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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Get in shape for 2014 - A guest post by Dr Garry Palmer

At Bespoke we're pleased to offer the physiological testing services of Dr Garry Palmer, one of the UK's leading sports physiologists. Read more about Sportstest here: Garry is already looking ahead to next season, and has written this guest blog to highlight some things to consider:


2014 Starts here!

Well, as the season is coming to a close (unless you are brave enough to be racing ‘cross), the nights are drawing in, and the weather has got decidedly chillier, many riders are thinking about hanging up their wheels for a well-earned rest, but is that really what you should be planning?

Now should be a time for reflection.  Did you achieve the goals you were aiming for in 2013?  If so, great, but could you have bettered those performances?  If not, you perhaps need to reassess those goals, or more importantly review your preparation.  Now is the time to start planning for 2014!

The first thing you should do is have one (or possibly two similar) goals to focus on for next season.  In this way you can focus your training to ensure that you have the correct fitness needs to meet your goals.  In doing this you should list all your strengths and weaknesses with key areas of your riding (this is something we do with all of our clients), and this should be matched to your performance target.  Where you are weak in key areas, this is where you should focus your training (this is also where our fitness assessments play a vital role, as we can accurately detect your threshold and riding efficiency, something that cannot be done without a physiological assessment).  This should lead you to a clear understanding of your training (and possibly nutritional) priorities.

Many cyclists confuse their priorities, spending more time, money and thought on their bikes, rather than their bodies:

Once you have identified you both your performance goals, and your training needs, you should start to think about training phases (Again, we are better able to do this from a physiological perspective as a part of your Sportstest) .  In a training year where there is just one major goal, at Sportstest we would use a simple three phase system.

Initially the training would be BASE training, to put down the underlying cardio-vascular fitness needed to carry you through the season, but in some events, this is also critical to ensure you complete the event.  Typically the BASE training phase would last somewhere between 3 and 9 months, to ensure maximum developments in cardio-vascular fitness and increased riding efficiency (and of course the all-important fat burning!).  On common mistake many riders make over the winter period is that their BASE training is done at too high an intensity, or the training is done in a group scenario, and not effectively focused to their specific needs and intensity.  A Sportstest will help determine what the correct training zones are for you as an individual, with your current fitness level, and will ensure you get the most of your valuable training time.

Once the BASE phase is complete, a phase of 8 to 12 weeks of race pace or THRESHOLD training would be undertaken.  This would aim to ensure you can cope with the speed demands of the event, and would also look to enhance your THRESHOLD ability (this is what allows you to maintain your pace in a 10 or 25 mile time trial, or climbing those cols in the major European sportives!).

The final phase to ensure you reach your chosen event in peak fitness would be a SPEED & POWER phase.  This basically ensures you have the “icing on the cake”, and can cope with rapid changes in pace, or very heavy efforts of climbing short sharp hills.  This phase could last anywhere between 4 and 12 weeks depending on the nature of your event, but for most riders ~6 weeks is usually adequate.

So with this in mind for any of you looking to peak for around May (10 & 25 mile time trial championships), or July for the major European sportives such as the Etape or Marmotte, you better get you bike out, because you should now be working towards building a fitness base that will ensure you meet your goals!

Look out 2014, here we come!!!


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