Riding the Race of Truth: Training for a Time Trial

<strong>Levi Leipheimer pedals to victory in the Stage 5 time trial of the 2007 Amgen Tour of California.</strong><br><br><em>AP Photo/Santa Maria Times, Ed Souza</em>

When most people think of a time trial (TT), they think 40K. While this used to be the norm, there are now many races with time trials far shorter than the 40K gold standard.

If you are not normally a fan of time trials, you might believe:

  • I hate TTs and avoid entering any of them, so there is no reason for me to do TT training.
  • Training for a 20K TT is the same as training for a 40K TT.

Both statements are false.

More: 10 Common Time Trial Mistakes

Let me begin with the first statement. You either love or hate TTs. Perhaps you have a love-hate relationship with the TT. Although you may not prefer to do a long, solo effort, the ability to TT is handy whether you actually do stand-alone TT events or not.

The ability to push yourself to the edge and hold it there requires mental and physical toughness. Both abilities can be trained and are usually trained simultaneously. If you know you can nail a steady speed, power or heart rate output for an extended period of time, that skill gives you confidence.

As a road racer, you have the confidence to try a solo breakaway, or take a flyer. You are more willing to try to bridge a wide gap if you're confident in your time trial ability.

More: 3 Elements of Faster Time Trialing

And both road and mountain bike racers know what it feels like to pedal at redline on a climb. It is mentally crushing for other racers to see you pulling away while they suffer. If you can see a rider ahead, you know how fast and how long you can push the pace to catch that person. Your perceived exertion, paired with the confidence that you've done the training to catch that wheel in front of you, can propel you to a great performance.

Now let's look at a few workouts to help you improve your TT power and speed. Before beginning the anaerobic training that is necessary for shorter TTs, I prefer that cyclists complete low-end threshold and lactate threshold training first.
Zone 3 Intervals and Lactate Threshold Training

More: Buying Time: Which Time Trial Equipment Offers the Most Benefits?

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