DaveR/AC/Alex: Help w/extended taper, racing, training...


New Member
Nov 3, 2003
I addressed this post to Dave, Andy and Alex merely because they have most often given input with my power training questions, but I'd be interested in also hearing from anyone else who might lend insight based upon their experiences with this. A bit of background: I've been training with power for about 3 years now, but only got really serious with devising a training plan after getting WKO+ a few months ago. Primarily a TT'er at 78kg at 5'10", though also do a few HCs and crits during the season here in CO. My main focus in the near future is State TT (38.5k) in the first week of June, with a secondary goal of at least beating my best time on Mt. Evans in July. This season's training has consisted of base miles in Jan/Feb, followed by some pretty decent amounts of climbing in Feb/Mar, and then started 1 and 3-minute intervals in Mid-March (while consistently getting 20-min efforts in).

I'm currently in the middle of a 7-week Wednesday night TT series (16k) with a reduced training load, and I'd like to finish well with three weeks to go, but feel like I'm getting tired after 10 races (had 6 races in 8 days last week). After my CTL peaking at about 65 in mid-March, I've had to lay off the volume due to the race (and work) schedule, but I've tried to keep my CTL above 50 without killing my legs in between races. With one month to go before my primary "A" race, I want to make sure I can at least have a mini-peak for State TT, but without sacrificing my overall standings in the TT series which concludes about 2 weeks prior to State. I'm now confused as to handle the next month in order to try to place in the State TT...

I guess my questions follow:

1) How long can I maintain a low-volume 'race schedule' CTL of ~50 before my performance starts to decline? I definitely peaked on 4/26 with a very good 40-min ITT effort followed by a fairly good TTT effort a few hours later, but have been a bit tired ever since. That race was the start of 6 races in 8 days, so I guess it's not surprising.

2) Do you have any suggestions for how to plan the next 4 weeks prior to State TT? At this point I'm thinking of adding additional volume/intensity on Thu-Sun, then trying to recover a bit for Wednesday night, though not sure how effective that will be for either maintaining race performance or building it for 4 weeks from now.

Thanks so much in advance as always, you guys are a tremendous wealth of information that has really helped me to perform closer to my potential this season.


Attached PMC file for this season's training details (including race results and misc events of note):

J\V said:
...1) How long can I maintain a low-volume 'race schedule' CTL of ~50 before my performance starts to decline? ...
Hard to say, your training base isn't real deep which isn't great, but you're apparently racing pretty well on that base. On one hand you don't have much base to give away, on the other you've been racing frequently on that load without totally hitting the wall so you might be able to sustain that for some time. IOW, you're more or less racing to sustain your training base which isn't ideal but it seems you're making it work and you might be able to keep it going for some time. Definitely think about putting a bit more CTL in the bank next winter.
...2) Do you have any suggestions for how to plan the next 4 weeks prior to State TT? ...
I'd definitely scrap the 1 to 3 minute intervals for a rider with an A race TT coming up followed by Mt. Evans where you'd like to do well and a series of 10 mile TTs in the near future. None of those events are going to be decided by your 1 to 3 minute power and I'd spend that training time and energy on building metabolic fitness with longer sustained efforts in the 15 to 45 minute range.

The tough love answer is to set priorities and focus your energies on your most important events. If the state TT is your A race this season then you might have to train through some of the Wednesday night TTs. If you've gotten off to a good start in the weekly series and want to make that your A "race" then you might have to take what you get a the state TT. You can still do the weekly races, the states and Mt. Evans but it's a question of where you place your priorities and whether you'll train for one event or try to do it all.

It sounds like you're doing a lot of other races as well with 6 events in 8 days. I'd definitely consider backing off on that schedule or skipping the road races and crits all together if the TTs are really your focus this season. That's especially true if you're sitting in or getting dropped in the mass start events. Take a look at the power files for those events and look for sustained sections with power at least in your Tempo range or higher. Are you getting solid aerobic work in the L3/SST/L4 or even L5 range during those races or are they bursty events without sustained efforts and a lot of easier riding. The question is whether your events are good training for a TT specialist whether or not they're hard or might be good for L6 work or good training for say a crit specialist. If they're not then consider skipping the mass start races and using those days to work on your long steady L3/L4 and maybe some L5 efforts preferably on your TT bike.

