Guest post: Autumn and Winter fitness by Total Cycle Coach

For a good chunk of this year, I’ve been working with Colin at Total Cycle Coach to learn to train in a more structured way. You may have noticed my post earlier in the year about learning to ride in Zone Two (http://girodilento.com/training-reflections-from-zone-two/). I asked Colin if he’d write a blog post with some thoughts on training through Autumn and Winter. It’s below and I hope you find it interesting. You can find more information on Total Cycle Coach here: http://www.totalcyclecoach.com/

Time to take stock.

Autumn is a time to look back at your last season and take stock. What went well? What could have gone better? What events do you never want to do again? What events excite you for 2013?

Just by the simple action of looking back we can gain an insight into what we need to go well in 2013.

What kind of riding you should be doing:

The first thing to do after a long and tough season is to have some down time to your body a chance to recover from all the stress and strain you’ve put it through.

Think about having a couple of weeks completely off the bike and when you get back on give yourself a few weeks of short and easy rides, this will help you recover both physically and just as importantly mentally. Then when we’ve taken stock and worked out what we want to ride and where we need to improve we can start to think about our autumn riding.

The autumn is traditionally known as the time to ‘build your base’. Yet whilst many riders say they are building their base what they actually find themselves doing is exactly the same rides as they did in previous years. If you keep doing the same things as you did last year and hoping you’ll see an improvement you’ll be hoping in vain. So don’t just think about doing something different, actually go and do something different.

How much training you might be looking to do and what methods (e.g. long slow rides, turbo sessions, interval training

The quickest way to lose interest in training over the winter in to do nothing other than unstructured turbo sessions, all that will happen here is that after a few weeks the turbo will be back in it’s box and the bikes will be gathering dust.  So my top tips for winter training are:

Buy some turbo DVD’s Sufferfest or 3 Legs cycling produce great DVD’s that will hopefully stop you getting bored.

Think about MTB or cyclo cross rides when the weather is bad but you still want to get out, they make a great alternative to slogging over dirty roads, at least you know you’ll get covered in mud.

Think about doing some gym or more importantly some core stability work, look into getting a winter gym pass and do some Swiss ball or core stability classes.

Think about your diet, less cycling plus same calorific intake = a hard start to the new season

Ride with friends, ride with your club. You need to start building the base to 2013, so build you aerobic endurance with some long easy rides, rides where you don’t get too out of breath and have time to chat and maybe for a café stop. Build these up across the winter because at some point the weather will stop you riding, so bank some good long rides now.

Work on your weaknesses. The season will be here soon so now is the perfect time to start building on your weaknesses for 2013.

A good week looks like:

One long ride on the road or MTB/Cross, one short ride in the hills (assuming you want to be a better climber) and a couple of midweek turbo sessions or gym sessions. Remember you have a life outside cycling.

How to transition between seasons:

At the end of your winter work, it’s time to start upping everything for 2013, so start making your weekend rides longer as you build up your aerobic endurance, start building up from 3 to 4 hours, then up to 5 or 6. Start upping the number of hills on your ride, add in extra loops so you cover hills 4, 5 or 6 times. It might get a bit painful and a little boring, but you will feel the benefit going into the new season. If you need to go faster then start riding parts of your regular route faster or look for shorter routes when you can maintain a higher average.

Keeping focused

Maintain your focus by breaking everything down into small blocks. So two weeks of Sufferfest DVDs before jumping onto 3 Legs cycling, alternate weeks of MTB and road riding, buy some mud guards and some good winter kit, buy the best lights you can afford, have themes, a week of nothing but hills, then a flat week, a mixed week.

But above all never lose sight of where you will be riding in 2013 and what you need to work on to improve.