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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: PixelPaul's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    Help with off-season training plan

    Looking for some advice as to how I can improve my cycling this off-season....

    I returned to riding this April after about almost 20 years in which I occasionally would particpate in endurance activities . A run, bike or ski here or there for the most part, but nothing that would resemble any kind of formal training. Did mostly easy longer rides this year, between 1:30 - 2:30 at an average of around 18-19 mph, on average 3-4x per week. Tried some faster group rides in late summer/fall and got absolutely crushed. Could not maintain the speed necessary to keep up with the group for more than a few minutes. But for some reason my serving of humble pie has me super motivated for next season. I'm looking for some tips on how I can improve over the winter season.

    I live in the midwest, so soon the only riding option will be indoors on the trainer. I know the obvious answer is to ride more (and then ride some more), but I can't imagine having the time or sanity to handle more than 4 days a week on the trainer. I'm guessing I need to build my leg strength and power, but I'm not sure how to go about that.

    I'd like to try some road racing next spring and summer. I'm 45, about 5'7" and 138 lbs. Reasonably fit, but could probably use to lose around 5# off the midsection. Back in the day I was able to run sub 15 minutes for a 5K, so I do think I have some ability. I know that doesn't guarantee success in cycling, but I don't have any dreams of greatness. I would like to just be able to hang with the pack in a Cat 5 event.

    Looking for ideas/tips/suggestions on how to get faster.
    Last edited by PixelPaul; 10-30-2015 at 02:32 PM.

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Get a copy of Joe Friel's book, The Cyclist's Training Bible. It's a good reference.

    Since frequent trainer sessions in the winter would kill your sanity, don't do them. Do them as often and as long as you enjoy them, then get off.

    You need to write down what your strengths and shortcomings are. A good way to make the off-season interesting is to make it goal-oriented. The goal would be to focus in improving your shortcomings while maintaining a fitness base. But you definitely don't want to do so much that you burn out.

    Alternate aerobic winter activities are fine-snowshoeing, skiing, hiking. Friel's book outlines a good winter weightlifting program which is a fresh break from on the bike training. I do a similar program with only a workout mat, an exercise ball, and a pair of dumbbells; the point being you don't even need a gym membership or a lot of equipment.

    If you can ride 30 minutes 3x a week on the trainer and even if it's not intense, it's better than nothing and will keep your enthusiasm up. Spend the remainder of the week with weights or alternate aerobic activities.

    Worry about the intensity training to hang in the Cat. 5 packs in the spring after the roads clear. Because if you don't enjoy your winter training you won't do it.

    Joe Friel's book isnt' the be all-end all but it's a good place to start.

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    (disclaimer, I am just a regular paying customer of TrainerRoad for the past two years with an unusual tolerance for trainers)

    If you are gonna be on the trainer anyway, make it count. Get TrainerRoad!

    Ok, you probably want more information than that:

    They have excellent training plans setup in a way that you can be ready when you want to be ready for whatever it is you are targeting. They start out with a base plan (12 weeks), then a build plan (8 weeks) and then a specialty plan (8 weeks). There is more information in this blog post here Improved Cycling Training Plans - TrainerRoad

    You will need an ant+ stick and a PC/MAC or ipad/iphone with bluetooth bike sensors (soon Android, but not yet). Check this page for more info on how to get setup

    I am currently doing the Sweet Spot Base 1 - High Volume and it comes out to 8 hours a week. I will admit, the 3:25 hour session on Sunday kinda sucks. The rest of the week is 60 to 90 min at different levels of intensity and there are also drills you can follow along and do while you are at it. I just mumble, "it's all gonna pay off in the summer, just like it did last year".
    Sufferfest/TrainerRoad Junky

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Based on your height and weight, you likely have more that 5# you can lose. I'd consider body composition as a guideline. Get rid of the spare tire around your middle and you'll probably be good.
    Here is one of my favorite posts from Joe Friel:
    Joe Friel - Question on Power & Weight
    This is a great time to cut back on calories. That way the holidays won't add extra weight to lose in January.
    You might consider getting the new Friel book, Fast After 50. It's all about intensity. That's good in that it makes for shorter trainer sessions.
    I have the luxury of using a Computrainer and Ergvideo. Best investment I ever made for training 12 years ago!
    Good luck.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Quote Originally Posted by HyperSprite View Post
    If you are gonna be on the trainer anyway, make it count. Get TrainerRoad!
    I had more improvement in 1 year (last winter) with TR than I had in all the other years with no real plan.

