Cross Training/Multi-discipline Training

IMG_0440How do you fit your bike training into training for a multi-event sport? How do you fit training for other sports into your bike training? How many tough days a week can you handle if you are competing in several sports?

This weeks blog comes out of an email we received from one of our regulars, Nick, who recently came out to Tenerife. He fits his riding into a busy week that also contains other sports (come on Nick, only cycling really counts!!!!). So this week we look at the challenges of training for multi-sport events and how other sports will impact on your training.

The Raid Tenerife appeared to be a massive success. I met up with the group on Monday and then on Wednesday to say hello and share in some of the riding. On Wednesday, we were tracking along the east coast to a village called Guimar, where the clients were taking on an 18km climb at 7% average back up to the ‘ridge’ of the volcano, before descending into the old capital of the island, La Laguna and their well earned rest.

I had Martin with me and one of the Spanish guys we ride with here, Francisco, who races and is very strong. We rode out to meet the group after they had descended from the hotel and then joined in from there. The east coast route is normally into a head wind for 60 km, and so we encouraged the stronger riders to take the front of the group and rotate every three minutes, which kept the overall pace up.

The route is beautiful, never flat and continually twisting and turning – a fantastic ride. The continual succession of short climbs and fast sweeping descents is still a tough ride though and so we tried to keep the group together and as many riders sheltered as possible as the long climb from Guimar is a tough one.

We stopped in Guimar for a spot of lunch in the main town square, which is a beautiful spot, and then said our farewells and retraced our steps back home. Fortunately we then had a tailwind on the way back and so we flew back. I had averaged over 26km/hr by  the time I got back, which is quite quick for a ride here, especially including 2000m of climbing.

The clients then rode over into the rain forest at the north east of the island on the Thursday and around the north coast, which left them with the climb back up to the Paradores hotel in the crater, which they all completed before the time limit on Friday.

The highlight of the week for most of them was this last day. We suggested a ride up in the cable car to the top of the volcano in the afternoon, which is spectacular. The hotel is really comfortable with great food and service. And then there were the pros there at dinner, which gives the whole experience an extra plus!

On the Saturday, the clients were getting ready to leave as the pros were riding out, and this was just such a massive buzz! So when we met up on Saturday night for a final drink, everyone seemed very excited by the whole trip – great rides, great views, new parts of the island explored, great hotels, and that whole pro experience on the last night. Everything we had hoped for when we were planning the route! It was great riding with you all.

The rest of my week was the usual mix of rides. I did a light ride on Thursday, two and a half hours with the group on a quick ride on Friday, then a light ride on Saturday before a Sunday ride of two and a half hours, and finally a three and a half hour ride on Monday.

I am still riding plenty of hours at the moment, and letting my form build, and am now on the countdown to introducing some faster riding in France.

Jen has come back off the trip tired, as expected, and rode steadily yesterday. It will be a few more days yet before she feels fresh, and we then have a block of training to do before heading back, so we are looking at making the most of the last four weeks here before heading back to France.

Cross Training/ Multi-event Training.

Thanks Nick for your questions. There are several parts to your email, which I will answer here. Let’s go.

1. Warm up period for the sessions Zone 1 / Hills / Recovery – how long
is needed for this?

Good question Nick. Warm ups are quite personal really. I know I take longer to warm up now than when I was younger. For most people, 15 to 30 minutes is needed, and the warm up should include gradually building up you speed for short periods and possibly a couple of short, sharp efforts. The key here is that you should be ready for the workout, so if you warm up one week and then feel sluggish, then extend the warm up next time.

2. Short Zone 1 and Zone 1 – what’s the difference between these – how long is each?

This questions relates to one of the standard training plans that we give out. The idea of zone 1 riding (efforts up to sweetspot) is that you should do lots of it. So your zone 1 rides get longer and longer. HOWEVER, as you increase these, they then carry some fatigue, usually once you are over 2 to 3 hours. SO a short zone 1 is maybe up to 2 hours maximum, so that you can recover overnight and be ready to train again the following day. A long zone 1 ride may leave you needing more than 24 hour recovery, whereas a short one won’t!

3. What sort of duration should each of the sessions be, does this
slowly build up over the season?

Please see the above answer.

4. Recovery session – is this the recovery ride as on Day 5 i.e. easy
zone 1 with reps of 3 mins at sweet spot and fast spin for 20s?

Yes Nick. It may be that session. But the most important thing is to be ready for a hard session the day after. Again this is personal. I feel quite sluggish the day after I have a day off the bike. So this session where you do a couple of those spin-outs is my preferred recovery day. This works for 90% of people but not everyone. So your recovery day might be a swim, a yoga session, a light gym session, whatever it takes for you to feel great the day after. And again, if you don’t feel brilliant on the bike the day after, then change it!

