How Much Does a Professional Train?

October to November

During this time Ernie had some unstructured training and recovery from the previous season of racing. Because he had just finished a race season, I had him do an uphill time trial to establish heart rate training zones and a benchmark for performance. The benchmark was very simply the distance he could climb the challenging hill, on his mountain bike, in 20 minutes.

The Thanksgiving holiday week included downhill and Nordic skiing, including skinning up the slope and skiing down. There was no time spent on the bike and plenty of time spent with family and friends in Telluride, Colorado.

Intensity during this time was primarily aerobic, Zone 1 to 2 heart rate (see "Training Intensities" and other free download documents on this page), with very limited Zone 3 tempo training in the form of structured intervals. He did have one ski day and one mountain bike ride that included unlimited, unstructured intensities in November.

Weekly training volume: 5:37 to 11:15


As most college students know, December is finals time. In a single word—stress. Training was limited to mostly aerobic work during this time, with limited Zone 3.

After finals week, the second week in December, we bumped up training volume but still restricted heart rate to primarily Zones 1 to 3. The weather cooperated in Colorado and allowed some mountain bike riding and some road riding.

Unfortunately during the Christmas and New Year's holiday week Ernie got sick. We took an aggressive stand on getting healthy and not much training happened. As he was recovering, the majority of training through mid-January was skiing and limited time on the trainer.

Weekly training volume: 1:10 to 8:36

January to February

Late January allowed some solid training time before school started again. Work during this period included form drills on the indoor trainer, a variety of structured intervals in Zone 3, multiple variations of "miracle intervals," mountain bike rides with specific guidelines or ride goals and aerobic rides on the road bike.

More: Miracle Intervals on the Indoor Trainer

The biggest training week in January was just over 11 hours and was primarily skiing. That week included one road ride lasting about 2:45. This format lasted through most of February as well. It was only in late February when we added lactate threshold work, or intervals into Zone 4 and 5a.

Weekly training volume: 6:00 to 14:00

More: What Does Lactate Threshold Mean?


With Ernie's first race as a professional looming the second weekend in April, we included more threshold work. This training block included form work on the trainer. You can see on the summary chart that training volume built to about 10 hours and then was reduce to just over 6 hours for the recovery week.

More: 4 Drills to Improve Pedaling Form

Only one ride during this time included unlimited, unstructured intensities.

Weekly training volume: 6:30 to 10:00

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