Summer is over and cycling is slowly coming to an end for another year. Autumn is taking hold and the northern hemisphere is creeping ever closer to winter. At this time of year, it is typical to look back and judge the season based on whether or not goals were accomplished.
For some, goal setting for 2021 was an exciting time. A time to put behind the challenges of a pandemic riddled 2020 and apply every ounce of one's energy into making 2021 a better year. For others, 2021 was of no more certainty than the year it succeeded - just a year without a cycling goal to distract from the futility of trying to get on with some form of normal routine. Whatever the outlook you took, we, at Pillar, hope you had a better year on the bike - we’re certain it was better than 2020!
Gloom and doom aside, we hope that you are looking forward to 2022 with renewed optimism. An outlook that focuses on cycling events taking place, with travelling abroad happening unrestricted, and with some form of normality resuming. With that outlook engaged, you’ve no doubt got a long list of goals you’re ready to get stuck into, and we want to ensure that 2022 is simply the best year you experience on your bike.
The demands of your event
You’ve no doubt looked at your event and thought about the training you need to complete in order to be ready for the day. What you’ve done is identify some of the demands of your event. While these demands might be similar across similar events, they can also be personalised to each participant. To demonstrate, you might want to look at the results of last year's event where you’ll see the most basic demand of any cycling event; the endurance to ride a bike for any given duration.
The demands of your event might include:
- Group riding technique
- Bike handling skills
Of course, each of these can be expanded and changed depending on the nature of your event, and there's probably some not on this list too. For example, while you might want to complete your event in under eight hours - indicating the minimum endurance you will need - you might not be riding a mass participation event, therefore group riding skills will be something you don’t need to focus on. Flexibility and bike handling skills are often areas where a little effort can pay great dividends; reaping the rewards of being able to hold a more aerodynamic position or climb a hill more efficiently as you look to shave minutes - sometimes longer - off your finishing time, as examples.
The power and strength your body needs to produce might vary in intensity depending on the terrain of your goal. Events with longer climbs, perhaps an Alpine Gran Fondo, will focus on a slightly different intensity than the typically steep British sportive.
You can then tie in even more holistic training demands, such as the right mentality, nutrition, and tactical know-how in order to ensure you are truly complete enough to smash your goals. Once you have all these demands of your cycling event, you can start to build a picture of what training you need to do.
Determining your training
As a human, you have certain ‘limiters’. These limiters are components of your current ability or fitness and you might consider them where your performance is at right now. As we have discussed, the event has certain demands also. The training you will do over the next several months will be about bridging that gap and marrying the two together. A simple example might be only having ridden a bike for two hours, but wanting to complete a century sportive in under eight hours next year.
Taking both the date and demands of your event - plus your limiters - you can start to see a bigger picture of what training over the next several months will look like. This bigger picture is often referred to as a macro-cycle; the point after you break at the end of one cycling season through to completing next season's main goal.
Typically, during a macro-cycle, you will spend the most time strengthening your weaknesses, and as you start to approach your event, you start to switch towards strengthening your strengths. Often, you will break down this approach into smaller chunks of 3-4 weeks, normally called meso-cycles. These meso-cycles will have a specific focus that will be tied into your overall goals. An example of this might be a meso-cycle focusing on base endurance, then the next focusing on the power to sustain a long climb.
With your meso-cycles identified, you can start to look in even more detail at each individual week, often called a micro-cycle. It’s no secret that one of the most fundamental factors of training is recovery, so you will usually dedicate one week per meso-cycle to recovery; a recovery week. When you plan the other weeks, sometimes called build weeks, you might start to visualise what individual sessions make up that time. The idea being that each micro-cycle aims to help you achieve the goal of your meso-cycle, which in turn helps you achieve the goal of your macro-cycle.
When all this is set out in detail, it can be easy for some cyclists to become overwhelmed with the amount of work they have to do, especially for more newbie bike riders. Fear not, as it wouldn’t be worth it if it was easy! Commit to your training plan, remain consistent, and ensure you adapt the plan as you grow.
If this seems like a lot of work, that’s because it is! And it’s really only one factor of cycling training as this can be presented in far greater detail. This is why some cycle coaches can charge large amounts of money to work with their clients.
Thankfully, Pillar has been designed by some of the world’s best sports scientists, coaches, and industry experts, whose sole goal is to help you to reach yours. Pillar will be your companion on your journey. Pillar will remove the guesswork, understand the demands of the event, and will help you focus on the most important factor in your journey; the training!
Download the Pillar app today and let us provide you with the most optimal and individualised plan for your performance goals. Click on the download links below to start your next cycling goal from the comfort of your own pocket. Let Pillar help you take your performance to the next level.