March 8, 2016

When you ride your bike, are you training, racing or riding? Do you know the differences between the three?

Training is when you are doing a deliberate workout, one with purpose and structure. When successive workouts are organized in a progressive fashion. You're working towards something: be it an event, a race, a goal, increased fitness, something, anything. You're training. Training isn't always fun. It's often hard. Not many riders actually train when they ride, though they think that they are.

Racing is when there's a start, a finish, perhaps an elapsed time and/or some sort of ranked order of finish. If you're hammering away with your local cycling club, you're racing. When you're time trialing, or doing a triathlon, you're racing. Racing is hard. The very hardest. You should limit how many days of racing you perform each year: too many and you'll burn out. Racing is the icing on the cake, so to speak...when you see the results of your training. Too many riders, however, call their racing "training". They're not actually "training", they're "racing". And getting tired.

Riding is any and all of the following: unstructured, non-progressive, spontaneous, comfortable. There's no rhyme or reason to the nature of the ride. There's no progression from one ride to the next. No planning. Unfocused, undisciplined biking is riding. Think of riding as "recreation".

Contrary to what you might think, all of the following are forms of “riding” (and not forms of training):
-performing a Sufferfest or Spinervals workout
-getting on the trainer in the basement, putting on the TV, and spinning
-attending a spin class
-riding on Zwift

Each type of cycling has a time and a place, its pros and cons. It gets messy when a rider believes they're doing one type of cycling when in fact they're doing another. This can result in frustration, injury, burn out, and/or disappointment.

You know what happens to cyclists who 'train' with a club week in and week out. Come mid summer, August, they're spent. Unenthused. Tired. Flat. Cooked. They weren't training all summer. They were racing. We all have a limited duration over which we can effectively race.

If you want to train and improve, don't mistake riding with a cycling club as training. Doing a weekly time trial, a hard mid week group ride, and a long and spirited group ride on the weekend...that's not training. That's racing.

When an athlete is riding but thinks they’re training, disappointment with their results/fitness is often the result. 

If you want to improve, cycle with WattsUp. Train. Use each workout to improve your fitness, skill, confidence, strategy. And then demonstrate that improvement when you next go out with the club.