Six ways cyclists can train

Everyone wants to improve, and there is more than one way to do so.

At FasCat, we have two primary (and time-tested) methods. We have one-on-one coaching, which is the gold standard. And we have training plans, which have worked well for thousands of athletes around the globe for many years.

Plus, now that we have integrated those plans into our Optimize app, you can use your data to track your progress, training stress, recovery, and much more… and coach yourself in a fun, flexible, and data-informed manner!

There are other ways you can train, too.

The six primary methods of training are:

  1. Hire a coach
  2. Follow a training plan
  3. Self coaching
  4. Leverage your data
  5. Follow a training plan, and self coach by leveraging your data
  6. Just ride - sometimes hard, and sometimes easy

Here, we’ll go through the pros and cons of each of these, and then really dig into number 5, how you can coach yourself using our training plan inside the Optimize app that makes your data actionable and gives you access to our coaches!

I’m happy to say we just released a whole truckload of new features in Optimize that make the self-coaching process better than ever before, and better than any other self-coaching solution out there.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what’s new with the 1.15.1 Optimize update:

  • Color-coded power and heart rate graphs
  • Color-coded time in zone charts
  • Swipe-right scroll for Optimize dial for past days
  • Sleep chart
  • HRV chart
  • Green streak consistency calendar

Start your free, 14-day trial of Optimize

1 - Hire a coach

This will net you the most improvement. It requires the most money and dedication, and for many athletes is the right solution. There is simply no better way to get faster than having a dedicated professional work with you to assess your strengths and weaknesses, and build a dynamic training plan specific to your goals, and then guide you through the process and the inevitable curve balls that get thrown your way. It is the best and fastest way to improve, but for some it may be too big of a commitment.

2 - Follow a plan

You know we love this solution because it flat out works. If you can follow a plan, you can ride faster! Sounds simple, right? Thing is, you have to apply the ‘follow the plan’ part to get the ‘ride faster’ part. Many people don’t fully follow plans, and that’s okay! Honestly, this article and podcast are for you. If you can follow a plan, though, a well thought out plan specific to your goal is an excellent, effective solution.

3 - Self coach

The success rate here depends on how much you know! I self coached for years, reading as much as I could about cycling and training. Today, coaching opinions are all over the internet. How do you know what works and what doesn’t?

Self coaching involves making training decisions for yourself. And that’s great if you make the right decisions but you don’t even know because you don’t know so often self-coaching involves trial and error, and improving takes longer.

That was my path: two years of getting my teeth kicked in until I finally hired a coach and then BAM won my first Cat 3 race and upgraded to the Pro/1/2 field the next season.

Self-coaching is a wonderful solution if you don’t have enormous goals and you want to have fun and be able to hang with your friends on the group ride. And maybe drop them occasionally! Self-coaching is great because it’s free. (And with Optimize you can step up to a more informed version of self-coaching… #5.)

4 - Leverage your data

When you focus on your FTP and your training load, you can can some watts! Being data driven is a super smart and practical approach. But, there are pitfalls; namely, getting too far into the weeds and missing the big picture. I see this a lot! Riders overemphasize CTL and underemphasize the joy of cycling. It’s a data-at-all-costs mindset, and it’s not sustainable.

Fifteen years ago we were like this with power data, and we have since learned that there’s WAY more to improving than just the numbers. Recovery, nutrition, consistency, race craft and pack-riding skills, to name a few!

That said, when you are also paying attention to the aforementioned, leveraging your data is incredible, especially for the analytical types. On the other side of the spectrum, you may not want to have to get a masters degree in physiology or data science. We 100% get that which is why we developed the data visualizations in Optimize. We make your data simple and easy to understand.

5 - Self coach and leverage your data

This is my favorite for athletes who don’t hire a coach. This is a combination of using training plans and phases of your training year-round, self coaching and leveraging your data. Some athletes want to do what they want and to train the way they want to train and we support that 100%. 100% Why? Because if it works for you, it is a GREAT training solution.

To do it well, you hit all Five Fundamentals of Fasterd, which are:

  • Be Consistent yet Flexible
  • Ride More
  • Train All Zones
  • Rest
  • Eat Right - Win in the Kitchen

Solution number five is the most practical solution in terms of being an all-around fun, flexible, and data-driven improvement solution. Start your free, 14-day trial of Optimize today so that you can self coach and leverage your data!

6 - Ride hard, ride more, eat less

This is old skool. And this method may be for the talented, experienced athlete. We all have that gal and guy in our community and on our group ride. They just are flat out good at cycling. Chalk it up to genetics and/or years and years of riding.

If you’ve been in cycling for that long this may be you, but I’d still encourage you to send the same data you send to Strava to Optimize to track your stats and monitor the “Big Picture.”


Download and join Optimize where Coaching is included, the training plans are unlimited and there's a 14 day trial to see for yourself! 

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.

Hire Coach Frank!