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Four ways to switch up your bike training to boost performance.
It is often true that the thing we do not like doing is the thing we should be doing to improve. When we’re on our own without a plan, it’s completely natural to gravitate toward the type of training that suits us best, but that approach may be limiting performance gains.
“An athlete experiences the most adaptation the first time a new type of workout is performed,” says Sam Morgan, a triathlon coach and Cat 3 bike racer. “By varying your training, you can reap large benefits from the amount of adaptation to be gained by performing different types of workouts even just once.”
Starting with this premise, let’s look at some ways to get out of a riding rut. Which weekend riding option sounds like your ideal ride?
You prefer: A spirited group ride with roadies
Group rides are great for building power and handling skills, and they keep long miles engaging. If your target is long-course triathlon and you’re only doing surge-filled group rides, you won’t be as well prepared as you could be.
You should try: As you get closer to your race, try forcing yourself to do some longer intervals at or just above your target race pace a few weekends a month to work on your sustained power.
You prefer: No ride at all
If you would take a swim or a run over a ride any day, then it’s time to find a way to make cycling fun.
You should try: Join a group, commit to a fun challenge (100 miles a week for the month, any number of options on Strava) or sign up for a standalone cycling event or camp in an area you’ve been curious to explore. If longer rides just aren’t physically comfortable, invest in a professional bike fit to make sure your setup and equipment is right for you.
You prefer: Back-to-back centuries on Saturday and Sunday
If riding long is your favorite type of workout and feels easy, it’s likely you have a well-developed endurance engine. Time to mix it up with some intensity!
You should try: If the thought of structured intervals sounds mentally tough, try jumping in with a faster group of riders occasionally to get some organic speed.
Prefer Long, steady non-drafting in the bars?
Essentially this type of ride is triathlon. So yes, it’s important. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to do these types of rides all the time. If you concentrate on race-specific gray zone intensity all year, you may be missing out on potential improvements gained through working on aerobic capacity.