2021 Season – How are you approaching it? (...and 2020 reflections)

I’m just about to stick a fork in 2020. Looking forward to 2021. However, it seems like the American race calender is and will be up in the air again. I have a couple of target events that I don’t know will happen, but I’m putting them on the calendar anyway as markers.

The good:

  • What worked well for me in 2020 was devoting more time to training my aerobic engine. I incorporated many more Z2 (or Z1 Seiler) rides into my training schedule which I think paid dividends. These came in the way of 2-4 hour endurance rides.
  • I also invested around 8 weeks to work on VO2 max. Something I never really did, and while it was painful, I do believe it helped raise the roof.
  • With regards to Sweet Spot, I focused on pushing out interval length vs focusing on more power. This had me go from 3x20 all the way out to 2x50 and 1x90.
  • Had fun chasing Strava segments and bagging a couple KOMs

The bad:

  • Neglected strength training. A late start to the season (due to surgery in Feb) affect my ability to plan strength training into my annual training plan
  • Potential over-training. While the VO2 max block I described above seemed to help a lot, I think I may have attempted to continue chasing marginal gains by doing more VO2 work this August/September and it lead to some slight over-training.
  • Didn’t work on any CX-related skills

I will also be employing some different approaches to training that I felt worked well for me this year. Also, committing to off-the-bike strength/resistance training this autumn.

  1. What worked well for you in 2020?
  2. What if anything, will you do differently in 2021?
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  1. I had good success/results doing a more Traditional Base base build on the bike as part of my triathlon training, that I didn’t get to follow through with. I will definitely take that approach again.

  2. I’m still on the fence of whether I’ll stick to my plan I laid out last year to do my first Ironman in 2021, but that may depend on whether there are any slots left for either Ironman Canada or Ironman Mont Tremblant when general registration opens on Monday. Obviously that will change the plan a bit if I end up going that route. :slight_smile: And of course :crossed_fingers: that races actually happen next year!

Sadly due to a death in the family and a heavy cold this last 2 weeks (first illness of the year :man_shrugging:) I pulled the plug on my intended hill Climb season here in the UK. I’ve been in great shape this year and had built the platform to start putting a solid 6 week block of VO2 together but sadly those plans were cancelled.

2020:
Having ridden 100% indoors from Jan-Mar, increasing my volume and staying out of Z1 (about 6% TIZ only) I really began to feel the difference as lockdown kicked in. Long story short, FTP up 20-25W (300 to 325), jumps in power at 5 and 10 minutes and seeing 2020 peak power performances dominate my all time peak tables. After lockdown I kept my increased volume up, lots of hilly miles but the biggest factor: zero missed weeks, zero going backwards. A first.

Oct20->>>> 2021

I’m in total limbo, I feel like I don’t want to train anymore but I want to improve. I don’t know what I want to target next year, crits or not, different challenges. I’ve no idea and it’s pretty confusing not knowing what to do.

I think I need to attempt to keep the volume up and see if anything sparks me into action.

I think for events/races, judging by this year, July/August seems to be the window where they are most likely to actually take place. At least that was when the virus was lowest this year. So I hope to do at least one nice sportive in the Alps somewhere. Other than that I think I will ramp up the bikepacking trips. It’s pretty fun and quite pandemic-safe.

You almost described my year to a T.

I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily outcome oriented but I have trouble directing the process goals and staying motivated without some competition. So watching all of the events (personal and athletic) just fall off the calendar started really taking its toll and I just had a hard time pushing through training.

For now I’m gonna just do a mix of running, lifting, and cycling until about Thanksgiving with the lifting being the real focus. Then I’ll start to bike more, drop the running, and stop trying to progress as much with the lifting.

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+1 That happened for me back in around April when the bulk of my races got cancelled and/or the writing was on the wall for them to get cancelled. I was about to start my build phase(s), but didn’t have the mindset to actually push through with training with nothing to pay it off with, especially over summer. I also wasn’t in a lockdown situation or work-from-home so I didn’t have a bunch of extra time on my hands either. I’m optimistic for next year so I’m training with the hope that I can actually race next year, and feeling pretty fresh right now since I didn’t have that typical race season to recover from (physically and mentally).