I think you can effectively race the weekly TT series by organizing your week to make the races fall on your L4 training day. Get a good warmup, do the TT for one solid ~25 minute L4 effort, roll around easy for a bit and get a second 20 minute effort after the race, probably backed off a bit from race intensity. That makes Wednesday one solid L4 training session and then think about another on maybe Saturday with Tempo/SST and perhaps L2+ riding on other days so that you hit Wednesday ready to go hard again.

Those are my first thoughts, but basically it comes down to setting priorities and targeting those systems that will give you the biggest payback in your TTs which doesn't include bursty L6 riding and probably doesn't include much if any group riding. As for the final run up to the state TT, that depends on what you decide to do in the next few weeks and what your training load and CTL look like as the weekly series concludes.

Good luck,
Hi Dave, thanks very much for the detailed response, I very much appreciate it!

You're very right about my winter base, I basically quit riding mid-September '08 until the first of the year. My ramp was pretty fast (for me), so not sure I could have done too much more, and I'm lucky the weather here in CO cooperated, because I never could have put in that much time on the trainer. Next fall won't be quite so sedentary for me, that's for sure. Lesson learned.

I haven't done any shorter (1-5') intervals for about 5 weeks, and have really only been racing and doing recovery rides. Last night went well enough results-wise, but I'm starting to feel my 20+ minute power slowly slip away, and people are creeping up on me. The last two weeks my legs definitely are getting tired in the middle of these 25-ish minute efforts, and I occasionally get on the edge of shallow/fast breathing, which I try to avoid.

The six races in eight days was somewhat of a fluke due to an early-season postponement, so that's certainly not a typical week. More typical would be one on Wednesday night, and one race every other weekend. No road races yet, and I have a crit 'for fun' on Saturday. So far this year it's been 9 TTs and a hillclimb, which was last weekend. I was 40 seconds slower than last year so it didn't go great, but I also made a tactical error by sitting on a wheel when I should have been able to pull away from it and go faster. My brain didn't want to, so I stuck to it and lost 35+ seconds. Live and learn, but I'm no climber, to be sure (middle of field for my age category).

I guess I'm currently puzzled as to whether I need rest, or an increased intensity/volume of training. I think I'm tending toward the latter approach, as I think I may have sewn up the series last night, lucky for me. State TT is definitely my "A" race, and Mt. Evans is nothing more than a personal challenge to best myself.

So, along those lines, with 4 weeks to go to State, do you have any suggestions for how to approach my training/taper over that period? Clearly SST/L4 is in the cards for me, so I guess I'd like to hear thoughts on volume and taper. I have to assume I've got three weeks of training and one week of training before me, but how hard to go?

Anyway, thanks yet again, and I'd be very interested to also hear from others with insight on this process.

I would say that the first thing you need to do is get over that heavy racing block and truely freshen up. 4 days+ of very light training with a few short non-exhaustive efforts here or there if, and only if, you feel you want to. Ignore TSS/CTL etc. at this point.

You are tired now and a little burnt out - do you really think that adding more stress at this point (whether from Tempo or Threshold work) will fix that?

Depending on what you've done the last couple of days since your first post (i'm assuming you raced again!), I'd be inclined to have a nice easy weekend, if the weather is nice just go out and cruise around and relax. Stop for a coffee. Ride with a mate who's normally too slow for you. Or if you fancy doing something else then just leave the bike at home. Same Monday. Then Tuesday do an hour or so with a few short intervals - hard but not exhaustive - to wake your legs up. Then race Wednesday & hammer it. Thursday a decent length session (~2hrs) with some long hard intervals. Friday off. Sat & Sun 2-3hrs each day with plenty of intervals (possibly Z5 Sat, Z4 Sunday), Monday off, Tuesday openers, Wednesday Race. Repeat up to the week of the State TT but then only do easy rides with a few openers from the Wednesday race up to the State TT. In any interval sessions quit when (or just before!) you feel the quality of the work deteriorating, and do the remainder of the session at a steady endurance/tempo pace.

I think that changing to a heavy tempo schedule at this point will not help your speed with a few weeks to go - you'll be too tired to push the envelope so won't be able to do enough training at race specific intensities. But keeping the training sessions up around 1.5-2.5hrs and doing them back to back (with plenty of recovery in between) will give you sufficient volume & aerobic stimulus that you'll survive the next few weeks, and also allow you to do plenty of specific work.

...but the first thing you need to do is freshen up!

- just my take on it, I'm no coach. Good luck.
Agree. Give up on the SST stuff. Recover from the races, do an L5 workout in your TT setup, recover, an endurance ride, recover, recover, race.

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