In order to have a successful season you have to meticulously plan for it, and then follow your plan to a certain extent. But how do you know what to do when, to what extent and to what intensity in order to be ready and prepared for your race(s). For this you have to create an Annual Training Plan – A written plan of how your training will be divided / periodized for your training year. This training plan will be separated into different periods, which will assist you in preparing your body for what is to come next.
Yearly periodization will include the following periods (Also know as Mesocycles):
- This is the time where you prepare your body for the training regimen that is about to start.
- During this period, you as the athlete will be focusing in gaining overall fitness. Strength and Cross Training is done during this period. Intensity is usually low while volume is high.
- This is the period where you train your body in cycling specific exercises. Your intensity will start to increase as well. This will usually mean intervals.
- After you have completed all of your training, you have to give your body a chance to adapt to all those changes that it has gone through. During this period your volume is reduced, and your training intensity highly increases and includes more race like exercises.
- This is the most important period, the one an athlete prepares for the whole year. Where you will give it your all and nothing less, where all that pain will be used to achieve something greater than what you tough it could do. The time when you go out there and show the rest of the world what he is really made of.
- After you have given it all you had, then comes the rest. A period that gives your body a chance to relax, rest and get ready for the next season to come.
Before starting to write things and exercises on the calendar with Sharpie, we have to take a step back and ask ourselves a couple of questions like:
- What are your goals for the training year?
- Why are you doing this in the first place, why do you want to go trough all the suffering, what is your motivation…
- What are the objectives that you have for the training year?
- What are the areas you want to improve on, what do you want to work on…
- How much time do you have to train?
- Do you have only a certain amount during the weekdays, more on the weekends, how many do you usually have available in a week, is there any room for play…
- What is the event or events that you are training for?
- Do you want to be better at this year’s state cup, championship, or maybe at the Sea Otter Classic.
After all of this questions have been answer, then is time for dividing your year into the different Mesocycles. You will have to work from the date of your most important race/event to when you want to start your training regimen. A tool that will assist you in this is TrainingPeaks, although I believe you need to have a premium account for this. I have found it to be incredibly useful and while not every time it will be created perfectly for you, is a very good place to start. In this you can input the information like you events and your average available weekly hours and it will generate a plan for you.
This plan will give you an idea of what you should be doing when, you will have to review it every week to generate your Microcycle (weekly plan). Remember that you do not have to follow it to the line as unexpected things always occur and you have to adapt to them. Sickness, weather, work, family among others are some of the factors that will affect your Annual Training Plan. Do not try to over train yourself if you are not prepared for a certain Mesocycle or Mirocycle, it is better to go back and build up again for it. This way you do not damage your body instead of making it stronger.
I hope that this has provided a good explanation of what an Annual Training Plan for Cycling is and how to create a simple one in order to keep your training year on plan. Please leave any comments and questions below.