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Efficient training: the basics of periodization.

None of us get paid full time to ride our bikes, as much as we'd like. This unfortunate fact necessitates that we have jobs that probably get in the way of spending 4-6 hours per day training. So how does one get the most bang for the training buck? By being smart about training time.

If you read Edmund Burke's or Joe Friel's books on bike training (which are great guides, by the way), they both state right off the bat that anyone who goes from riding casually to following almost any structured training will see improvements in his or her performance. But what if youve already been riding regularly and you'd like to see more improvements in your fitness or racing skills? The key seems to be periodization. Periodization refers to scheduling your training time into phases, or cycles. A macrocycle refers to an entire period of preparation, competition, and rest (or transition), usually a calendar year. The macrocycle is composed of mesocycles, the individual periods of base training, building strength, peaking, racing, and active rest, usually 3-6 weeks long. Individual mesocycles are composed of microcycles, the daily or weekly training for power, strength, and endurance.

By scheduling important races or rides at the end of a series of progressively increasing volume/intensity mesocycles, you can be assured that your body has had a chance to build up and recover optimally. You can further categorize your mesocycles depending on the emphasis of your training. For instance, most people will use the late winter and early spring to lay down a base of aerobic fitness, then to start working on power and strength. This will allow you to perform at your best when it matters and peak your fitness predictably. If this is old news to you, then tune in next time when I'll talk about the best ways to arrange your training weeks and days.