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Putting the plan into action

Last week I mentioned how I stay motivated to train over the winter months, and this post is going to get into a bit more detail around how I apply that plan. Before getting into that, we should briefly discuss why you should listen to me. The truth is, you probably shouldn’t. I’m not qualified in anyway to provide training advice. With that in mind, my goal here is more for me to share what has worked for me, which might not be useful for you, or it might; even if it’s just at the framework level.

Caveat out of the way, I don’t mean to imply that my approach is baseless. There is a significant amount of research, trial, error, and trial again. The approach was born out a desire to get faster, reduce chronic pain/injuries, and do those things in a sustainable year-round way. I don’t race (in the real sense anyway), so having a fitness peak is not an explicit goal, obviously there will be ups and downs as the year progresses, but again, the target is just sustainable fitness growth.

How well has it worked? Around 3.5 years ago while I was recovering from yet another running/soccer related injury, the 182lb Pure Climber talked me into buying a road bike. I wasn’t a total newb on the bike, I’d been trail riding on my MTB for years, but in a very casual way. We had just moved back to Chicago, and I thought it would be a nice way to maintain some fitness while I got back on my feet, and it worked OK for that. When I could run again, the road bike was still there, and I would ride it occasionally. But, I knew I was slow (12-14mph avg), which was very demotivating, so pretty much more of the same casual, but now on the road.

Chronic injuries never go away, they just fade, until they don’t. So a year later I was pretty much in the same place I was before, but worse. It was time to hang up the cleats and focus on something else. Obviously, that thing was cycling. I’m telling this story because it seems very common among other MAMILs; cycling is the thing that we do when our bodies start to fail. Clearly, it’s not everyone’s story, some learn the lesson sooner, I wish I had :).

I’ve been roughly following the framework below, for around two years now. In every measurable way I’m faster, fitter, and stronger than I was before; quite possibly ever. Now, that doesn’t mean much without context because there was a lot of room for growth on the bike, so in concrete terms: I’m currently sitting in 11th place (4th in my age group) in the local-racers-ITT (1:04:29 @ 24.1MPH) that I’ve mentioned a few times, and I’ve completed ten solo 100+ mile rides so far this year (three sub-5); only one with any real planning. So, at least to me, it seems like it’s working, both from an endurance and pace perspective.

The basic structure follows the same two week pattern year-round, where not-bike “rest” days interleave into the [usually] high intensity workouts I mentioned in last week’s post. I will occasionally substitute a Zwift race for one of the high intensity workouts depending on my goals, but since those tend to be essentially one hour @FTP, and I have to align to someone else’s schedule, it doesn’t happen that often.

Framework:

  • M: 10-15 minute warmup run + pushup routine
  • T: high intensity cycling workout or Zwift race
  • W: 10-15 minute warmup run + dead-lift/squat/pull-up routine
  • R: high intensity cycling workout or Zwift race
  • F: 10-15 minute warmup run + pushup routine
  • S: long ride (base) or rest day (mostly depending on what my family obligations are)
  • S: long ride (base) or rest day (mostly depending on what my family obligations are)
  • M: 10-15 minute warmup run + dead-lift/squat/pull-up routine
  • T: high intensity cycling workout or Zwift race
  • W: 10-15 minute warmup run + pushup routine
  • R: high intensity cycling workout or Zwift race
  • F: 10-15 minute warmup run + dead-lift/squat/pull-up routine
  • S: long ride (base) or rest day (mostly depending on what my family obligations are)
  • S: long ride (base) or rest day (mostly depending on what my family obligations are)

It might seem odd that this isn’t just cycling, but getting stronger on the bike is a goal, not the only goal. Incorporating some light running provides variety, body-weight helps to keep the core strong, reduces injuries, is great at reducing the impact of being an all-day-desk-sitter, and weight lifting is great for bone density, very important for reducing muscle loss in masters athletes (ugg, kind of hurts to say that out loud ;)), and cycling. I try to do all of the weekday workouts over lunch, so they’re all around an hour. So not a huge time commitment either.

It is important to not just do this blindly. It’s just a framework, and it’s quite easy to overload the system with stress. For e.g., when it’s nice outside I often ride in the mornings on MWF with a fast group, and since I don’t draft during pandemic seasons it means I’m doing the cumulative work of everyone pulling just to hang 50′ off the group. Hitting it hard on what’s supposed to be a “rest” day (cycling focus), isn’t really that restful. Doing this week-after-week with all the other training stress, could lead to over-training; lots of stress is good, too much stress is really bad. To keep a handle on it, I monitor my resting heart rate (RHR) to make sure that I’m not doing anything harmful. Paying attention to RHR tells me when I should swap out one of the high intensity workouts. My general rule, if it’s 5-9 beats over “normal” go for Z2, anything more than that equals recovery.

I was hesitant to write this post, mostly because I’m not an expert, and there are plenty of experts out there who have a lot to say on this topic. I ended up doing it because enough people asked. So I hope it’s useful. Feel free to tell me what works for you, the framework is intended to be adaptive, so feedback is welcome. Also, if you have a question or suggestion for content let me know. No promises, but it’s great to know what other cyclists are looking for. Drop a comment below, or send me an email, whatever you’re most comfortable with.

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142ish lb flatlander
142ish lb flatlander
2 months ago

High intensity cycling workouts the next day after dead-lift/squat workouts?

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