Base training should be considered the most important part of any training plan. Base training is the foundation that all other training is built on. Without a strong and wide foundation, your peak performance will be shallow!
Building a strong Foundation
While the desire to build a strong foundation is present in all cyclists who decide to utilize structure in their training the threat of overtraining is still a very real concern. So it’s strongly advised to be conservative in the amount of time/volume you dedicate each day to training. Intensity early in base training is rare and short. As base training progresses the cyclist will recognize that the long easy days in the saddle may not be that easy after all. This is often referred to as the grind. Getting through the grind of off-season training is important. Treat the grind as a habit and you will find when the weather improves that you will be much stronger for it.
Taking the time to deal with typical weaknesses
Base training is also that time of the year where athletes work on their weaknesses. I have found that cyclists new to structured training often struggle with the same weaknesses. These are cyclists with low cadence, poor force production and lacking in Muscle Endurance. Most cyclists that come to me for help that are beginners often think that their general weakness is endurance and climbing. Higher cadence, Force, and Muscle Endurance will take care of most climbing problems along with some usually much-needed weight loss. Cyclists are often surprised when I tell them that they will be working on Endurance all year long! Cycling is an endurance sport! So every workout other than off bike strength, core and flexibility training you are automatically working on endurance.
What will improve if I focus on these weaknesses?
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph the training factors, endurance, speed, force and muscle endurance will help you with your climbing but will also help you to build your foundation. Having this foundation sets the stage for more intense training during a build cycle leading up to the start of spring cycling season. The lead up is referring to peaking. Peaking is referred to as a state of optimal fitness and freshness.
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Until Next Time,
Train Smarter Not Harder
As always, very good advice. I was surprised at the dividends base training gave once the weather improved and I moved back outdoors. People I cycle with thought it was silly work in the off season but when I kicked their tails in the regular season, you could start to understand why.