Experiences moving between Ironman and Criteriums

This is more of a personal anecdote, but I’m curious about how other people have fared moving between such different disciplines?

I started racing as a crit racer, and moved out of E-grade ==> D grade, and got bumped into C-grade in early 2018. I had a reasonable year, placing in the top 10 every other race, and getting two podiums and 1 win (from a 1/2 lap leadout by a teammate). By the end of 2018, I was comfortable racing in C-grade, but nowhere near moving up to B.

Towards the end of 2018, I did my first 70.3, and then 2019 turned into a real dedicated IM year, completing my first (and likely only) full-distance IronMan in December, in 10:38:09. After about a month off, I came back to racing, and got permission to drop back down to D-grade since I didn’t feel like I had any ‘snap’.

My first race back was a really short (20min plus 2 laps), sharp criterium on a nasty course with a 180 degree u-turn every 500m. It was made even harder by the fact that there were two other riders who could easily have competed in C or even B grade, making the pace blisteringly fast. However, I managed to hold on, and got the win thanks to a crash from one of the others, and the fact that the strongest other rider didn’t realise it was the last lap, and thought my ‘sprint’ was just me pulling through for a turn.

My second race in D-grade was 3 weeks later, and I managed to pull off a win thanks to the real strong rider sitting up and letting me past. (He didn’t want to upgrade). That put an end to my D-grade career, and I was unceremoniously told to stop sandbagging and upgrade.

I then raced 3 days in quick succession, first on a punchy kermesse, where I got dropped on the last lap, and then 2 criteriums, where I finished in the pack for the first one, and 7th (out of 50) in the second.

Finally, last Tuesday, I had my first real sprint win in C-grade, coming over the top of Norwood’s sprinter in the last 20 meters, after an incredibly fast race (43km/h).

I really feel like the triathlon was a 7-month long base period, and now a month of racing has brought me right back to where I was, and more, with the punch.

How have you gone with swapping between endurance/sprint events?

Aerobic fitness is aerobic fitness.

High intensity intervals can make you really good at a few short sharp efforts. Good aerobic fitness and a high FTP help you recover faster from them and preserve glycogen stores so you can repeat them throughout the race.

I have a similar long term plan. I started racing crits and road a year ago and have really been enjoying it but have a bucket list ambition of doing an Ironman in the next several years. Glad to here that the transition works for other people without too much trouble.

Actually, that’s probably the biggest thing I noticed. Previously, (before IM), I felt like I had one really good effort in me. If that was an attempt at a breakaway, fine. If that was a bunch sprint, fine. But, I also felt that if I went for a breakaway, and got pulled back (even after less than a lap), I didn’t have the capacity to recover and go again with anything else. There were many races where I went for a 2-lap flyer, got caught, then got spat out the back.

However, post-IM, I’ve felt like my attacks have been more repeatable. I had a 2-lap attempt last week, got pulled back (as no one came with me, so I sat up), but still had enough to have a go at the sprint 5 minutes later.

So, I think although my upper power and VO2Max still need work, I definitely have more repeatability than I did previously.

Like Van Der Poel in Amstel Gold!

I think about this article by Kolie Moore a lot. You can touch up and improve that upper power, but overdo it and you risk compromising your ability to do it again.

That article talks about max power sprints - I’d be fascinated to know whether that goes the same for VO2Max work - IE 110%-130%. The sorts of power that you need to do turns on the front, or work in a breakaway, or close a gap, or surge out of a corner.

I’m adopting a ‘boot camp’ that Chad suggested - a week or two of VO2max workouts, starting with 15/15s, and ending with sets of 3.5 minutes at VO2max level. BUT, that set then leads immediately into a base phase, so I’ll have plenty of time to recover before racing starts again.

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