The month of March was Block 5 of my 6-block Base Builder training. This consisted of continued strength & stability training along with progressions in plyometric/power development off the bike in the gym, training the Anaerobic Power energy system in the S:6 Wahoo Kickr Trainer Studio, and extending my 1-2x weekly endurance rides outside. Fitness is continuing to build and with just about 4 weeks now remaining until my 2018 race season kicks off in earnest, I’m feeling great and ready for Spring!
Read the full run-down of Block 5 programming HERE
I’m getting stronger for sure. I’ve been maintaining the squat & deadlift focus for the “strength sets”, similar to the first 12 weeks of training, but now with fewer overall reps while achieving more of those reps at the higher loads. What was once heavy is becoming more repeatable as the heavier loads are requiring less effort as more of my muscle fibers get in on the action.
The goal with resistance training for endurance athletes is not to gain moremuscle, but rather train muscles we have to do more work!
The addition of the “Stability Sets” with alternating sessions of single-leg movements has further reduced the overall strength load, while maximizing the stability aspect of things. For example, instead of a strength “super-set” of heavy Back Squat & heavy Deadlift (as done in the first 3 month strength build), I’m now combining a heavy squat with a lighter single-leg Romanian Deadlift (or similar stability hip-hinging movement) in the first weekly session; followed by a heavy Deadlift combined with a lighter Bulgarian Split-Squat (or similar stability hip/knee extension movement) in second weekly session. This allows for continued strength development with few heavy lifts per week (saving more muscles for on-bike training) and improves muscular imbalances and joint stability.
Lastly, the “power sets” have become more demanding. Introducing more complex heavy ball throws and box-jumping sets with added speed have boosted the plyometric training. I really love plyometric training as it fast, fun, and combines resistance with speed of movement to create power. Really fun in the group setting at Sessions:6 where we can “race” each other a bit and let out competitive juices flow to maximize the intensity for the best training effect.
Block 5 continued with the pattern of two structured intensity rides and two longer endurance rides to make 4 quality rides per week. I was able to get in a few additional bonus rides sprinkled in over the month as “recovery” or fun MTB rides.
These consisted of targeting the Anaerobic Power energy system: my 1:00 to 4:00 maximum power output (370-570 watts). Breaking these high-power output efforts into shorter 0:15 to 0:60 intervals to made it manageable to effectively train this system. Over the 6 sessions within the block, I did one outside on the road and the other five inside on the trainer. As much as I love riding outside over inside, it’s really hard to beat the trainer when doing highly structured workouts. The controllability and lack of distractions makes the workouts so much more effective; and it really makes you stronger in the head if not the legs as well. I managed to hit all my target numbers for the sessions while increasing my capacity to do more anaerobic work over the course of the 3 weeks: going from sets of 4 intervals in week 1 and increasing to sets of 5 and eventually 6 in the succeeding weeks.
Overall the weather was great for March here in Denver and I was able to get in all the longer rides that I had planned for. Gradually increasing ride volume up to 4+ hours, and including a couple solid group ride efforts in two of those rides to maximize the training effect and get some early season “race-like” fitness going. Overall endurance feels pretty solid considering I’m riding much much lower volume these days compared to my earlier years in cycling.
The last week of the block was a recovery week, as it has been within each block, which aligned with Spring Break. This allowed me to take the entire family down to AZ for a week of sunshine and riding. Great times were had both on and off the bike. I was able to get in several nice easy paced aerobic rides along with one “Epic Ride” of 7+ hours on the MTB. Great little training camp of sorts to get some long easy miles in before starting the last block of Base in April.
The second weekend of this last block I was able to jump down south for a quick spring-training race in Phoenix at the Cactus Cup. Early season races are mix of emotions: excitement, eagerness, expectations; followed by shock, reality check, some disappointment, and eventually positive takeaways to help steer the next block of training. Overall it was great. You can read the FULL REPORT here. Happy to get the first race out of my system and I’m looking forward to the next!
Next up is the Epic Rides Whiskey 50 in Prescott, AZ. This one is longer and a bit more in my wheelhouse in terms of course profile and terrain. I will be racing the Pro category at this race, which is expected to be pretty stacked as it’s the first real “marathon” race in the US for the year. I don’t have any expectations for this race other than get some more racing under my belt before my first goal event the following week: the USA Cycling Marathon National Championships. With this race I hope to come to a bit of a peak as it is my early season “A” race. Here I will be racing my first 40+ Masters event and will have a crack at a National title.
Until then, it’s on to Block 6 & Peak Power!
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the insights and follow along for the 2018 season!
Cody Waite, Professional Off-Road Endurance Athlete & Coach
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