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Winter Base has now “officially” arrived for me after a relatively useful Preparation Period. I established some new workouts for gym sessions to utilise through Winter Base but I also got a bout of sickness out of the way.
I think of this time as an acceptance that Winter has muscled its way in and will not budge for the next 5 months. Certainly no earlier than that here in the Scottish Highlands. That may does sound negative but it isn’t supposed to. Nothing other than accepting this and altering my mindset will do me any favours. The long drawn Winter Base Period will create the foundations for next season. This is the best possible way to view and approach the months ahead.

I want my base to be made of concrete, not eggs and butter.
My base WILL BE made of concrete, not eggs and butter.

Such analogies have been done to death perhaps. They work well though and that’s why they have been done to death.
When the time comes to ramp up the intensity and push my body to new levels. Would I rather attempt that with a body built through months of consistently structured training (concrete. Hard as F****!)? Or attempt it with a body that has inconsistently trained (or not) for a long unstructured period of time? (yep, that’s right, eggs and butter. SOFT!)

base-start-dates

Base Period is typically a longer training block (through the Winter normally) used to build up solid endurance strength. This is usually or traditionally established through long “slow” training rides in all weathers outdoors. Rides of 3/4/5/6 hours barely ever seeing you venture outwith Z2.
In recent times it has been debated, altered, adapted (like everything else, especially on the web). It shows there is a good split between the “old school” approach I describe above and a “new school” approach to Base Period.
I simply refer to them as old school and new school to differentiate at the very top top level. People have very different views and combinations of what Base is to them these days. New School rather incorporates some higher intensity work in favour of less KM’s.

I personally believe there is a fine balance or mix to be had from both of these generalised approaches. Like most things I post about, I will declare that this comes down to a very individual level. In my case I am trying to establish what works best for me. I also believe rather firmly that there is no RIGHT or WRONG approach to Base Period. It is a matter of learning and establishing what works best for the individual and then developing.



My Base Period:

There is nothing fancy to see here and I believe that to be a good thing. It is really straightforward and will be as uncomplicated as it should be.
My plan will see me work on 4 week cycles. Weeks 1 to 3 will see an increase in training volume each week and on the 4th week I will reduce volume to utilise this as a “recovery week”.

My approach, as I hinted at above, is to utilise a mix of the traditional “old school” and “new school” Base Periods. I will be doing the traditional hours in the saddle at Z2 but I won’t be doing this exclusively.
Using the weekly planned hours I will incorporate one or two sessions on top of the usual steady state endurance work. This is because I believe that the steady state endurance deep base fitness gained from hours in the saddle is essential. There is no escaping the fact that you need to put in the hours/KM’s.

Exclusive high intensity workouts are not a direct substitute.

A rise in popularity of riding bikes and then racing them (a very good thing regardless!) has led to the creation and adaption of so many different training approaches. These days it serves to allow all manners of cyclists to structure their training (again, a very good thing regardless!).
Time Crunched plans/coaching and the like are a great example of this. It allows people with very little time to structure training and reap the benefits as much as possible in the short spaces of time they have available.

Online lately there has been some blogs/vlogs and such like where I’ve even seen people say to drop the base miles and focus all your time on high intensity. It’s almost like they believe themselves when they say this sort of thing like it is even comparative? Good luck to anyone racing anything over 1.5 hours that has done nothing but high intensity intervals over the winter as to spend less time training. I am not saying these people are totally in the wrong but they should not claim such things as fact and broadcast generally. Nothing is as black and white as that I fear.

Minimal time or crunched training does not work for me. I am not saying it doesn’t work at all. It just does not work for me.
Over the years I have established that I train better off the back of loaded fatigue. In other words, I perform better on the bike the more time I spend on it (in a managed sense of course). Days off the bike leave me feeling very lethargic and flat rather than leaving me feeling rested and ready to bounce back.
With a family and a full time job, it means squeezing training into the very early hours of the morning and utilising commuting back and forth to work, in order to get the KM’s logged.

As an example, some think my Sunday morning 0600 starts for 4 hour+ rides is silly but it means I get the training done and have an entire day to spend with my girlfriend and little boy. At absolutely any chance I have to get the training done where it does not impact on time with my family, that is where it will be getting done! In 18 years time I hope to be the one being harassed by my boy Rory as he drops me on his training rides. Get the finger out dad!



Weekly Structure for Base 1:
  • Weeks 1-3 will see the hours on the bike go from 12 hours to 16 hours as well as incorporate 2-3 gym sessions of around 40 minutes each week.
  • Week 4 recovery week will see the hours on the bike drop to 9 hours but I will continue with 2-3 gym sessions of around 40 minutes that week.
  • Week 1 & 2 will see a single session added. This session will focus on normal cadence/sweet spot.
  • Week 3 will see two sessions added. One session will focus on normal cadence/sweet spot and the second session will focus on low cadence/strength endurance.

base-week1
^ Week 1 (current). As you see it is nothing complicated or fancy at all as it does not need to be. 60mins each way on the usual work commute to get 2 hours on those days.
^ Tuesday AM see’s the normal cadence/sweet spot intensity session I mention above in form of a Zwift race on the turbo trainer.
^ Core Work sessions in the gym are done on my lunch hour from work.

base-week2
^ Week 2. Nothing much changes from week 1. Saturday see’s the previous weeks Z1 spin replaced by a 90min Z2 pedal.

base-week3
^ Week 3 is the biggest week. A longer route in the AM to work (earlier wake ups) adds 20KM/40mins easily enough.
^ Thursday AM see’s the addition of the low cadence/strength endurance session. This will again be done on the turbo trainer.
^ Massage is falling within my bigger week. Not really through choice as I would rather have this in Week 1 or Week 4. I have started with a new masseuse who is very busy as she is superb. As I go forward the massage will be planned better.


Future dedicated post(s) will delve further into:

  • The specifics and reasoning behind the bike sessions I will utilise.
  • Why I will use Zwift and a turbo trainer at specific times instead of doing everything out on the roads.
  • Core & Strength sessions in the gym.