By Paul Pendriana at www.diablocyclists.com
those of you who want to get faster this year, I have a little list of
five things to consider. I was somewhat fast last year but I'm going to
be really fast this coming year, and I'm going to do it by following
this list myself. For those who want to keep up, I suggest they consider
this list as well.
You may have heard me say
this in the past: "If you want to go 30 miles per hour, you have to go
30 miles per hour." What it means is that if you want to go faster than
you can now, you need to spend brief but intense periods of time
fighting to go at those faster speeds, even if you can't keep them up
for very long. This is what intervals are. The result is that your body
starts getting closer to being able to do those faster speeds more
easily. This applies to both hill climbing and flat riding. In talking
to the best cyclists in the area one thing that is common amongst them
and perhaps the thing that most separates their training from others is
their adherence to interval training. Anybody who complains about being
slow but doesn't do intervals needs to stop complaining.
need a refresher on how to do intervals? Practically every book on
training discusses various types of intervals, particularly in terms of
cycles, heart rates, on/off times, etc. That's fine and I'm not going to
bore you with more of this. But I will say that if you are not sure how
to start getting into doing intervals or find the thought of them
boring, try one of these techniques:
- Climb a 30 minute hill in 3-5 minute bursts with 2 minute super easy rests (still riding).
- Climb a 3 minute hill 5 times in a row has hard as you can staying seated in the biggest gear you can continuously turn.
- Go to the front of your local group ride and pull as hard as you can, regardless of the punishing outcome.
should only be done once a week, as any more would harm most more than
it would help them. You should easily see noticeable improvements within
a month of doing this.
The twin brother of
intervals is distance. Needless to say, this means doing long rides. For
most this means rides of 50 miles or more and for those interested in
competitive road racing this often means rides of 80 miles or more.
These should be done roughly once a week during the primary season.
Doing long rides builds your glycogen (energy) storage capacity, burns
fat, promotes increased metabolic rate, and just plain allows you go to
Here are some ways to get in these distance rides without getting bored:
- Do organized centuries. Ride them any way you like. Many top (category 1/2) racers do these to add fun to their training.
- Do longer group rides. There's almost always some long ride going on every week.
- Do a double ride. For example, do a 20 mile ride at 7 AM with your buddy before doing a group 50 mile ride at 9 AM.
is every bit as important as intervals and distance. The day after you
do intervals should be easy or none. The day after you do distance
should be easy or none. "Easy" can be defined in terms of heart rate but
if you don't have one handy I can tell you now that it means no hard
sprints, no big gears, no big hills, and no major distance. Also, if you
can find the time, take an hour long nap after doing intervals and take
a two hour nap after doing a century. Your body is especially active in
rebuilding while you are sleeping.
Sugar and Protein
your rides you need to be in taking a water bottle per hour and the
equivalent of a gel packet every half hour. While fast-acting sugar is
not a good idea during your working day, for the love of God get all the
sugar you can while riding -- it will only help you. And the first
thing you should do when you finish the ride (before taking a shower or
anything) is consume carbohydrates and protein, in a roughly 4:1 ratio
of carbohydrates to protein. These carbohydrates include sugars; a
smoothie with a protein boost is almost ideal, as are commercial
recovery drinks such as "R4", etc. Your body is particularly receptive
to carbohydrates and protein in the first hour after exercise. Some
people drink only coffee when they get back from rides. If you enjoy
doing this, that's fine, but you are not maximizing your recovery and
Study after study has shown
that caffeine increases endurance and thus total power output during
exercise and competition. There is probably no study that has ever shown
otherwise. So unless you have some problem with it, you are best off
taking 50-100mg of caffeine within an hour before exercise. You may have
heard that if you take caffeine at the start of a ride you need to keep
taking it during the ride else you will get some kind of caffeine bonk.
This is untrue and is the cycling equivalent of an "old wife's tale."
You may have also heard that taking caffeine during exercise is bad
because caffeine is a diuretic and dehydrates you. This is nearly untrue
and is another "old wife's tale." There is a diuretic effect from
caffeine but it is small and not significant compared to the fluids you
are in taking. Lastly, some people feel that they are better off not
taking any caffeine only taking it on days of special competition with
the idea that they don't want their bodies to get accustomed to it and
thus have no effect on competition day. Well, studies have shown that
even those who take caffeine regularly benefit on competition day. Whose
output is higher on competition day is not clear, but one thing is
clear: taking caffeine regularly on training rides increases your work
capacity for those rides, leading to higher capabilities going into
The BCC would like to thank the Diablo Cycling Club for giving us permission to share their ideas and thoughts.