With a completed top level plan for the coming season – See it here – I can now move on to cover my preparation period for the winters training ahead.
I am invested in the Joe Friel methodology when it comes to training which you may have established from previous posts. Joe is the author of the superb Cyclist’s Training Bible which is where the annual training planning technique is derived from. Training Peaks heavily utilises the techniques and metrics outlined in the Cyclist’s Training Bible so the vast majority of my writing and data you see will be centred around that.
Preparation Period is essentially a window of time where you are still training but in a not-so-structured fashion prior to entering Base Period. Prep is just used to do exactly what it says – Prepare yourself for the upcoming structured training.
My Prep Period:
I explained why I am not taking an off season break in the planning post prior to this. This means my prep phase is slightly different to what it may be usually, in that I have not actually reduced my overall time per week training much at all and it remains structured almost exactly as it has done for the past 6 weeks. Volume and intensity has simply reduced.
Prep for me will be time allocated to assessing where I am fitness/form wise on the bike and to incorporate a rest period to refresh before base period begins. I’m also going to establish some new strength/core sessions. This is a good example of what my personal take on prep period is all about as I am preparing my sessions and my body before it all gets a bit more “official” in base period.
It is also a good time for me to prepare the winter bike because the weather has been kind for the beginning of this winter and I am still mooching around on the “good” bike (which is actually far from good and rather clinging on for dear life in a very sorry state by now).
First Step. Assess My Current Form – Peaks & Troughs:
The image at the top of this post paints a pretty good picture of where I personally feel my form is at the moment. My primitive design skills with Microsoft Paint are clearly extensive but it does its job in showing how I feel on the bike at the minute. AKA crap! I feel crap!
When the clocks changed back to GMT timezone during the last weekend of October, I instantly just felt like 100watts had packed up and left me without so much as a goodbye.
Colder weather? Darker mornings & evenings? Winter Blues? My bike is SURELY broken?….
It’s a combination of these things that might be a small factor in the reasoning for my lesser legs. But the real reason is that I am knackered. There isn’t any point in denying it and trying to blame something else. I am properly knackered.
Admitting to being knackered and feeling useless on the bike at the minute is absolutely a positive thing though…… and no, I am not crazy….. It shows that my peak form came right around the CTT & Scottish Cycling Hill Climb’s and this is me now on the back end of that peak form. I am now in the exact opposite place to peak form. I am in a trough, or, more so I have went through the bottom of the trough and ended up half way to China.
Regardless of form right now, I managed to peak for target events, and you cannot peak without coming back down at some point soon afterwards. Things can only go upwards from here and this is where the second positive of this situation becomes apparent because my lowly form has come two weeks before Base Period. I can almost tell myself I have done something “right” when it comes to my training as I managed to peak exactly where I needed to but I am also seeing rock bottom at a time where it is of little concern.
^ This is my Performance Management Chart (PMC) – It is a graphical representation essentially showing how fit and tired I am. It looks like there is a heck of a lot going on with the chart but once you break it down and get used to it then it becomes a super useful tool.
^ The blue filled line is Chronic Training Load (CTL) – This is long term fatigue on my body and represents “fitness”. It peaked at 117 on 7th October which was 6 days before the HC weekender.
^ The pink line is Acute Training Load (ATL) – This is short term fatigue on my body and represents “fatigue”. It also peaked on 7th October at 141.
^ The yellow filled line is Training Stress Balance (TSB) – This is a representation of my “form”. You can see it raises drastically after the peak ATL/CTL on 7th October as this shows my drop in volume/intensity during the week before the HC weekender.
Since the HC weekender on 13th & 14th of October you can see my CTL has dropped below the peak of 117 but has remained pretty flat lined until today. Both my fatigue and stress balance have remained way above that of what they were as I trained heavily for the HC’s. Based on this I should surely be performing really well on the bike at the minute? Fatigue, intensity and volume are all reduced. So how on Earth am I pedalling like a dummy at the minute?!?….
It all comes back to peaks and troughs. I cannot train/perform at my peak all the time no matter what the training is. That is not physically possible to retain.
The numbers & graphs may show me something different when compared to my peak periods, but a good old fashioned check on “how I actually feel in myself”, is the true indicator for when some rest is required during the dip into the trough. That is exactly where I am now…. because I am absolutely knackered and even riding to work for 55minutes is a complete struggle.
Second Step. Establish New Core & Weight Sessions – In with the New!:
As I said above, since new exercises and routines introduce different ways of working muscles (or even work muscles I have barely (n)ever worked before) it does result in delayed onset muscle soreness (DOM’s). I usually try to avoid serious DOM’s when I am training at higher intensity and volume because it can so easily lead to aggravation or injury from compensating due to soreness in areas of the body.
My typical gym sessions are already very good in my opinion but I feel there are areas I can improve on stability wise whilst increasing strength. Adding in more variability is also very beneficial because it ensures I am not exercising the same muscles too regularly.
Keeping the body guessing and changing up routines/schedules is a sure way to ensure I am not neglecting anything and getting a more rounded benefit.
These are all areas of my body I already do work on but I will aim to change up routine and introduce new techniques/exercises to hopefully reap more specific on-bike benefit.
I have, what I believe to be, very valid reasoning to concentrate on these areas for off the bike training but I will detail more specifically in a future dedicated post. This post is for the preparation side of things, future posts during base period will delve into more specifics of the actual doing side of things.
Prep period is giving me the chance to establish the new routines incorporating these muscle groups and to get the serious initial DOM’s out of the way. With another couple of weeks of my prep period left I am very confident I will have some really beneficial strength sessions created that I can continue to incorporate. It will hopefully lead to me being stronger than ever before on the bike. Exactly what I need to be in order to achieve my goals in 2019.