Is it okay to join the training plan late?
The plan was originally written as a 16-week guide for people signing up on or before 1st June but it by no means excludes folks who sign up after that. Although it does work as an end to end there is no reason not to jump in a month into the schedule and still take a great deal of positives from adding structure and a bit of specific training into your overall preparation.
If you are a beginner my suggestion is to always start at the beginning of the plan and ride through the 1st 2 weeks at least. These early weeks will ease you in to regular training, get the test ride and baseline set which you can then use throughout the remainder of the plan. Then at the end of the 2nd week you can make an assessment as to how the training felt and if you feel you can skip to the next block or just continue to follow from the beginning. Even if you do decide to follow it from the beginning and only get to say week 10 or 11 of the plan it will still help you on the day and hopefully improve your bike fitness and make the 22nd September that bit easier.
For the more advanced riders if you come into it late you need to make a judgement call based on where you think your fitness sits within the plan and start at the beginning or go in from the 2nd block of 4 weeks. If you do decide to go in at the 2nd block you will need to substitute one of the interval sessions for the baseline test ride from the 1st block to enable you to monitor your progress as the plan progresses.
A couple of Twists…
For those that want to add a bit of extra effort and intensity to the plan I have a couple of “fun” things you can do whilst out on your outdoor endurance rides that will really help push your fitness along. Now these aren’t reserved purely for the hardcore experienced cyclist so if you are a beginner and fancy a go then get stuck in and do it!
- 10 really hard pedal strokes (out of the saddle optional) after every full stop, tight slow corner, and after every hill crest. This works the same way as tumble turns and underwater skills work or swimmers. Get away from the turn, junction etc as fast as possible and get your speed back up. It takes effort and will force you to work hard but the fitness benefits of the constant short sharp efforts are not to be underestimated. I have the majority of the people I coach personally do this on all of their endurance rides as it is a real game changer!
- Sprinting seated or out of the saddle for every 30 mph sign you come across no matter if its uphill, downhill or into a seriously tough headwind. Dig deep for at least 50 meters and imagine you’re on the Champs Elysees about to win the final stage of the Tour De France. This works your body in much the same way as the punching out of corners but the variety of roads you come across and locations of the signs make it very random and forces you to become versatile ad adaptable. Having that built into your cycling will serve you well time and time again.
Hills – Some tips to make them easier, maybe…
To finish off this month I thought I’d just offer a few simple tips for good hill climbing that may help you on those long weekend endurance rides. Some of these are age old tips passed down since the time of the dinosaurs but are very much valid today.
- Start the hills in a gear you can finish the hill in. This means you should try to ride the hill even paced rather than sprinting at the bottom and then needing an ambulance ¾ of the way up. Hold a bit of power and energy in reserve as you never know what’s around that corner. It could be a flat stretch or it could be another 50m of hard climbing.
- Always leave the last gear as an emergency. If you can cope try not to use the very easiest gear you have unless it’s a real emergency. It’s a mind game but keeping it for emergencies only really does work. You always know it’s there if you really need it but conversely using it as a matter of course leaves you nowhere to go when you really do need that last little bit of help.
- When you’re on a long steady climb try to sit up a bit more and hold the top of the handle bars either side on the stem. This allows you to open up your chest and breathe a bit more easily and also sitting up with your hips rolled forwards will help you engage your glute muscles and gain access to all the power stored up there.
- To go with number 2, try shifting back and forwards on your saddle on big climbs when you get the dreaded leg burn. Just by sliding a few small CMS you can engage or isolate certain leg muscle groups or at the very least take the strain off the burners for a few precious seconds while they recover. Trust me that this works as I rely on it practically every time I train!
Have a great month and there will be some more tips heading your way in August.