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Training for Woman who wishes to race with Men(6 posts)

Training for Woman who wishes to race with MenChonola
Aug 28, 2002 12:00 PM
Women's racing in my area is very weak. I'd like to race Men Cat 4 next season. (BTW..I am a Cat 3 woman). I've done several 4/5 crits, training races & done fine (stayed with the pack, contested the sprint etc).

My question is this : to be competitive with Men 4, should I train more hours than I do now adays (10-15/week) - with quality of course - or should I keep it the same? The way I see it is that Women are BIOLOGICALLY at a disadvantage so I am wondering what it would take to be competitive at Men 4 level (as a chick).


Angela (aka Chonola)
Pick it up.Pack Meat
Aug 28, 2002 1:24 PM
I think most Cat 4 men train about 10-15 hrs a week. So if you start with a disadvantage (your words not mine) than logically you would need to increase the training volume to crush the boys.
re: Training for Woman who wishes to race with MenBrokenSpoke
Aug 28, 2002 1:50 PM
I don't know that more training is the answer. By your own statement (I've done several 4/5 crits, training races & done fine (stayed with the pack, contested the sprint etc)you are able to stay in the field and contest the sprint. I would focus the training that you are currently doing on what you consider your weakness. What is preventing you from winning at the mens Cat 4 level?

If you're totally wasted at the finish and 'contesting' the sprint means struggling in a field sprint, I would work on endurance to build the base and then in the spring, start working on intervals. If the issue is you are competetive in the sprint but can't win due to top end speed, then work on increasing your power via weight training and hill workouts. I upgraded from 4 to 3 and I had earned 14 points toward upgrading to a 2 based on training 100 miles a week due to my particular time considerations. The upgrade was based on points, not experience, with several wins and multiple top 6 placings.

The key was quality miles mixed with focused efforts on my weaknesses. My typical training ride was a 20 mile TT on rolling terrrain Wednesday and Friday. I would do hill sprints on each roller (they hurt but it is a great power/interval effort) for power and TT the rest for endurance. My heart rate was rarely below 160. Tuesday and Thursday were training crits at either Telo or the Ziggurat (both in Southern Cal) and I would attack as often as I could. Race on Saturday and Sundat with Monday a rest day. There was never really an off season because the race calendar went from Feb to late Oct so my fitness never really dropped. While this schedule is not for everyone, it is an example of what can be done with short training hours and quality rides vs long hours and junk miles.

The other thing to ask is how bad do you really want to be competetive? How much effort are you willing to put into the off season? Figure out where you want to be, identify what is keeping you from attaining that goal, and work on those areas.

Good Luck!
just do itlonefrontranger
Aug 28, 2002 1:53 PM
The first three seasons I raced, I did most of my time in the Men's 4/5 fields. Once I really started training with a purpose (as PM pointed out), I was easily able to maintain with the guys, and even podium from time to time. I never actually *won* a men's race, but I did okay, and I was a Cat 4.

At the level you are talking about, the advantages and disadvantages are mostly mental, tactical and fitness related. Gender is an issue, but it's not as big as you might think. The other women that raced in my region (Midwest) would race 4/5's as well and did just fine. The ones who were actually serious about upgrading and doing well in the big regional women's races (1/2/3 fields) would race in Men's 3.
some things I've noticed in passingDougSloan
Aug 30, 2002 7:20 AM
I've read that women, on average, have lower oxygen update (VO2 max) and lower peak power than men on average. Whether that makes a difference for you compared to Cat 4 men, it's hard to say.

In my races in which we sort of get lumped together with women's groups, I've noticed a few things. Typically, the women are slower on the flats, but charge like hell on the climbs. Several times when I've been off the back of my group, going solo, I have caught and passed women's groups, even the 1-2's. Strange. However, when we get to the next hill, they blast away from me like I'm standing still. I must conclude, then, that either their strategy is very different, or they have excellent power to weight ratios compared to men (at least in my range). Probably both.

If that's the case, and you are an average size/power woman, I would race your strengths. Beat the men in the hills. Just hang on on the flats, and pull away when it gets steep. If you can then have a team mate with you who can pull on the flats, or link up with someone else who can, you should be able to finish well.

I realize this is very anecdotal, so take it for what it's worth. Good luck.

some things I've noticed...while being passedSpunout
Aug 30, 2002 5:56 PM
Pound for power, women have the advantage being lighter in the most part. I pass women on the flats who regularly pass me on the next climb.

Angela, train for speed with faster groups, stronger intervals. Here in Ottawa, some team Rona and Quebec team girls 'holiday' by racing in the Cat 1 men's criteriums. Watched one this week, those girls are strong.

Basically, train by racing! Learn to stay in the pack, get used to the speed.