by BJ Basham, PCG master coach
The start of the season is here, and the early spring training race series are beginning. Many riders see these inexpensive crits and road races as the start of the racing season, and they approach the training races the same as they would any other event in the calendar. This is fine to a point, but ideally training races should act as an extension of your normal training program to help prepare you for the big events in the heart of you racing year.
How do you get the most out of a training race? Pace yourself past the break to find out…
First of all, remember that it’s about training and not so much about racing. The training goals of a training race can be quite varied depending on your racing experience and capabilities. With some riders, training races are a great place to work on pack-riding skills. For others, the training races can be used to try out tactics and to work on team strategies and techniques. And for others, training races make for the perfect place to find their limits, strengths and weaknesses.
I have only two rules when incorporating training races into any athlete’s program. First, the athlete has to go into each training race with a goal to try something new, work on a weakness, or try some tactics without worrying about if they work or not. Second, I don’t want the training race to totally take the place of training for that day. Most spring training criteriums and even some road races aren’t really long enough to get in much of a workout, so it is ideal to augment the training race with extra time on the bike to make it into a full training day that includes the race and then some endurance or skill training.
There are many things we can learn from a training race, especially if we’re racing with a power meter. The most helpful data comes from events where we fail in some way; we can look at what was going on leading up to the problem and then figure out what can be done to avoid that failure the next time around. We might find that we aren’t attacking hard enough to get a gap on the field, or we may find that we’re simply working too much and too hard in the race until eventually we can’t keep up. Training races give us a great opportunity to make mistakes we can learn from and to find out what we need to work on.
So how do you put training in your training races? Have a goal for each event and remember that it’s more about training and not so much about racing. After the race, think about what happened in the race, both good and bad, and see what you’ve learned. Talk to your coach or teammates about the race and find out if they noticed something that you may have missed. Training is about getting stronger, and if you’ve learned something that will help your racing, you will be stronger because of it.
BJ’s coaching philosophy is based on flexibility and communications. He believes that every training plan should be written in pencil, as very few people can control everything that may come up in their lives or know exactly how they will respond to a given training load or personal event. He works together with his athletes to do what it takes to help them reach their goals with the time and resources available.
BJ’s primary goal is to bring his athletes to the point where they enjoy the time they spend cycling. He teaches the importance of balancing work, training, and rest; how to take care of your equipment; and even how to juggle (literally).
For more info about coaching and training, contact BJ at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our website at www.peakscoachinggroup.com for many more free and informative articles on training and racing.