Before starting a coached training plan with Elevation Coaching, I was one of those cyclists that made the common mistake of putting the hammer down on every ride. It was fun and, being in the first year of regular cycling, I was improving. I won a few criterium races and could drop my local club up the infamous Swain’s Lane without too much trouble.
It was at this point a ride buddy of mine once said he didn’t want to go on a cafe spin with me because I didn’t understand anything below zone 4, which seemed ridiculous - I sometimes did long tempo rides. And in any case, I was fairly unsure what he even meant by zone 4.
As I entered my second year of A-levels at school, I continued riding with this philosophy as I was shorter on time with school work stacking up and thought the cycling time I did would have to be used more efficiently so I kept it smashy! With bigger cycling goals for 2019 (notably the junior national series races), as well as cycling friends encouraging me into getting a good coach to add some structure to my training.
I entered the winter of 2018/19 under the guidance of Kenny at Elevation with a recommendation from a local rider in London. I found immediately I was going far easier on my easy rides than I had been before, and I was going harder than I had been previously on my hard rides. Initially, I was confused at how much aerobic work he would set me, at times it felt almost too easy. I won’t pretend to understand the in-depth biological explanation he gave me, but simply that such training helps to build a big aerobic engine, which allows for greater potential performance growth in the higher zones.
I first noticed the benefits of this after my first century ride in 2019 which seemed to fly by without any problems: the dreaded bonk that I’d grown so familiar with on long rides didn’t once rear its ugly head, nor did I have to spend the rest of the day horizontal, drained of all energy.
Although training without power makes it somewhat difficult to track progression due to a lack of quantitative data, I’ve seen clear improvements in my high-end performance as well, allowing me to be at the pointy end. The key part of training without power has definitely been getting my head around perceived exertion and pacing. Where I may have trained hard before I definitely feel I wasn't pacing my efforts as well as I do now.
I found this out as soon as I took to the start line early in the year at Hog Hill track where I took the win. Being able to manage my efforts and know exactly what I had left for the sprint gave me the confidence I needed to execute!
Another benefit to the structure Elevation has provided me with this winter is something I've realised every one of us could improve upon - discipline. When the skies were grey, the roads were wet and the motivation levels were at a low, I would take a “rest day”. The only problem being these rest days would often last all week. The morale would take a hit and then so would the motivation. Motivation is all well and good until it proves to you its temporary nature and runs out.
Having a solid structure to your training makes it harder to skip a session as everything is planned out and it plants some guilt in your mind for being a wuss if you do, forcing you to become more disciplined. On the carrot-stick scale, this obviously leans more towards the stick side but it works for me. This increased discipline has also helped me in areas outside of cycling - I’ve become more time efficient, helping me get school work done while also balancing upwards of ten hours training a week, something I struggled with earlier in the school year. Thanks to my new structure for kick-starting me into what will hopefully be a successful year of racing!
If you would like our help at Elevation Coaching to formulate a progressive training plan to smash your goals and keep the fun in cycling get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
We offer a range of bespoke plans ranging from £75.