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mutaullyassuredsuffering
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I know this is going to be a long post, but with the slowing of MTBR lately, I guess I don't have enough reading to do so I'll contribute to the pot a bit. I'm looking for folk's success/failures with an unstructured plan versus paying the monthly coach bill. Especially married with kids types, who really battle trying to even set up a schedule and are mercy to the whims of the other family units. I'm not implying coaching isn't the ticket for most racers, I'm just not sure it's working for me with 2 young'uns and a crazy job. I'd love to hear what the coaches on the board have to say too. Is it possible to be successful by "winging it"?

The past 2 years I have used a coach, and done my best to subscribe to the defined weekly plan. The first year, I netted huge gains and had an amazing season. I followed the plan, enjoyed myself, and spent every race on the box.

Last year was entirely different. I noticed that my family/work commitments were making it nearly impossible to follow my coaches instructions. After putting in an OK off-season base program I started battling spring illness from preschool-land. After that I spent 1/2 a season becoming an increasingly guilt-ridden stress monkey trying to get in my volume, having last minute changes of which days I could/couldn't ride, and then contending with mechanicals and crashes. I know the coach was ready to kill me every time I called to say, "Well I didn't get any riding in on Sat, so I changed my rest day to monday, rode sunday for 3 hours instead of 1.5, then couldn't ride Monday due to work.....blah...blah..."

Despite working with a power meter and really trying to focus on FTP, I never developed my top-end, felt fast, or even started having fun, until the last part of the year when I quit my coaching plan and just started riding off my gut instinct. I feel like I took in the knowledge from the two years of coaching, customized it, and then just started rolling with the days I could ride, and making the best decisions on the fly.

For '09 I'm thinking of changing things up a bit...

0) Not be a slave to a set amount of volume during a week. I felt like a failure in life when I didn't get in my 8 hours of volume in a week, which affected my confidence. I'm almost considering ditching my training log, just so I don't have stat's to pour over and over-analyze.
1) No coach - Without being able to spring $300 to $600 for a coaching plan that allows daily contact, I don't think I can ever complete a weekly plan without changing 1/2 the workouts durations and planned days. Especially with the Newborn!
2) Not doing the wonderful huge base. I don't see myself getting in 4-5 hour rides very often, so I'm thinking about lots of sweet spot 2-3 stuff. In fact I wonder if Base didn't work for me before, because I couldn't get enough of it? My concern is how this will hurt me in an endurance-race-heavy season.
3) Not avoiding LT in the winter and spring. Last year I didn't have a top end until August. I know the sickness affected that a bit, but still...I avoided high effort through the entire base period at my coaches instructions, and then found it took me 4 months to ever get my Threshold and VO2 where It felt right. I want to go out and ride hard when I feel good and go easy when I don't.

Thoughts???
 

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No. Just No.
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used2Bhard said:
I'm looking for folks experiences/success with an unstructured plan... Especially married with kids types, who really battle trying to even set up a schedule and are mercy to the whims of the other family units.
Totally been there and done that - for several years now - with wife, kids, exec career, plus running a local club, organizing races, etc. While I'm not exactly on a fast track to head out on the circuit as a 38 year old full-timer, I certainly don't have anything to be ashamed about with my results either. Oddly enough, last year I was thinking I would go back to receiving more coaching input (thanks to Jason/Sprocketjockey for the excellent opportunity) I found I just slid back to my old unstructured routine. Could it have taken me to the next level to work with a coach again? Perhaps... or maybe this is as good as it's going to get and I should stick with what has proven to work for me at this level?

My annual routine has incorporated almost all the elements (or non-elements :D ) you describe below. I don't think this method is for everyone, but it is possible. In some ways I think it's almost more challenging since you have to be in a constantly motivated state to jump on any opportunities for training time. You also need to keep a keen sense of what training value is being derived from any casual riding and/or racing. All have training value, but it's much more difficult to figure out what that value is because it's not a set structure. Casual riding also has to be done with some purpose in mind but you may need to pull back on the fun factor a bit sometimes to keep from getting caught up in the pace of a group, and be disciplined about doing what's right for you instead. That could mean avoiding the last hour of a death march, or letting your friend kick you butt up a climb, etc. Similarly, they may also look a bit puzzled when you gun a few efforts and slow down in between (i.e. your own personal interval session within a ride) but I've found it's best to just keep this to yourself, as they may become a bit rankled knowing that you're doing "training" instead of just "riding".

Whether you keep a formal training diary or not, you'll need to be very aware of all your activities and how they loosely piece together. If you can do so in your head (without fooling yourself when it's convenient) then so much the better, but that's a tricky task for most people. Therefore, keeping a log may still be the way to go, or at least for the first year.

One big plus you might find with this style of program is that it may help to keep things freshed because it's always mixing up the routine by definition. Another benefit is that you're already in a mindset to dig extra deep for some breakthrough workouts when you're feeling on your game, and similarly more inclined to ease off a bit when it's not the right day to go hard. That can prevent pushing too much at the wrong times that may lead to poor recovery and some setback in your progression.

used2Bhard said:
For '09 I'm thinking of changing things up a bit...

