The New Year has come and gone as we now rapidly approach race season. For cyclists, it's a time to plan training schedules and determine what you want to accomplish in the season ahead.
Sure, every cyclist wants to do well in the big events of the race calendar. But before you can get there, you'll have to do more than just build a plan. Sometimes, in order to achieve success, we need to think about how and why we spend so much time training on our bikes.
Before you set your training plans in stone, ask yourself these three tough questions to train smarter in the year ahead.
What Type of Cyclist Am I?
A couple months ago, I sat down with one of the cyclists I coach for his end-of-year wrap-up and to discuss the season ahead.
This particular cyclist is an accomplished racer. He trains and races throughout the entire year in multiple disciplines. He has a positive, upbeat attitude, enjoys riding with the camaraderie of friends and loves to train hard year round.
Since he lives in California, he is able to ride outside during most of the year with only the slightest inconvenience of rain and shortened daylight in the winter months. This kind of training environment makes it easy to maintain a high level of fitness throughout the year. But this can be good and bad.
A cyclist's fitness will stay at a reasonably high level for an entire year, but he or she will never meet the performance ceiling that they're capable of.
More: 4 Offseason Cycling Tips
And this is exactly what I wanted to discuss.
When we sat down, I asked him a simple question: "Do you want to do well all-year long, or do you want to be unbeatable for shorter periods of time, peaking only for a few key events?"
To my surprise, he couldn't immediately answer the question. "I don't know," he said. "I'll have to think about that."
A few days later, we set up another meeting. After discussing the issue with his wife, he told me that it was a difficult decision, but that he wanted to pursue being "unbeatable" for shorter periods of time.
This decision wasn't without some concerns. To learn to be unbeatable at a specific time takes practice, and, it's more of a risk. If you time your peak fitness incorrectly, you won't get the results you expect.