Make every ride count
Periodisation is the answer to getting more miles in when you’re busy, says Liam Holohan
“In many ways, working with professional athletes is easier when it comes to the prescription of training. Each week they have a blank slate from which to work from,” says Liam Holohan. “All day, every day, is available to them for training.” The challenge comes for the ‘time-crunched cyclist’, who must also fit in family life and a normal job to their week.
“When it comes to training, you can only control two things; volume and intensity; or, how much and how hard. For a lot of amateur cyclists, this ratio never changes. They do the same training in November as they do in July. The key to being on form on the day of your target event is periodisation. Essentially, this is how you organise your season, or macro-cycle.”
01 CLASSICAL PERIOD
There are many types of periodisation. Classic, or linear periodisation, is what most cyclists have heard of: that’s long, steady miles in the winter, intervals in the spring, race in the summer. This is a great way to train, as long as you have the time. An athlete who only has 10 hours a week will find that they’re not progressing with such low volume and intensity.
02 REVERSE GEAR
Reverse periodisation works the other way around; low volume, high intensity in the winter, more volume, less intensity in the summer. On those dark evenings, you could utilise the turbo to do some higher intensity work. When summer and the lighter nights roll round you could up the volume and get out on the road mid-week. The only trouble with this is that the specificity principle states that the training has to replicate the demands of the event. So, if you’re road racing, the training gets less like a road race as you get closer to the season. But for a gran fondo, or sportive rider, the training gets increasingly like the event. Reverse periodisation is great for that type of rider.
03 USE WEEKS EFFECTIVELY
One method I would recommend is undulating periodisation. This means that during each mesocycle of training the volume and intensity take turns in priority, week on week. You’d use the weeks where you’ve more time available to focus on the volume; then, when you’re time crunched, focus on intensity. This also keeps the training varied.
04 DUMP THE JUNK
CLASSIC OR LINEAR PER IODIS AT ION IS A GR E AT WAY TO TRAIN AS LONG AS YOU HAVE THE TIME
A term I have heard a lot is ‘junk miles’. It means different things to different people. Here’s my definition: Ask yourself, ‘How is this session helping me achieve my goal?’ If you can’t answer this with conviction then it’s junk and that time could be put to a much better use.
05 MISS THE TRAIN
You can cut out dead time on a commute. If you can work training into this time, it will put less of a drain on family and work time. Don’t just use this tip for your work commute. If you’ve a family trip planned, why not ride there?
06 CATCH THE COACH
Commit to working with a cycling coach – even remotely as it will help you prioritise your time more effectively, they’ll examine your lifestyle, work and family commitments to timetable sessions for you, and identify windows of opportunity for you to train. A good coach will ensure that you’re continuing to improve, looking for the point of diminishing returns with each training stimulus.