Doing the Right Thing at the Right Time


That statement, or observation has so many applications, in so many areas of life…

When I was growing up my Dad was really into models. He was a master craftsman [1]. One of the things we would do is go to the local model store (back then pretty much every neighbourhood had one, or you could get models anywhere). We would come home, I would tear open mine, immediately throw away the instructions and starting putting things together. As a result I not only had a lot of left over parts I regularly had pieces that should have been installed before I had closed up the body of whatever I was building.

My mistake I was not doing the right thing at the right time. I was doing all the work but because it was out of sequence I put all the time in but only got random results.

It is exactly the same with training, whether within one individual workout (as many of us learned today) but in the context of an entire season. So let’s break it down a bit.

For an individual training session the purpose of the warm up, is simply that to warm up your muscles and your nervous system. This time in a workout is not about gaining fitness, but “priming the pump” for what is about to come. You notice that in our warm ups the resistance is generally lower (today’s single leg work notwithstanding). We vary up the cadence a lot to get the blood flowing into the legs and getting our heart rate up to ready us for the work to come.

Keep in mind that this is the time in the workout when the minus button should be your friend, “The right thing to do here” is if in doubt lower the resistance. This is the only time that we will likely tell you this, because once the work starts “The right thing to do” is aim high don’t be afraid to fail (you might just surprise yourself).

In the context of the entire season the generally accepted process for progressive training [2] is called a Periodized [3] training plan. The theory (and by and large it has been proved out)  is that there is a specific sequence that an athlete needs to follow to maximize the results of their training. The model is based on the work of Hans Selye and follows his General Adaptation Syndrome. Tudor Bompa is often credited with formalizing the process (as I mentioned there are numerous resources, just Google either of these gents and you can nerd out” to your hearts content”.

The general principle is that training moves from general to specific. An example of general training is anything that improves your aerobic fitness, specific training would be bike intervals on a course or terrain that closer mirrors the terrain of your goal race.

Another way to view the year is in terms of periods “Base”, “Build” and “Peak”

The Base period is where you essentially are building the machine. The general idea is that you are making your body more efficient and preparing it for the higher intensity periods of training that are to come. This phase if characterized by more volume (amount of time) and relatively less intensity (how hard you work). It’s important to note you should never eliminate intensity from your base period, that is WAY old school Euro training and only sort of works if you are a full time pro (and then only sort of)

The Build period is when we start putting the pieces together the workouts start to resemble the rides and races we will be doing, later in the year. This phase is characterized by volume decreasing and intensity ramping up.

The Peak is putting the finishing touches on your fitness for your big event. The phase is lower volume and pretty much you are doing crazy intensity or you are doing super easy.

Each period has specific goals and outcomes in mind, hence the workouts change as the season progresses. You have probably already noticed that each workout has common elements from one to the next but it is never the same workout. This relates to the nature of a periodized training plan. “The right thing to do” as the workouts change is follow the plan, do what is called for in the workout and have faith the results will be there.

You may have heard me mention a few times that “Power is a higher order skill”. By that I mean Power is derived from two basic skills, leg speed & force. How does that relate to what we are doing right now?

As Trev so rightly puts it, “We are building the infrastructure of Power”.

Think about today’s session, we did lots of high cadence work, higher than we are ever likely to use on the road. This helps us develop the coordination needed to efficiently turn the pedals quickly. So “The right thing to do” in these sets is push to the target RPM don’t worry about the watts.

Then in another set we are pushing big gears at low RPM, this is building force, it’s kind of like doing weights on the bike. “The right thing to do” here is stay as close to the RPM and make your legs “talk to you”, yes they are begging for mercy, but they need your tough love to build force.

Now by way of foreshadowing what is coming…

There will be sets in your future where we are pushing big gears at higher (more normal) RPM “The right thing to do here” is work like a dog and watch your watts go higher and higher.

Two final nuggets to leave you with:


The “The Velominati” the final word in how to be cool in cycling

  1. Rule #71

// Train Properly.

Know how to train properly and stick to your training plan. Ignore other cyclists with whom you are not intentionally riding. The time for being competitive is not during your training rides, but during competition.


And in case you don’t want to take my work for it listen to an awesome local Calgary band as they tell you to “Do the Right Thing.



[1]  Seriously, whenever my friends came over they were blown away by my Dad’s collection, it made me cool in a geeky, crafty kind of way that is important when you are 12, alas my models were exceedingly lame by comparison.

[2] By this we mean building up toward a goal event versus simply exercising for the sake of exercising

[3] There are loads of resources on periodization Wikipedia (what else) gives a good snapshot view