Back To Base – Winter Training

As we rapidly approach the end of the racing season , many riders will already be thinking of when to start getting in their ‘Winter Miles’ .

In the past this would mean a long break , followed by steady / slow three hour spins in freezing wet conditions.

In present day , while there is still no substitute for getting out on your bike , we like to include some indoor training on extremely bad days , and a visit or two to an indoor Velodrome can do wonders for motivation over a cold Irish Winter.

New riders to ‘ BDC Coaching’ often struggle with the concept of easy , and rest days , often they are the same riders that do not (cannot) go hard on the tough days , or turn up to key races tired and fatigued . Even with all the rest built into our plans  –  you will still be overtrained by the end of the racing season. 
It is possible that you will be so overtrained that you will be able to take off a full two weeks from training, spin your legs for a few days, and be riding faster than you did all season.

Therefore, I usually advise my riders to take off the first two full weeks in October with absolutely no structured training of any kind whether on the bike or off the bike. 
This can be very hard for a rider to do , and they often fear losing all their hard earned fitness . 

This rest is not only aimed at giving your body a rest , but also to give your mind a rest.  A rider needs this time to regain the hunger and desire to want to train again , and not just training for the sake of it.

Our weekly Winter training program uses the same distance & endurance formula as the racing season program. 
We start by getting riders to drop their miles to half what they had been doing at the end of the season .
Then we simply increase their miles per week at a weekly rate of 3% to 5%.

A monthly Track Training Day provides our riders with just enough quality work to keep them developing their speed, power, and acceleration, alongside their aerobic base work.

It is also important to get the right balance between flat roads and hills , and alternate on a weekly basis –  This meant that for every two weeks, a rider gets days of quality riding in the Hills and days of quality riding on the flat , Keeping their training balanced.
Base training fitness is basically aerobic fitness – This work is done with relatively steady state exercise.

The minimum time it takes to really begin to develop aerobic fitness is 20 minutes of continuous exercise. With any amount of exercise you will get a small amount of aerobic fitness development over a period of time. However, for the first 20 minutes of continuous exercise, most of the development you are going to get is anaerobic.  Anaerobic development will only contribute toward aerobic development if it is done within the aerobic time frame.

So, Why are we doing a base amount of Miles / Training ? . First, we are developing the cardiovascular system – including the heart and blood flow going out to the body. With the heart, we are increasing the fitness of the heart  and the number of blood vessels feeding it.

This does not happen over night or in just a few weeks. It will take years to develop a healthy cardiovascular system needed to race at an Elite level. 

It takes time to make changes . If you expect to be able to go from nothing to A1 in just a few years, forget it. To be successful in cycling, you have to be in it for the long haul.

The standard rule for cycling before you begin fitness development is about 2,000 to 3,000 miles in the last 3 to 6 months. Since most of my riders are either already racing or have been riding Sportives for a few years, they usually already have this.

Take your training back to basics this winter and build towards a higher level than your previous season ,


Cycling Ireland Road & Track Coach Brendan Whelan has been involved in the Irish Cycling scene for 35 licence held years – In that time he has been an Elite A1 Rider, A Coach and Manager at Elite National team level. A multi National Medalist & Irish Elite Champion, and coach to some of Irelands best riders.