Train smart in the off season
No, we're not talking about micro-dosing LSD. That's for another blog. We're talking about LSD: The dreaded Long slow distance rides that were a fixture in training plans during the off-season. LSD comes from the old-school belief that you need to be logging the necessary base miles and hours in the saddle for a breakout season. And thus for years, conventional wisdom has said the offseason needed to be spent in the coveted ‘fat-burning’ zone, spinning along for hours in the little ring.
The idea behind LSD: Maximum ‘hours-in-the-saddle’ equals a necessary to build for success in the coming season. Fortunately, with the rise of sports science and affordable power meters, these old-school rote training techniques are being revisited. And today riders can approach the off-season with a smarter, power-based alternative to base fitness that will streamline your time on the bike (and your trainer).
Less Can Be More
A major point to consider is the time of year when northern hemisphere-based athletes want to log their base miles is also when they have the least amount of daylight hours at their disposal and see the biggest demand on their time due to the holiday season. Just because its ‘training season’ doesn’t necessarily mean you have extra time to train. In fact, you likely struggle to hold onto the same amount of hours you got in the saddle over the preceding months.
As your life grows more complicated over the winter months, it becomes increasingly important to optimize your training plans to get the most out of limited time.
Sharp has a go-to interval workout that he calls the hour of power (note: the workout actually one hour and 15 minutes long). This compact power-based session is meant to be a kitchen sink workout that hits every energy system while the ever-changing nature of the efforts keeps you entertained on the usually mind-numbing trainer. Load this workout on to your Stages Dash to follow along.
Power Hour Workout
10' warm-up easy spinning, Recovery/Zone 1 with a couple minutes of Endurance/Zone 2.
- 10' @ Tempo (zone 3, 80-90 rpm)
- 3' @ Recovery (Zone 1).
- 10'@ Tempo ( (Zone 3, 80-90 rpm)
---with 10 seconds of recovery at the end of each 1'.
(50 seconds tempo, 10 seconds recovery)
- 3' @ Recovery (Zone 1)
- 10' @ Tempo (Zone 3, 80-90 rpm)
---with a 10-second sprint at the end of each minute.
(50 seconds tempo, 10 seconds sprinting)
Three minutes of Recovery (Zone 1)
- 3 x 5 of 30/30 (5) 3 sets x 5 reps of 30 seconds "on" (VO2 Zone 5) and 30 seconds "off" at Tempo (zone 3) with 3' of Recovery (Zone 1) between each rep.
Take 5-10 minutes of Recovery (Zone 1) to finish the workout.
Compact workouts like the one outlined above can be easily performed on a trainer are invaluable over the winter months. When your scheduled 3-hour weekend ride gets snowed out, it is important to be able to modify your plans. Simply moving your 3-hour ride indoors will gain you street cred, but logging long hours indoors is a sure way to burn out mentally and possibly over-train before the race season begins. The shorter, high-intensity effort won’t be able to completely replace the long endurance rides, but studies show that they allow you to reap similar benefits and help you build that ever-important aerobic base. This approach will allow you to build superior fitness in less time, so get a smarter, power-based alternative to mindless base building and never look back.