Cycling Training: Workout completion over perfection

October is an odd month for cycling athletes. In many ways it’s a great time of year: fall is here, the leaves are changing, warm weather sticks around sometimes and can make for some great riding and training. October, November, December are also when athletes are most likely to look backward or inward. If you didn’t meet your goals then you have to get with your coach, figure out what worked and what didn’t and move on to the next training block and next goals.

When cycling training picks up for athletes again in the fall or early winter, it’s also a time of higher motivation. The cycling year ended and everything you’re doing now goes towards those first events and races in spring. When you get back into training, look back and decide what worked and what didn’t work from last year and also take a look at your workout completion rate. There’s not a metric in Training Peaks for this……yet, and even if there was a metric for it, the accuracy would be subjective. Overall, completing workout duration as a whole should be step 1. Everyone makes goals, but none of those goals will be reached if the workouts aren’t completed.

Cycling Training & Completion

There’s some assumptions to be made here. Your coach has to provide obtainable workouts. If you work 40 hours per week and have a 20 hour training week applied then you and your coach have a problem. Once you’re calendar is obtainable, take it day by day, do the best you can, don’t get tripped up on the little things. If you have a 10 hour riding week, that’s usually just an hour a day. If you can do more, that’s great, but there’s loads of fitness to be made with just one hour a day of exercise during the week. I know you can manage that 99% of the time.

Put some time away each day even if you have to wake up early to get it done, or do it just before dinner on the trainer, getting that workout completion done is key. It’s necessary not to fall into the rut of skipping workouts but also workout completion compounds into fatigue and fitness. If you skip 2 workouts a week, one of them being the tempo interval set you had then you can’t move on as quickly to the next interval set you have not adapted to yet. Months go by of the same interval set you’ve been skipping and you’re wondering why your coach is so boring. You need to do that interval set so the coach knows you’ve adapted to it.
We all operate on 24 hours a day. The more time you put into good training the more fitness you get out but start with workout completion day to day and you will have a solid platform to build off of.

Cycling Training & Data Perfection

Another bump on the road to workout completion is this idea of data perfection. I was thinking about this on my 2 hour ride on Sunday. My endurance zone is 185-230 watts. On Sunday I had a 2 hour endurance ride while on Saturday I had a 4 hour endurance ride. Saturday I went pretty deep for October leaving me reduced to about 170 watt max average on Sunday. That’s totally fine. I still got the workout done.

Your body does not work on a watt-to-watt or 1 BPM scale. If you rode for 2 hours and pedaled its likely a very similar training stimuli to if you did it 10 watts higher. In my case, I got the workout done to the best of my ability, I had fun, and I’m not going to let those 10 watts wear on me mentally. It’s a long season and I’m focused on getting the workout done even if its not ideal or 100% spot on with the power requirement.
I’m not giving you an excuse to cut everything down power or time wise but better to get the workout done in a way you can then bailing on the workout entirely.

Cycling Training & Goals

This winter I want you to make goals but know that if you have a 1 W/KJ higher threshold goal, having that goal is not enough on its own. That 1 hour easy spin on Mondays, the 1 hour cadence work on Tuesdays, etc. every workout goes into reaching your goal and a high workout completion is step one go getting there.

Zack allison cycling coach headshotZack Allison earned his bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science at Colorado State University. As part of his education, he participated in many hands on exercise science practicum and internships, coaching many types of athletes, specifically cyclists. Zack’s affinity for cycling started at the early age of 14 racing on the east coast. He quickly moved up the amateur ranks to race on the elite national circuit. This level of competition sparked his interest in exercise science, taking him to Colorado State University. While racing for his alma-mater and on various amateur teams he saw many podiums at the Collegiate Championships and Pro/Am events. Zack is currently living in Fort Collins, Colorado and has raced for Elevate Pro Cycling and currently races for Clif Bar. Growing up with great mentors and coaches, Zack has a goal of paying it forward. He hopes to use his education and racing experience to bring success to Source Endurance and his clients.