Coach Brendon writes: Winter is coming! No light during the week, frosty and wet road conditions, but the winter period represents an opportunity for many triathletes, it is a time when you can work on specific areas of your cycling to be ready to reach new levels of performance in the coming season.
First thing to do is to sit down and identify your strengths and weaknesses. So what do you need to look at? Obviously you need to do an analysis of your racing performance during the past seasons triathlons and your needs will depend a lot on the type of racing you are aiming for. You could visit a sports science lab and be tested to do this (ask us for more details).
Below are a series of questions see, find out which ones apply to you and this will give you a great starting point:
I find that I get very tired after riding race distance?
What you need is more endurance. Easy, you need more mileage. Usually it is both some bigger weeks as well as some consistent long rides - below are some general suggestions for maximums for various groups:
General Guide to winter Mileage Targets for Different events
Max Weekly Mileage (Winter week - emphasis on Cycling 4 rides 3 runs 3 swims)
My racing cadence is below 90 Revolutions per minute (RPM)?
You need more leg speed and there are plenty of options to help. Start by getting a bike computer with cadence. I like the Polar S510 or if you need the very best the Polar S710 as you get everything, speed, distance, and heart rate, but you don't need to break the bank, for example a Echowell J12 is inexpensive, does cadence, speed, distance etc.
Next you want to move your typical riding cadence over a period of say 6 weeks. Lets say you are averaging 84 revs per minute. Each week work to be 2 revs higher 86, 88, 90, 92.
You can try Wind-trainer Sessions. It's easy to monitor leg speed on a windtrainer and I find that I am naturally at a higher cadence on a wind-trainer due to the lack of hills and wind. Make sure you tell the instructor that you are trying to improve your leg speed.
Track Bikes on the Road
I remember training with Glen Thompson (Commonwealth Games 50km Points Champion) as juniors and he would always be out on the road on their track bikes (additional BMX brake). One small gear and a fixed wheel, by riding with head and tail winds or on rolling courses, you get strength (hills head wind), leg speed (hills, tail wind) and good technique (all the time or the fixed gear gives you a kick). I think this is an area often overlooked by today's cyclists and triathletes. A basic track bike can be purchased for NZ$500 and will seldom need new parts.
My racing cadence is above 100RPM, Or I loose leg power towards the end of the race?
If this is you then you lack muscle endurance, in other words your legs are limiting your cycling. Pushing some big gears is in order. To get faster you probably need to be able to push a bigger gear. So you need to add this to your training, this can be done with hills, or simply pushing a big gear on the flat, start easy, but for best results also do some faster riding in a big gear. Many Juniors will benefit by the gradual addition of bigger gears.
Typical set might be 4x5min Uphill with a cadence of 60 RPM, as you get fitter and closer to racing ride harder and in a bigger gear, keeping cadence around 60. Hill training like this is very important especially if you find your legs 'snap' on hills in races
My legs are dead when I start to run
Try some Brick Sessions. If you want to get better at running with tired legs you can either make your legs stronger for cycling (see previous option) or you can get better at running with tired legs. To do this you need to add bike run workouts to your programme. Don't be afraid to have as many as 4 in key weeks leading into races. They are time efficient and are very specific training. Look to include duathlons in your winter programme.
I find that I can go the distance fine but I'm just not fast
You need to do some speed work. Doing winter mileage alone will probably only make you slower. Target a race and build up your speed. Go to a regular wind-trainer session. Or see option 6 and do some bike racing.
I'm good at time trialing but I find bunch cycling hard
Bike Race! Join your local cycling club and do some racing. Most clubs have handicap events where the fastest riders start last and graded races where riders of similar ability race each other. Just remember to take off your aerobars. If you want to get faster this is often the easiest way to go. Very hard to go and do 60 minutes of hard cycling by yourself, but it seems to just fly by in a race.
People tell me my technique is bad
To get faster is not always about hard work often some technique work will help. Best thing to do is get a coach or join a wind trainer group. You can also try watching yourself in a mirror. Sometimes poor technique is caused by poor bike setup, get an expert to look at your technique and setup together is often very beneficial.