One of the biggest mistakes I see cyclists make when training during the off-season is working to hard on the bike. We competitive types like to hammer quite a bit but there are times we should take it easy. You might think that the title of this article is stereo typical response of a coach to an athlete and you would be partially correct. It was to me from me. Yes coaches need to remind them selves to follow their own training prescriptions and we are our own worse critics!
Base training is one of those times where I see athletes going to hard to often. All base training, especially in the off-season, should be done primarily in zones 1-3 heart rate and power.
The other place I catch hammer heads at work is during rest intervals. When working with a structured training plan I will often find cyclists trying to better their average speed by only backing off a bit when they should be resting. So when a work out says to recover between each work interval it means soft pedal unless written differently. Soft pedaling will give you the opportunity to fully recover from the work interval so you can go on to the next work interval with as little fatigue and lactic acid as possible. This will also teach your aerobic engine how to: Go hard, recover, Go hard, recover…
Soft pedaling is exactly what is sounds like. During a rest interval you want to drop to an easier gear, spin the pedals quickly and effortlessly. In other words no pressure on the pedals and as high a cadence as possible with out raising your Heart Rate or Power above zones 1-2.
While most would think this type of work and rest training would just benefit competitive road racers who have to deal with accelerations not averages, would be wrong. Any cyclist will benefit from this structure as this type of on/off interval is the fastest way to improve your fitness as a cyclist.
Give it a try for a few weeks I think you will be surprised how much faster you will improve in your efforts to become a faster cyclist.
Until the next tip, have a great ride!