The Race of Truth, or Contre la Montre for the francophiles, is a cycling discpline close to our hearts at PBscience. Helen, Oli and myself (Dan) all have extensive experience of racing time trials, we have worked with a large number of time triallists from beginners to National Champions and in preparation for distances from 10 miles up to 24 hours. The time trial is an event that really sits well with our training philosophy. The physiology of a maximum sustainable effort is well researched and fairly easily quantified. The aerodynamics and pacing required to make best use of that fitness can also be quanitified and optimised and as such it's a discipline that offers the potential for huge improvements to those prepared to look at a logical and all-encompassing approach to their preparation.
The subtleties and nuances of riding the perfect time trial are beyond the scope of an off the peg training plan but for some athletes, a structured training plan targeted at preparing you for the physical demands of a TT is a good first step to getting the most out of your racing against the clock. This plan has that in mind and is aimed at preparing you to race a typical short distance TT of 10-25 miles (16-40km). For most riders this equates to an effort of 20-75 minutes and we make no effort to distinguish the training in this plan for events at either end of this spectrum. The event demands for a time trial of 20-minutes are almost identical to those of an event lasting ~75-minutes but if you are interested in a more bespoke approach taking account of your individual requirements then please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The final 8-12 weeks of training before your target event are those that will have the biggest effect on your race performance. These plans are aimed at that key phase and as such the training aims to prepare you for the specific demands on racing a time trial. You cannot hope to complete the training within these plans without some prior preparation. You should have a reasonably high level of general cycling fitness before beginning this plan: 4 sessions per week including a long ride of 3hrs+ and some exposure to more intense riding than simple base endurance riding is expected. If you meet these requirements then each plan is based around two key blocks...
Functional threshold builder:
the key determinant of time trial performance is your sustainable power output. Dr Andrew Coggan and Hunter Allen coined the phrase 'functional threshold power' (FTP) for the power you can hold for 1 hour and we will use that terminology throughout the plan. We could easily have chosen the maximal lactate steady state or lactate turnpoint or simply 'threshold' if you are more familiar with another name. The jargon is not important but the concept is! This first training phase is aimed at lifting your functional threshold power, or in other words the power output you can maintain for one hour. A proven strategy for achieving this is to train in a tightly controlled region from 90%-110% of your functional threshold (power (or HR of RPE).
Peaking and race execution:
the second phase is aimed at preparing to race. We include some workouts above race pace to become 'sharper', reduce the training load to eliminate fatigue and allow your form to show and perhaps most importantly include some practice race(s) and simulation workouts to prepare to perform at your best in your target race.
The plan contains instruction for using power, heart rate and/or feel to guide the training. Using a power meter will undoubtedly give you an edge when completing the plan but if this is not an option then heart rate and feel (rating of perceived exertion or RPE) are perfectly adequate. Many of the workouts also benefit from use of a home trainer but all can be done on the road if necessary.