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Goal-Setting and General Principals of Cross-Training

Each year begins with a rest phase that works backward from the goal(s) we have set for the coming year. All good things take time and building a strong engine is what I envision when we finally get down to work.

Rest Phase
The holidays (Christmas and New Years) were your last big rest phase until next fall or until completion of your major goal; ie. BC Bike Race.

That brings us to the next point, setting your goal(s). Though many athletes are able to sustain one, two, or, with years of training, three peaks, most athletes shoot for two. Within any year training can be purposeful or purposeless, so goal-setting allows us to establish benchmarks and more empirically move forward. Remember, after you achieve each goal, celebrate your accomplishment, rest and reset new goals. Your goals should form a sequence: short-term, mid-term and long-term. Those big goals can be as lofty as you like because training is a process and goals are achievements. Remember as well that if goals aren’t written down they are 80% less likely to ever occur.

Early Season Principals of Cross-Training
So, it’s January and you’re ready to get going, but how do you lay down a systematic approach to those goals that you’ve set? Again, I will refer to the ‘looking backward’ philosophy. If BC Bike Race is the goal, then let’s look backward from race day. You will want to include one travel and one recovery day before, from January 1, you should have roughly six months of workable time.

We at BC Bike Race will provide the final specific 11-week training program for the race that will allow you to reach your peak fitness at just the right time, but you are responsible to be generally fit and ready to get into specifics at the critical time – 11 weeks out.

General vs Specific Fitness
General fitness, or the cross-training period (from January until that time when some you are able to reasonably ride your bike more often than snowshoe, ski or hike), is the time to focus on rounding out your muscle groups, working on imbalances and maintaining overall fitness. Your heart and lungs don’t know the difference between swimming, skiing or biking; so get in some good, solid general conditioning.

Specific fitness is the time to decrease the cross-training and increase the sport-specific training. In this case, we’re talking about biking and that will eventually even mean incorporating training specific to the bike that you will be using. Training is practice. What we practice is what we plan to do, so don’t run in preparation for a bike race (within 12-14 weeks before or very little if you must).

Weeks 1 – 4 of 23
During the first few weeks of getting back from the holidays don’t be too hard on yourself. Short efforts are fine, but consistency is what we are really looking for. Plan to engage in cardiovascular exercise at least 3 times per week – two shorter sessions during the week and one longer one on the weekend. Soccer, hockey and other group sports are great supplements to steady effort sessions.

Don’t be afraid to try other sports during this time such as snowshoeing, swimming, indoor soccer, or even night-time outdoor adventures using a headlamp. Just remember that different sports require different muscle groups and those muscles require time to adapt. Be careful and start slowly when engaging in new activities. Always check with your doctor first if you have any health conditions.

If you decide to do weights, plan on 2-3 times per week, and give yourself at least 12 weeks or more to make strength gains, as any less will not be as effective.

On the weekend day that you are not doing your longer training, plan something outdoors that’s less structured but fun – take your family for a hike, walk around town, or go alpine skiing. Really, at this time all sport is good sport; just do it at a pace of enjoyment and consistency. There will be plenty of time to push yourself in the very near future!

Back to more training tips.

Andreas Hestler is an Olympian (1996), 5X Canadian National Champion, 3X Winner of the Trans Rockies, and also competed in road, CX, and Xterra. Andreas is also the Marketing Director for BCBike Race and has competed in the event every year since it began in 2007.