourself more complete off days during the work week and ride once on the weekend. Try to train especially hard in the week and the days before your planned rest.
Repeat your day-to-day training plan design once each month using our monthly calendar. Always plan ahead based on what has happened with your previous training.
Finally, print out both of these documents. Use them to write down what you did each day like a training diary. Post them on your refrigerator, desk, garage — wherever you will see them daily so that you already know what you need to do for training the next day. Show your family. Share it with your cycling club and teammates. Rally as much support as you can find. Oh and honey, can you watch the kids on Saturday morning so I can go hammer with the group ride?
FasCat Coaching is a cycling coaching company in Boulder, Colorado. If you would like to receive the Training Plan Design Worksheet and the monthly FasCalendar (with an example January Training Plan) click the links above, please. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.