Coaching: Don’t train without asking yourself key questions

Posted on: January 11th, 2017


You need to focus on whether you’re training the way you are because it makes sense or simply through (bad) habit.

The A1 Winter Training series is all about helping time-crunched cyclists to maximise their speed, strength and fitness through effective training. Tune into this series and check out the free three part video series here.

This information will prepare you for the upcoming 2017 season and will show you how to gain a 20% increase in speed, strength and functional threshold power, by committing to less than 7 hours training per week. Click here to watch.

By Anthony Walsh, A1 Coaching

At A1 Coaching we started out trying trying to answer the question: How do I squeeze an extra percent from top level riders?

We applied best practice science and used cutting edge software. We achieved what we set out to do but I couldn’t help but feel that we were only serving a small section of the market.

About 18 months ago, as an experiment, I decided to turn our sports scientists onto the task of seeing what would happen if we applied the lessons we’d learnt from working with top riders to ordinary guys and girls.

Over a coming series of articles here on, I am going to take you step by step on a transformation from the rider that you are to one who is maximising his or her available training time to fulfil your true potential.

If you are looking for a way to get more speed with less effort; a way to get more return on your hourly training investment, you need to read this coming series of blogs. .

Too many riders are riding around without asking the ‘Why?’ questions:

  • Why am I always falling short of my goals?
  • Why am I riding for 4 or 5 hours on a Sunday?
  • Why am I training so slow that I am freezing to death?
  • Why are other riders going faster?
  • Why am I listening to poor advice?
  • Why am I putting on weight when I’m training 10 hour per week?

My goal is to get you to start questioning every aspect of your preparation.

If you are time crunched – balancing work, family and relationships with cycling – you need to start asking these hard questions.

Our time is valuable so it’s important that we learn to maximise the fitness return on our training investment.

Over the coming series or blog-posts and videos I’m going to reveal a step-by-step formula for success.

If you follow these steps I’ve no doubt you’ll be more likely to achieve your targets next season.

Through working with a countless number of athletes over the past few years, I’ve seen common trends in the mistakes that athletes make.

Over the coming series of blogs we are going to look at:

1: The number one training mistake – are you making it?

Most athletes are riding around at the same speed all the time, or using flawed metrics such as average speed or Strava for judging improvements.

This doesn’t stimulate the different physiological systems that come into play in performance.

In this post I will describe these physiological systems and summarize the training Zones.

2: Knowing the numbers – testing your ‘threshold’ and setting up your training zones

It’s all about ‘the numbers’: from the local club time-trial competitor, to Bradley Wiggin’s hour record, to Chris Froom’s release of his performance data – knowing ‘the numbers’ is a key to smart training and understanding performance.

Your ‘threshold’ is your unique key number. In this post you will learn how to test it and how to set your training Zones from it. These are key steps in your development as an athlete.

3: Using your zones – smart training for maximum performance

Now that you have learned about testing your threshold and setting your training Zones, what does this mean for your weekly training programme?

It means that you will no longer be riding like the ‘headless-chicken’, with no specific purpose or focus.

It also means that you won’t have to choose between your job, your partner and cycling, because you can get more performance on less time.

In this post I will outline a sample training week of approximately eight hours, with examples of workouts. I will explain how training in this way, using intensity based on Zones in limited time, will lead to efficient physiological adaptation – better fitness.

4: Putting it all together – setting goals, planning and ‘perioidization’

At this stage of the series you will have learned the basic principles of smart training and you will understand how some of the traditional methods just don’t make sense for the everyday cyclist.

You will have enough knowledge to maximise your performance by embracing intensity and smart training.

But, what are your key goals? When should you peak?

5: How to ride faster by resting – the art of recovery

Hard training only allows for the possibility of increased fitness. Improvements in performance only happen after we ‘absorb’ the training through appropriate recovery techniques.

A key change needed for improved performance in limited time is train hard and rest hard. A lot of us find this difficult to manage – to have the confidence to believe that we are actually getting fitter by taking it easy.

Recovery is a bit of an art form in that it works differently for different people, and much depends on working it into your regular lifestyle and work routine.

In this last article I will outline some of the best recovery strategies – ways of getting faster while doing nothing.

6: Fuel for Cycling

It seems that every day there’s a new diet that is the solution to all your problems. Like we have achieved with our training and recovery principles, we’ve cut out the nonsense and can provide an approach to nutrition for endurance-based athletes that actually works.

Stick with me over the course of this series as it has the power to change your cycling future.

Embrace the intensity revolution.

Until next time.