    However, if you're like me (& most people), you'll need something else to keep you from going crazy. Some people are fine with music, some like bike racing DVDs - I prefer movies & series (4 yrs of Game of Thrones got me though a big chunk of last winter)(laptop streaming GoT with TR in horizontal mode along the bottom). Some people like the classes at more advanced gyms so they can suffer with others. Staring at a blank wall while putting yourself through pain - sucks. Find ways to divert your attention & you're more likely to stay with the program.
    All the best,
    Central-Western NJ, USA

    There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.
    --- James Allen Hightower

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Quote Originally Posted by PixelPaul View Post
    Back in the day I was able to run sub 15 minutes for a 5K, so I do think I have some ability. I know that doesn't guarantee success in cycling, but I don't have any dreams of greatness. I would like to just be able to hang with the pack in a Cat 5 event.
    Man, that's awesome. You clearly have the athletic abilities to be very, very good. It's just getting to that point that might be a bit frustrating. Not a lot of crossover with regards to the sports themselves, but aerobic ability is aerobic ability, and I'd think with just a bit of improvement in efficiency and pack skills you'd get pretty good pretty quickly.

    At this point, just ride more. Indoor training sucks tremendously, so whatever you can do to liven it up. Zwift and Tour de Giro are awesome for social racing/riding. Other programs are good if you just want some one-on-one workout time (I don't even bother with that stuff on the trainer).

    I'd say to start small and work on getting into a routine. Don't start planning on marathon trainer sessions or you'll probably hate it and stop altogether. 20-30 min rides are a great step. Get a warmup, get a few minutes of harder pedaling, get a spin down. Short and simple. Then build from there.

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: Srode's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    depends on when you want to be able to hang with the fast group and what you are willing to endure on the trainer. Base training in Z2 helps, but less than a couple hours at a time is useless IMHO and 2+ hours on the trainer is a long time. Trainers are better for shorter 1 hour sessions and those would be more interval / higher intensity sessions + cool down / warm up. If you can manage to do longer rides off the trainer and short ones on the trainer, that would be a solid plan for the Winter I think. One long ride a week and 2 or 3 interval sessions.

    Personally if you are including a warm up and cool down I don't think a 20 or 30 minute session is worth getting on the bike unless it's things like pedal drills.
    Moderation is boring - do epic s##t

    Trek Domane
    Niner RLT9 (Gravel Bike)
    Trek Crockett

  8. #8
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Man I echo pedalbiker...15 minute 5k! Wow! You've got some really amazing ability to move oxygen. I was just going to say something like what did you do to get to the point you could run sub 5 minute miles a few in a row? I assume it didn't come easy and you probably put a bit of time not only on the road but on the track. Just wondering if you took what you did running and applied it to cycling (except the time cycling would need to be longer to get the same cardio) would you see similar results?

  9. #9
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: ParadigmDawg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    My wife and I are on a winter strength program from Training Peaks. It is a very structured 20 week program that has a lot of "base" to it yet you do a broad range of different types of rides.

    Monday-Friday are basic 1-1.5 hour rides with a lot of time in Z2. A couple of those rides, per week, will have a type of interval in them such as bursts, sweet spot training, hill repeats, 2x18's for a certain amount of time.

    Saturday and Sunday are long endurance rides between 2 and 4.5 hours and they always have various sets of overload work but go back to zone 2 for the majority of the rides.

    There is an hour of weight lifting, core building and Plyometrics training twice a week and Yoga twice a week.

    It sounds like a lot but it is well planned out, achievable and there are two rest days per week(one active rest and one complete rest) and once a month you have 5 days off in a row.

    This coming Monday is our first week off and I am ready for it!!!!!

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