'October…and the leaves are stripped bare…' as Bono once sang before he became unbearable. Anyway, I promised a month by month training ‘could do list’ and as we are staring autumn in its ruddy face already, now seems like an appropriate time to do October.
Ride or rest? - Like September the weather can be good enough to make riding outdoors enjoyable but, if you are working a normal pattern, the nights have drawn in to the extent it’s too dark for evening rides in natural light. The transition to mid-week turbo sessions is on the way but I would caution against going too hard, too early. We have got 6 months of this stuff to get through.
If you are motivated to ride, then ride. However, Covid-19 means we have had an unusual season. The vagaries of lockdown means you may have missed rest between periods of intense competition, the family holidays without the bike and, paradoxically, a couple of breaks due to having a cold. I’m not suggesting a cold is a good thing but it does enforce some time away from the bike. Physical and mental rest and recovery is essential so if you are feeling bored or tired, put your feet up for 2 weeks and rekindle your desire to ride – you will need it over a long winter.
Refine your targets – Hopefully, you will have an idea what you are aiming to do in 2021 by now. Nail something specific and measurable down and stick it in the calendar. It is an important part of sports psychology to help you stay on track over the winter.
Training zones – If you are using power measurement, make sure your zones are up to date and, if necessary, do an FTP test. Check your current FTP is consistently reflected in any and all of the systems or apps you use so your training is at the right intensity to be effective.
Longer endurance rides – Probably the right time to start building these in. There is a debate in endurance training about whether the most effective programs are pyramidal (building a base and refining it to a peak) or polarised (80% easy and 20% hard). Truth is, it depends who you are and what your physiology best responds to. If you are a 28 year old pro rider aim to do the Milan San Remo and a grand Tour in 2021 you are going to need a good number of 6-7 hour back to back rides. An older club cyclist will not need this, but building appropriate aerobic endurance is important if you want to be quick over anything that lasts more than a few minutes.
Zone discipline – This is important. If you are going to do a Z2 ride then try and keep it in zone as much as possible. There is a big difference between 2 hours in Z2 using your correct FTP setting and 2 hours with 40 mins in Z2 and the rest drifting in Z1. Try holding a couple of hours riding at Tempo (Z3) – it is pretty tough. Always worth checking your average Normalised Power at the end of a ride, to ensure you are pushing at the right level. If you take only one thing away from this blog, take this.
Rich Smith's turbo trainer is sulking at the back of the garage where it was unceremoniously booted last year. He has coached the Great Britain Transplant Cycling team for 10 years, is a British Cycling qualified Level 3 coach and a mature psychology student. He spent 30 years responding badly to people in authority in senior roles for Barclays, HSBC, British Waterways and National Grid Property before launching RideFast Coaching which is much more fun.
The ramblings of a cycling coach...