Before you can think about climbing faster, you need to make sure that you have first built your aerobic foundation. As the saying goes, “you can’t run before you learn to walk”. To read more about building an aerobic base please go back to the newsletter titled, Building an Aerobic Base.
So once you have set your aerobic base, how do you get faster on hills?
1. Ride lots. Ride lots of hills.
2. When climbing think of form: efficient pedal strokes and relaxed upper body.
3. Learn to pace yourself for the entire length of the climb. Learning what your pace should be will come after riding lots of hills 🙂
4. Give the appropriate amount of effort for the type of hill /ride/workout you are doing that day. Example: In a Spanish Banks workout of 5 hill repeats, you will likely be putting out maximum effort on each – that’s the goal of the workout. But for a long training ride, where Spanish Banks is just one of many on the ride, slow down your pace and take it easy or ride at a pace you can handle, as you still have a long ways to go.
In this newsletter, I’m going to focus on point number 4, which relates to effort.
During training it is important to give the appropriate amount of effort, appropriate for the workout.
In the Kits Energy workouts, your coach will tell you how much effort you should be exerting. If you want to get faster, and get the most benefit from the workout, it is important to follow the instructions. To improve, you need to work beyond your comfort zones into new territory, which should feel uncomfortable. Through proper and adequate (24-48hrs) rest and recovery, your body will adapt to the stress and grow stronger. It is through this process, repeated over and over, that you will gain increased strength and endurance.
BUT….. here is the caveat.
But, if you try adding intensity without a solid base, other rides to support your intensity ride, or you try to progress too quickly, you run the risk of breaking down the body, instead of building it up.
You may get away with it for a month of two but eventually, if you try to increase intensity without a solid base and other rides to support it, it will catch up with you. Your speed and strength will become stagnant and/or you may notice that you are actually slowing down!
When this happens, the tendency is to do more training, with exacerbates the problem.
You may also notice several nagging symptoms that don’t seem to go away. These symptoms are usually a combination of: loss of strength/endurance, chronic fatigue, chronic muscle pain, insomnia, depression, irritation, weight gain, and frequent illness such as colds and flus. If are feeling any of these symptoms, back off on your training for a few weeks until they subside.
When you return to training, build up slowly and create that base again. Always listen to what your body is telling you. If it is too much – back off again. Use the weekly workouts as endurance training instead of a interval training. I know it’s hard on the ego – but your body will thank you in the long run.
Remember, cycling is a lifestyle choice and one that you want to do for as long as your body will let you. Think long term.
Before you start worrying about being a fast(er) climber, you first need to develop a solid aerobic foundation or base.
This is the key to any and all endurance sports.
The time it takes to build your personal aerobic base will be different from other riders and will depend on: 1. the distance you are training for 2. how many years you have been riding 3. how much time you have to train 4. age
But generally speaking, if you are training for an event, you should be comfortable riding a minimum of 2 to 3 hours at a steady state, before you start worrying about being fast(er).
You develop this base by riding slow (HR or Power zone 1 and zone 2) steady rides, and increasing the distance by no more than 10% each week, until you get to or close to your goal distance. Through proper and adequate recovery, your body will adapt and grow stronger. The process, repeated over and over again will result in increased strength and endurance OVER TIME.
Building a base takes time and can’t be rushed so it is vital that you start at least 3-6 months before your event. Sorry, but any last minute “cram training” for endurance sports doesn’t work. Once you have developed a comfortable and solid base, continue maintaining and/or increasing your distance throughout your season.
The workouts that we do in Kits Energy are designed to specifically build strength and power, not endurance. If you are willing to go there – these workouts will push you into new power/heart rate/ pain zones that you aren’t willing to do when you ride alone.
Every time you push yourself to new levels, your body recognizes that it needs to adjust and adapt. As your body gets stronger, your ability to do more work also increases. So if you are waiting for a time for when the workouts will feel easy – that’s not going to happen, because as you get stronger you continue to push yourself harder (hopefully). But, you will notice, that throughout the season your regular riding friends will be having a harder time keeping up with you! Trust the process.
