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Coach's Column with Travis Woodruff

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |December 28, 2010 8:54 PM

Travis Woodruff is a USAC Level I (elite) certified coach who holds a B.S. in Kinesiology with emphasis in Exercise Science. Heís coached riders to five MTB National Championship wins and has over 10 years of personal racing experience. Since 2005 heís competed as a pro mountain biker and has coached full-time. His business, Momentum Endurance LLC, is based out of Tucson, Arizona where he hosts wintertime training camps.

Question: I race a full mountain bike schedule as a Pro throughout season but I still have a full-time job. How do I balance training with my work responsibilities to maximize my abilities as a racer?

Optimizing Training for your Time-Limited Schedule

Most all competitive cyclists have numerous time demands which limit their ability to train at will. Even very few pros enjoy the luxury of a daily schedule, which solely revolves around training -- so time-limited training principles apply to most all of us. If training is going to be effective and enjoyable it is important do some objective planning before turning the pedals. Keep in mind that the perfect training plan isnít so great if it means youíre neglecting work or family commitments. With less time available to train, thereís less margin for training error and its important to make the most of training opportunities. With an optimized program youíll be challenged, always improving, and enjoying the experience. A small amount of planning, organization, and time management can bring huge dividends to your training routine.

Plan Ahead for the Big Picture (realistically)

Get a handle on your work schedule, family vacation plans, school schedule, race schedules, or any other schedules that your life might be dependant upon. With this information in front you, you can objectively plan out the bigger picture of your season. Knowing which blocks of time will be great for training, when your riding schedule might be tight, and when it might be best to take a short break will help you to define the seasonís goals. Chances are good youíll be riding your best after periods of consistent training and relatively fewer demands otherwise. Try to choose goal races that coincide with when youíll best be able to prepare for them.

Break it into Smaller Cycles and Set the Course of Action

With the bigger picture outlined itís helpful to break down the season overview into smaller cycles. It works well to let overload and recovery do its trick within a block of three or four weeks. Two to three weeks of challenging riding should be followed up by four to seven days of lesser workload. For each of these cycles itís critical to have a clear goal for the training. This could be overloading a specific energy system such as your Lactate Threshold or tallying up a lot of singletrack miles. Moving from the development of one specific focus onto the next is progression towards your goals.

Be Consistent

With the focus clearly defined for the three or four week cycle itís time to plan weekly rides. If weekends are a good opportunity for training, try to also incorporate two high quality workouts during the work week. With four days where youíre achieving a training overload the other days can then be of lesser intensity and/or duration Ė a chance for recovery. The body thrives on consistency so if possible, keep your rides to a similar time of day. In doing so the training becomes a natural part of your day rather than something thatís incorporated haphazardly. The better your body can detect a pattern, the more likely it is that youíll benefit from the specific overload that youíre placing upon it. 

Make Note of your Progress

Most riders will thrive with just a little more organization than theyíre currently used to. Keep a training log with objective data (power, HR, or otherwise) and also your subjective notes or comments. Over the long term you can review the log and better fine tune your training while you seek the perfect balance with your busy schedule. Plan for your successes, be consistent with your training and youíll come through a stronger rider in the end.

Get Optimized

Check out for more information and some helpful season planning tools so that you can make the most of your time-limited training schedule. With a balanced plan put into action all thatís left to do is accomplish your goals.

Related questions or comments can be sent to TJ at

Enjoy the ride!

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