By: Richard La China | USAC Certified Cycling Coach
“Preparation” is a simple concept, yet one that is often forgotten by cyclists—either accidentally or on-purpose—and eschewed for something “easier”: a lighter frame, carbon wheels, a new supplement, time in a CVAC pod. Certainly, those things are helpful, but without a good, trained engine, they are virtually useless. They alone won’t get you that “belt buckle” qualifying time, the series overall win, or a ten percent increase on your FTP. You must prepare.
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”(—Alexander Graham Bell) For cyclists, “preparation” means quality time on the bike and in the gym, a well thought-out training / racing schedule, and finding your optimal nutrition plan both on and off the bike.
So, when should all this preparation take place? Well the answer is, “NOW!” For most of you, the 2016 race season is coming to an end, and the off-season is on the horizon. But off-season doesn’t mean “stop training.” It means it’s time to set your goals for next year, make a plan to achieve them, and begin Base Training. The importance of preparation in this phase cannot be overstated. If you don’t set your goals for next year now, you will miss a critical phase of training for them. If you have goals, but don’t have a plan to achieve them, your training will be aimless and fruitless. If you have goals and a plan, but no aerobic base, your foundation for all future interval workouts will be compromised and you will run the risk of injury and/or burnout. A good base season equals a good race season.
A cycling coach is the best tool—and best investment— to guide you through this important phase of training. A coach will have a critical eye, a ton of experience, and can look at things more objectively than you can yourself. Even if you have the latest Training Bible book and have read every issue of Bicycling Magazine, I encourage you to remember this: good doctors don’t treat or operate on themselves, and good lawyers don’t represent themselves in court. The same goes for cyclists; good cyclists don’t coach themselves.