I’m going to start this tip with two statements:
Not everyone is training for the same thing.
We all have our own strengths and weaknesses.
With these two statements in mind and some goal setting done (see SMART Goal Setting) you can now make a plan to train for your event(s). The first step is identifying what is needed to achieve a goal and which weaknesses overlap with those needs. An example would be signing up to do the 100 mile event but not having any long distance riding experience. Alternatively another example would be signing up for the TT but having no ability to go hard for 15-20 minutes. When a weakness overlaps with one of the demands of an event we call that a “limiter”. A limiter is a subset of your weaknesses. An example of a weakness that wouldn’t be a limiter would include having a poor 15 second sprint but competing in the 100 mile event.
Train Your Limiters
You need to spend a disproportionate amount of time training your limiters. That means you start working on those areas earlier in your training plan and workouts that address your limiters occur on most weeks, the exception being recovery weeks. Your body will adapt to handle the stresses you place upon it. The longer the period of time over which you can apply the stress the more time to adapt and improve. Often you will incorporate work on your limiters for many months prior to a key event.
Polish Your Strengths
You don’t want to ignore doing things that you are already good at. Use it or lose it! If you neglect certain areas of training then you are not applying a stress on those systems. When no stress is applied the body adapts in the other direction. I think of it as the equivalent of some aspect of your cycling becoming a couch potato. So, as you get closer to the event you want to make sure that you are keeping your strengths (especially those that you will call upon in the event) nice and polished and sharp.
Optimize Your Chances of Success
By spending time working on your event specific limiters and by polishing up your strengths you will be ready for the event. In the next tip we’ll talk about the different phases of a training plan. We’ll talk base, build, recovery, taper, peak and race phases. We’ll look at what goes into each phase and how you will move through them in your training.