June 16, 2016

At the time of this writing, you’re into mid June. The season is underway, and has been for quite some time for some of you. The O-Cup racing season is almost over (!). Ontario triathlon-ing is into it’s third weekend coming up. A number of larger rides have come and gone, including the New York Gran Fondo, Spin the Lakes, Mt. Tremblant Gran Fondo, Ride for Heart, Ride for Jack, and the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

During the summer, there isn’t a lot of time to train. You’re preparing for and recovering from your events/races. And balancing that with all of the travel/social/holiday plans that come with summer. So the limited training time you do have needs to be very specific and appropriate.

The first thing you should do when training during the summer is to recover. Recover from your latest event/race. Recover from the hard workout or group ride. Recover. Make sure that you’re rested and fresh, ready to go with more racing or training the next time you’re on your bike. (What is “recovering” when riding a bike? Riding in Zone 1 or easier. 50% of your threshold power/effort or less. Keeping a light, quick cadence throughout. Riding in your small chain ring. On flat terrain. Solo, or with a buddy or two, but not in a large group. And short...an hour or so.)

If you have time left over for training once your recovery is taken care of, then you zero in on what your current limiters are. “What’s a limiter?” you ask. A limiter is the part of the ride where you’re falling behind. Where you feel weak. Where you feel exposed. Where you know you could be better. Where you feel out of your comfort zone. That’s your limiter. A few examples:

-being dropped on Olympus Ave during Thursday morning’s MGCC ride in High Park. Short, steep hills...ie, your 1 minute power output...that’s your limiter.

-fading over the latter part of a long group ride. This could be two-fold: a) endurance. Your base endurance is weak. That’s your limiter. Or b) nutrition. You’re not fuelling and hydrating properly during your long ride. That could be your limiter.

-I’m strong on the hills and the surges, but when it’s steady-state hard effort time, I struggle. Sustained tempo effort, that’s your limiter.

-I keep hitting snooze when my alarm goes off for my morning ride. Sorry, can’t help you with that one!

Once you’ve identified what your limiter is, work on it in training:

-If you’re getting popped on the steep hills, devise sets where you work on your 30 second to 1 minute power. Work. Recover. Repeat. Until you feel pleasantly fatigued. Then cool down.

-if you need more endurance, budget some solo riding time where you hang out in your base, aerobic zone and stay there. All. Day. Long. For as long as you can. Base, endurance, base, endurance.

-if you struggle with the sustained aerobic efforts, devise sets to address them. After a solid warm up, get into that zone that feels uncomfortable, and sit there. 5, 10, 20 minutes. Then recover. Repeat. Until you’re pleasantly fatigued (not exhausted). Then cool down.

Okay? Training need not be any more complex than that. Not for the majority of us. You’re doing one of only three things when you ride this summer:

1. race/event
2. recovering, and
3. working on your limiter/s

Keep at it. Stay safe, and have fun.