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I’ve recently bought an MTB to ride with my 7 year old boy who is just getting into cycling. I’ve done a couple of lunchtime blasts on my own this week on some really exciting (for me anyway) terrain which has been pretty uplifting and a total change from looking at power data etc.

I intend to keep the solo short rides going as I think this will be a nice release from whatever else I decide to do. The rides I do with my boy are super super easy and have a whole different benefit (outdoors, seeing him enjoy it etc).

My season isn’t quite over - I have the Austin Rattler still on the calendar for 11/7. I took a couple of easy weeks in August before starting to ramp up again for that. I plan to race a couple of gravel and MTB events leading up to that for preparation.

What worked in 2020:

  • Like you - long Saturday endurance rides in the heat. I’m in TX and spent Mid May - July Saturdays out on 4-5 hour road and gravel endurance rides with ending temperatures over 100F. (Hydration was a big challenge requiring 3-4 stops for refills)

  • I combined that with shorter indoor and outdoor TR training plan rides during the week.

  • When I tested FTP in late July I was pleasantly surprised to see an 11% increase for two months work.

  • I plan to do something similar in 2021 - TR plan and substitute long weekend rides every other week at least.

What I can do better

  • Strength training - I developed some knee pain from strength training (too much too soon??) and had to stop. I plan to ease into it this offseason.

  • Weight loss - I had trouble losing weight and getting to my goal weight in 2020. Instead of losing 7 I gained 2. I plan to really focus on the weigh loss this off season to maximize my FTP/kg.

  • MTB skills

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Obviously it was very disappointing to see big events like Leadville, RPI, and Big Sugar come off the calendar. However it has also created much opportunity.

With COVID-19, my work schedule was impacted in one major way - no travel. Usually I have almost monthly trips national and internationally that I have to work around. This year none of this happened and it led to my most consistent training year to date. A major part of this was working with a coach (@brendanhousler EVOQ.BIKE) who formulated a custom plan suited to my needs and we stuck with a 3 weeks on, one week off approach. I had lots of structure in the plan, but also the ability to improvise on my long weekend work.

Along with road and XC MTN biking, I added Gravel to the mix this year. While in past years I was doing numerous 70 - 100 mile weekend road rides, now I was mixing 70 - 120 mile gravel rides in. Tougher than the road riding, but similar to my A events. I also made a point of doing a really big ride on what would have been event days in 2020. This allowed for practicing tapering, openers, and further dial in nutrition. I feel light years ahead of where I was a year ago in this regard. I also learned a lot in terms of what my body can handle with consistent training, but also consistent recovery. Knowing I can hit a 120 mile gravel ride at the start of a 3 week training block and still get through the block without issue is hugely valuable and something I likely would not have tried in seasons past.

It was also a great year to test equipment and work through any set up issues. I had two new bikes this year, a Supercaliber for XC riding and a Checkpoint for the gravel. Having all the long rides on these bikes really helped get them dialed and should be ready to go once races restart in 2021.

For 2021, the calendar is now getting mapped out. Wilmington Whiteface, Leadville, RPI, and Big Sugar are all in the plans and I’m preparing like they are going to happen. @brendanhousler has laid out the road map and now it’s on me to execute.

It would have been nice to have the actual race-day efforts to reflect upon but feel confident looking forward to 2021 with such a solid year behind me. Let’s hope the efforts to quell Covid-19 are successful and that we can all get on to bigger and better things in 2021.

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At age 63, I will not target any events (Cat 5 races, semi-competitive endurance events and even outdoor group rides) until post vaccination, which means likely Q3’21. As such, we share some similarities and some differences:

Strength Training: Pre-Covid, my strength training was at the peak of my life. I could easily measure up against folks 1/2 or 1/3 my age at the gym in all cycling related strength training. However, I can’t even begin to replicate at home what I had access to at the gym so I have resigned myself to what I can minimally do at home until it is safe for me to go to the gym in 2021 (i.e. my strength has fallen off significantly).

Cycling Training: Almost all of my training is indoors given the loss of group rides and the efficiency of training indoors. I am focused on threshold and sub-threshold training (aerobic, tempo, sweet spot and threshold) to build an aerobic and muscular endurance base and I do no VO2 and anaerobic work as they bring little benefit to my near term goals and come at a great cost. However, I complement the above focused training with extensive cadence training well above what is prescribed in any TR workout.

