4 Essential Training Plan Fundamentals
In this post, I’ll discuss what I think are some of the fundamental elements of a successful cycling training plan. These are principles that I implement when creating a training plan, and are what I would encourage any athlete planning their season to include.
SET CLEAR GOALS
In order for your training plan to have direction and purpose, you need to lay out some SMART goals that your training plan is designed to achieve. SMART is an acronym usually used in business, but refers to a goal which is Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-Bound. An example of a SMART goal for a cycling training plan could be:
“Increase my Functional Threshold Power by 15 watts, using a VO2Max workout 2x per week, by June 2016”.
Setting a goal like this will ensure you have something very clear to work towards and the process of planning what steps to take to achieve the goal become far easier.
WORK BACKWARDS FROM TARGET EVENTS
Hand in hand with creating your training plan is deciding what events or dates in the calendar will be your priority and focus.
By marking important dates, you can then work backwards from that date to where you are now, laying out exactly which training phases you’ll need to progress through and what kind of workouts will be needed in each to prepare you adequately.
This also helps you to set intermediate goals along the way, so that as you progress through the training phases, you can measure whether you are on track with your fitness.
SCHEDULE ADEQUATE RECOVERY
It’s really common for athletes to get carried away when planning a cycling training plan and cram workouts on top of workouts, with little to no consideration of how to recover from each. It’s easy to forget that these workouts only create the POTENTIAL for fitness improvement, and it’s only during the recovery periods that you actually realise this potential. Straight after training sessions, you’re actually less fit than you were before!
A good general rule to follow is to allow at least one recovery ride, easy workout or day off for every hard training day. For particularly long or intense workouts, more than one day of rest will likely be needed. Try not to think of recovery as slacking off from training, but see it as a core part of your long term fitness improvement.
ALWAYS BE FLEXIBLE
A cycling training plan should never be completely set in stone and it’s completely unrealistic to expect a plan not to change throughout the season. There are simply too many external factors and until you reach a specific workout or training block, you are only making an educated GUESS at what you’ll be able to accomplish. It could be that the workload you have set is too heavy, or it could even go the other way and be too little, if your fitness has improved particularly rapidly, for instance.
Always listen to your body and don’t feel disinclined to alter your training plan if you need to. That being said, always keep your goals and target events in mind, in order to make smarter changes that keep you on the right track.
What are some fundamentals that you abide by when planning your training? Drop a comment below, as I’d love to hear your tips.