Train hard – race fast!
It’s widely known that in order to be able to put maximum effort into a race, you need to train hard! You need to be able to push through not just the physical barriers, but the mental barriers as well.
Training ‘hard’ can mean different things to different athletes. For example, riding for 6 or 7 hours until bonking, or spewing on the roadside after a short interval session. Hard training gets the body and mind used to entering those ‘dark places’ where you want to curl up on the side of the road and give up.
Pushing yourself into this state during training will ultimately increase your pain threshold and allow you to race even harder. I always remind myself that if I can push to extreme limits in training, then I can take comfort in knowing that I can do it during a race. As a result I get even more enjoyment out of races
now, rather than hanging off the handlebars wishing that I tried harder during training.
Hard sessions during my typical training week include some high intensity turbo intervals, as well as some low cadence hill reps. I like to mix up my turbo interval sessions by varying the intensity and duration, for example 8 x 30 seconds at 200% of my FTP or 6 x 3 minutes at 115% of my FTP. My hill rep session is done on a local climb that featured in the 2014 Tour of Britain, called Ditchling Beacon. The average gradient is 9%, with a few hair pins reaching 16%. I usually complete 6-8 reps which takes just over 6 minutes, holding 100% of my FTP.
Limiting my hard sessions to 2 or 3 per week is vital for efficient recovery. Having a structured training plan and varying my sessions between long, short, hard and easy has been proven to be a much more effective method than going out and blasting every set. My coach is constantly assessing my fitness progression and fatigue levels in order to make sure that I’m not overtraining, and more importantly that I will be in peak form for my target races.