It’s the Off-Season. Time off from events means it’s Base Builder time.
Base Training, or Base Builder as we call it, is the theme for this time of year. Despite the common theme, everyone has a slight variation on what base training entails. However the overall theme is the same: to put in the training time to build fitness, from general to specific, before your next racing season.
Autumn and Winter is the time of the year most endurance athletes commonly associate with base training. At this time of year, we’re several months away from race season and it’s time to build our general fitness. With general fitness intact, you’re better able to handle the more demanding loads of race specific fitness that follows. General Fitness to us means the least race specific fitness. Since racing is a ways off, we can spend time on areas that either get neglected or we simply can’t afford to train when in the midst of racing season.
The Energy System Chain-Link Model
We think of fitness as links in a chain. One end of the chain is very low intensity (your all-day riding pace); and the other end of the chain is very high intensity (your 1 rep max anaerobic strength). The two ends of the chain are then connected by all the energy systems that lie in between. From high to low, these include: power movements in the gym, Peak Power on the bike, Anaerobic Power, Vo2 Max, Anaerobic Threshold, “Sweet Spot”, Aerobic Threshold, and Aerobic Endurance.
When we begin to build our base fitness for racing a bicycle we begin by training the outer most links (the least race specific). For example, we first focus on the two far ends of the energy system chain: peak movement strength (ie. weight lifting) and aerobic endurance. After that, from these two “ends” of the energy system chain we move progressively inward as we build base fitness. As a result, we progressively move towards the more race specific energy systems in the middle of the chain.