This post has had more false dawns than a Government plan to rescue the economy, but unlike a recovery from recession, here it is at last.
I spoke to Mick Style of Manchester Wheelers a while ago, quizzing him on his training methods, mainly because he, as a fellow Vet was beating me hands down every race, even with his trademark gentlemanly start. No altruistic motive really to spread knowledge and experience throughout the cross world - more an attempt to get a jump on him and catch him up.
Mick was NW League Vets Champion last year and is vying for that spot again with Dave Headon of Horwich CC. Mick kindly took the time to explain his build up for the season and it made my eyes water in terms of the amount of riding he was doing (and went some way to explaining why he was substantially faster than me):
Well first of all I just love riding my bike which can be a great positive for training – getting miles in, getting out in most weathers, jumping at the chance of a ride, chain-gangs, road racing, time trailing, mountain biking, getting together with the Club.......
Coming off a good cross season, I had a modest break, skiing etc but should have rested a bit more I reckon. Anyway, on top of the usual miles in March, a couple of long rides – the Cheshire Cat c. 6h– for a steady long ride and the Lakeland Loop for a longish ride c. 4hr with tough climbs, Hardknott and Wrynose at the end. Add a great week in Majorca, rest for a week, and I was set me up for a cracking ride in the Fred Whitton, 6h29 and 27th overall. First objective and season milestone achieved by a mile – I was hoping for sub 7hr!
Quite well planned out in training sessions/periodisation from early March for 8 weeks. May and June I went mad and did as much as poss – 10’s, 25’s, summer cross, road races, mountain mayhem doing 12 races in two months! Felt strong in some races, bit tired in others but work/home life made it possible so I was ‘mad fer it’ as dear Liam would say. Should have had an easy week or too but didn’t! Looking back that gave me a great base but left me knackered and completely unmotivated all August where I did no races except a couple of Club 10’s....the typical mid-season blues.
An August of too many late nights with no sleep and too much beer at a couple of festivals and a week in Ibiza kept me off the bike long enough to recover a bit from possible over-racing/training. Hardly ideal rest and recovery eh but certainly the intensity and duration of rides came down! A couple of weeks of short, sharp rides in early September, Scorton and Horwich cross races where I was going well then a stormer of a Three Peaks ride for me in 3.50 and second big objective of the season achieved – a sub 4 hour ride! Getting to the 3 peaks rested enough but with good base fitness was more by accident than design I reckon! But it shows its better to get too much rest than not enough maybe?
During the season Mick balances the significant demands of regular cross races with his job as MD of a big media agency in Manchester:
My in-season training is always a bit of a balance between racing, rest, recovering from the odd cold and trying to get a couple of quality sessions in and I think I’m not quite managing it. So with that in mind, my typical week during the cross season is:
Sunday – Race
Monday – 30/40 mins very easy recovery, generally on turbo
Tuesday – If I’ve recovered sufficiently - 45/80 minute ride with intervals – mix of seated and out of saddle. Some 10”, 20” to 30” x 15-20 sessions one week and 1-3 min x 5 efforts the next. Tends to be shorter ride as season progresses and light goes. I do this on flattish road circuits, not ideal but there’s no suitable hills in quick reach of Chorlton. Or do circa 40 mins on turbo instead if wet or too cold!
Wednesday – probably nothing, or do Tues session on a Weds and nothing Tues if I’m still tired on Tuesday (about 50% of the time)
Thursday – SQT on track if I can get on which is realistically 1’30” riding of which 80% will be steady and 20% efforts – sprints/pursuiting/ints etc. If I feel lively I’ll go hard, if I’m a bit weary I only do a couple of short efforts and cruise round the track during the ints. Alternative – easy or ints on turbo as I feel.
Friday – nothing
Sat – 40 mins to 1 hour ride with few efforts though not at 100%.
So I reckon that’s about it – 5-6 hours a week which doesn’t really sound enough does it? I think I would find it difficult to get much more in – longer rides are too boring on the turbo and just not much fun/dangerous training on the road at speed at night. If the race is on a Sat, I would probably do a two-three hour club run which would put total hours up to 7-8 maybe.
I suppose the key for me is making sure that my endurance, speed, power and rest are all in pretty good shape come September - there’s nothing quite like racing to push up your lactate threshold a bit - and hold form for as long as I can.
5-6 hours during the season may or may not seem that much in itself, but Mick clearly has a great base from lots of varied summer riding, and for all us with jobs and commitments is probably plenty enough if part of a regular racing schedule that requires considerable rest in itself.
I'm no coach but the combination of great base and short quality sessions with lots of racing during the season definitely works for him, as his results this year show. Many thanks to Mick for his time and good luck for the rest of the season.