5. Is it possible to swap some sessions for running without affecting improvements e.g. use a HRM at zone 1?

And now the very interesting stuff – including other sports in your training, especially running which is a key concern for triathletes. You MUST consider ALL of the exercise you are doing as having an impact on your fitness and on your recovery. I personally do not think that a zone 1 run is the same as a zone 1 ride because of the impact damage caused by running (this is why many of the top runners are running in water – much harder aerobically but less damage to the limbs!).

So now we run the risk of being fatigued a lot of the time and then we are into over-training before we realise. So I would replace one of your hard, speed session days on the bike with a hard, speed session of running! So don’t do your 3 minute or 30second efforts on the bike – get out those running shoes and maybe hit the track!

If you want to run twice in the week, you could do a long steady run on a Sunday to replace the ride, and bear in mind that the training effect is possibly double that of cycling, or more, so an hour run is equivalent to 2 to 3 hours on the bike ( especially if you are short of time – the run will be much better for you!). But you are going to need a proper recovery day the day after before any more hard work.

And if you are a triathlete and you are including swimming, this clearly creates much less damage’ so your long technique sessions in the pool will be a recovery day, and a quick session might only produce the damage of a zone 1 day on the bike. SO you can interchange them as you wish, but watch out for any signs of over-training and fatigue.

6. Similarly I play tennis twice a week – could this swap with some of
the cycling sessions without affecting the quality too much?
One session is cardio tennis which despite the name is low intensity
(under 140 bpm) for 1 hour and one session is Singles (which is higher

And finally, this is complicated. When you look at other sports, you have to be realistic about what damage is being caused. If you think of your training in terms of the recovery required to bounce back from this session, then this helps. A nice balanced program might include two hard, speed days (zone 3), which require 48 to 72 hour recovery, and three days where we are in zone 1. AND, most importantly, two full recovery days the day before the hard days.

BUT, I suspect that the cardio tennis is harder than  you think as this will create muscle damage. This would be like a steady run maybe, although if it involves frequent changes of direction, it is harder than that! SO can we say this is a zone 1 session? Possibly not. Your singles match, if competitive, is certainly not a zone 1 session.

So how do you fit all this in? I think that your harder days will be a run where you do some intervals or your singles match. Really go for it on the run, and hammer your opponent in the tennis! Run them off the court, Nick! Don’t bother with any fast stuff on the bike! You don’t say when your runs and tennis days are but ideally, your singles match and your fast run will be three days apart. Your cardio tennis should be the day before a recovery day ideally but could be the day after either of your hard sessions.

In between can be zone 1 riding or recovery only, all of which can be your riding! This will be more than enough to get you fit! Maybe you could do more riding in the month before any of your main rides Nick, at which point you could do a hard session on the bike to replace your run or your singles match, or both!

A sample week might be –

Friday – recovery day,

Saturday – singles match.

Sunday – long ride or steady, long run, or cardio tennis.

Monday – recovery day.

Tuesday – hard run, speed session.

Wednesday – short zone 1 ride.

Thursday –  long ride or steady, long run, or cardio tennis.

Thanks for the question Nick. Enjoy!

Pro News

I found the Basque Tour a little disappointing really! I think that the favourites all felt they could win in the time trial so they never really committed to any of the other stages. Even the Queen’s stage was ridden defensively when they could maybe have opened up large gaps. And then Valverde won so I wasn’t best pleased anyway!

Roubaix was a fast, tactical race. I was glad that Stybar didn’t win as he was sat on for most of the finale when it was clear then Boonen wasn’t coming back! But Greg Van Avermart was a worthy winner and despite having a bike change after hitting the deck earlier, he had a lot left at the end. Great ride!

We move on to Amstel Gold next week, and then the Ardennes week, which favours a different type of rider really and so we will see other riders shine. Van Avermart can still compete at the races, as can Peter Sagan but the punchy climbers will come to the fore!

And we have several pro teams in Tenerife at the moment, some with Giro aspirations and some putting in another big block of training for the Tour. Lotto Jumbo are here with Kruiswick, Bahrain Merida have Nibali here and Thomas is here with Sky, all riders with Giro ambitions.

And Chris Froome is here with some of the Tour riders on Sky – we saw them doing intervals up Teide on Sunday! All 100m apart and pushing huge gears!

As I have mentioned, we have a trip that is following the Tour this year, as one of our three trips following the grand tours, and this years race could be quite close throughout as the route has fewer key days, but many more days when attacking riding could pay off. So we will be out there at the road side when the drama unfolds, as well as giving our clients the time to ride some of these roads. Fantastic!!!!

The Week Ahead.

Once Jen has recovered from her trip, we have a training block planned where she focuses on raising her powers. There will be less volume but more quality efforts – two speed sessions as usual, but also lots of climbing at the upper end of sweetspot.

We have friends here for the next two weeks, so this fits in well with seeing them, and then our last week here will be a big block of over-reaching with plenty of climbing each day as Jen starts to prepare for her Ventoux event.

I will join her on the rides but keep to my heart rate! I have got quite good at sitting up when my heart rate rises – it is not easy watching people ride of up the road when I could normally be there with them, but it is only another month or so until I can push on a bit!

Have a great week everyone.

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