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Training Bible Studies with Joe and Dirk Friel – No get up and go

By Joe Friel and Dirk Friel

Dear Joe and Dirk,
I am a first-year Category 2 racer.

My training regime had followed, as closely as possible, given my work schedule, a program looking to peak in mid-June and then again in early August. Just as I was starting to build in much more intensity and longer interval work early in May, I began to find that my legs were not responding as I would have liked.

I seemed to fall further into this hole, and now I am far behind where I was even a month ago. Basically, when I get on the bike, and try to put down any sort of sustained effort, it feels like I have been riding for three hours, stopped for a half hour coffee, and then tried to go hard right off the gun when starting again.

I have been trying active rest for about two weeks now, but to no avail, and I am hoping you can provide some advice on how to proceed from here. Some of the most important races for our team are coming up in the next six weeks, and while I don’t expect to be in top shape for the June races now, I would like to be able to contribute. Any advice you can pass on would be much appreciated. Thanks,
Andrew Leach

Dear Andrew,
This is tough to answer without having seen how well your previous preparation and base periods have progressed so far.

A weak build period may be directly tied to insufficient base work, which includes plenty of aerobic and muscular endurance development. An insufficient base period can certainly lead to less than desired results later on. Another cause of a bad build period may be that your base period ended too long ago. If your base training ended in January you might need to revisit some basic tempo and cruise interval work in order to rebuild some muscular endurance fitness. This issue is very common in warm weather climates where it is easy to train hard through the North American winter. Another possible cause of your diminished fitness and ability to adapt to training may be nutritionally based. Are you getting sufficient vitamins and minerals, protein, quality fats and carbohydrates? One possibly suggest may be to get a complete blood test performed to see if any obvious signs of fatigue can be found. This is an area for an expert dietician and/or physician to advise you on. In terms of training you may want to consider taking it day by day. It sounds like you’ve taken the proper steps by incorporating active rest for about two weeks into your program. Have you had any complete days off? Don’t be ashamed to take a period of time away from the bike for a few days to “re-charge” and maybe give your body exactly what it needs. A lot of successful cyclists take a complete week off in June or July just to ward off any lingering fatigue issues.

Witness Tyler Hamilton, who instead of training for a week after his Tour of Romandie victory, stayed off the bike and was found cheering at local Colorado bike race. In early June he placed second on Mount Ventoux individual time trial three weeks before the Tour is set to begin. How many riders would take a week off their bikes a month before the Tour? It really might do you some good. At the minimum see if you can have a blood test performed just to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary. Good luck,
Joe and Dirk Friel
Joe and Dirk Friel

Joe Friel is the author of “TheCyclist’s Training bible.” Dirk Friel is a co-founder of TrainingBible.comand coaches along with Joe at Ultrafit Associates. For more informationon coaching and training software please visit www.Ultrafit.comand www.TrainingBible.com.If you have questions for this column, please send them to veloquestions@ultrafit.com

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