Once vaccinated, I will re-start my strength training ramp and develop a specific training plan for my target event(s).

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1–The positives have been quite nice for me. Despite the dangers of the virus, we had a baby at the perfect time (right before the US outbreak) for taking time off for work and training. Husband was planning to be stay at home dad for her first six months, and was coincidentally laid off just before her birth (so unemployment) which was just surplus. She’s now 7 months and I think we will extend his stay at home dad-ness until she’s at least a year old, maybe longer. He’s so good at it!

1b–The negative: I bought an MTB last year and am just now getting back out there. I’m not confident (road racer only prior) and need to go out with MTB friends for safety and guidance. But I only have a select few I’m willing to ride with. So needless to say, I’ve only been out once.

2–Well, the MTB was purchased because I don’t really plan to return to road racing (don’t tell my team). I am interested in the Tahoe Trail 100 and/or Barn Burner in the hopes to qualify for Leadville one day. These races have dates for 2021 and they aren’t usa cycling related races, so I’m going to train like these will happen.

Now I just need to start riding my MTB outdoors…

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Structured training throughout the year…I typically do structured training up until around March / April when we start getting outside again. With group rides / races cancelled, I stayed with structure much longer.

Also was on TR plans vs. just going to the local training center and doing whatever workout was on tap for that day, Definitely more of this in 2021.

I only had one “A” race (Barry Roubaix)…but next year my “A” race will (hopefully) be The Rift in Iceland. So I’ll do a peak or near-peak in April with a second peak for The Rift. If things open up, it will be difficult to resist the pull of our Tues / Thurs group AM rides (very fast group), so I may do TR on Tuesdays and then the group rides on Thursday. But will definitely be on the trainer more than normal years.

Will largely repeat the schedule I had this year…Traditional Base MV I-III starting Nov. 1 and then switching to Plan Builder to map out the rest of the season.

Oh, and getting my hernia fixed in the next few weeks so I can be ready to start TB.

2020 has been great training-wise, wish I had some events to channel my energy into, but I may abandon the last 3 weeks of CX specialty to do a zwift racing “season” before SSB.

I’ve pretty much done an entire base-build-specialty progression this year without interruption and not many mods (I did ride 2 solo centuries and may do a 3rd). Some folks may find it crazy to just ride inside, especially with some amazing weather, but I get so much bang for my buck and I get a ton of satisfaction with TR training.

I’ve been supplementing my training lately with 60min rides outside with my 9y/o around the neighborhood (I averaged 83w and 12.3mph with him today, a new record!)

I’m at 295w for my ftp (~4.1w/kg) at the moment and according to my TSB I’m pretty darn fresh at +9.5 so I’m going to be in a great position to make more gains in SSB come November. Who knows what 2021 has in store, I’m happy to just continue building fitness, doing an occasional epic solo ride and getting some bonus miles with my son as hopefully he grows to appreciate bikes.

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The good:

  • Volume and work is way up. Season hours are up 50% year over year, kJ up almost 100%
  • Power curve pretty much had a step change increase (with the exception of my sprint/pmax)
  • I’ve been able to manage stress, workload, and keep relatively close to race weight, without being insane about it. I’m a few kg heaver than I’d like to be, but I’ve prioritized continuing to train at a high workload over being at race weight. It should be easy to drop back down when I need to within a few months

The bad

  • Between lockdowns, wildfires, broken frames, air quality, and other factors, I haven’t spent nearly as much time on my MTB as I wanted to, and skills continue to be a limiter for me on the performance side
  • The economic uncertainty is making the cost of a new race bike seem very frivolous right now given the need to have more space at home for an extra office

The unexpected

  • I learned a few things about my brain this year, specifically around seasonal affective disorder impacts in a time of year that was unexpected (June Gloom in SoCal hit me very hard). I’m actually using a lightbox pretty regularly and that has been surprisingly helpful
  • My nutritional and supplement needs were somewhat orthogonal to the usual recommendations, which was a learning experience.

