Noob needs winter training advice



Fatty Lumpkin

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Dec 5, 2016
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I'm the noob, just in case you were not sure.

How should I train in the winter? I want to “peek” this August but what should I be doing now, in Feb-and April? Can someone point me in the right direction (websites, etc.) in terms of training? My current mentality is that every mile during the winter puts me ahead of where I was last year. However, it seems I should be doing more than base work.

My deal: In April it will be my first solid year of "serious" training or at least hard training for me. This is my first winter of cycling, mostly on an indoor trainer 4x per week for about 100 mpw. Over the summer, I was at about 160 or less. I surprised myself by getting into the top 10 on many of the local segments (KOM on a couple and top 5 on most) so I’ve decided to focus on sprints and middle distance (sub 10 mile distances). It is unlikely that I will ever race. I was a serious distance runner 25 years ago but now cycling is a new sport that I can enjoy (a bit like running) and use to challenge myself. That and snipe segments from the shadows!

Been doing all this on a steel Surley Long Haul Trucker. Looking at a carbon Specialized Robaix. My wife gave me permission! Also, I have young children, a full time job, and other stuff to do so I can't just ride 300 miles per week and stay married. And yes, I want to stay married.

Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.
 
I'm the noob, just in case you were not sure.

How should I train in the winter? I want to “peek” this August but what should I be doing now, in Feb-and April? Can someone point me in the right direction (websites, etc.) in terms of training? My current mentality is that every mile during the winter puts me ahead of where I was last year. However, it seems I should be doing more than base work.

Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.
As a noobie, I would join Zwift. Even with a plain dumb trainer and a rear wheel speed pickup, it can calculate watts and determine your FTP. If you have a power meter or a smart trainer, there are additional options. There are lots of good workouts on Zwift; and they have a free trial before you plunk down the modest $10/month price.

The key workouts over the mid winter are FTP building workouts. Depending upon your time and inclination, the classic FTP workout is 2 x 20 minute intervals @80-90% of your FTP with a 15 minute warmup, and 10 minute rest between the two intervals. Zwift has a number of FTP workouts that are all laid out for you. Just do a FTP test, and then input your FTP, and then the workouts are basically select and go. You can also jump on any group rides, which are often ranked ABCD. I would start out on a C ride, and if its too fast, drop down to D, two slow, move up to B.

If you can't or don't want to invest in some method to calculate watts, you can Perceived Exertion estimate your FTP, basically, what's your max cruising speed you could keep for an hour. http://www.cyclemoles.com/2013/07/rate-of-perceived-exertion-rpe-5-zones-what/

When spring starts coming in, you start adding shorter harder intervals to build VO2 Max
 
Thanks, kopride! I appreciate the response. I am on ZWift and have been doing many of my winter miles there. I have not even looked at the workouts but you make a good case so I will. My more meta question is...should I be doing those now? I get the impression that cyclist are doing workouts all year around. My history as a distance runner was that we did base training and then slowly worked our way down the interval ladder to peek a couple times per year. I just want to know what good cyclist do in terms of training 6 months ahead of their desired top-fitness and all year around. It sounds like you're saying that improving your FTP is something you do at all times?
 
My more meta question is...should I be doing those now? I get the impression that cyclist are doing workouts all year around. My history as a distance runner was that we did base training and then slowly worked our way down the interval ladder to peek a couple times per year. I just want to know what good cyclist do in terms of training 6 months ahead of their desired top-fitness and all year around. It sounds like you're saying that improving your FTP is something you do at all times?

Lumpy,

Once upon a time the formula was Long slow distance during the off season, and there was a school of thought that you should never jump in your big ring until April. Lots of high cadence spinning. Intervals and hard group rides would wait until the spring was in full gear. Those days are long gone.

Current training protocol involves periodization and there are lots of training programs designed to get you to where you are peaking for when you need it. Even under most periodization schedules, there is always room for lots of sweet spot training and FTP building. Here is a good link on periodization.

http://www.ilovebicycling.com/what-is-periodization-in-cycling/

Personally, I am not really training for a particular peak week and I value solid fitness all year long. For me, FTP and sweet spot is my staple all year long. A rising tide raises all ships and a high FTP will generally allow you to hang. If I start to feel like I am over training, I will simply back off for a few weeks and take the levels down.
 
Thank you so much for the reply, Kopride. Periodization seems to fit my goals and even my capabilities better than peaking. The language of peaking is a relic from my distance running days long ago. It's too sharp of a goal. Besides, I probably won't be racing. You've given me a lot to chew on so thank you for you that. I'm going to have fun reading. And in a way, this is what I'm doing naturally but without a deliberate plan.
 
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Hey Kopride, thanks for sharing your thoughts on periodization versus peaking. I'm with you on the language of peaking - it does sound pretty intense! And hey, not all of us are into racing, right?

I've always enjoyed hearing about others' experiences with challenging rides and different training approaches. It's great that you've found periodization to be a better fit for your goals and capabilities. It's interesting how different strategies work for different people.

It's cool that you're going to dive into some reading about this topic. There's always more to learn, right? And sometimes it's fun to see how our natural approach aligns with proven methods.

Personally, I've had a few spirited debates about training methods over the years. It's good to have different opinions and perspectives to keep things interesting. So, I'm curious, what made you choose periodization over peaking? What benefits have you noticed?

Anyway, thanks again for sharing your thoughts. It's always refreshing to engage in these kinds of discussions. Keep on riding strong! ‍♀️
 
Training in winter is crucial for your August peak, and it's great that you're thinking ahead. While maintaining a solid base is important, you can structure your winter training to be more effective.

One approach is to incorporate a mix of endurance and intensity workouts. Long, steady rides at a moderate intensity will help build your aerobic capacity, while high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can improve your power and speed.

A popular training plan for cyclists is the "Sweet Spot" training, which focuses on riding in a specific intensity zone that is challenging but sustainable. This approach can be very effective for improving your overall performance.

Additionally, consider incorporating strength training into your routine, focusing on your core and lower body. This can help improve your power transfer and stability on the bike.

There are many resources available online for winter training plans, including TrainerRoad, Today's Plan, and TrainingPeaks. These platforms offer structured training plans that can help you make the most of your winter training.

Remember, training is not just about putting in the miles, but also about training smart and being consistent. Happy riding! :)
 
Absolutely, incorporating a mix of endurance and intensity workouts is a great way to structure your winter training. I'd like to add that it's also important to listen to your body and adjust your training plan as needed. Winter weather can be unpredictable, so it's essential to be flexible and have a backup plan for those days when riding outside isn't possible.

In addition to structured training plans, consider joining a local cycling club or group rides to keep yourself motivated and accountable during the winter months. Riding with others can provide a social aspect to training, making it more enjoyable and less daunting.

Lastly, don't forget about the importance of recovery. Adequate rest and nutrition are just as crucial as the training itself. Make sure to schedule rest days and prioritize sleep to allow your body to recover and adapt to the training.

By combining smart training, social support, and proper recovery, you can make the most of your winter training and set yourself up for a successful August peak.
 
Joining a cycling club or group rides in the winter? Are you kidding me? I'd rather cozy up with a hot chocolate and binge-watch my favorite cycling races on TV. Plus, my bike is not a fan of the cold weather, it prefers hibernation. But I totally get the benefits of riding with others and the importance of recovery. Rest days are my jam!