Stop acting like an amateur and start acting like a pro.
An amateur is a person who engages in a pursuit on an unpaid rather than a professional basis.
Think about your current mode of employment, or job that you must do because someone else’s life depends on it.
You show up every day.
When it is cold, wet, and raining, you show up.
When you are tired and would rather watch Netflix, you show up.
When your best friend is in town for just one day, or it is your partner’s birthday, you may leave early, but you still show up.
Every morning you don’t wake up and contemplate whether or not you will decide to fulfill your responsibilities today.
You just do it.
In addition, while working you don’t typically suffer from feelings of guilt, laziness, or think you are wasting time as often happens when an amateur attempts to take an hour away from “their job” to paint, run, cook, bike, write, or play their instrument.
So what do you think would happen if you applied that same philosophy to your next goal?
With every goal comes massive resistance. Even if it is something that we desperately want, we will find every excuse to procrastinate, delay, or self-sabotage. By eliminating the choice of whether or not you will show up, you also remove the opportunity for that resistance (in whatever form of excuse it looks like) to stop you from doing the work required to achieve your goal.
Treat your goals as if your profession depended on achieving them.
Don’t think about whether you want to do it; just do it.
BUT, there is one caveatthat you need to consider.
Many people already have more jobs than they can handle.
Think about which responsibilities in your life are non-negotiable.
Beyond the employment that makes you money, your list of non-negotiable responsibilities, jobs, or goals may include:
attending to elderly parents
starting a new exercise program
volunteering in the community
serving as a board member
pursuing your love for music or art
learning a new skill
engaging in a sport or several sports
playing on a team
learning to become the next Top Chef
renovating your home
dealing with an illness or injury
traveling for work or pleasure
It is impossible to continue adding more jobs to the list without getting burnt out and ultimately failing at all of them.
If you are someone who overextends themselves, you will need to review your current list and evaluate which responsibilities can be put on hold or delegated, while you work on achieving your new goal.
Once you have narrowed down the list into something that is both manageable and realistic, add your new goal to the top of the list and the rest will fall into place.
If your “profession” is to become a 50+ road cyclist and finish a fondo before x amount of time, then you will need to do what a professional 50+ rider would do. You need to sleep, eat, rest, recover, and train like a cyclist. Every day you need to do something that gets you closer to your goal of becoming a professional 50+ fondo rider.
Remember, this is your job. It is non-negotiable. Now stop thinking about it and go and do it.
Every event is tough when you are pushing yourself to achieve a personal best. But when the weather turns sour and never lets up, it adds one more element of pain to the day. These are the days that build resiliency and character as an athlete. These are the days that you will never forget. Saturday July 16th 2022 was one of those days. I am so proud of all the riders, and especially the Kits Energy riders, who remained positive and smiling despite how cold they were. They rode 75km and climbed 2300m up into the wet and cold clouds. We had a large group of Kits Energy riders in the Triple Crown for Heart event and we were also among some of the fastest riders!! No matter what time you finished in, everyone should be proud of themselves for completing such a big event, on a mentally and physically challenging day.
A huge thank you to Dominik Szopa, Marie Campbell, Fiezel Babul, and all of the other board members and volunteers who helped put this event together. The emergency blankets at the end were a very smart idea! In total, the event raised $30,000 for BC Children’s Hospital, Pediatric Cardiac Care.
Congratulations to Paul Towgood and Grant Bullington (who is also our KE sponsor from StretchLabs) who both finished first, along with two other riders, in a time of 3:09!!!! That’s crazy fast!
Lynda McCue finished in the second fastest group, in a total time of 3:53 and won the prize of a stuffed lion for first female finisher. Another crazy fast time.
Riding in a fondo or an organized event is much different than a weekend long ride.
If your goal is to make the most of the perks, like closed roads, fantastic food stops, and beautiful scenery, then your ride time will likely be slower and you will be out in the elements longer as you soak it all in.
If your goal is to use the event as an opportunity to push yourself to achieve a Personal Best (PB), then you will need to prepare for that type of intensity.
