Nail a 1-hour circuit race
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2 weeks to prepare
The best way you can prepare for the short maximal efforts and minimal recovery time between them is with some High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT (see sidebar below).
And providing you have at least been following some sort of training over the past few months, a couple of sessions of HIIT each week prior to the race will certainly help.
If you haven't, then it's neither safe nor desirable to attempt HIIT, so accept that you are likely to get ‘dropped' in the early part of the race and end up riding on your own or with small groups of others in a similar predicament.
There is nothing wrong with this - in fact it's almost a rite of passage for beginner racers and even many experienced, early-season racers who prefer the ‘race yourself fit' approach by simply racing as often as possible until they are able to stay with the bunch. This is hardly the brightest approach as long-term you won't see much improvement year on year and if you get dropped you might as well be riding a 25-mile individual time trial (see page 38).
- Get some short, sharp efforts done to remind legs and lungs of how to hurt.
- Practise your bunch riding skills; using your head and sitting in the right place can help you get away with a lack of fitness.
4 weeks to prepare
Focus your energies on HIIT training, allowing for recovery days and a one to two-hour steady ride a week. Join a local chaingang or organised training group ride at least once a week in order to develop bunch handling skills and take advice from the more experienced racers in the group - ask them what they are doing and learn from their advice.
If there is a coached session on a closed road circuit available, use it. You'll be getting maximum gains from minimal training time and have an expert adviser to offer advice on where you are and what you need to do in order to meet your event demands.
- Practise smooth fast cornering and work on your acceleration out of the turn.
- Keep up the hard intervals, aim for 2-3 sessions of 60 minutes or less a week.
6 weeks to prepare
Six weeks is long enough to complete a mini periodised training phase where you spend a week or so working on different elements of the key demands of road racing. So if you haven't done much training up to this point spend a couple of weeks working on your aerobic endurance with long steady-state rides, then, over the next four weeks factor in shorter, harder training sessions as you reduce the volume and up the intensity.
Include sessions that develop the components of fitness required for road racing - speed (high cadence work), strength (in the gym and big gear work on the bike), power and short term muscular endurance (short hard-gear intervals with fast accelerations).
- Break down the demands of your race and make sure you cover each area.
- With 6 weeks you have time to develop some aerobic fitness.
Target: 1-hour circuit race
Starting point: You're a regular club run rider doing long miles and can sustain a decent pace, but have done no racing or specific training.
|One||10min @ zone 3A, 12min @ zone 4, 5min @ zone 2, 6 x 1min on 1min off intervals. On @70rpm, Off @90-100rpm||Flexibility and core strength||20min @ zone 3A, 5 x 3min @ zone 4, 3min easy spin recoveries||20 min @ zone 2, 20min @ zone 3B, 20min @ zone 2||Rest day||2hr group ride @ zone 3B1 hr group ride @ zone 3A||1hr group ride @ zone 3A|
|Two||10min @ zone 3A, 12min @ zone 4, 5min @ zone 2, 8 x 1min on 1min off intervals. On @70rpm, off @90-100rpm||Flexibility and core strength||Chaingang ride (passive) - sit in the group and get experience of riding on wheels and high-speed handling, corners||20min @ zone 2, 20min @ zone 3B, 20min @ zone 2||Rest day||2hr 15min group ride @ zone 3B||1hr group ride @ zone 3A, practise fast cornering, holding the drops|
|Three||10min @ zone 3A, 12min @ zone 4, 5min @ zone 2, 10 x 1min on 1min off intervals. On @70rpm, @90-100rpm||Flexibility and core strength||Chaingang ride (passive) - sit in the group and get experience of riding on wheels and high speed handling, corners etc||20min @ zone 2, 20min @ zone 3B 20min @ zone 2||Rest day||2hr 30min group ride @ zone 3B||1hr group ride @ zone 3A, practise fast cornering, holding the drops|
|Four||10min @ zone 3A, 6 x 2min @ zone 5, 1min easy spin recoveries, 5 x 1min on 1min off intervals. On @70rpm, off @90-100rpm||Flexibility and core strength||Chaingang ride (active) - Increase your workload, do your share of turns on the front then sit in and recover||10min @ zone 2, 10min @ zone 3B 10min @ zone 2||Rest day||60min group ride @ zone 3B1hr group ride @ zone 3A, practise fast cornering, holding the drops||1hr group ride @ zone 3A, practise fast cornering, holding the drops|
|Five||10min @ zone 3A, then 2 x 20min sets of 20sec @ zone 5, 40sec easy||Flexibility and core strength||Chaingang ride (active) - increase your workload, do your share of turns on the front then sit in and recover||20min @ zone 2, 20min @ zone 3B 20min @ zone 2||Rest day||2hr group ride @ zone 3B1hr group ride @ zone 3A, practise fast cornering, holding the drops||1hr group ride @ zone 3A, practise fast cornering, holding the drops|
|Six||10min @ zone 3A, then 3 x 20min sets of 20sec @ zone 5, 40sec easy||Flexibility and core strength||Chaingang ride (agressive) - increase your workload, try to do more than your fair share of turns - and make the others hurt!||20min @ zone 2, 20min @ zone 3B, 20min @ zone 2||Rest day||90min group ride @ zone 3B||20min @ zone 2 then 12 x 10sec max effort sprints, 3min easy|
This article was first published in the May 30 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition (opens in new tab), UK digital edition (opens in new tab). And if you like us, rate us!
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Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.
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