Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Off Season Training

Conventional wisdom says that off season training is usually made up of long hours at low intensity. There is usually little to no high intensity work during the off season since you are working on building an aerobic foundation for the coming season.

Last season I worked with one of the coaches from Carmichael Training Systems and followed a program very similar to this. This season I've decided to save some money and go it alone. Joe Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible is a great tool for the do-it-yourselfer since it pretty much lays out a classic program day by day. For the last two months I've been following a program similar to Friel's in which I've been building my aerobic base by increasing my training hours each week for 4 weeks and then falling back to a rest week and starting over.

During this time I've also been incorporating regular core workouts using the Cyclo Core DVDs I mentioned in a previous post. My abs have always been a weak spot and these DVDs have really helped strengthen that area, though my hamstring flexibility could still use some work.

As I head in to the second half of my base training I figured I'd stick with the typical program, continuing to put in lots of base hours. However, recently the creator of the Cyclo Core program started offering a winter training program which challenges the norm and suggests that perhaps you don't need huge base miles. Instead, this program replaces long hours on the bike with some higher intensity work (very focused workouts instead of long, mindless hours of riding) and lots of core exercise.

I have to admit, I am very intrigued by this idea. Long hours on the bike get very boring since my rides are pretty much always my commute. In addition, riding in the cold rain gets old quickly and I find myself looking forward to core workouts. Cycling oriented yoga can be quite fun! So here, in the middle of my winter training I'm totally confused about what to do. Should I go with the old standard or try something new and risk my fitness for next season? At this point I think I'm going to try to combine the two ideas. I'm going to make more time for core workouts (more than the twice a week I currently put in) and still try to get some solid riding time from my commuting. If it doesn't work out, oh well.. at least I won't be bored to tears all winter.

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