Time to get back to some cycling training posts. I haven’t been training much, trying to let my knee heal. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to swim much due to a slight tear in my left shoulder rotator cuff. So I’ve been in damage control mode instead of ramping up for spring racing mode. I’m usually pretty gung ho right now for racing and I would be pretty bummed out about it if it weren’t for two things. One is that I’ve been going bonkers on bike building and getting more professional slowly. Second is that I’ve had the joy of watching a couple of my athletes have some great performances in early races. I’ve said it before, one of the fun things about coaching is getting to live through the success of others.
Early season race success is an interesting tightrope to walk. There are advantages of gaining confidence and getting results early. However, there are several risks. The first is injury. I’ve posted plenty of times about going too fast too soon. The second is not being prepared to race a full season by shortcutting a strong base. The third is not being able to recover from an early peak/overtraining and creating a hole that you dig yourself out of throughout the year.
Some of the folks I train are racing abroad early in the year. This creates an added challenge of hitting some other racers in their peak season. Racing in the south usually is ramped up pretty strong this time of the year, while racing hasn’t even started in Colorado. This adds the element of competing with others in their peak for your first race of the year.
Luckily, I have had athletes with early season goals for a long time and have created plans for several peaks throughout the year. If you’re motivated enough to train in the cold and hit the trainer, a racer can be ready to duke it out with Texas, Arizona, and California racers. The key is not to do a full peak, but a stair step peak that gets you out of the base mode and introduces enough speed in the legs that your not shocked by the racing efforts. However, if you go to full bore into speed and TT training you will end up with a lot of short term fitness without the ability to sustain a full season. So balancing base miles with enough speed work is key.
Peaking in the early season definitely attainable and often a great idea. Just remember to do it correctly or it could ruin the rest of the season.