Winter Training – Let’s get down to business

Winter Training – Let’s get down to business

The most perfect time to get your base level of fitness, here is the how and the why.

Winter Base Training

Yep, it is that time of year again. Winter provides us with the perfect opportunity to get some of the most important type of training in. It is an essential phase of any cyclists training which prepares the body and the aerobic system for the up-and-coming year of riding. A solid winter phase of training can set you up for an injury free strong year of cycling, allowing you to enjoy week after week of cycling with a reduced risk of fatigue or injury.

So, what’s it all about?

Often called long steady duration (LSD) rides which gradually increase in volume. It is a low-risk way of slowly increasing your volume of cycling providing plenty of time for your body to adapt to the increases. It also teaches your body to burn fat as a fuel source which is fundamental to endurance riding.

LSD also provides a great opportunity to reconnect with why you feel in love with the bike in the first place, use this time to get out on long social rides, club rides, take the pressure off and enjoy yourself. That said whilst your ridding at this time should be a fun and social experience, you should still have purpose and ride to a specific steady intensity to ensure you make the most of every mile, so you do not simply while away time on the bike.

The winter months provide a perfect opportunity to get a solid block of training in.

So how do I do it?

A good solid block of steady intensity riding will see you make some big improvements in your endurance engine over the winter, but it doesn’t come quickly, and you will be looking at a minimum block of 6-8 weeks but that’s not to say you can’t mix it up a little. Whilst the steady efforts should be ridden at a low intensity using perceived effort, Max HR Zones, or Power to gauge your effort across your ride. The ride should be consistent and ridden with purpose for example at 70% of FTP. It does take discipline and takes time and practice to get used to it and I guarantee you will ask yourself “this possible can’t be doing me any good”.

I always remember being told “sometimes you need to go slower to go faster.”  It’s about the long game here so put the ego to one side for 8 weeks and stop chasing segments.

Trust this base phase will provide the building blocks for the future training ahead when intensity will increase. Think of it as the foundation to build from, if you build a small foundation then you limit the extent of where your training can take you.

Try to get your week to look like this, as a little switch it up mid-week can also be thrown as is always great to keep your body guessing. So, whilst you’re doing the long steady bike rides at the weekends, you could throw in a short, sweet spot and threshold ride in the week making up four rides.

A typical week could look like

  • 2 LSD rides
  • 1 Sweet spot
  • 1 Threshold   

So, what is not to like?

Well, the rides can often be cold during the winter but as I’m sure you have heard before “no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” so before you venture out on these long rides make sure you invest in some quality gear, check the forecast and layer up accordingly, it can be the difference between a miserable ride and a stunning ride.

The other downside of this all-important phase is… it takes a long time so whilst I’m a big advocate of the LSD phase of training I’m not saying you need to be committing to 20+ hours of training, but if you can incorporate a couple of long endurance rides a week then you will feel the benefit when the summer months come.