Cyclists and triathletes training with power can be tempted to keep pushing the same power levels and workouts in the off-season that were normal in the race season. Aiming to keep training volumes and intensity levels the same year round can lead to burnout and injuries. Even Olympic athletes change workouts so they can be faster in the upcoming season.
You too must change your training in order to achieve new success.
One way of changing training is aiming to harvest as much power from a workout as possible, without popping over a heart rate cap. For example, if you’re using one of my off-season (base or preparation) training plans you may find one of your workouts allows a range of heart rate intensities from Zone 1 to Zone 3. One way to aim for higher power levels – while restricting heart rate – is to go ahead and aim for your Zone 3 peak race season power production during the ride and recover when heart rate reaches the pre-assigned cap.
This kind of workout is great for indoor trainers and helps the time pass quickly. Here is one example 60-minute indoor trainer workout:
Warm-up 15 minutes at Zone1 to 2 heart rate.
Pick a rolling course on your trainer or simulate a rolling course. Ride at roughly XXX watts (your Zone 3 power goal) until your heart rate reaches the top of Zone 3. When HR reaches the top of Zone 3, spin easy at Zone 1 watts, or less, for 2 minutes. Repeat the sequence until 35 minutes are up.
Spin easy at Zone 1 watts.
I find this kind of “gaming the system” does a few things for athletes:
Even if you are new to using power on an indoor trainer, and you don’t have power on your outdoor bike, you can begin to figure out power zones to make winter training more interesting and fruitful.
Once you know a power goal and a heart rate cap, you can use self-talk to relax and keep heart rate lower while aiming for high power output. This skill can, and should be, transferred to the race season. In other words, how can you keep biological costs (heart rate) low while riding fast? Play with this, and you should find you can influence the numbers.
The workout allows you to aim for some of the racing season’s power production without turning the session into the same workouts you’ve done for months.
With the right mix of workouts, you can make next season your best.
Detailed off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlon plans found here.
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