What to Do When You Want to Race Every Weekend
by Sean Burke
The race season is already in full swing here in Southern California and the rest of the country is soon to follow. Many regions have so many races on the schedule that a bike racer can have a tough time choosing when to stay home and when to race. Some racers even choose to race almost every weekend. And why not? We love to race our bikes, in fact that’s why we do all those hours of training and spend ridiculous amounts of money on gear. So, why shouldn’t we go race? Many coaches might instruct their riders to back off on their racing schedules, but I’m going to do just the opposite. I’m going to give you a few tips for fitting all of that racing into your schedule.
If you are going to race almost every weekend, you need to be sure to include the race as a “hard training” day in your training plan. Exactly how many days a week a rider can do hard workouts is going to vary greatly depending on age, years of training, outside stressors, nightly sleep, and even his or her natural ability to recover. It’s up to you (and your coach if applicable) to figure out how much you can train and how many days of interval/hammerfest/race intensity training you can do in a week. Don’t forget to include race days in your calculations. I’ve seen riders run themselves into the ground by doing intervals or local bunch rides 3 or 4 days a week, and then following that up with a race on the weekend. Don’t be that rider.
Conversely, trying to be fresh for every race every weekend can also leave you in the undesirable position of not being as fit as you can possibly be for your biggest events of the year. If you are going to race 3 or 4 times a month, you simply can’t go easy 3 or 4 days before every race. That will leave you with far less training stress than is optimal and you’ll wind up being mediocre all year. If you want to race that often, the best thing to do is to simply “train through” some of the races. That means no taper or special rest days beforehand. Do make sure to include the race as a hard ride in your training program as described above; just don’t get into the habit of trying to be as fresh as possible for every race, or you’ll never realize your full potential. Train through those less important events (you may still surprise yourself with your performance), then taper or rest a little bit before your 3 or 4 most important races of the year. This should leave you riding stronger than ever for the biggest events on your calendar.