Pacing yourself is essential to having a successful day, whichever way you decide to ride..
#1. Learn the route
You need to know the route before planning your overall pacing strategy. Can you use up all your matches, knowing that the last 40km is a downhill coast, or do you need to save some? Are you drafting or riding alone? Where are the rest stops? How many will you use and when?
#2. Draft – or not
Watch your speed when riding in the middle of the back of the pack. If it feels comfortable and you are riding way faster than you ever have – enjoy the ride! Don’t get fooled into thinking you can ride faster and waste energy pulling at the front. Take the opportunity to cruise and recover. If you are faster (than the group you are in), wait for a smaller group to break away at the front and go with them, or wait for a faster group to catch up.
#3. Know yourself
Knowing and listening to your body is more complicated than it sounds. The body can fool even the most experienced riders; therefore, you need to plan the following ahead of time:
1. What, how much, and how often will you eat and drink?
2. How often can you push into Zone 4/5 without blowing up?
3. How many breaks do you need and for how long?
4. If you “feel” like the pace is relaxed or see that your power output is low – is it really too slow? Refer back to #1 and 2.
#4. Patience, Practice, and Perseverance
Learning how to pace is not easy, and the more gadgets you have, the more complicated it gets. Executing the perfect pacing strategy takes time, practice, and patience.
If you want to learn more about pacing, how to use a power meter (or heart rate monitor) and other training tips, I suggest the following books:
The Power Meter Handbook by Joe Friel
Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan
Even if you don’t “do” New Year’s Resolutions, the new year and a new training season require us to make some choices.
Which races or events do you want to ride, run, race? Do you want to hike the West Coast Trail or take a cycling vacation to Mallorca? Or is your primary goal to keep up with your spouse, friend, kids?
If these are the types of decisions you are making, you need to start planning to arrive at your goal ready and prepared.
5 Rules, in their order of importance, that will help with any goal
Rule #1: Create a plan and give something up (temporarily)
It doesn’t have to be expensive or complex, but you need to create a plan that will guide and motivate you to your goal. If you have more than one goal, you will need to chart them into your plan, accounting for travel time, family commitments, work obligations, and possibly a tiny buffer for a possible cold or covid outbreak.
Once you have committed to a plan, you need to decide what you are temporarily willing to give up to achieve this goal. How do you expect to find the time to train three, six, or ten? hours every week without giving something up? Will it be Netflix, cleaning the house, walking the dog, cooking, or likely a combination of these?
“Yes, you can have everything you want. Just not all at the same time.”
Rule #2: Trust and follow YOUR plan
There is no sense in choosing a plan, program, or coach if you don’t follow them. There are so many different programs you can choose from, and everyone will have a different opinion of which one is the best. You need to give your program 100% commitment before deciding if it does or doesn’t work for you.
Rule #3: Be consistent
Not one particular day will make or break your training, but each one is important collectively. It takes consistency over a minimum of three to six months before you will start to see significant changes. So enjoy the journey.
Rule # 4 Listen to your Body
Although this sounds contradictory to the previous rules, always listen to your body. Listen hard as it can be deceiving. Are you feeling tired or lazy? Are you overtraining or getting sick? Is the program too hard, or are you not putting in the effort? If you are unsure which it is, try training for ten minutes which is usually enough to get the endorphins pumping, and your laziness will disappear. If it doesn’t, and you still feel unwell, it would be better to quit and take a nap instead. If you never enjoy any of your workouts as you are constantly struggling to keep up, the program is too hard, and you need to completely abort your plan and choose one that can help you grow, not destroy you.
Rule #5: Write down your goals and recognize your victories
Fitness progression is a slow process that most people fail to recognize the change in themselves. As they become fitter/faster/leaner, they unconsciously alter their goals to the next level, barely recognizing how far they have come. By writing down your goals, you can look back and celebrate the victories as you achieve them. Not only does this help with motivation, but it also helps to keep things in perspective. We can’t all be Tour de France riders, but we can get a personal best in an event, lose 5lbs, or complete ten pull-ups, whatever your goal may be.