How do you peak for a target event?
Timing your form and ensuring you peak for a target event really is not easy to do.
Sometimes you feel great on the bike, for no apparent reason? Other times, when you are apparently well rested and should be ‘on good form’, the legs just aren’t there. Strange huh?
It all boils down to careful planning, and taking yourself through the right phases. The specific amount of work in each phase, and indeed the phases you go through will all depend on your natural physical makeup, and your target event.
For example, if you are a naturally fast athlete, but struggle with endurance or climbing, you are likely to spend more time working on your ‘length’ (ability to sustain an effort), or your climbing. After all, it’s no good being the fastest guy in a race if you are 10 minutes down at the finish. That said – your strength is your sprint, so you need to really focus on that also, otherwise you will lose it. Remember – you get good at what you train / practice.
So – what do we mean by ‘phases’?
Phase 1 – Strength
Phase 2 – Power
Phase 3 – Speed
Phase 4 – Taper
Note – you hear people talk about ‘endurance phase’, however this is not really a phase. Endurance is something we work on every time we ride a bike. It is the cumulative total of all the riding we do. We call this ‘Muscular Endurance’ – which comes naturally, when you train through the above phases. Around all the specific efforts we do are micro phases of recovery and ‘steady riding’ aka – endurance work.
Common mis-conception – ‘you have to ride for a long time to be good at long events’ – wrong. You can complete a 100 mile race, very competitively, on a diet of 30 mile rides and hour turbo sessions (with a significant degree of intensity). Ideal for the time strapped rider.
So, let’s take the example of preparing for a race to bring the 4 phases mentioned above in to life. Working backwards from race day, this is a guide for how to peak for a target event…
Phase 4 – Come race day, to perform at the best of your ability, you are going to need to be well rested. For this reason, the final phase is always ‘Taper’ – it’s a period of reduced training (primarily a reduction in volume, whilst maintaining an element of intensity).
Phase 3 – To perform in a race, you are going to need to have an element of speed in your legs. Since races are usually a lot faster than what we do in training, and with it different sensations, you are going to need to work on your speed. Speed is the decisive attribute at the end of a bike race, and even Sportives to make sure you get home ahead of your friends!
Phase 2 – This is all about developing your power. To be fast, you need to be powerful. Developing your power involves performing explosive efforts – big gears, big power, really drawing on your strength.
Phase 1 – This is where it all starts, with strength. If you are not inherently strong – you can’t be powerful or fast, since both producing power and packing a punch of speed requires a foundation of strength work.
So, working forward – to ensure you are in top shape for your chosen event, ensure you methodically progress through the above phases, working on; Strength, Power, Speed and Taper. That said, if your target is a long charity ride / challenge, or just to complete sportive events – then it is likely very little time will be spent working on speed as this is not really required. Instead, more strength & power work, coupled with a more major focus on getting some longer rides in.
Article written by Rowe & King Coach, Jodie Lloyd.