Lifetime Guarantee  Ship to Store
Shop by Category
Shop by Brand
New Products
Deals
Learn
Extra 20 Percent Off Wheels and Tires Terms Wheels Tires

 

« Back to All Guides


Bicycling Magazine Logo

Pick your poison

How to choose the right drills to hit your race goal in six weeks

By Selene Yeager
Bicycling Magazine

When it comes to maintaining and building fitness year after year, we all know the routine: Cross-train in winter; ride slow, long distances around the new year; do longer, tempo-paced rides in early spring to build leg strength and aerobic capacity; then gain top-end horsepower by doing intervals and drills in the weeks before your first race. "But if it were that easy, we'd all have it down by now," says James Herrera, founder of Performance.

Driven coaching, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. "Instead you still see guys blowing up one lap into their first criterium and fizzling faster than a Roman candle when they try to sprint.""

Why? "Most athletes merely dip their toes into the water when it comes to race prep," says Herrera. "For top performance you need to hone your mind-body connection with race-specific training that prepares your body for the kind of effort you'll face during competition."

Here, Herrera shares a series of intervals and drills that will build the kind of power, strength and stamina you need to succeed in almost any type of race. Choose the drills that will help you meet your race goals, then apply them to this six-week calendar.

6 Weeks to Race Ready

Plug in your drill of choice, and be ready for the start line by June

WEEK 1

MON. Rest
TUES. Specific interval training
WED. Endurance ride 1:30-2:00 hours
THURS. Specific interval training
FRI. Active recovery
SAT. Endurance ride 1:30-2:00
SUN. Group ride or race-simulation training

WEEK 2

MON. Rest
TUES Specific interval training
WED. Endurance ride 1:30-2:00
THURS. Specific interval training
FRI. Active recovery
FRI. Active recovery
SAT. Endurance ride 1:45-2:15
SUN. Group ride or race-simulation training

WEEK 3

MON. Rest
TUES. Endurance ride 1-1:30
WED. Active recovery ride
THURS. Endurance ride 1-1:30
FRI. Active recovery
SAT. Endurance ride 1:30-1:45
SUN. Endurance ride 1:45-2:00

WEEK 4

MON. Rest
TUES. Specific interval training
WED. Endurance ride 1:30-2:00
THURS. Specific interval training
FRI. Active recovery
SAT. Endurance ride 1:45-2:15
SUN. Group ride or race-simulation training

WEEK 5

Mon. Rest
TUES. Specific interval training
WED. Endurance ride 1:30-2:00
THURS. Specific interval training
FRI. Active recovery
SAT. Endurance ride 2-2:30
SUN. Group ride or race-simulation training

WEEK 6

Mon. Rest
TUES. Short interval training; long recovery
WED. Endurance ride 1:30-2:00
THURS. Short interval training ride; long recovery
FRI. Active recovery
SAT. Very short interval training; race openers
SUN. Event

The Drills

SPRINT FINISHES Perform 10-to 20- second sprints to fine-tune your jump. Include uphill sprints for increased power and downhill sprints for improved leg speed. Spice up a two-hour aerobic ride with a 10 on the 10 (that's a 10-second sprint every 10 minutes) following a 30-minute warm-up. Also try sprints in a set: 5x10 seconds with 5 minutes of easy spinning between efforts. Work up to six to eight sets per workout.

HILL COURSES If you know what to expect--grade, length and number of hills--in your upcoming event, try to find a comparable training course. If you're in for many short, steep pitches, you'll need the horses to power up over and over again. Find a course with multiple, frequent hills. If you can find only one hill, it's okay to repeat the same climb. Start strong at the bottom and gradually accelerate your pace as you near the top. Recover on the descents. If you're facing one never-ending ascent, you'll need long, sustainable power. Find climbs that take 20 to 40 minutes and begin at your tempo pace. Five minutes in, take it to your threshold and hold on until you reach the top. Synchronize your breathing with your pedal stroke--short, quick and rhythmic. For climbs of 45 minutes or longer, ride longer at tempo before building to threshold pace.

TIME TRIALS The length of your training intervals should be determined by the length of the course and your goal time. For a 30-minute goal, do an interval progression-- 5x5-6 minutes (that's five effforts of slightly-faster-than-goal-pace for five to six minutes), 4x7-8 minutes, 3x10-12 minutes, 2x15-18 minutes or 1x25-30 minutes--moving through the sequence as your fitness improves. Perform your final 30-minute interval as close to your goal pace as possible. Rest between intervals should be as long as the interval itself (five-minute interval=five-minute rest); as you improve, cut your rest time in half.

RACE OPENERS The day before your event--and perhaps the day of, as the completion of a good warm-up routine--perform some short, high-intensity efforts to really fine-tune your engine. Try three to five 20-to 60-second efforts at full tilt with a 1:5 work-to-rest ratio. That means each recovery should be five times longer than each effort.

SELENE YEAGER, a USA Cycling certified coach, is here to give you a solid workout as well as tips for healthy living.