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12 weeks to 947

Hopefully Winter has been a good and active one and you are looking forward to the coming road cycling season. The peak of the ‘Spring Season’ is the 947 Cycle Challenge. To follow we have a twelve week plan which will have you at the peak of your form on race day. 

The plan is divided up into three, four week blocks, more for ease of explanation than anything else but you will notice that the intensity gradually builds from one to the other. The first block of training is focused on building an aerobic foundation and preparing the body for the training that follows in the second block. The second block is where the biggest work load is. Here the intensity increases as we focus on developing your threshold capacity. So your ability to sustain high efforts for extended periods. We also do our highest volume of training during the second block. The third block is about refining our form and building our speed and explosive power, as well as gradually recovering and peaking for the big day.

Weekday Sessions

First things first – the weekday sessions are all aimed at indoor sessions on a bike like the Concept2 BikeErg, which has a built in powermeter. Before starting the schedule you will need to determine or at least estimate your current Functional Threshold Power (FTP). There are a number of ways to do this. Some devices will estimate your FTP based on the training that you have been doing. This is easier than performing a test and is often close enough to accurate to be used in setting training targets. If you are up for a test, the simple twenty minute test is the staple. The idea is to pace the test so that you ride as hard as you possibly can sustain, for the full twenty minutes. My suggestion is to ride the first 5:00 at about 95% of the power number that you expect your FTP to be. So if you think your FTP is 250W you should start at around 237-240W. Then lift your effort to your expected FTP for the next 10:00, 250W in our example. Then in the final 5:00 you want to try to gradually squeeze out a few watts more every minute until you are absolutely flat out at the end. Take your overall average power from the whole twenty minute test and calculate 95% of that. That will be your FTP, which is the expected power number you could average for a full hour. Hence 95% of twenty minutes. Once you have that number you will be able to personalise and calculate the desired intensities that we have set in the program.

Program overview and some explanation – You will notice that we have not placed overall durations for most of the indoor sessions during the week. Only the main sets of the session are written. There should always be periods of warming up and cooling down in each of the interval-based sessions. The length of these will be determined by your level of experience / endurance and the time that you have available to train each day. Generally we would like to aim at, at least an hour a day during the week and there is no need to go much over an hour and a half on these days. For the ‘Easy Spin’ sessions, these can be anywhere between 45-60 minutes. Again, no need to do more than that, as these are active recovery workouts and should be short and easy.

Training Block one

Training Block Two

In this block our Tuesday sessions are variations of ‘overs and unders’. You will ride two longer intervals with a recovery period in between but in each interval you will alternate – two minutes at a higher intensity with 2:00 at a moderate intensity. These are not interval and recovery periods. It should be a subtle change of effort rather than going hard and then easy. During Block Two we are stopping the ‘hard day / easy day’ approach of Block One. Here we have three solid, consecutive sessions in the week although Wednesday is at a moderate, aerobic level and Tuesday and Thursday are hard. This period is the highest volume block and we will want to get out on the road on both days of the weekend as much as possible. These are obviously nice to do in groups but always make sure that everyone is on the same page as to your desired outcome for the session.

Training Block 3

Here we return to the ‘hard day / easy day’ approach as our Tuesday and Thursday sessions are really intense and we need to allow the body good recovery so that we can get the most out of ourselves. Tuesdays are still aimed at improving FTP and Thursdays are now working on VO2 Max. Thursday is an adaption of the Tabata interval. The whole interval is around 4:00 long but in that interval you will alternate between 20 seconds absolutely flat out and 10 seconds easy spinning. That is very little recovery and therefore the whole set of 8 is regarded as one interval. The average of that whole set of 8, including the easy spinning, determines your power number for the following week’s 4:00 interval target. On the weekend, it is now time to work on the bunch skills, both technical and physical. So the perfect time to start incorporating smaller races or organised group rides, which generally always end up being a pretty good race as well. Saturday and Sunday can be switched around depending on where and when your groups start.

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