Overall, I’m optimistic about 2021. I laid a huge foundation given the year off from racing and I hope I can reap the benefits next year.

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The good:

  • Just finished my first year of riding a bike and training. My FTP went +100W this year.
  • My aerobic base keeps improving, especially closer to Z2 I see huge improvement but also around threshold (workours with 80 min TiZ are hard but doable)
  • I have upped my volume from LV to around 10h weekly without bigger problems with fatigue. (From 0 to 86 CTL)

The bad:

  • Recently it looks like my FTP is in sort of a plateau, despite almost every part of my PDC is up. I have to find different stimuli.
  • No more time to up the riding time and volume. I have to find a solution to how to better compose the training within current constrains.
  • Nutrition. Upping the volume requires huge amount of food and I have to find solutions to eat more. In June I have had a time when lack of calories almost killed my training.
  • Lack of group riding experience. I have to find how overcome my fear of racing (bike techniqe side and performance side).
  • I live in a flat area and riding a bike outside is boring. I have to work out how to find some more joy in riding a bike outside.
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Huge gratz on that!

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Thank you…good times:) Now there will be much more work behind every watt.

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Good time for me to find this thread as I’ve just wrapped up my two week end of season siesta and am starting training for 2021 tomorrow morning.

2020 was a pretty fun year on the bike for me. In the before times I had focused my training around a June peak, a brief detraining and then a second peak in August. I was pretty early on the ‘COVID is going to stop all races’ train so in March I completely broke from that and re-focused on a season without 12-15 race weekends.

This enabled me to focus extensively on base and building up my muscle endurance with longer efforts. I did a variety of training progressions that culminated in some pretty hard workouts (Wrangell and Carpathian Peak +3) as well as doing my first ever four hour century (5 person group, 102 miles with 5,000 feet of climbing). With the base work I was able to unlock the ability to do a solo five hour century at my endurance pace and I did about a dozen of these over the course of the summer.

I was, at the drop of a hat, ready to switch to a specialization and start racing, but basically stayed on more foundational efforts since racing never really turned around. From a progression standpoint this essentially led to me increasing my power at HR by around 20 watts from the 100-150 BPM range

The upside of all of this is that I basically redrew a bunch of my all time power curve on the longer efforts (2-5 hours). The downside is that I didn’t touch any of my power curve short of that. This was all, more or less, by design, but still a little sad to look at.
2020 52 week view

image

Lessons learned: Two days of intensity a week is better than three (for me). I can hit higher intensity levels and recover better. Two weeks on, one week off works best (for me) as my easy weeks don’t have to be ‘that’ easy. I can reduce TSS to around 60%, do all base, and get back to harder intervals feeling very fresh

2021

I am planning to kick off 2021 training with a little easy VO2 and threshold work just to restart the motor after two weeks completely off. From there I am going to do a base period (mid-November through the end of the calendar year) that will include one day of intensity each week.

I’m going to make a judgement call at the end of the year based on the progress of vaccine development. If I feel racing is likely I will do a 6 week polarized block and then continue with a more traditional build model, if I feel racing is unlikely I will do similar to what I did last year

Overall I’m taking a wait and see approach to next season. If it looks like a normal road racing season is possible I will be focusing on becoming a rider who can help teammates upgrade to cat 1, if it isn’t possible I will continue to work on base and pick a few other random goals.

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You might just need a bit of recovery, like “offseason” for a few weeks just to allow things to settle down before you start applying the same stimuli to yourself. I’d say whatever you were doing seemed to be working, and i wouldnt want to throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak by changing things up.

2020 is long over for me but, it was a success in the learning department. I had more time to ride than ever since March and found what my peak fitness, given my career, family, age, etc…can be attained; how much time and work I need to get there; and finally how careful I need to be with how much intensity I fold in each week.

The only negative I can think of is where I live and how it affects timing my peaks. For example, living in a very hot climate (northern hemisphere) my A events really need to be wrapped up by August 1st. It is so difficult to deal with the heat! Every year I try to be on form in September I completely explode. The super early mornings combined with just gross heat and humidity, work and other obligations are a recipe for disaster. I used to be able to do it 20+ years ago but, not 50+. Sucks but, at least I found my high and low.