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Training Bible studies: Multiple sports, multiple benefits?

Joe Friel is the author of “The Cyclist’s Training Bible.” Dirk Friel is the chief evangelist at Peaksware and TrainingPeaks.com.

Cross-training with rowing

Dear Joe and Dirk,
I am a 20-year-old college student who is currently training and racing with my college’s crew team (rowing). I fell in love with the sport because it reminded me so much of cyclingand even to this day my heart is really committed to cycling. I was thinkingabout coming back to racing (both mountain and road) over the summer.

My crew team practices six days a week from 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours aday. My aerobic capacity is pretty good considering all of the trainingand aerobic work earlier in the year. I also want the fitness from the cycling I would do during the summer to carry over into the fall when crewracing starts up again.

I realize that because I’m pushing myself so hard right now that I shouldn’texpect the results that I used to have, but what can I do to get the bestresults I can while incorporating rowing machines into my cycling program?Assume that I have all week to train and about two to four hours totrain in the afternoons. Also, I am not currently lifting as most of ourwork is done on the water. I am very familiar with “The Cyclists Training Bible,” but I wasn’t sure how I should go about incorporatingtwo different sports together to get the greatest benefit. If you needany further info to give me a detailed analysis, feel free to reply andlet me know what you need.
—Alan Van Epps

Dear Alan,
Your rowing activity is a great alternative to cycling. You are mostlikely maintaining endurance with the 1.5- to 2.5-hour workouts each day,building strength without even visiting the weight room, all the whilebuilding lactate tolerance and muscular endurance as well. Be careful tonot push your limits for too long. Going through an entire crewracing season followed by a mountain bike and road racing summer scheduleand then straight back into crew again in the fall can lead to serious burnout.

Take a look at your events calendar and see where you can enter in atransition phase, or two, so you can re-charge your batteries and giveyour body a break. These may be best scheduled right after A-priority races.Another factor to consider is maintaining base fitness along with all the high intensity workouts you are conducting. High intensity work for toolong can erode aerobic and muscular endurance abilities and cause a plateauin overall fitness. Don’t try and peak for the entire spring, summer andfall months. It is best to focus on two to four peak phases and have a proper build up to each.You should also try to maintain cycling economy and skills work throughoutyour crew season so the transition from rowing to cycling is made easier.

Maintaining cycling speed/skills doesn’t take much time and should be doneyear around. Consider adding in weekly spin-up routines, high cadence ridesand one-legged drill sessions. As you move away from rowing and into cyclingfocus on your number one limiter as it relates to your cycling goals andestablish workouts that target that limiter.

Good luck with all your activities.
—Joe and Dirk Friel

Planning my summer

Dear Joe and Dirk,
I’m a 35-year-old masters bicycle racer. At this point, I am a little behind so far this year, but for my main goals it shouldn’t create a problem (fingers crossed).

I’m still in base, with about 2.5 more weeks to go, then nine weeks of build for my true “A” race this year, a mountainous stage race July 2,3 and 4. After that, I have a seven-week turn-around before two more “A” races back-to-back, August 22 (a TT) and August 29 (road race).

Looking through your book I can’t get my head around how I should structure those seven weeks between my “A” races. I assume a transition week right away, along with a peak right before the August races. What should I be doing those five weeks in between? Strictly a mix of Build 1 and 2 or should I do a few weeks of base first?

I’ll be racing the entire season, but these are the ones that reallycount for me. Oh, if it makes a difference, my biggest limiters are strength (climbing) and muscle endurance. Many thanks in advance for your assistance.
—Chris M.

Dear Chris,
If you have seven weeks between your July and August “A” races consider one week of transition to rest up a bit from your first peak. Then with the remaining six weeks (your TT is at the end of the sixth week) you may consider a four-week build 2 phases (the fourth week is a rest week), the nenter into a one-week peak phase of very specific time trial training, and then take the final week as a taper week leading into your time trial the 22nd of August. There doesn’t seem to be enough time to do any base training and you probably shouldn’t worry too much about that as the time between your “A” races isn’t very long. A few longer rides the during your build 2 phase can take care of endurance. Be sure to focus on some high quality muscular endurance workouts during that build phase and then turn up the intensity during the peak phase. Allow enough rest to show up fresh for your time trial that last seven to 10 days. By the way, our VirtualCoach software can do a lot of this planning for you.

Good luck and I hope this helps.
—Dirk Friel

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