Cyclist to Multisport Athlete: 3 is good for 1
By: Lisa Cooper Colvin, Ph.D., FACSM, LCEP
Exercise Physiologist, University of Louisiana at Monroe
USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, USA Swimming Level 1 Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Coach,
USA Track and Field Level 1 Coach
As the days get longer and the sun begins to warm you up, one day after your long ride, you might ask your coach and/or yourself "I wonder if I could add something new to my training...could I try a duathlon or triathlon?” The answer is OF COURSE! Not only would this be an outstanding multimodal activity that would help to decrease overuse injuries, it also is an excellent means of strength training, core stability work and proactive injury prevention on your part.
The first thing athletes tell me when I suggest this addition and/or transition is "I can't do that sport, I swim like a rock!” As most of us have exceptional lean muscle mass that pulls you like a magnet to the bottom of the pool, it is easily overcome with stroke mechanic drills, fin kicking and economy in the water. Others of you might justify not trying a multisport event because "I can't swim!” No problem again! Multisport events are not just limited to the swim, bike, run events (triathlon of many distances) but you can venture into duathlons. I have worked with many category 1, 2, 3 cyclists over the course of my 20 years of coaching and although they did not compete in any multisport events, they had their best seasons in years in stage, time trial and long road races.
OK Lisa, I will give it a try. What now? There are 5 easy steps to beginning a multisport mentality that compliments your cycling goals. They are SMART: 1. Swimming instruction, 2. Multiple workouts per day, 3. Alignment of your cycling goals with your addition of multimodal exercise, 4. Run for running sake, not to help cycling goals, 5. Triathlons (or other multisport events) make cycling races more enjoyable so get ready to cat up!
STEPS IN TRANSITIONING/ENHANCING YOUR CYCLING SEASON
1. Swimming Instruction
Even with Lance Armstrong's triathlon background, one of the first things he did was to join a swim group that had a coach. On deck instruction and coaching is a sure way to achieve quick success in the water. As freestyle is the preferred stroke for the swim section of triathloning, having a USA Swimming or ASCA certified coach assisting you in this aspect will make this "concerning" portion of triathlon events most enjoyable (I PROMISE!). From stroke instruction to swim workouts, this exercise will help your cycling by strengthening your cardiovascular system, increasing upper body tone (which is often neglected by cyclists and will not bulk you up) and enhancing your core body stability. How better than to get 3 workouts in one training session....this is a no brainer.
2. Multiple workouts per day
Triathlon training plans can be confusing and frustrating to design but a skilled coach can easily help you fit in multiple workouts per day without your spouse and friends forgetting your name! There should be 5-6 days of workout and one day of active rest. HUH? REST?! NO WAY! A much overlooked portion of a well designed training plan includes a rest day and easy workouts each week. No, you won't loss any fitness. For a fact, I will bet the farm that your racing IMPROVES!
For example, here is a training template for cyclists transitioning to multimodal activity:
· Monday: swim; easy ride on road like for 1.5 hours in the flats at power of L1
· Tuesday: Tuesday night World's (your hard group ride) of 1.5-2.5 hours UL4-5 or whatever it takes to hang on
· Wednesday: swim; BRICK: ride time trial bike or road bike in drops for 1 hour with 4 x 30 second Time Trial power effort at 20 minutes (1 minute recovery between intervals); after ride, IMMEDIATELY put on running shoes and run 10 minutes (5 minutes out and 5 minutes back)
· Thursday: run 20 minutes easy or run 5 minutes/walk 1 minute until complete; Time Trial workout on bike for 1:30
· Friday: swim; longer run (up to 30 minutes for first 3 weeks)
· Saturday: Long group ride of 3-4 hours (some intervals in this ride 4-5 weeks down the road)
· Sunday: REST....you deserve it; walk dog, play with kids, date with spouse (that might be lawn work!)
NOTE: properly fitted running shoes is not a suggestion, it is a necessity! Before running one step, replace old running shoes with properly fitted shoes. Ask the expert at a running store.
3. Align your cycling goals with your addition of multimodal pursuits
When you add additional modes of exercise to your existing cycling only plan, consult your coach and discuss at length what you are planning to do, if you are going to add races, and new field tests in each sport. Find a coach who not only has been a cyclist and triathlete, but who has the proper training and certifications that will lead to success in your new adventure. An exercise physiologist may be a helpful coaching background to look for also.
4. Run for running sake, not to help cycling goals
Wow Lisa....this seems great! Thank goodness it will help my cycling. STOP THERE! The running portion of this program will not translate well in improved cycling performance BUT the cycling you are doing will indeed have a carryover performance effect on your running....how cool is that?! Research in this crossover effect leads me to tell you that although you might not be a good runner, every walk/jogged mile has a positive roll over effect to increased power on your bike. Hate me now, love me at your district state cycling championships or your A+ race event for 2012.
5. Triathlons (or multisport events) make cycling races more enjoyable so get ready to cat up!
Now that you have embraced and utilize all or some of the above program, I can happily to tell you my cyclists, 73% of the time (over 200 category 1-5 men and women to date) have "catted up" within 9 months of starting the above program. Better yet, the injury rate and over training issues many coaches experience with their athletes rarely happen to mine. My athletes are pleasantly surprised, families happy and motivated to train and race.
If you are looking for new ways to spice up your cycling performance, I would be excited and honored to help you reach those goals and take your game to the next level.
Be S.M.A.R.T. about your training this year and try something new!