This article originally appeared on Clarence Bass' "Ripped" website:
The passion continues.
Last year (2015) I entered 19 races—16 time trials and three road races. I grabbed three second place finishes and got my first of three wins, all in time trials.
I set a personal best in a 5K time trial of 8:59, which is an average speed of 20.8 mph. Only a couple years ago I raced this same distance at 10:33. For the approximately 20K time trials I got my average speeds up to around 20.4 mph. The elite riders are faster than this, but in a couple of years I’ve progressed from an average speed of over 17 mph. So I’m getting faster and I’m still having fun. Or having more fun.
I train more intensely and less than most other cyclists. In the off season I’m on the indoor turbo trainer seldom more than an hour and often only twenty or thirty minutes, and not every day. I blast away with sprints, intervals or practice time trials then usually follow that with a short, easy recovery ride or rest the next day. Two days a week I lift weights. In season, I seldom ride more than 80 or 90 minutes outside, even if I have a 40K road race. I emphasize speed and power work. Maybe I’ll do a two-hour long ride once every couple of weeks or so. Maybe.
This all flies in the face of cycling’s still prevalent training gospel, which says to train as much as you can as long as you can. Decades ago, the pro riders in Europe would sometimes train 8 hours a day 6 days a week at 15 mph. That legacy has been handed down.
Pro riders train 30 to 40 hours a week, while many amateurs—even if their longest race might be an hour or two (or less) train 4 to 6 hours a day. It’s a sport that greatly resists change, similar to running.
Contrast this long training with the example of Roger Bannister, about whom Clarence has written. When Bannister trained to break the 4-minute mile barrier in the 1950s he trained on his lunch hour for 30 to 45 minutes, with hard intervals instead of long steady/slow distance the backbone of his program.
Old ways die hard, as many runners and cyclists still swear by the massive over-distance methods, even if they are middle-distance runners or, surprisingly, even some track racers in cycling. Many cyclists tell me I’m training wrong, yet they also want to know how I keep getting faster at age 63.
The point of cycling or any fitness activity is to find something that suits you and do it in a way that makes you happy. You can train hard in cycling and still have time for a life. For fitness, you certainly don’t have to compete. You can do other activities than cycling or lifting—whatever interests you. There’s no need to punish yourself with boot camps or masochistic workouts; gradually work up to harder things. Begin at whatever level you find yourself; don’t be intimidated. Do it for yourself.
Follow many of Clarence’s excellent tips: work hard, challenge yourself, but at your own pace. Don’t diet either, instead develop a healthy eating plan that, as Clarence rightly points out, is sustainable. For you. (I don’t eat like other cyclists either.)
Each individual should follow their own path to a healthy lifestyle, because life is truly a glorious journey. Make the exercise and fitness adventure an enjoyable part of that journey.
And utilize Clarence and his unparalleled website for inspiration, motivation and information.