You wake up in the morning and you’re feeling amazing! You have the midweek club ride anchored later in the day which you just can’t wait to join. First, however, the small matter of attending to work and family life. There’s no issues as you get out the door and head to work. You make great time in your morning commute and arrive at work without any challenges. Your boss is even in a great mood. This will be an awesome day.
A little after lunchtime, though, your boss asks (tells) you that they need someone to stay a little later to get some extra bits done. No matter, you’ll have loads of time to still get out on your bike. You leave work just thirty minutes later than normal, but, sadly, this means you have a little more traffic to get through. No worries, there’s still plenty of time to suit up and get out the door, the midweek evening club ride will still happen.
As you walk through the door, your partner gives you a look of pure horror as they explain to you that your youngest child has spent the afternoon projectile vomiting. Your options now include; looking after your child, cleaning the vomit, or going on the club ride anyway. Despite the appeal of the final option, you end up deciding that you’d be a miserable divorcee and that you should take one for your family team by staying home.
Good choice! Yet, what now for your training? How do you ensure you still get enough bike time this week, and at the right intenities to keep your progression going? How would you adapt your plan accordingly?
Fear not because, as usual, the Pillar team has an answer that we are willing to share and it starts by looking at basic understanding of why you would set certain sessions in the first place.
Principles of training prescription
Training methodology is a huge field and there are many different approaches to prescribing cycling training. However, in order to impart enough knowledge for you to be able to make a more informed decision about training dynamically, here are some top priorities to consider when planning your training:
- Analyse your goals and work out what the demands are
- Plan your year of training looking at what you need to do to meet those demands
- Start by strengthening your weaknesses
- Finish by strengthening your strengths
- Give each block (3-4 weeks) of training a specific target/goal
- Identify what training you need to do to succeed in each block
- From here, you should be able to see what training sessions you need to do
This is a very rough and abridged checklist of how to prescribe your training, which should help you understand what to set or why someone else has set it this way - if you’ve been following a training plan set by someone else.
With an understanding of what sessions you need to do in order to see the right improvements as you ride towards your goals, you should start to see what you might need to do if you can’t remain compliant with your set plan, which comes with session evaluation.
In the above scenario, it is fairly easy to evaluate the training, mainly because it didn’t happen! But, what if in another scenario you did ride, but you just did something totally off plan? Maybe you had in mind doing a set of hill reps, but instead went out on a low intensity base ride. Here is where it gets a little more complicated as you need to really evaluate what you have done and compare that against what you needed to do.
Again, this can be made even more confusing if you were to choose to train outside. Given many influences, including varied terrain for example, a set of intervals might be problematic to complete. Have you actually achieved the goal of the session or did you do too much or too little?
Developing your understanding of data analysis will be of strong benefit. Being able to look at your data and see if you spent enough time at the right intensity is step one, but you might also consider time spent in other zones too. This might be easier to imagine if you were to do a zone 2 ride, but thanks to the undulating terrain where you ride, you actually hit a considerable amount of threshold too. Time spent in zone two might satisfy the immediate goal of that session, but you also did too much at a different intensity. At this point you would be smart to adjust your training plan.
Adjusting the plan
Considering whether to replace a missed session is fairly straightforward. You can use your knowledge of the basic principles of why you prescribed those sessions in the first place to consider if catching up the session by doing it another day is the best course of action. For example, if your training is focused on building VO2 max, you would be wise to schedule the missed VO2 max intervals to another day. However, if you missed an easy recovery ride, catching this up might not be worthwhile.
When we look at adjusting the plan based on an incomplete session, for example doing too much at a higher intensity than planned, you might consider reducing the coming days or week in order to allow sufficient recovery. In most circumstances, it is wiser to do too little than too much.
The simple answer to this is just letting us do the hard work! While developing an understanding of training methodology and data analysis is only going to improve your cycling training, it is understandably an additional complication in your already busy life.
We can also consider removing the bias from your training too. It’s always easy to prescribe yourself what you want to do rather than what you need to do. It’s this reason why a lot of professional coaches are also coached by others themselves.
Behind the scenes, the Pillar team have been pushing the boundaries of automatic training plan updates and we are nearly in a position to share this with you! If you’d like to be one of the first users to test out our new update training plan algorithm, click the button below and you’ll be invited to our beta app testing team.
If you’d prefer to wait for the finished product, don’t worry as we expect this feature to be ready for general release later this year. This game changer will be worth the wait.
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