Planning the off season

The elements:

  1. A training place
  2. A training schedule
  3. Motivation
  4. A coach

A place to train:

I’ve looked into renting a training space for the past couple of years, the idea always runs into the same problems – people have very different schedules. People also have their own training spaces, it’s often the lack of motivation or a plan that keeps it from working.

“The basement of pain”

The scenario that seems to work the best is the basement of pain scenario where a group training area is set up in one clients house and group training sessions are held.  Each individual would still need their own training space, but this plan addresses the coaching schedule as well as the motivation – nobody wants to fall behind their training partners…

I’m looking for groups of 4 with similar fitness and goals. I’ve worked with larger groups in the past and I didn’t feel I got enough done for the time spent.  I will still need to work with individuals on things like bike fit and/or injuries, but a majority of the coaching can be done in small groups.

The space

A training space needs a few things:

  1. Space.  A trainer/bike takes up a 6’x4′ area.  For a group training space I’m going to increase that to 8’x4′ to give people a little space in front of them.
  2. Ventilation.   Clean air and lots of it is going to be needed. Good air flow means a number of small fans, and the room to set them up.
  3. Feedback.  I’m going to be a stickler on this one because it’s where so many training plans fail. You need to be able to see what you’re doing – there will be no assumptions that you’re just doing it right. We will need a combination of video camera and monitor to make this work. For a group training area there only needs to be one of these, and I can help with set-up.
  4. Access.  Training sessions tend to be when work hours aren’t. That either means early morning before work or in the evening after work. The group training space has to be available at those times.

The training schedule:

I always go back to the block diagram to explain the sequence of training, but it doesn’t tell you much about the timing of it.  So let’s put it into calendar form:

October: Pedal stroke work begins

November: Base mileage begins

December: Advanced pedal stroke, acclimation for strength training

January: Base mileage, strength training

February: Hill climbing

March: Transition to the road

April: intervals, speed work, bike handling

Everything builds on what came before it. Base training makes what was learned in pedal stroke second nature, strength training makes muscle group isolation more effective, hill climbing becomes more efficient by isolating large, strong muscles…  As spring approaches we work on intervals (quicker recovery from hard efforts) and bike handling skills that can’t be practiced on a stationary bike.


This plan has two sources of motivation:

  1. Seeing results.  Unlike other plans where the only change is fitness gains, which happen very slowly, this plan has targets for individual skills or strength gains. There’s progress to be tracked on a week by week basis. Separation of where and how you use the large muscle groups will be a revelation, watching it become second nature during base mileage is the very definition of progress. Strength training is based on a target of 4 weight increases over a 12 – 16 week program, it’s hard not to notice the gains…
  2. Peer pressure.  Being in a program with people you ride with will keep you on track. As much as people say they’re not competitive, any 4 guys wearing lycra and riding bikes is a bike race. What would otherwise be pushed aside as the winter takes hold becomes more intense as spring is anticipated.

The coach:

This is where I come in. I’ve been coaching in the Boston area for over 15 years, a lot of riders know me, they know my coaching reputation. I’ve gotten very good results in the past working with a very wide range of clients.  I feel my results have been limited by the amount of time I have with each client and how well the plan was extended into the riding season. As a coach, how do I make a training plan that’s affordable, effective, sustainable and fun? Local small group training programs are my answer.