My last post talked in macro-terms about my big picture goals for training volume in 2013. The next thing for me to consider is how to structure that training for maximum effect.
Overall Theme - Volume & Consistency
There is no point in developing a heap of detailed training sessions if you don't have the underpinning training basics sorted out.
Two key basics I need to nail down this year are training volume and training consistency. I had a few 'big months' of mileage last year, but they were isolated. And I didn't manage to achieve more than 3-4 weeks in a row of consistent high-volume, high-quality training before I allowed other things to get in the way.
So for the first 3-months of this year, I won't be considering individual training sessions very much at all. The first quarter of the year will all be about establishing 'training patterns', working out how to squeeze the most out of every week, identifying my 'barriers to training' and how best to work around them, and finishing off with (hopefully!) a better understanding of what I can realistically plan for the rest of the year.
During this time, there will be a few key ideas I'll be exploring...
Bunch rides instead of commutes
In 2012, I tried to set up my cycle-commutes as the 'backbone' of my training. My commute is about 24km (1-hr) each way, which I always considered a 'worthwhile distance' - enough to get some sort of training effect without getting wrecked before work.
I think the problem with this has been that it meant I rarely rode for more than an hour at a time, and so I haven't got any real endurance capacity. This has affected both my ability to tackle longer road races, and my capacity to sprint at the end of shorter criteriums.
So for the first quarter of 2013, the plan is to shift the focus from commuting to hooking into longer 2-3 hour bunch rides.
Bunch ride 'taste-testing'
There's probably a better term for it than 'taste-testing' (*ugh*), but another focus in the early part of the year will be trying out as many bunch ride opportunities as I can. I am lucky in that there are plenty of club, shop, & other bunch ride opportunities for me to be a part of every week - but I have largely ignored most of them during my 'comeback year'.
My plan is to get involved in as many of these bunch rides as I can, and work out which ones suit me best - in terms of skill & effort level, distance, organisation, friendliness & compatibility (not to be under-estimated as a factor!), and how easy it is to blend it in to my routine.
The main ones I intend to hit are my Balmoral Club's rides (weekdays & weekends), the Planet Cycles and Lifecycle shop rides, and "The Wombles" and "Southbank Bunch" groups.
More on than off
As part of the 'consistency' theme, the plan is to have more riding days than not-riding days. So I am looking at hitting the bike 4-5 days every week (if I stick with my "1 run per week" plan, that'll count towards my total too).
That gives me plenty of opportunities to build volume and consistency, but also 2-3 days free to recover as well. This'll be important in terms of both injury-avoidance, plus giving me heaps of time and flexibility to plan around family and work commitments.
A good time to be 'unstructured'
Whilst I plan to be racing throughout the year (including in January) - my main race goal, which I'll detail in another post, isn't until June. So this first quarter of the year is a great time to just get out there, ride as much as possible, and get a real feel and understanding for what works and what doesn't work for me in terms of training structure.
Given that I am 'chronically undertrained', the great news for me is that any regular consistent training will result in both improved performance and confidence. The goal is to reach a point where I need to start to focus on the detail to see real performance improvement.
The next step
The plan is to develop a more detailed training plan for the quarter April-May-June leading into my A-Race for the year (an 80km road handicap race). I'll talk more about that race and my other race goals in my next blog-post in this series of "2013 Goals", which will be about what I am actually training for...!!