Biking for Swim Training

Last summer, I took a fairly long bike trip that I had to spend some time training for. Since I’m not a cyclist, I had no idea how to prepare, so I scoured the bookstores looking for tips on how to train. That’s how I came across ‘The Cyclist’s Training Bible,’ by Joe Friel, a writer and coach who has been training cyclists and triathletes for years. (I gave up on running because of my plantar fasciitis injury I sustained in 2005).

While Friel has written several books for both cyclists and triathletes, ‘The Cyclist’s Training Bible,’ was the one I really studied because it lays out a training plan for attacking the cycling racing season. (Nevermind that I wasn’t racing: My goal was just not to be left in the dust by the life-long cyclists I was riding with.)

Friel is a great writer, but what I like most about him is that he’s a true scientist when it comes to training. Unlike many coaches, his methods are really exact, based on data recorded from both elite and amateur athletes.

I’ll write about it in more depth in a later post. But to give you some background, his premise is that by following a precise training plan you should be able to shape–even predict–when your body will provide the best performances during the season, right down to the week of the event.

The specifics of his plans are fairly complex, but to boil it down, your season should be viewed as a series of month-long builds that gain in intensity throughout the year. Try to schedule these blocks as approximate three-week builds followed by a single, relatively lighter training week, then get ready for your next build, which should be performed at a higher-intensity the previous one. He also recommends scheduling two or three ‘A-level’ races where you expect your absolute fastest times, and build your season’s training plan around those meets.

Why am I writing about a cycling book on a swim site? Primarily because the cycling season described by Friel is eerily like the swim season in terms of length and competitive schedule. Our season is remarkably long, and I find that one of the biggest limiting factors I have is remaining focused during the year, at least in terms of ‘purposeful’ training. (Rather than just going through the workouts.) If you think about cycling in terms of swimming, then Friel’s schedule provides a great overall plan for the getting your best results ever at State.

I’ll write about this a lot more during the season, but you really should check out Friel’s Blog where he talks about all of these issues.  Like this site, you should be sure to sign up for his emails, which are free.) If nothing else, Friel makes your look at your own workouts in ways that are both unexpected and illuminating.

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