“Houshang has been a vital element in what has allowed me to experience steady progression each year of my career.”
- Svein Tuft
athletes, cycling, willock, plaxton

Building a Baseline

How to Approach a New Training Cycle

by: Houshang Amiri

October 30, 2012

The end of cycling season (late September or early October) is when each cyclist should take time off the bike and regular training.  This period is called the transition phase or “TP” – the final macrocycle of a yearly training plan that usually lasts between two to four weeks. The transition normally starts with a few days of complete rest and continues with a significant decrease in training volume and intensity.

The transition phase is a very important part of your training program – a good mapped TP provides a decent rest and recovery to your body and mind. The downside is that you have lost considerable fitness during those few weeks, and your training baseline has changed requiring you to find a new reference point, and assessment for these changes so you can re-establish new training targets and zones.

As a new season starts a new baseline is required. This will be used as a starting point for gauging progress towards a new goal and objective, as well as measuring the level and direction of any changes that are needed.

Identifying a Baseline

After the transition phase each athlete starts with an individual program featuring two-three weeks of progressive low key training before having an assessment. This may include:  MAP - Maximal Aerobic Power, and MLSS - Maximal Lactate Steady State test, body composition and any other assessments depending on the athletes focus and discipline. Data from these tests reflects and pinpoints your new baseline and training zones. For example, you may need to start building endurance using steady state or interval training, which results in many physiological changes in your body. However, those changes won’t happen in a timely manner if you don’t know what your training targets are e.g. heart rate, power, speed cadence etc. Also monitoring those values and your response to the training stimuli will improve the training’s effectiveness.

Our Approach

If there is one thing that we have learned as both athlete and coach, it is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to coaching. Too many coaches offer training plans that follow a set template, or push all of their athletes to train exactly like they did when they raced. If the athlete happens to have the exact same make-up, the plan works, but for most it’s a recipe for burnout and falling short of personal potential.

The only common approach that we apply to all of our athletes is to take the time to get to know them as individuals. We don’t just hand you a rigid six-week training block and wish you luck. From experience, working with athletes from World Champions to local club riders, we know that the training block is only a small part of the program. Most top endurance athletes actually do very similar training. What separates the champions from the rest is how they approach all sides of their preparation. To reach your peak potential, we will take you far beyond the training plan: from nutrition to recovery, from fitting training into your daily life, to how you envision your next race.

This means that the perfect preparation program can’t be made in a week after a single phone call. This is why we won’t offer “one-off” training plans and require at least three months with each athlete. The perfect plan is built through commitment and trust. We have to get to know you – as an athlete and individual – your goals, your skills, and how the sport fits with your life. Conversations, training reports, power data, and race performances are all ways we personally and scientifically learn about you. It is a process and the road can be bumpy, but as long as you know where you want to go, we are committed to getting you there.

We believe that peak performance and results are the outcome of trust, risk, and commitment. This means trust in both yourself and your coach. The ability to take a risk and to calculate risk. And most important, commitment, not just to working hard, but to open, honest communication, giving and receiving feedback and learning to fully commit yourself to whatever you choose to do.

We also understand that commitment is a two way street. Many aspiring athletes seek out team, provincial or state coaches only to end up feeling like one cog in a very large set of gears. While many of these coaches are very high level, their obligation is first and foremost to the interests of their team and employers, not to the team members. The commitment of PCC coaches is, first and foremost, to you, the athlete. No matter your level or objectives, we work with you and for you.

 


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athletes, cycling, willock, plaxton
athletes, cycling, willock, plaxton