Following on from off season and goal setting, the natural place to go is base training. As with all of our blog articles, we are offering a guide as a popular and successful way to train but as a coach it is important to understand that base training is not for everyone… I have some good friends who are top athletes that do not stick strictly to this method (they are however in a minority)
What is base training and why do we do it? In simple terms it is a long block of training done at a low intensity which encourages and supports the ability to go out day after day and train with out over stressing the body. In doing so we build a solid engine and foundation so that our bodies and mind can cope with the higher intensity sessions which follow in the periodization of our training.
The old way to view base was that if we want to build a tall pyramid, we need a big base which allows a much stronger high end of fitness (the peak of the pyramid). This is still correct today; the duration we spend on base training is measured by our history of training… If we have been training for many years we can cut back on time spent on this phase because over the years the base fitness has been absorbed by our bodies and finds it then easier to cope with the more stressful training on intervals and sub maximal work.
Why is it important? Whether you are XC marathon rider or XC short course rider we all need endurance, It is true the Base miles will vary between the two types of rider but the basic principle is the same we need our engine to be solid before we try and hit that accelerator too much. We can use Sports Science Testing to help us understand where we are and what our base really is, not a cheap way to go but the data is very useful to us as coaches and you the athlete (watch out for blog on Vo2 testing soon)
The stricter you can be the quicker you will get the gains from this method of training, it is mentally tough as we will have friends going out and smashing every ride while you will be going steady, my mantra for this is “its not my race” simply why burnout now save it and focus on the race season or your specific goal for the coming year. So be strong hold back, “go slow to go fast” it will work.
Measure your base fitness improvement, A way to help the brain from driving you crazy is to see the fitness gains, I always get riders to choose a good long (not too step) hill and ride it at your base heart rate, first time up will be painfully slow, but I guarantee in three weeks time you will ride up that hill faster at the same base heart rate!! That is base fitness gain, but you must be strict! If that commuter fly’s past you let them go.
Once a month blow out! Ok so our bodies are super smart and learn routine and adapt to it, but our minds can convince us we will never be fast again during this training phase, so enter a winter race just one a month and have a blow out! This gives you that mental buzz you need and makes you realise you can still go into the red.
Good luck if you go for it, stay focused and strong! Use your real goal as your motivator to go slow to go fast!