If you have signed up for a fondo this year, you will want to follow a training program. The purpose of having a program is to ensure that your training progresses slowly but consistently enough to allow your body time to adapt to the training stress and grow stronger with each rest period. If your training plan is to ride whenever you feel like it for as long and as hard as you can, you aren’t doing yourself any favours and you could injure yourself along the way.
There are many different ways to go about getting a training plan and all of them have various benefits attached to them. All of them will get you to your goal of completing a fondo. But usually one, or a combination of a few approaches may work better for your lifestyle than the others.
Personal Cycling Coach
Hiring a personal coach to structure a detailed program is the perfect choice for someone who has specific goals and would like to optimize every hour of their training. As the athlete, you can leave all of the thinking to the coach and simply ride. It is their job to analyze your heart rate and power zones, continually changing and adapting your program as you progress.
The downside to this is that you don’t get to learn how to ride in a group and it can be a bit lonely.
If lack of motivation is a key factor to the success of your training program, joining a cycling club might motivate you more than someone emailing you to get out the door. Riding with a club also has the added advantage of teaching you how to ride in a group and you will find that you naturally push yourself to work harder when surrounded by other riders.
The downside is that you only ride when the group rides and you are limited to the distance and destination of the what the group has decided to do.
Cycling Club training for a common goal
Joining a group like the Kits Energy Cycling Club where you ride with a group of people, knowledgeable coaches and a training program designed to train you towards your goal covers all your bases. The group will motivate you to ride and give you plenty of opportunities to practise your group riding skills. The certified coaches will teach you all the skills you need to get you across the finish line and keep you accountable to training every week. The monthly training programs are made specifically for your level and with your goals in mind so that you progressively increase in distance and intensity each week.
The downside is that our club sells out every year so you have to sign up early to join and we only meet once a week.
Online Training Program
If time is a major roadblock to training, you might want to look for a more flexible option such as an online training program. This is the cheapest option as you only pay for one program or you can even use one of the free programs online. Now you can choose whenever you want to ride and who you want to ride with.
The downside to this is that you are using a generic program that may be too easy or too hard for you. You also don’t have the advantage of learning from others, either in a group or from a professional. You will need to do a lot of your own research as well to make this option successful.
Whatever method you choose; personal coach, club or online, any choice is better than no choice at all.
Once you have made your choice as to which type of training or program you are going to follow you can optimize your success by following these 5 simple rules.
- Don’t do more training than what is on the program. You can’t ride hard every time you go out. If you still have energy left over at the end of the ride or the end of the week it probably means that you didn’t push yourself hard enough in the intensity sessions or maybe is just means that being in pain wasn’t the intention of the workout. Instead of doing more distance or more training, enjoy the rest and push yourself to work harder the next week.
- Don’t skip rest weeks or ride hard on rest weeks. This is your chance to recover and adapt to the training stress from the previous weeks. If you skip these rest periods you are simply beating your body up by training more. Eventually you will stop seeing any gains and will burn out or get injured. Remember the motto,”It is better to race undertrained and with energy than to race overtrained and tired.”
- Trust, listen and follow your coach or program. There is no sense in choosing a program or a coach if you don’t follow them.
- Log your training. By creating a log you can monitor your progress. If you are improving you will be motivated and have the confidence to continue. If you aren’t improving you can go back and decide what you should change going forward. You can use this log to develop your own personal training program or give it your coach to assess and make changes for the next season.
- Be consistent. You can’t get fast in one week, month or even a year. It takes several years to build a strong cycling base so enjoy the journey.