Structured Training – Why a Cycling Training Plan is Important

Why Have a Plan?

When I first got back into cycling after many years away from it, my initial ambition was just to ride for the pure enjoyment and to gain a little fitness on the side. If this rather unambitious goal had persisted, there would be no need for any sort of plan.

However as soon as I started to get a little fitter and faster, I began to enjoy it more and so I began to ride a little more. This continued to progress until my competitive nature took over and I eventually decided that I wanted to get back into bike racing. However from here I knew that just randomly going out and riding whenever I felt like it was probably not the best way of preparing for my first race.

Importance of Structured Training

“Training without structure isn’t training at all, it’s bike riding” These words from the head coach at TrainerRoad, Chad Timmerman, really stuck a cord with me because as I will explain below, having a plan vastly Increases your odds of success and here is why:

We all Have Goals
To win the Tour de France, my local bike race, rise a category, complete my first century ride, drop Bob on the climbs, or even just keep up with the Sunday social ride. No matter what type of cyclist you are, be that a pro or amateur who races, a gran fondo specialist or just someone who likes to go out on the group ride every weekend, you will have a goal. Even if at the moment it is not a conscious one, deep down it will be there.

No Guarantee of Success
However it is important to understand that no matter how lofty, ambitious or even realistic your goal(s) are, there is no guarantee of success. Obviously by lowering your expectations or goals, the chances of “success” increase.

So take for example when I first got back into cycling, my goal was just to enjoy riding and get a little fitter. Here the route to “success” was fairly simple as all I had to do was get out there and ride my bike on a fairly consistent basis…and thus the chances were quite large that I was going to achieve it. Here the “Plan” would have been really easy to make:

easy training plan

More Ambition Requires More Planning

However if like me, you are even a little bit competitive, your goals will probably get more and more ambitious over time. So let’s say my goal went from just enjoying riding and gaining a little fitness to being able to comfortably complete a century ride scheduled for the end of summer.

Already you can see that by just going out on my bike whenever I felt like it, was not going to cut it as a realistic plan for attaining my goal.

So the “plan” has to get more detailed:

There is the goal that I want to achieve at the end (completing the 100 kilometer ride) and there now has to be some sort of progression from my current level of fitness where I can comfortably ride for 20 kilometers to the point where I am fit enough to ride for 100 kilometers.

So as you can see as your goals get more ambitious, you need to have a more and more detailed plan of how you are actually going to at least try and achieve success and reach your goal, because without it you are probably at best going to take longer to get there, or more likely get completely lost along the way.

Plans Help You to Achieve Success

So in summary a cycling training plan increases your odds of success because it:

  • Helps you to focus on your goal(s)
  • Improves the efficiency of your training helping you achieve your goals faster

Ok, so that is the Why Part out of the way. However the problem with a detailed plan is that it can seem daunting and even difficult to make and so how does the self coached cyclist go about not only creating a plan, but one that you know and believe will actually work by helping you achieve your goals?

Creating a Cycling Training Plan

In the next article I get into the meat of Training Plans and exactly how as a self coached cyclist, I go about planning not only my season, but the entire year. I don’t pretend to be a coach and I most certainly don’t have any qualifications. However I do have years of experience and will show you what I do to create a structured cycling plan that I fell really helps me realistically and efficiently achieve success by reaching or at times even surpassing my goals:

  • How I’m Planning My Next Season and how you can as well with step by step instructions
  • Software I’m Using (Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Golden Cheetah, TrainerRoad, etc)

So for more the next step follow the link to Preparation: Creating My Cycling Training Plan