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Racing with a real job(10 posts)

Racing with a real jobsoup
Oct 18, 2002 6:50 AM
Just wondering what a regular training week looks like, now and during the racing season, for you Cat 4/5 racers out there. Can one be competitive on +/- 8 hours of training per week?

Thinking of giving it a go next spring.

Cumulative + Focusedmass_biker
Oct 18, 2002 9:15 AM
Yes, you can race and be competitive with relatively few hours per week.

One - fitness is more or less cumulative. Put miles in your legs in the cold months, race when you can in the spring/summer, and keep riding in the fall, and the fitness you build stands you in good stead for the following year. Repeat year after year until boredom or exhaustion sets in.

Two - junk miles are the devil. Use the colder weather to establish base and when you get closer to the racing season, focus more on intensity. In the cold, getting mileage in should be the goal. As it gets warmer and closer to racetime, have a goal for each of your training sessions.

Three - rest is good. Doesn't cost you any time and it allows you to be fresh for your next efforts.

Four - train in blocks. Mileage blocks (3-4 days where you go out and get some mileage) followed up by rest and then a period of honing high end stuff is much better (and more easily planned) with the demands of a full time job. For me, I schedule such a block each year before the first long road race and I find it helps.

Five - hit the gym. Whereas most folks use the gym as an off-season alternative, most working stiffs keep using the gym even when the days are long and warm. Trying to maintain strength gets you strong on the bike and helps prevent injuries. And like point 1, it is cumulative too.

Personal recollection - in college, I was an okay bike racer. I trained HUGE volumes but never did that much in any race. After school, I started working a regular job - i.e. one that actually requires me to be somewhere at a certain time in a suit and tie. Finding balance was (and remains) tough. But I have been able to be more competitive (and successful) with less time. I have raced 4s for a few years (a few podiums, a win here and there, a good collection of top 10s) and now 3s (no podiums yet, but top 10s), and the odd Pro1/2/3 (pack finish is just fine, thank you) with a schedule that is built on: quantity in the cold + quality when it less cold.

Basically, this translates to base miles in the fall, winter, spring (focusing on 3-4 hour rides in one stretch one day a weekend, little riding during the week), year-round gym work (more in the winter, less in the summer), focused hill work and interval work in the spring, and the addition of one intense group (race pace +) ride per week during the season.

Endurance is cumulative so sticking with a good plan is key. High end fitness comes and goes so focusing on races that mean the most to you allows you to tailor those critical race "tune-up" efforts to get the most out of those lonely base miles and have form for when it counts.

I find that I can be pretty competitive on 8 hours of riding per week, as long as I have put in the appropriate work in the post/pre-season. In fact, my best form tends to come when weekly mileage is < 150 miles (but this does not mean that one shirk doing those 5-6+ hour rides as needed).

I say go for it. But start preparing for it now.

re: Racing with a real jobJimena
Oct 18, 2002 9:49 AM
Regular training week:

Mon: 1:00 easy recovery
Tues: 1:30 intervals
Wed: 2:30 endurance ride
Thursday: 1:30 hills or short intervals
Friday 1:00 easy recovery or form sprints
Sat: 1:30 pre-race preparation ride
Sun: Race (2:00+)

Typical weeks are more than 8 hours, unless you don't count the 1:00 recovery rides, since they are very easy spins. You could probably manage on 7-8 hours, though. I agree that quality miles are preferrable over quantity, as long as you train smart, you don't have to train long. If you are doing 2:00 endurance rides all year, though, you'll never improve your endurance unless you kick it up to 3-4 hours.

That said, early AM training or PM/night/indoor rides are key to keeping on form while juggling a 40 hour work week. I moved up from 4 to 3 last year, while working full time in a mid-level professional position, and the important thing was consistent training over the whole year, as stated above. And base miles in winter of 5-6 hours per weekend day. Better err on the plus side of +/- 8 hours during winter. This might be easier if you live in a warm climate.

As long as you don't miss workouts, and you train hard when you need to, you can definitely do well in the 4/5 men while working full time at a "real job," unless maybe you are a surgeon or a lawyer. In the cat. 3 women, however, I expect most of my training weeks will need to be over 8 hours in order to be competitive. We women are tough to beat. It's really hard to get a 3 hour ride in during the week--often it's a matter of taking off early one day and coming in early the next. Or using head lights and riding in the dark. How do the rest of you juggle work and training?

Since you have a job, I recommend you hire a coach. Check for someone in your area.
Oct 18, 2002 12:34 PM
In response to Jimena's question - how to get a 3 hour ride in during the week/daylight/night rides etc.

In the winter, I manage to build endurance on long road rides on the weekend. Weekdays are spent on gym work and rollers/trainer for building the higher end. The last two years I have been lugging a 30+ pound winterized (fenders, lights etc.) bike on the group rides to make the tempo ride that much more "fun" (nothing like accelerating a beast like that to keep pace with the greyhounds of the new year). When the training races start (late March), I will double-up with volume (70-80 miles) on Saturday, and intensity (50 miles, 30 of which at race pace) on Sunday. It takes a while to recover from those efforts, but it does bring you into form within a few short (painful) weeks. Just in time for racing in the sloppy wet of New England spring...

In the spring, I pick one day a week that I can come into work a little bit late (say 9) and do a very early morning ride once a week. However, as daylight saving rolls around, I pick one day a week for a longer/harder training ride (usually midweek) where I leave work a bit early and hook up with other working stiffs for some hammering. This ride is key as it is a 10 mile spin to get out of town, then very hard pacelining for about 30 miles with attacks at or beyond threshold at the end of this section, at which point we cool down for the 10 miles back into town. That is how I get miles/intensity in midweek.

