With less than 2 weeks until I get on the plane to Paris, the training for L’Etape is all over bar the climbing of one final trip to Genting Sempah for 3 laps of the 17km ascent and then we’re officially tapering for the event.
Over the last 6 months I’ve been asked almost every weekend whether I thought having a coach was worth it and whether I was seeing any results. Taking those in reverse order, I’ve clearly seen results. At the start of the year I was struggling to ride with an output of 180 watts for more than 20 minutes. Yesterday I rode at Athletes Lab a pyramid starting at 180 ramping up through 190, 200, 220 and 240 before coming back to 180 over a 1 hour ride and I wasn’t out of breath at any point. On top of that, because I’m riding in one way or another 4-5 days a week, where I briefly saw a weight of 72kg just after Christmas, this morning I saw 64.9kg. So My power output has gone up maybe 20% and my weight has come down nearly 10%, all good number when you’re about to do 4,400m of ascent over 148km.
The first question is trickier to answer, and depends on your own attitude to being told what to do. For me, having a coach has been worthwhile, but I’m the sort of person who can spend days researching training plans, chosing one, putting it on paper or in the garmin and then completely ignoring it on the road. On the other hand, as soon as somebody else tells me to do it I’ll do the best I can to do exactly what I’m told. I would guess that I have done exactly what my coach has prescribed 80%-90% of the time in the last 6 months except maybe the odd Saturday where I decided riding with my mates was more important than sticking to the plan.
Perhaps a more important question is have I enjoyed it, and the answer to that is a resounding yes. While I’ve spent more days in the last 6 months than in the preceeding 2 years with aching legs that feel like they have been put through the mill, I think I have seen trophies or personal bests almost every time I have uploaded a ride on Strava and this constant display of improvement has been hugely motivating. Sure there are bad days, and because of the weekday schedule, I reckon I’ve had more than my fair share of Saturday rides where I’ve just felt exhausted, but by Monday after a lie in on Sunday and a couple of Margharitas, we’re back on track.
As Greg Lemond said in his foreword to the hardback of The Velominati’s Rules”Must ride like [an] Eagle, feeling like Superman, one day per week or [the] training program is shit” And there is always one day a week where I feel great and have to curb my enthusiasm or I’ll breeze right past the day’s program.
The ultimate test will be in 2 weeks of course, but I have already told my coach that I want to keep him on until the Tour de Bintan to have one more crack at actually finishing in the front peloton 🙂
So final update to come, but from my experience, if you have a big goal, don’t do all the work yourself, get some help from somebody who knows what they are doing!