This year’s edition of 8DC is just around the corner and kicks off on May 11th. Like you, we love the awesome storyline and challenging workouts, but let’s look at why 8DC‘s structure and timing make it an invaluable strategic move for your fitness this time of year.
While 8DC may just seem like a fun/brutal smattering of workouts, rest assured that there is a method to our madness when it comes to designing the individual workouts and their relative placement in the challenge schedule. 8DC delivers a massive overall fitness boost by fulfilling a few key objectives that are imperative in building fitness this time of year.
Overload – First and foremost, overload is the umbrella objective in both a general and specific sense. This much work within such a compact period of training takes a heavy toll on the body as a whole.
However, given adequate recovery your body will be able to absorb the increased training load and your capabilities will ascend to new heights. This is sometimes referred to as super-compensation.
We have worked hard to make sure that the tough efforts within each workout are compensated by sufficient recovery, and on a larger scale we’ve made sure to schedule the workouts in such an order that your body has time to recover in time for tomorrow. Now, this doesn’t mean that it is easy (Trust us, it’s not!), because we want to make you faster and easy doesn’t make fast!
Sprinting/Recovery – This year’s challenge is going to have plenty of sprint/KOM opportunities that are sure to get the peloton in a frenzy. In addition, the frequent yet brutal climbs are sure to start out and finish hard as breakaways try to get off the front. But what does all of this sprinting do for your fitness?
In addition to increasing your power output and endurance in high-force intervals (anaerobic capacity), repeated sprint efforts also give your body ample experience in processing the associated rapid increase in lactate production.
In racing or group situations, this is a vital tool to have, as you’ll be required to cover moves to stay with the pack and make breaks in order to get the win.
But all of that peak power means nothing if you can’t put it out dynamically in a repeated fashion. Riders who are able to repeatedly launch, cover and withstand attacks, or repeatedly put out big efforts benefit from having outstanding aerobic recovery.
From “over-unders” to reduced amplitude billats, 8DC will put you through the ringer and give you plenty of opportunity to build your aerobic recovery.
Endurance – As with most stage races, a good portion of 8DC‘s work will be at or sub-threshold for all but the time spent in a break or when coming to the finish.
Building your aerobic base by riding at sub-threshold intensity for extended periods of time is something that many people reserve for winter time and replace with high intensity efforts once the weather warms up enough to get off the trainer.
However, it is imperative that you don’t neglect this aspect of your endurance. A strong aerobic base pays off in endurance on various scales, not only improving your overall endurance but enabling you to maintain a higher level of fitness throughout the year.
In addition to the fun factor, our goal with 8DC is to make you faster, and to get faster you need to build a solid base of endurance to support your race-winning efforts.
The commonly discussed term periodization plays a key role in understanding the appropriate timing of 8DC. Entire books have been written about periodization, but for our purposes here it’s sufficient to note that generally your training should be structured in such a manner as to increase in intensity as you near your “A Race” or main goal for the year.
In the majority of cases, our “A Race” is somewhere in close proximity to summer if not in the summer months. Considering this, most athletes spend the winter training at a lower intensity in an effort to prepare themselves for higher intensity work as their “A Race” nears.
This places 8DC in a fantastic position to take advantage of your diligent work throughout the winter to accelerate your build towards your main goal for the season.
But what if I’m not a racer?
That’s a great question! Even if you are not a racer, you may be preparing for an event that shares very few similarities with 8DC. So why should you do it?
The benefits earned by athletes who complete successive multi-day training blocks like 8DC can change a rider forever. You’ll often hear commentators, coaches or athletes remark on how a grand tour or training camp “changes” a rider’s form, and change it does.
You’ll notice massive physiological gains as you push harder than you thought you could and notice huge psychological gains as you look back and realize what you’ve accomplished.