Right now, my early morning rides (6AM departure) require me to use a headlight. Since I am just going out and doing tempo right now, it is fine, and the sun is up a bit after 7 so it is working out just fine. When we lose daylight savings (Fall Back), we will have more light in the morning, which will be nice. But having lights is key - early AM rides seem to be better/safer (less cars) than evening (enraged commuters). Having a beater bike (not as much time spent on maintenance, can have light permanently hooked up, good inherent resistance training) is not a bad idea either.

I find though that I need to pare my focus down somewhat. I cannot be competitive from spring to fall in the 3s, let alone, Pro1/2/3 races with my paucity of free training time. So I pick my battles carefully.

Above all, I try to be flexible. In the colder months, volume and consistency is key. As it gets warmer and closer to racing season, backing off on the volume and doing more intensity seems to help. And more than anything, with a full time job (or family, or other commitments) to keep the non-cycling stress level high enough, it is important come racing season to be a little undertrained and fresh, than a burnt out mileage junkie. At least that is my rationale for dialing back when I do.

re: Racing with a real jobRockyMountainRacer
Oct 18, 2002 10:21 AM
First of all Jimena and Mass_Biker have excellent replies, and I would agree with everything they've said.

Jimena's schedule is excellent, and I think most racers follow a training schedule that is likely very similar to it. What I would add is to look very carefully at your Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays (or Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, if you're racing on Saturdays!) These three days are the most important days of your week, because they are your quality days. If you commit to really getting a good workout on AT LEAST these three days every week, you are doing perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself in training: staying on a consistent plan week in and week out. Of course we could get in to the nuances of varying volume and intensity depending on what your are trying to achieve in a given week, but essentially I would still maintain that committing to putting in the miles is the most important aspect of training.

If you look at the schedule Jimena outlined, the days in between these quality days are kind of "fill in the blank" days, because you are primarily allowing recovery for the next quality day on the days in between. Therefore, when you commit to arranging your schedule around the three most important days, you can become more flexible and still maintain consistency.

Examples: You have a date Monday, so you have to skip your recovery ride. You would obviously promote faster muscle recovery by doing the ride, but you can skip it without any serious reprecussions.

And if you can't do your endurance ride on Wednesday for whatever reason, you can simply add in some more easy miles after you're done with your intensity on Tuesday or Thursday to maintain your endurance.

So I would say to sum it all up that you will need to make some sacrifices in your life to commit to a solid training plan, but you need to be flexible with both the plan and other life commitments. The goal is to find the balance between both so you don't become a total reclusive training junkie, or at the opposite end of the spectrum the person who is always willing to skip training for a good party.
Increase those quality miles...Spunout
Oct 20, 2002 7:21 AM
Agreed, I'd think that even two days completely off the bike(one can be a weight training, strength-maintenance day) is okay.

Read Friel's Training Bible. Cool down well after your intense workouts, and then you won't need that 1.5 hour recovery ride: Those are junk miles.
Increase those quality miles...REPO42
Oct 21, 2002 7:46 PM
I am training to race cat4/5's next year.. and I think it can you can work full time and be competitive at this level..I don't think you will be able to move to cat 3's or 2's without spending more time on the bike. As everyone above stated quality miles definately outweighs quantity miles. So if you don't have time to ride a full session and can only get out for 1 hour or less, make it an intense session.. Try to save endurance days for your day off work..You don't want ride 2-3 hours of endurance then have to go to work right after that.. Most likely you will tend to hold back... Or vise versa.. Dont' work more than 8 hours then try to do a 4 hour ride... Other wonderfull alternatives that are getting a lot of hype are the spin cycling classes at the gym. I do them twice a week and they are awesome.. Are they a substitute for a good training ride? No, but they are pretty darn close.. so heres my schedule. I work 7-5..and get home about 5:30
Monday..the big rest day.or 1 hour recovery ride...
Tuesday..spinning class at the gym.. balls out 1 hour then I do 5-6 sets of push ups then sit ups
Wednesday. recovery ride 1-1.5 hours.. heart rate no more than 60% max.. enjoy the ride!!!!!
Thursday.. back to cycling class ....balls out 1 hour than sit ups and pushups.
Friday..the big day off or recovery ride(usually I take this day to get all chores done..Mow the lawn, repair anything broken in the house....etc.
Saturday.. Either a fast paced group ride or if not(I work 2-3 saturdays a month) then I hit the hills for climb training about 1.5-2 hours.
Sunday... endurance ride.... about 2-3 hours in the winter, but I will bump this up to 3-4 hours come spring time..
this give me about 7 to 10 quality hours to train..
I read somewhere that train specific... If you are going to race a 50 miler than train for a 50 mile and not a 80 miler...hope this helps and good luck to you
Recovery is importantChunky
Oct 22, 2002 3:15 PM
During the more intense training period, even 2 days completely off the bike and doing nothing is OK for beginners. I found that beginning racers usually go too hard during the recovery rides. Might just put the bike away for a day and do some walking.
Recovery is importantREPO42
Oct 22, 2002 9:32 PM
Good point.. what I found was On my recovery rides I push no harder than 60% max heart rate, and I focus on the things that I love about riding.. Scenery, freedom, relaxation of not trying to overexert myself..Recovery rides should be refreshing not exausting.. hope this makes sense..
re: Racing with a real job53T
Nov 4, 2002 8:04 AM
I work a real job (~50 h/w) plus an hour driving commute each way, have two young kids, attend college, race 5s, plus I'm old (40). According to the USCF jokers web site I am in the top 20 Cat 5 crit racers in the US. I train 3 to 6 hours per week from January to August (actuals, I keep a log). Just weights and some rollers from Sept to Christmas. I will do the same in the 4s second half of next season. Quality is the key, only train your weaknesses, show off your strengths at the races, and keep your weight down with portion size control and some good old starvation.