We have spent more than 6 weeks secluded at home, without being able to practice the activity that we like the most, the one that gives us full satisfaction and that unique feeling of freedom that only those who ride the pedals experience (and friend, you who are not reading, you know well what that is).
We all had in mind the objective events of every year (Mussara Reus, Orbea Gran fondo, Mallorca 312, Quebrantahuesos, etc, don't take offense to anyone, there are many of them throughout the national territory...), we had planned the season , selected preparatory tests, key training sessions, everything we needed to reach our D-day fully empowered, even the most diligent, had put themselves in the hands of specialized cycling coaches who already had the next steps marked out for them. months. But all this came crashing down on us one fateful March 13, the "little bug" had crept into our lives and in what way.
The luckiest ones had a roller at home that in many cases had already been covered in dust in a closet (make no mistake, training with a roller, especially if you can do it through a virtual platform, is very good, but nothing that go out to shoot three short hours with the wind in your face or enjoy the jokes and the "piques" with the group on weekends) or even the most clever, who knew how complicated this situation was getting from the first days they acquired those elements from hell (at some point we have come to hate them) that would become a few days later in valued lifesavers for cyclists.
In these weeks of confinement at home, we had no choice but to train for the hour or hour and a half of rigor (the days that we proposed a virtual "long run"), trying to do the work on the roller as conscientiously as possible.
By the way, during those days on the roller and on the virtual platforms, I was able to confirm that we have the best international platoon of amateur cyclists in Spain!! People flew on their virtual mounts, achieving scandalous socks and w/kg ratios that I would like to see them in some elite/pro team of the UCI PRO TOUR circuit, impressive level (theoretical) that I saw there, I think that more than one in those times trained without head or conscience, risking their health in many aspects, but This world of the roller, if you want, we will comment on it in another post soon, because it is certainly enough to write a novel.
With more pain than glory, the weeks went by, and finally, the state decided to open its hand a little. A couple of weeks ago we were allowed to go out on the street, finally being able to enjoy ourselves in a more or less “real” way, with the restrictions of hours and distance, but finally, on the street!
SO, WHAT CAN WE DO NOW?
Before going into technical and training matters, I think it is important to analyze where we have come from in these weeks of "inactivity" with four different models of cyclists:
2. I have managed to do a couple of workouts a week, working on my abs, some lower body strength and stretching, “Sunday” maintenance: those of you who have set aside some time a week to kill the bug and not lose too much shape , you will possibly find the same symptoms as those of the previous group but on a more superficial level, probably the vast majority of you will have done strength work on resistance on the roller (something that, contrary to what most of you may think, is much better than doing the opposite, giving priority to resistance), in the absence of them in the market. This situation in a large majority of cyclists, let's say that it has taken care of us "half" since it has provided us with some muscular maintenance but we have progressively lost cardiovascular adaptations (as the days/weeks went by).
3. “Rocky Balboa” training: I have signed up for a bombardment in zwift, I have responded to all the attacks of the platoon, getting values above my FTP every day, strength training online every time my coach summoned us, and in short, I have trained as in my life. Well friend, I must tell you that although you have done very well in taking advantage of the amount of free time we had at home, training more is not always synonymous with training better. In fact, it is most likely that by training hard every day and without resting as much as you should, you have put your machinery to the limit and you have overtrained in these weeks of confinement, something that undoubtedly hampers our preparation.
4. Planned training, with measured workloads, allowing for appropriate breaks, and taking into account when in the season we entered lockdown and the work we had done so far: I estimate only 10% of you have have done such a training. You will have surely noticed it in that not only will you not have lost your shape, but also in certain physiological adaptations you will have improved, examples: stronger and more powerful muscles, improved resistance to lactic acidosis (we recycle and eliminate lactate more efficiently), efficiency increased energy and in the best cases, better power values and lower pulse rates in those areas where it was difficult to reach before (VT2 and VO2max, aerobic power).
RE-ENTRY TO TRAINING
As you can see, not all of you will have spent the same these days at home, therefore, the training recommendations that I can make are the following:
- A) From the outset, and regardless of where you have found your training at home, the first days of going out to train on the road should have been "smooth", both in volume and intensity, forgetting the data from cycle computers, heart rate monitors , potentiometers, etc., going out to train as we coaches call "by sensations", without objectives or specific goals beyond letting the body recover all the stimuli offered by the bike on the road (far from what we can experience on the roller).
WHY TRAIN LIKE THIS IF I THINK I'M STRONG?
For a very simple reason, even those of you who have done the most complete training, have spent too many hours of inactivity a day (and I'm not just referring to training but to daily activities, walking, climbing stairs, etc.) and therefore EVERYONE, to a greater or lesser extent we have seen both our fitness and our structures affected, just like in September, many of you do not consider taking a Tourmalet after a month of vacation, now the same thing happens, it is time to go little by little…this first phase should have taken us from a week to ten days on average (a little more if we have been completely stopped)
- B) The next step, once this "return to the ring" is done, we have to strengthen the physiological bases of our body (they were already worked on since our "base" period), which guarantees that everything we do later has a muscular and energetic sustenance that allows us to assimilate the work we do. During the next two weeks, we will do aerobic capacity work and small changes of rhythm that place our intensity between ventilatory thresholds, we can select routes with small slopes, play with the cadences, etc., always in a smooth way and looking for more moderate intensity work. and high aerobic load, pulling above all the metabolism of fats. With regard to strength work (and given that gyms are still closed in most of the autonomous communities) we continue with self-loading work on the lower body and CORE, if you have worked well on strength these last two months you can do Crossfit-type training and HIIT, of high intensity and short or medium duration that put a little more difficulty in our day to day life and cause new muscular adaptations (intra and intermuscular coordination, fiber recruitment, joint stability, better muscle tone, etc). This phase fully coincides with the current moment, with provinces in phase 1 and letting us go out to train outside our municipalities (note! only if you are a federated athlete! Be responsible...) We should be training like this for another two-three weeks depending on the starting point ...
- C) Next, and with all the previous work well done (about 4-6 weeks), it is time to get into higher intensities of effort, VT2 training will begin (known by many of you as anaerobic threshold...), training of lactate tolerance, Vo2 max, etc. In any case, my recommendation is that you do not rush in this regard, we have all the time in the world to do things well and the first competitions (if they finally take place), are scheduled for September/October, so we have weeks enough to prepare our objective tests well. In this phase of de-escalation we should already have access to gyms, so strength training will be carried out with greater loads, strength training - speed and strength - resistance (although we can do the latter in part on the bike), improvement of muscle power etc. This last post-confinement preparation period should take us another 2-3 weeks before we start training normally again.
Post written by: Manuel Brihuega