Building a season of training is a bit like building a house, I would imagine. Never having actually built a house, I may be making some inferences here, but would envisage there is a certain order in which one constructs such things. Beginning with the roof would seem like a bad idea to me. Conversely, starting with the foundations seems to make more sense.
Elegantly shoehorning in my training analogy, your base training represents the foundation of your house, it’s the work you need to do to build a solid platform for the season, a base of fitness and strength to which you can add speed closer to competition time. Trying to start off a season with speed work and intensity can lead to all sorts of problems. Your fitness is low, your strength and conditioning isn’t there, you simply don’t have the potential for performance, and the risk of injury is high.
What you should be aiming at doing is creating a solid platform of aerobic fitness that builds your strength, conditioning and fitness. Once you’ve achieved this, you can safely and effectively start adding in some speed and intensity to your sessions, which will give you that extra edge you need to start bagging some wins at your local crit or road race.
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So what do I do for my base training? It’s pretty simple - low intensity and long hours!
To get back into the swing of things and build a solid foundation for the season to come, the first couple of months of training each year consists of just clocking up a lot of hours on the bike, or a lot of time in ‘the office’ as I like to say.
For a change of scenery, the last few years my training group has done a ‘point-to-point’ training camp, where we load up a trailer full of our gear, and the coaches drive this behind us as we ride to a different destination each day. It’s usually 5-6 hrs on the bike in the morning, and then a swim and run in the arvo. It’s great fun, and a good way to kick-start the base training for the year ahead.
Mountain Goat Sessions
In addition to this, a typical session I do throughout the pre-season is some low-cadence hill repetitions.
I’ll do 4-6 x 10 minute reps once a week. The focus on this session is to keep a low cadence (50-60) and perfect form. No rocking the bike, keeping as still as I can, very lightly holding the handlebars with my hands, pedalling nice even circles, and holding an even pace throughout the whole effort.
What About Wattage
For this session, high wattage is the first thing that gets sacrificed. If I have to lower my wattage to maintain my cadence and form, then I’ll lower it. The idea is to build the wattage I can hold with perfect form and cadence each week. Hopefully, with a month or two of these types of sessions, I’ve developed enough strength and fitness to hold decent wattage with great form. This is the perfect platform to begin more intense sessions to sharpen me to race. Try incorporating this sort of session next time your starting your season, it’s a great way to build fitness, strength and technique!
One of My Favourite Sessions
4-6 x 10 minute hill efforts 3 minutes recovery (Or as long as it takes to you safely descend the hill!)
Efforts done as fast as possible whilst maintaining: • Cadence of 50-60 rpm • Still body • Smooth pedalling • Light, relaxed grip on handlebars • Stay seated
This article contains suggestions only. Consult your coach, GP or club before determining what will be appropriate for your training.