Climbing road races differ from flat ones in obvious ways – they usually include sustained climbs, and often finish on one – but they also share a lot of overlap with flat or rolling road races.
As you might expect, the next offering in our Road Specialty category are the Climbing Road Race blocks. These 3 blocks (low-, mid- & high volume versions) address this diversity but place a heavier emphasis on sustained power than short power, with due attention still paid to maintaining one’s base of aerobic endurance.
Climbing Road Race Demands & Training
Climbing road races involve selective climbs, the sort of climbs that are long enough to whittle large fields down quickly in some cases, a little more gradually in others.
They also throw numerous other types of challenges at their competitors asking them to explosively mark or initiate moves, hold high percentages of VO2 Max power for minutes at a time – often several times over the course of a single race – and descend at high speeds while finding a way to recover for the next onslaught of efforts.
On top of these finer demands, riders have to be able to sustain very high percentages of FTP for periods lasting several minutes, sometimes closer to an hour at a time. So not only does their training have to address short power, it has to fully exploit a rider’s muscular endurance and lactate processing capabilities.
As with any Specialty block, the intent is to grow these abilities and then polish them up just in time for key events.
Specialty Block Structure
We recommend that riders precede this block with a Sustained Power Build (preferred) or General Build block which themselves should be preceded by 6-12 weeks of Traditional or Sweet Spot Base training.
Post-Base/Build conditioning, the first 6 weeks of the 8-week CRR block focus on holding a reasonably steady stress/TSS load save for a Recovery Week on week 4. The volume & TSS drop sharply during the penultimate Taper Week but the intensity is maintained so as to retain your high-end fitness.
The final week of this 8-week plan is a Race Week where you can repeat the week’s format for as many weeks as your racing schedule dictates, substituting weekday training races and weekend races for indoor workouts whenever applicable.
Riders will have to limit just how long they wish to hold this peak fitness since most riders’ form begins to deteriorate somewhere in the 3 to 6-week range, although it’s not uncommon for lower-volume riders to hold this peaked fitness a bit longer due to their more forgiving training loads.
Optimally, riders will reach the CRR blocks with base & build conditioning in their legs. In this case, here are some of the more common training plans:
- 28 Weeks Out: 12 weeks of Sweet Spot or Traditional Base conditioning + 8 weeks of Sustained Power Build conditioning + 8 weeks of Climbing Road Race specialization
- 22 weeks Out: 6 weeks of Sweet Spot Base I + 8 weeks of Sustained Power Build + 8 weeks of CRR specialization
- 14 weeks Out: 6 weeks of Sweet Spot Base I + 8 weeks of CRR specialization
Additional Block Progressions
For other riders keyed on a highly productive or brief competitive seasons, it’s common to see vastly extended, multiple-peak aspirations or very limited training windows. So here are a couple progressions aimed at the thorough planners & the last-minute crammers:
- 8-Weeks Out: Up to 8 weeks of the Climbing Road Race block
- 40-Weeks Out: 12 Weeks of Base conditioning + 8 weeks of Sustained Power Build + 8 weeks of CRR specialization + 4 weeks of Trad Base I + 8 weeks of CRR Specialization
Regardless of your timeline, if you want to be able to hold high percentages of your FTP after hours of already challenging ride time, and if you want road-race fitness that favors longer, sustained efforts, the Climbing Road Race blocks are ideal for you.