0) Not be a slave to a set amount of volume during a week. I felt like a failure in life when I didn't get in my 8 hours of volume in a week, which affected my confidence. I'm almost considering ditching my training log, just so I don't have stat's to pour over and over-analyze.
1) No coach - Without being able to spring $300 to $600 for a coaching plan that allows daily contact, I don't think I can ever complete a weekly plan without changing 1/2 the workouts durations and planned days. Especially with the Newborn!
2) Not doing the wonderful huge base. I don't see myself getting in 4-5 hour rides very often, so I'm thinking about lots of sweet spot 2-3 stuff. In fact I wonder if Base didn't work for me before, because I couldn't get enough of it? My concern is how this will hurt me in an endurance-race-heavy season.
3) Not avoiding LT in the winter and spring. Last year I didn't have a top end until August. I know the sickness affected that a bit, but still...I avoided high effort through the entire base period at my coaches instructions, and then found it took me 4 months to ever get my Threshold and VO2 where It felt right. I want to go out and ride hard when I feel good and go easy when I don't. Thoughts???
 

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mutaullyassuredsuffering
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thnaks

Circlip said:
Totally been there and done that - for several years now - with wife, kids, exec career, plus running a local club, organizing races, etc. While I'm not exactly on a fast track to head out on the circuit as a 38 year old full-timer, I certainly don't have anything to be ashamed about with my results either. .

Thanks Circlip. Great response!
 

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That sounds really good.

I am a coach but I train with no structure. I ride hard and fast when ever I get on the bike. Honestly I am faster then when I trainned with a plan (granted, my plan 8 years ago wasn't the best).

No reason why you can't have any sucess by doing it all on the fly.

You will find it difficult to peak for an event, but then again few riders actually ever achieve a peak.
 

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Can it be done, sure. Is it going to be the greatest training plan with the best results, probably not.
How can you utilize all your tools to get what you need for proper training? Make a plan, not a monthly or weekly plan, but a year long plan. Set your goals and your goal races, work backwards and chop up the months into pieces to accommodate, then you can use your weeks to the best of your ability. If opportunities pop up to train or are taken away, just know that you have an end goal and are working to achieve it.

Don't dawdle or waste time on the bike, be sure to ride with a purpose, not just 'heading out for a ride', it can be done.

On the flip side (I am a coach ;)), there are many different ways to utilize a coach. Some people don't always need the month to month coaching, but a coach can be a valuable tool in consulting when planning out a season, when a sudden race/injury/sickness occurs and throws you far off track, when you need some extra motivation or just someone in your life to talk bikes to when no one else really does
 

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mutaullyassuredsuffering
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I agree

sprocketjockey9 said:
work backwards and chop up the months into pieces to accommodate, then you can use your weeks to the best of your ability.
On the flip side (I am a coach ;)), there are many different ways to utilize a coach. Some people don't always need the month to month coaching, but a coach can be a valuable tool in consulting when planning out a season, when a sudden race/injury/sickness occurs and throws you far off track, when you need some extra motivation or just someone in your life to talk bikes to when no one else really does
Thanks Jason,

I agree with your comments.

It's all your sweet spot posting that made me realize why I was more successful in '07 than '08. I spent more time there in the past!

I typically just work backwards from races knowing how many weeks it takes to adapt and what my goals are for a given block of time. I just cannot follow a 7 day no matter how hard I try. I just know for a given week my goal is to get some good LT's in, or some big sustained climbs...etc. How much or when is up the universe.

You are right about the added coach benefits beyond training. I'd love to have a coach just for the times when I'm unsure what to do. That was really why I kept mine last season despite being unable to follow the plans given. It's just hard to find one that will allow you to chat every now and then without having a "platinum" level contract.
 

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I fly by the seat of my pants, year round.

I understand the principles behind the work that I do; what the workouts I'm doing are trying to achieve. I cycle my training, generally three hard weeks with an easy week following them.

However, I don't have a weekly plan. I generally do two hard days during the work week, or if I have no racing that weekend, as many as four hard days in a seven day span. I ride my bike hard on my hard days, and easy on my easy days. I do a lot of volume, and a lot of hard riding when I'm able to do that. Mondays and Fridays are almost always easy days; 2hrs of endurance paced riding. But Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are up for grabs. Motorpacing, track, sprints, dragging a group ride around, or 2x20min intervals in the middle of a 3hr ride are all pretty commonplace.

However, I'm picking up some coaching this year, and all of that will change. Well, at least the lack of structure. My goal races will involve 20+hrs of hard racing in 5 days, and I need that volume to keep the legs I've worked hard to get.
 

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used2Bhard said:
It's just hard to find one that will allow you to chat every now and then without having a "platinum" level contract.
Well, pardon for the blatant advertisement, but that's where we at FasCat pride ourselves; even at our Level 1 plan, we don't place limits on emails or phone calls. In fact, often if we don't hear from you each week, we actually call you to go over the previous week and what's up for the next, I know unheard of! :eek: :thumbsup:
 
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