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9 Training Techniques to Help You Ride Faster

At FasCat we use a variety of training techniques to help athletes ride faster and farther.  There's more to improvement than sweet spot training (but that's one of them)! 

5-hour rides? Intervals? Two rest days every week? Rest weeks every month? Proper Nutrition, Advanced Recovery Techniques, Lifting Weights, Training Plan Design, and Periodization!? Yes please  - Let's describe each of these in more detail 👇

#1 Build and Maintain an Epic Size Base with Long Rides

The bigger an athlete's aerobic engine, the greater the ability they'll possess to make higher power outputs. 

In addition to using sweet spot training (advanced aerobic endurance training) we also think of developing and maintaining one's base in terms of hours per week and long rides.  Masters athletes can generally handle 8-12 hours of riding per week. We break that up into 40-50% of the weekly volume Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursdays and then the remaining 50-60% on Saturday and Sundays.  Mondays and Fridays are off (more on this below).

3 - 5 hour rides are a staple on the weekends, once the weather allows.  Our advanced level training plans include 12-15+ hours and all our coaches work with their 1x1 coached athletes to design custom training plans with weekly hours that fit in with the rest of their lives.  That said, the majority of masters we coach, ride 8-12 hours and sometimes do 14-15 hour weeks during overload phases or during training camp weeks. 

#2 Training Load

With all the base training we just mentioned above it is important to measure how much that training is.   There are a variety of ways from the aforementioned hours per week, to total mileage, kiloJoules, training stress and even training load.  Training Load is referred to as CTL in TrainingPeaks but newer more innovative ways to measure one's training load are being developed. 

The point here is to track and measure how much training you've been doing because one of the easiest ways to improve is to ride more (up until a point). 

Then riding more and measuring your training load works up until a certain point! After which on needs to:

 

#3 Do Intervals

After one has built an epic base, the next step is to switch from base to race with full gas intervals. We are talking about 4 kinds of intervals:

1. Threshold - primarily climbing and time trial specific workouts

2. VO2

3. Anaerobic

4. Tabatas are the most difficult workout we prescribe: 3 sets of 8 reps of 20 sec ON 10 sec OFF @ 170% FTP is extremely difficult.

Long time FasCats will recognize one of our favorite mantras, "Cry in the DoJo to Laugh on the Battlefield".  Riding faster is as simple as going as hard as you can with the structured interval workouts above.  If you are wondering which of those intervals you should do above read our primer on interval training and see our discipline specific interval training plans

#4 Recovery Techniques: Sleep  

Sleep is the most important recovery technique there is. If you sleep more you'll recover better.  Its as simple as that! Too often we discover in trying to help athletes who aren't recovering well that they are getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night.  The solution is to not train less; rather, sleep more! 30 more minutes of sleep often has a dramatic affect in 2-4 weeks.  We recommend a sleep tracker to get in tune with your sleep hours, sleep hygiene to bring awareness to athletes. 

For more on Master's Recovery listen to our podcast and read our training tip. I think a lot of younger coaches and athletes do not fully grasp the additional recovery time athletes over 40 need.  

We measure three important athlete metric for recovery:

  • Stress 
  • Sleep
  • HRV (heart rate variability)

We combine all three in our Optimize Metric:

 #5 Use Technology

Use a wearable to track your sleep and HRV to track your recovery metrics and use a power meter and/or a heart rate monitor to track your training stress.  Combine the two together and use Optimize mentioned in #4 above ☝️

Oura and Whoop wearables bring a level of awareness to how much sleep you are or are not getting as well as your HRV.  HRV will help you understand what I call your 'life stress' as I podcasted about last Fall (2021).

Many other devices measure sleep and HRV too like Garmin's new Venu2, Apple Watch and various other apps that are compatible with your HRM. 

#6 Recovery Techniques: Nutrition also known as: Winning in the Kitchen

High quality carbohydrate timed properly before, during and after exercise has a dramatic effect on recovery.  The 30 minute glycogen window post exercise is absolutely imperative in order to recover and improve.  Eat up!  Dieting, fasting, and trying to lose weight while you are training even moderately hard, makes recovering more difficult.

As coaches we talk with athletes about their sleeping and nutrition when we consult with them about their recovery. 

#6 Lift Weights

We recommend athletes lift weights in the months when they don't have any events scheduled - usually the Fall and Winter.  Weight lifting for cycling also known as resistance training 'works' and we've been coaching cyclists and increasing their power output from lifting for the past 20 years.  Masters athletes benefit from resistance training to prevent age-related declines in performance as well as improved power. 

#7 Training Plan Design

K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, we as cyclists tend to make training more complicated than it has to be. It's like Einstein said, “if you can’t explain it simply….’ or if you aren’t designing an easy to follow training plan that achieves precise physiological adaptations then you are failing the athlete. There is no need for uber complicated workouts that require a sheet of paper out on the bike -- or rather these days an export onto your bike computer. Details are necessary but make the workout and plan easy to follow 

We use a fatigue dependent training plan design that all athletes respond well to and understand. They train, get tired (their power goes down), they recover (their power goes up) and get faster (they get results). Simple. Repeat weekly as desired 💪

#9 Weekly Hours

Choose the amount of training that you a) have time for and b) can recover from is an essential training technique. 

We divide up our training plans into 3 prescriptions that we've found work well for athletes that have careers, families, mortgages and all sorts of higher level priorities than their hobby. 

Choose 4 - 8 hours per week if you are new to following a plan and/or only have 4-8 hours of time to train each week. Masters over 50 years old do very well on 4 - 8 hours per week and certainly 60+ athletes to who need additional time to recover. 

Choose 8 - 12 hours per week if you have been training for a year or more and have 8 - 12 hours per week to train.  40+ athletes do well on 8 - 12 hours per week and some 50/60+ athletes can handle the hours *if* they take the time to recover (see #4, 5 & 6 above).

Choose 12 - 15+ hours per week if you are less than 40 years of age and want to earn your cat 3, 2 or cat 1 upgrade or simply want to be your best.

40+ athletes can do 12+ hour weeks, just not consistently, week after week. We do in fact recommend bigger hour weeks in the form of a training camp.

Not training enough or biting off more than you can recover from is paramount towards improving.

#9 Periodization

Your training plan should have a rest week at least every 4 weeks.  The hours of that rest week should be 50-60% of your recent average weekly hours mentioned above.

Use these 9 training techniques to ride faster and farther and to learn more about your ability to improve.  Best consistent with your riding and we predict you'll be very please with your performance 

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Frank Overton founded FasCat in 2003 with some but not all of these training techniques. To talk with a FasCat Coach about adding these training techniques to your events and goal please fill our a new athlete questionnaire.

About Frank Overton

Frank founded FasCat Coaching in 2002 and has been a full time cycling coach since 2004. His educational background includes a Masters degree in Physiology from North Carolina State University, pre-med from Hampden-Sydney College. Frank raced at a professional level on the road and mountain bike and currently competes as a "masters" level gravel and cyclocrosser. Professionally Frank comes from medical school spinal cord research and molecular biotechnology. However, to this day it is a dream come true for Frank to be able to help cyclists as a coach.

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