Based on my test results the guys at energylab made me a personal training scheme of 16 weeks (starting the 13th of february). While initially I planned to follow the scheme accurate to the minute, I soon found this to be way more difficult than expected.

Although the training scheme was made mainly based on my condition at the moment of my test and the goal I want to achieve (finish TCR in 15 days), the guys at Energylab did take into account my weekly habits and my in-between targets. The input I gave to Energylab was as follows:

  • I work a full-time job (39 hour/week)
  • I’m a commuter, I ride a 45minute /22K single trip everyday (90min total/day).
  • In summer we ride a company ride of about 60K each thursday after work
  • I can ride about 5 hours each weekend
  • I have a girlfriend that I like to see if possible at least one full day every weekend
  • My in-between goals are the Tour of Flanders (02/04/2017), the Duodiagonaal (16/04/2017) and the La Chouffe Classic (20/05/2017).

Based on these bullet points a daily training scheme was set-up indicating how long to train, which training zone to ride, when to ride intervals, and when to recover. Below you can find an example of an average training week.

Training scheme // week 1

As you can see the training week above includes 10 hours and 40 minutes of cycling. Variation in training weeks can range  from 7 hours and 10 minutes up to 21 hours and 30 minutes depending on the intensity. That said, in this first week I noticed the difficulties of following a scheme already.

“Week one, a difficult start”

The stats below show an overview of my first week of training. I did split every day in morning rides (M) and evening rides (E) in order to get an idea of how well my commute matches my training plans. The Y axis indicates training duration in hours.

Training statistics // week 1 daily

Monday and Tuesday of my first week of training went fine, riding 90 minutes a day matches perfectly with my commute, and I was told it is ok to split intensive rides in half (45 in the morning, 45 in the evening). I rode my car to work monday morning so I made a short detour in the evening to get to the predefined 90 minutes.

Wednesday was more difficult already, since I rode my bike home on Tuesday I had to ride my bike back to work on Wednesday morning (I parked my car at work). Meaning I rode 45 minutes in the morning, a nice start but still 30 minutes short of my target. Problem is that in contrast to recovery and intensive training rides, it’s impossible to split an interval training in half. This left me no choice but to ride a 75 minute interval training back home, riding 120 minutes instead of the initially planned 75 as a result.

Thursday was no success either, at least purely from a training scheme perspective (I did ride too much, which I was quite happy about at that moment). The morning went fine and I did half of the predefined 90 minutes I had to. In the evening though I decided to ride the “Ridley company ride”, riding 1 hour and 20 minutes more than anticipated in the process.

Friday then. After receiving my scheme I realized I often do not ride my bike to work on Monday morning and Friday evening since I go and visit my family and friends nearly each weekend. This meant I could only ride a 45 minute commute in the morning, so 55 minutes off target. Now you could argue I did ride too much on both Wednesday and Thursday which easily compensates these 55 minutes, but it is not as my scheme proposed.

The weekend often seems easier to plan a ride, at least if you discard visiting family and friends, going on a weekend with your girlfriend, going out, going shopping, having your car tires changed, cleaning the house, cooking, watching Paris-Roubaix on TV, etc. Really, it often is difficult. You could argue these are things you should avoid and put aside as much as possible in order to optimize training, but I’m not a pro, I prioritize friends and family over cycling. Regardless, Saturday of my first week ended up fine. I met-up with Isabelle Beckers (pro-cyclist) to recon the course of “Omloop het Nieuwsblad” a tour of about 110K, taking us 4 hours and 20 minutes to complete.

So, in total the first week I rode a little too much, mainly due to the fact that I decided to ride with other people making it difficult to follow my own scheme, but also because weather forecasts were bad for week 2. This all resulted in a poor looking daily scheme, even though I rode more than I planned.

“Training statistics”

To get a clear and fair overview of how I’m doing compared to my scheme, I decided to plot my weekly trained hours (red) relative to my weekly scheduled hours (blue). The daily hour graph I initially made really shows a lot of inconsistencies with my scheme on daily base, making it very difficult to see the bigger picture. Combining my total training hours into a weekly graph solves this problem, after all during the week I occasionally swap training days but I always aim to fulfill my weekly goal. After riding for 7 weeks guided by my training scheme, I ended up with the statistics below:

Training scheme // first 7 weeks

It’s clear I’m having a rough time following the exact weekly training times. The first week went quite well so I did a little extra, this mainly to compensate for the bad weather I knew was forecasted in week 2. The second week was terrible, during the week weather was sh*t and even though my personal motto has always been that “you can ride in the rain”, I didn’t even do half the riding that I should have. I also planned a weekend with my girlfriend, that I enjoyed very much, but this also made it impossible to ride saturday and sunday. The third week I managed to ride a little more and even though the weather was still not that good, I did come only 1 hour short of my scheme. The 4th and 5th week I managed to ride a little more compensating for the lost training hours the weeks before. Week 6 and 7 felt pretty good, I trained hard and tried my best but it did become clear it’s not that simple to combine a fulltime job, 18 hours of riding, living alone, and having a girlfriend all at the same time.

“Having a scheme is one thing, following one another”

After the first 7 weeks of training I’m hopeful for the next 9 training weeks, weather will become increasingly better, days are getting longer, and more and more of my friends will start riding again. Week 10 and 13 will be challenging but I’m sure I’ll manage to ride what my scheme dictates. In the end these statistics clearly show that having a training scheme is one thing, but following it is another.

I’m not doing perfect but I feel my legs are getting more and more powerful, so I must be doing something right … next training weeks, here I come!

One thought on “Having a training scheme VS following one

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