Structure your training

Structure your training

Understanding how to produce a structured training plan

We have recently run a 6-week winter training program for our riders, and we have found that several of the riders haven’t really followed a structured training plan before and really didn’t know what that looked like. There are many training plans out there to follow and some of the virtual platforms allow you to follow their programs or indeed create your own. So maybe it’s time to start looking at how you train a little smarter and here is an overview on how a structured plan is built up.

To make the best improvement with the time you have available simply isn’t just about getting out and riding your bike, whilst you will see improvement and it’s great to be getting out, you could probable get more bang for your buck by training smarter and more focused. 

I have covered off the basics in a previous blog called Training the basics, if you are new to training then take a look at that one first.

Training Basics (

Okay let’s get cracking, first and foremost let’s put it out there; you can’t stay at your race/peak fitness 100% of the time. If you try to ride your best effort every time you go out all you will do is become demotivated, fatigued, and potentially burnt out both mentally and physically.

To ensure success and a healthy approach to your training I would always suggest structured blocks or periods of training. In other words, a structured training plan both short term and long term. I would always recommend following a plan or even better seeking out a coach to assist you; it takes all the guess work out and gives you accountability to get the sessions done. I swear by mine… I also swear at mine a lot; especially on the some of the turbo sessions😊.

Irrespective of the above its always good to understand the basic principles of training that little bit smarter.

So, let’s look at this on a macro scale. Set yourself your goal first and work back from that. For me I have set myself my A race this year which is 30 weeks away (at time of writing) but my longer goal is the following year’s Ironman Wales race which is over 18 months away, so in training terms this year is a stepping stone to that goal. That said I generally think anything more than 20 weeks out is difficult to really focus on for one event as it seems so far away, however I’m not saying to only start training 20 weeks out; but quite the opposite. I’m ultimately training now for an event 18 months away but to focus on that would be quite difficult to do hence shorter-term goals serve as great motivation in building up to things and believe me it soon comes around.

My blocks of training look something like this over a year.

Maintenance – just ticking along maintaining my fitness and enjoying the bike, I find this phase super important to reconnect with why you fell in love with your chosen sport. Getting out and riding with friends, discovering new areas and cafes.

Base Phase – this is all about Endurance, an increase in volume but at low intensity, the long slow stuff. Time to start increasing your endurance spending time in Z2, low intensity but slowly increasing your volume. This phase is the building blocks, the foundation of your training. I can’t stress enough the benefits of this block of training, it’s super important and will ultimately allow you to prepare your body for the harder intensity stuff which is to come later in your training. The better you execute this phase the better your year of training will be. 

Strength and Build Phase – This phase sees and Increase in intensity, more riding at Sweetspot and Tempo pace , really focusing on building strength and power, increasing FTP for example may be a focus here. Training the body to operate at higher intensities for longer periods of time, essentially riding harder for longer.

Peak Phase – This is all about getting ready for your event and really focusing on it. This may have a reduced volume but an increased in high intensity efforts – Vo2 max sessions for example, let’s get some speed into those legs and basically get race ready, sharp, lean, and ready to go.

So that’s a very broad-brush approach to structuring your training over a long period, now in terms of a micro scale what does a month look like for me irrespective of what phase I’m in.

I generally work on a 4-week cycle with weeks’ 1- 3 building in effort, intensity, or volume. The 4th week is a recovery week for me which allows my body to adapt to all the training stimulus over the last 3 weeks.  Recovery is so important to prevent injury, fatigue and keeps you mentally fresh. By the 4th week I’m generally ready for that recovery week. The recovery week is where I dial back the volume and intensity but remain active and continue to train just at a reduced output. 

This is generally the bones of how I prepare and undertake my training. One thing I have learnt over the years is it’s okay to not be in tip top form all the time, so long as it is a defined period, I find it really does help to allow the body to recover, maybe use this time to cross train, work on technique.  You find you come back stronger fitter and ready to train harder.

Key takeaways are: –

· It’s okay not to be race fit all year round.

· Following a structured plan is key.

· Incorporate recovery weeks into your monthly training.

· Employ a coach (if possible) to take you to the next level.