My first A-race is this weekend, the Tour of Walla Walla in Washington. I’m specifically targeting the Crit race. From our local Spring Series races I basically need one more podium finish to secure my upgrade to Cat 2. I want to use Walla Walla as a proving ground to confirm my fitness against the wider US field.
In a discussion with teammates, I posted some ideas on peaking for an A race and how to optimize your form going into a priority race weekend.
To speak to recovery and peaking for races, this is the most important time to listen to your body and treat it well. The hard work done in training – the output demands on your body are basically complete. Now more than any other time the inputs are critically important – diet, hydration, rest, sleep, stress.
Some plans recommend having a rest week followed by a peak week going into an A-priority race, some plans suggest a single peak/taper week is enough. In either case, you can’t take your foot completely off the gas. The idea is to maintain intensity and training quality while reducing volume and training stress.
As an example, my current Peak Week looks something like:
- Saturday – 3hrs 100km smooth race-pace effort. 180 TSS
- Sunday – 2hrs45 75km Z2 (aerobic) ride with 3x10min Z5 (threshold) intervals immitating the Walla Walla climb. 155 TSS
- Monday – 1hr morning crosstrain & rehab, 30 TSS followed by a deep tissue massage by a sports RMT. Afternoon 1hr30 Z2 recovery spin with some Z8 (sprint, neruomuscular) and Z6 (VO2max) openers, 65 TSS. Total 95 TSS
- Tuesday – 1hr30 morning spin (re-watching Paris Roubaix!) 55 TSS. 1hr afternoon high intensity Z7 (anaerobic) intervals, immitating crit race demands, 50 TSS. Total 105 TSS
- Wednesday – 1hr morning crosstrain & rehab, 30 TSS. Afternoon 1hr Z2 recovery spin & VO2max openers, 60 TSS. Total 90 TSS
- Thursday – 1hr morning Z2 recovery spin & Z7 intervals, 50 TSS. Afternoon long drive down to Walla Walla, followed hopefully by evening rehab, stretch, foam roll, etc. Total 60 TSS
- Friday – Morning TT, afternoon hilly Road Race
- Saturday – Afternoon flat & technical Crit Race
- Sunday – Afternoon even-hillier Road Race
- Last big TSS, high Training Stress Score efforts are done a week out from the race.
- Mid-week efforts include intensity but limit total TSS. Daily TSS should be under your CTL (Chronic Training Load; ie. fitness) to allow TSB (Training Stress Balance; ie. race form) to rise.
- Redirect focus from big training efforts to rehab & recovery methods to further decrease Acute Training Load (ATL). Stretching, foam rolling, yoga, etc… Dig up those exercises from last time you went to your Physio!
- Sleep needs to be *at least* 8 hrs/night for, well as long as possible going into a race. Get your kids to tuck *you* in this week!
- Diet; no crash diets here, but just make sure your inputs are consisting of good quality fuel for your body. Remember your training volume is down so consider adjusting serving sizes. Stick to light, easy to digest foods that you know your body handles well and aim to leave the table satisfied but not stuffed. Avoid any wild blood glucose swings during the day that just adds physiological stress to your body.
- Finally, the better hydrated you are going into the race, the less water you’ll need during the race. This goes for fueling in general – don’t go into a race weekend starved and thirsty. Peak Week is too late to drop weight, any weight you would lose would only be muscle glycogen and systemic hydration. About as effective as… well, as going for a mid-August epic 6 hour ride without any food or water!
Another topic for discussion is post-race withdrawl. Let me get through this weekend in one piece and maybe I’ll be able to speak to that first hand 🙂