Return to Racing: A Post-Crash Training Plan—Part I

The challenge would not be easy; but after some initial planning, I was certain it would be possible for him to be ready for the first event. If he responded well to the training, I thought he could have a respectable race. If he didn't respond to training and he didn't heal well from the crash, the stage race would need to be scrapped.

Health First, Sport Performance Second

About four weeks after the crash, Ray tried doing some spinning on a recumbent bike, but his leg was not capable of making circular motions. He still gave it a shot, but said the motion was rather herky-jerky. It turned out to be a full six weeks before he could ride on an indoor bike. The work required to regain his cycling motion was slow and painful.

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Before we launch into the details of Ray's training plan, know that he is a high-level masters rider. Though he is relatively new to racing, he is strong and stays fit year round. Before the crash, he was riding between nine and 14 hours per week on most weeks.

When I design a training plan for a cyclist returning to riding post-crash, I am careful to begin with mostly aerobic sessions to see how the rider handles endurance work, concurrent with the main job of healing from an injury. I give a range of training time and optional training sessions, so that if a rider feels good they can go longer or add the optional session.

We also talk seriously about the fact that forcing yourself to do more when you feel tired is not a good idea. Riders are encouraged to shoot for the low-end of training time when they aren't feeling as peppy. If they are really tired, I encourage them to cut the session even more or skip it altogether.

The Plan

You can see the first six weeks of Ray's training plan here. You can find the training intensity zones described in the note section at the bottom of the chart. Unless otherwise specified, a ride in Zone 1 or Zones 1 to 2 is an aerobic ride on a flat to rolling course. Details for the workout code "P2" is listed at the bottom of the chart.

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