(At least) four benefits of structured training for cyclists at any level
Depending on what your current relationship is with your bike, or with the sport of cycling, you may follow some kind of structured training plan, or... you may think it's for the birds. Well, maybe not for the birds, but maybe only for those who race their bikes, for example.
As a 51, soon to be 52-year-old woman who works full-time (and then some), and has a husband and two teenage stepsons to spend time with and take care of, time is of the essence when it comes to taking care of myself. The benefits I've realized through using a structured plan over the years have been invaluable, because each supports a different aspect of my day-to-day life, and I've turned to this type of structure for different reasons at different times.
Here's why it's my jam:
- I Don't Have to Think About What To Do: That's right! Just think about all the things you have to put some sense of order to each day. With a purposeful, efficient training plan, I look at my schedule and I do what's spelled out as well as I can. I get my workout in on the bike and I know if I follow the workouts for that week, I'll see the progress over time. I know it's designed by a coach with quality over quantity top of mind. It's like time management with a cherry on top!
- I'm Accountable: Have you ever planned on getting a ride in and then said, oh, I'll do it tomorrow? And then that turns into the next day, and the next, and so on? And the next thing you know, you haven't ridden for nearly a week and you're bummed out. With a plan like TrainingPeaks, the workouts on the assigned days turn green, yellow, or red depending on how (or if) you complete them; and to have more green days than not, well, it just feels good. I know I'm getting my time on the bike, it's super simple to track my progress, and at the end of the day it puts a smile on my face.
- I See Improvement in My Strength and Fitness and I Lessen My Chance of Injury: This may seem like a no brainer, but following a purposeful progression in training delivers further gains in strength, endurance, and overall fitness than when we just go through the motions. It gives us the opportunity to build upon what we're doing over time and continue to feel stronger, more confident, and more fit on and off the bike—no matter the level we are starting at. And maybe even more importantly, it keeps us from over-training. If there's one thing I've learned, which I didn't understand early on, is what a recovery ride should truly feel like, and it's probably not what you think. This is where having a plan designed by a coach pays off in some pretty unexpected ways.
- I Can Apply the Structure to Improved Health and Fitness, or a Specific Goal or Event: Over the past 20 years or so, I've turned to structured training on the TrainingPeaks platform for a variety of reasons, depending on where I was at that point in my life. In my late twenties, it was to train for my first marathon. In my early thirties, for my first Ironman. Then to lose a few pounds during my thirties. To round out my forties, it was to ride my bike to the summit of the highest paved road in Slovenia (Mt. Mangart). And now in my fifties, I still turn to the accountability, structure, and ability to track my progress and improvement.
I would just say, if you are looking to maybe tackle a ride you've had your eyes set on for next spring, summer, or fall, raise your bike in the air when you get to the top of that mountain, or simply feel stronger on your bike—give it a go! You can strategically approach and tackle that personal goal of yours with the guidance of a pretty awesome coach...
Kristin Armstrong has developed a new coaching system on TrainingPeaks, which is broken into super manageable 6-week phases. The first phase is called DEVELOP, and that's exactly what it means. No matter where you are starting, it's a great way to develop your aerobic fitness and cycling specific strength, and understand and improve your efficiencies on the bike.
You can choose to do the DEVELOP phase entirely indoors, entirely outdoors, or a hybrid of both. Training indoors versus outdoors is unique, and Kristin applies the idiosyncrasies of each to give you the most appropriate training for where you ride. The plan includes 4-5 days of riding with options to add or remove a day.
And a little bonus for the month of February, Kristin is offering 30% off of the KX3 DEVELOP Phase on TrainingPeaks. Give yourself a Valentine and use code KX3FEB at checkout. Happy training!
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