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Podcast Show Notes
@ 6:25 – What is a beginner?
- 3 years or less of experience training on a bike (beginners may have ridden casually for years, but for all intents and purposes beginners start at their first season of cycling as their primary sport.)
- typically hasn't realized their fitness potential yet
- sees significant improvement from season start to end (the 25% improvement in speed, 12mph-16mph, going from 20 miles to 60 miles, etc)
- Typically focuses more on increasing mileage than increasing skills and fundamentals (start focusing on these later when they stop improving from just riding.)
- can improve without specific training plans designed for them. (but improves faster when using structured programs, and won't form bad habits when using a training plan.)
- WILL hit a point where they stop improving with the “same old same old” riding.
These following mistakes are obviously things beginners make, but a LOT of more experienced riders make the same mistakes as well.
@ 14:48 – Training mistakes made during the season
Going out too hard (Strava is one of the big culprits here: we feel like we're forced to go out hard to impress everyone who watches us.)
- This is generally a case of starting too hard because the group is really fast, you're over-excited or your EGO gets the better of you.
- If you go out really hard, you're burning up anaerobic fuel before warming up (leg speed/neuromuscular connections aren't working well, aerobic system is not operating efficiently yet, etc)
- Generally results in ending up empty by the midpoint of a ride (you can see this with riders needing to refuel often later in a ride as they are always operating at an energy deficit)
- Fix it: sufficient warmup, high leg speed techniques at minimal pedal tension, slowly add tension as the warmup progresses, proper pre-ride fueling, building more aerobic fitness so you can hang with the group. The first part of a ride should be at your Sweet Spot Zone, and shouldn't feel “hard.”
- Note: All these points apply to shorter segments of a ride as well, such as a hill climb.
Being afraid of riding with those who are better/faster than you
- Riding with those better forces you to ride to their level
- You are forced to work hard to stay in the slipstream and stay on the wheel, and it's easier since drafting saves 30% energy.
- Even if you're saving up to 30%, you're still probably working harder than you would be if you were riding alone.
- Staying with the group is a huge motivator and mental boost, and if you get dropped you'll work harder to hang on just a little longer next time. You can see big improvement in that respect.
- Fix it: Get in more Sweet Spot Training work to build aerobic conditioning so you can ride in the slipstream and hang with the faster guys.
Being afraid of riding off road
- Don't be! The pros ride basically the same bikes and wheels we do, over worse terrain, in worse weather without any problems
- Riding off-road builds handling skills that you don't otherwise get riding on pavement
- Riding unpaved roads builds confidence on uneven surfaces that can translate to sketchy conditions on paved roads.
- Dirt/gravel/unpaved road riding forces high pedal tension adaptations (you're forced to push bigger gears to prevent spinning out, especially when standing)
- You're subjected to increased training/fitness stress compared to a similar stretch of paved road
- To help allay your fears, check out my dirt road riding tips
- Fix it: Build extra muscular endurance so you have the power to push through those hard dirt road sections.
Not using momentum
- Keep this in mind: all of cycling is about momentum
- Once you have it, you need to keep it
- It's much harder to regain lost momentum than it is to maintain the momentum you have
- Fix it: don't stop or slow down to a crawl on climbs, don't slow too much in corners (check out podcast #57 for some cornering tips), STOP using the brakes so much, and roll your climbs with these tips.
@ 39:03 – Training mistakes made during the off-season
Remember, it's the “not so off season” since you shouldn't truly be “off” for long.
Taking the wrong amount of time off
- Either too much or too little: Beginners take too much time off (for a variety of reasons) and more advanced riders tend to take too little time off (for fear of losing fitness.)
- Some studies show that stopping training for 1 month will cause you to lose high end fitness and start to degrade aerobic fitness
- Many beginners take more than 1 month off (2 or 3)
- Instead of a prolonged layoff, take a few weeks of no activity, then return to cross training, then light riding, then training in earnest.
- Start doing cross training such as core and stability work, functional strength, etc.
- Too little time off can lead to increased risk of burnout and overtraining (your body needs time to rest, relax and rebuild.)
- Fix it: Take a couple weeks of complete rest before starting cross training to force your body to adapt to something new.
Focusing only on cycling fitness
- Your core is the absolute core of your cycling power.
- Use the off season to build a sufficient base of fitness through strength and core work (for tips check out Strength Training for Cyclists part 1 and part 2, the Sweet Spot Training podcast, and my Effective Off Season podcast)
- When focusing on cycling specific fitness, build neuromuscular skills and coordination to improve pedal stroke efficiency and get more out of the power you're generating.
- Fix it: Focus on a solid foundational base of functional fitness before adding cycling specific work
Building up too fast, too hard
- You need to moderate your training
- Start with the functional base and add cycling from there
- Too many cyclists think that high-intensity training “works so well, so I need more of it”
- There's a point of diminishing returns that will cause you to overload too much if you use too much high-intensity work
- Fix it: Be judicious in your use of high-intensity interval training
Not having clear cut goals
- Your goal doesn't have to be a race, it can be a fondo, century or self imposed goal like the “longest day ride“
- Refer to my SMART Goal Setting podcast for help in setting your goals
- The most important thing to have set is a target date
- Hunting numbers isn't a good goal, as it's too unpredictable and may not even be reachable (HINT: this is a HUGE beginner and intermediate, sometimes advanced rider trap!)
- Setting season goals too early can be detrimental: set your general fitness goals and build functional base, then plan out your season for success (if you have a target ride already, work backwards and set your “must start date” for your training, but before that work on general functional strength)
- Fix it: Set SMART goals that are time constrained and have a real tangible outcome for you to measure
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