by Tim Cusick, PCG President and Elite Coach
Old man winter has arrived! The combination of limited daylight, cold temperatures, and increased family obligations during the holidays can present plenty of training problems as you work on building a stronger power foundation for the next season. On the other hand, the holiday season of December to early January can bring decreased work obligations and (hopefully) a little more time off. Athletes often ask me how they can supercharge their training in 10-14 days of holiday vacation. Click through for some of my suggestions…
Build your own holiday training camp.
Time-challenged athletes are often hesitant to rev up training volume for fear of over-training, but here’s a tip: it’s pretty hard to over-train in a week. If you have some extra time off, one great way to motivate yourself and challenge your training is to design your own holiday training camp (more on this below). Plan a week of 50% more training than you’re currently doing. Each day, ride some extra volume while focusing on different riding skills. Monday can be sprint day, Tuesday climbing day, Wednesday long recovery day, etc. We’ve got some great pre-made training programs that can help set your schedule. Make sure you plan extra recovery time after your “camp” to ensure your body recovers and you reap the benefits.
Raise your fat burning rate.
We all know the holidays can challenge our weight management, so here’s another tip: increase your training volume while supercharging your body’s fat-burning ability. From December 25 to January 2, plan to ride 45-60 minutes on the trainer each morning as an extra ride. Wake up, grab a drink (black coffee or tea, without cream and sugar), and jump on the trainer before you eat anything. No calories at all. Once on the trainer, spin at endurance zone (power or heart rate), doing a one-minute fast pedal every five minutes (no additional power or resistance, just fast pedal). Once this is complete, eat your typical breakfast and complete your normal daily training. This will teach your body to burn fat as an energy source while helping to keep down those holiday pounds.
We work on our pacing and pedaling drills all season long, but how often do we work on our breathing? With all the training we do to develop our systems to more efficiently process oxygen, we should also learn to take in more oxygen with each breath. To breathe efficiently, you need to learn to use your diaphragm (it’s located below your lungs). This drill starts before you get on the bike. Take a few minutes before each workout and practice breathing through your nose and down into your diaphragm. Your stomach should expand with each deep breath. Practice taking deeper breaths each day. Carry this drill into your warm-up, whether on the trainer or outdoors.
With a little creativity and some focus, you can use the holiday to help boost your winter training and better prepare yourself for a successful season next year.
Spring Camps: Fitness and Form
Many of us cyclists work through the winter and focus on a spring camp. Since over 70% of the country is living through short days, cold temperatures, and wet or snowy weather, spring camps give us a chance to get away and build some miles in warmer regions. The question is this: are you looking for a cycling vacation camp or a training camp? Vacation camps are typically great ways to build the miles and view the scenery, while training camps are often focused on building fitness and form through organized training education and miles. Assess your goals to choose which is right for you. Training camps are a great way to prepare you for big events, racing seasons, and personal bests, whereas vacation camps are more suited for building fitness while refreshing and relaxing.
You can plan your own and get your team or riding buddies to pitch in for shared lodging and meals. Put together a training plan well in advance based on your mutual goals, check the weather, and get away from the daily grind for a few days or a week. Like we mentioned above, it’s hard to overtrain in a week, so make the most of your training camp with specific and thorough efforts each day. If you use a coach (like us!), let him know what you’re planning so he can make workout suggestions or just incorporate it into your regular training and racing schedule.
Or you could let us do all the planning! Okay, bit of a commercial: Peaks Coaching Group is offering both types of camps in 2014, with the goal of building fitness while learning all the ins and outs of power training from the pros. We’ll be in Mallorca, Spain, in March for a high-mileage power foundation camp, and we’re offering two different training camps in Virginia in April.
To give you an idea of what happens in our camps, here are some highlights of a typical week:
- Daily power training seminars to help get the most from power training and power training methods.
- Skill-building rides focused on each of the skills you need to be a better racer and rider; from sprinting to climbing, we cover it all.
- Fully supported rides with food, drink, and mechanical support.
- One-on-one power file reviews with Hunter Allen (coauthor of Training and Racing with a Power Meter), Scott Moninger (winningest US pro ever), and the rest of the PCG team.
- Great camaraderie and team building.
Thinking about attending a camp this spring? Want to challenge yourself to reach beyond your limits? Check out our spring power camps. We’d love to ride with you!
Tim Cusick is a USA Cycling Level 3 coach and the president of Peaks Coaching Group. He and his coaches create custom training plans for all levels of athletes. Tim can be contacted directly through www.PeaksCoachingGroup.com.