The last couple of years I was considering returning to a "periodized" training program, as I did in the past before I joined Team Bicycle Trip and Mark's consistent, year-round FTP-focused workouts ("FTP" is "functional threshold power," one's 1-hour power). I felt periodization was best for me for a few reasons:
- Fun! Variety is more interesting.
- My power levels have barely changed at all after 5 years of consistent FTP workouts.
- Align my workouts more with the type of racing I do: short with highly variable efforts.
I was putting my periodized plan together last fall and happened to show it to Steve Heaton on our way back from Race Around Lake Tahoe. He was more than happy to help me flesh out the weekly program with a huge variety of workouts to choose from to suit the various periods in the season's workout schedule.
For 2013 I ended up following Steve's workouts very closely, incorporating them into Mark's team workouts whenever possible. So, where in the past I might have done steady-state intervals up the various long climbs in our area, this year I would instead make the pace much more variable to simulate the way races surge, slow down, sprint like crazy, slow down, etc.
This ended up being quite fun, as I would often draft my poor teammates and then attack around them. Since that's usually considered rude I always made sure to clear that with them first. But the upside was that I was able to stay with some of the fastest guys who would usually fly by me on those climbs, all while improving my ability to sprint and recover quickly.
I would usually do a few rides every week at L2 ("level 2") or L3 power for a full couple of hours; a nice 'tempo' pace that's tiring but doesn't cause suffering like the usual 20-minute L4 intervals. The other rides would usually involve very hard, but short, efforts in L5 or L6, separated by easy pedaling to recover before hitting it hard again, time after time.
One workout I liked was the "3x5m(30s L5/30s L2)" workout, as I wrote it in shorthand. I would warm up, then for 5 minutes I would alternate between 30 seconds in L5, then 30 seconds in L2. This I would do 3 times (sometimes with the team at the UCSC workouts), when a given week called for this type of workout. Another was in L3 with L6 sprints every few minutes, with no recovery, followed by a few sprints. The hardest was a "3x10m(15s L5/15s L2)" workout (if you can decipher that you will see why!).
The result? My best season since 2007! I had two 1sts at the CCCX circuit races, two 2nds, several other podiums, some track 1sts, plus two silver medals at the Masters State Track Championships.
Interestingly my results for criteriums weren't that good (my best was 11th at the Masters State Criterium Championships), nor in mass-start track races (I got 4th in the Masters State Track Championships scratch race). I thought I'd do better... but I have learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses and how I respond to training.
Mostly I have to acknowledge that I am a pure sprinter. So much so that when the pace is high I am too tired to sprint very well. I have known this a long time, but this year I have had to finally accept that no amount or type of training will change that.
That's OK; knowing all of this helps me decide on a course that will best suit my potential, instead of trying to be what I am not. So... on to 2014 and a whole new beginning for me!