It’s November.

It’s time to grow a moustache. It’s time to call on all men to look after themselves. Get a medical checkup. Get a PSA test. Check your testicles. Stay active. Get help it you need it. And, if you can, grow a moustache, talk to your male friends, co-workers, and family members.

Where to start … 🤔

Where do you start when preparing an annual training plan?

You start at the end, and work backward.

I have 44 weeks before the 2020 Whistler Gran Fondo. What is the best use of that time?

The chart above, copied from Faster After 50, details how to organize periods of training based on the length of the event. You don’t train for a TT the same way you do for a mountain Fondo. What I like about the chart, not only does it separate different event durations, but prioritizes the type of training to complete in each period.

44 weeks is a long time. Too long to remain motived, and focused. The Whistler Gran Fondo is my main event for the season, but I plan to complete 2 additional century events beforehand, one the first week in April (Pacific Populaire), and the other the first week of July (Canada Day Populaire). This way, I have 3 training cycles, each with base, build, peak, and race periods. The first cycle is 22 weeks, the second 13, and the third just 9.

I have just begun an 8 week Base period focusing on strength, aerobic threshold (AT), and aerobic capacity (AC) workouts. This is my weekly plan for the next 4 weeks –

Monday – Weights – 1.5 hours

Tuesday – AT ride – 2 hours

Wednesday – Weights – 1.5 hours

Thursday – AT ride – 2 hours

Friday – Weights – 1.5 hours

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – AC ride – 1 hour

The plan starts with 9 hours of training each week. As the month progresses, workout loads, and durations increase. The purpose of this period is to build strength and improve overall fitness.

It is also time to work on “economy”, the ability to cycle faster and further with less effort. This topic deserves a separate post. For now, suffice it say there are a number of factors that improve economy – aerodynamics, conditioning, pedalling technique, climbing, descending, and drafting skills. There is always room for improvement, and during Base training periods it is an excellent time to hone these skills.

Recommendations for senior cyclists …

Before completing a training plan, I reviewed recommendations made by Joe Friel for senior cyclists.

  • Strength train year round
  • Train 8-10+ hours a week all year
  • Allow for more recovery time
  • Adopt a periodized training plan – base, build, and peak periods – and write it down
  • Stretch every day
  • Continue weekly HIIT workouts
  • Test for aerobic capacity and lactate threshold every 4-6 weeks
  • Identify performance limiters – decreasing aerobic capacity, increasing weight, decreasing strength – and focus efforts on them
  • Eat more protein
  • Focus on time spent training rather than mileage
  • Keep a training diary

This list is not comprehensive, or in any particular order. Refer to Faster After 50 for more detail. I have italicized suggestions I need to do better at.

With these suggestions in mind, I’m ready to prepare an annual cycling plan.

My 2020 Cycling Goal …

I said earlier that I was encouraged with my result in the Kawartha Lakes Classic. A personal best time for the distance. Imagine that, at my age.

So, what’s next?

In 2017, I completed the Whistler Gran Fondo, a 122 km race from Vancouver to the Whistler ski resort on the scenic Sea-to-Sky highway. The thing is, I was disappointed with my time. I was still recovering from a concussion from a high speed crash on a long descent.

Do you remember that?

I was symptom free, but overly cautious on descents, of which there were many.

And, I was ill prepared for the cold, and rain that day. Expecting sun, I wore the wrong kit, and subsequently froze. At the finish, I was hypothermic, and couldn’t stop shaking.

I could have done better.

I can to do better.

So, my 2020 cycling goal is to finish in the top 3 of my age bracket in the Whistler Gran Fondo.

I’d say win my age group, but that’s not realistic. In my experience, there is always someone faster.

There, I’ve said it. I can’t change my mind now. You will keep me to it.

Now I can work on an appropriate training plan. I’m going to tweak how I train, and pimp my ride.

Joe Friel’s recommendations 🤔

Joe Friel’s is a cycling coach, and author. His book Faster After 50 outlines strategies to slow, even reverse, the effects of ageing. His recommendations – high intensity workouts, adequate recovery, and additional protein in your diet.

As we age, he illustrates there are 3 “limiting factors” to cycling performance –

  1. Decreasing aerobic capacity
  2. Increasing body fat
  3. Shrinking muscles

The first step in establishing an annual workout schedule is to determine your limiters. This is where you want to focus your time.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, I have to determine what type of racing I’m planning to complete. The type of racing you do, the terrain of the race(s), and where you train (ie climate, terrain), determines how you train.

That’s where I’ll head next.

I’m already thinking of next year …

I raced in the Kawartha Lakes Classic this summer, and was pleased with result. It was a personal best for me at this distance (100 km). Despite my age, I continue to improve on the bike.

This got me thinking.

This past month, since returning from Camp PedalWORKS, I re-read Joe Friel’s book Faster After 50. In it, he demonstrates that it is not necessary to slow down, and lose fitness. You will age. It’s inevitable. But you can slow the trend, even reverse it. The key is how you train.

I have trained, in one form or another, all my life, and have followed Joe Friel’s prescription of high intensity training, recovery, and diet for several years now. This coming year, I plan to tweak his training program, and set a new goal for 2020.

In the posts to follow, I’ll outline my new goal, and the plan to achieve it.