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Cyclists, like runners, rely on three things to improve. These are:
- volume (both total accumulated volume and current annual volume);
- basic speed;
- event-specific stamina.
The endurance an cyclist needs however is slightly more toward the strength-endurance side of the endurance spectrum than for a runner operating in a similar time zone, i.e., strength plays a much bigger part in a 1 hour cycle time trial than in a 21.1k run, which elite runners would cover in 59 to 60 minutes.
A successful cycling program manages these things along with three additional factors - technique, bike fit and equipment.
Once you have all the essential equipment, been set up on the bike and given some instruction about gearing and cadence you are ready to start training. Dependant on your program, the key to improving initially on the bike is to have time in the saddle, mainly at lower easier aerobic conditioning intensities. This will assist by creating a base of strength and conditioning for you. Also it will help in the initial stages in building confidence, making you more familiar with gearing that suits your ability, and refining your style as you start to improve your fitness on the bike. Take small steps, try to attend the key training sessions and/or find athletes of similar ability to train with and ask questions. There is a wealth of knowledge within most groups, not only from the coaches, but also from the more experienced athletes. Don't just apply the information without analyzing it however. Judge the information against the performances, either personal or achieved with others, of the provider.
Finally it is important you develop and proper strengthening routine to compliment your riding.
This is P's story. It personifies the ability to stick with a program. It also demonstartes the advantages of training with a professionally operated squad. Read on.
"I initially joined the EPS training squad for two main reasons: 1) To improve my cycling times and to 2) continue to lose weight, as I had got to a point where I wasn't dropping any more weight, no matter what I did.
A week or two into the program, and I had already started to improve my cycling and had started to drop weight again. It was clear to me then that I needed to set myself some other short term goals.
Being time short the program I received contained some slow running. Tony stressed it MUST be slow, technically correct, and dynamic in execution. On the bike, I set myself a goal of averaging over 40km/h for a 10 km time trial. Once again, I managed to achieve that this week. The running was not slowing me down as I thought it would.
Over the following weeks the effectiveness of the program.was shown by faster TT's and the results that I have been getting from the road races and criteriums.
Six months before joining the program I set a goal of racing in "B Grade". At that stage, I was getting "dropped" off the back of "D Grade" bunch on a regular basis. I am now racing (and occasionally winning) B-Grade.
I also feel as though I am now almost ready to start working on my run, but I will take the coaches advice on that. This is the last goal for me to reach. I want to beat my best ever time for the Tan, and I know that I will do that once I resume full run training. I also know, because Tony had already mentioned it, that the increased intensity necessary for faster running will take the edge off my bike.
Most of all, however, I have noticed the huge improvement in my lifestyle and general health & well being. No amount of statistical data can ever represent the overall improvement in my quality of life.
Thanks for your assistance and persistence. I will now need to have a good think about some new achievable short term goals, as I am now confident that I can achieve them."