This is the right sequence: you train, you race. My favorite kind of races are uphill time trial type events. I spend a lot of time training on various hills, riding at all sorts of different intensities but usually not at race pace. On race day it takes me less time to get to the top than when I train. Makes sense?

What should happen though if you train right is that one day your past race performances will become today’s training performance. It is called the Law of Progression and Adaptation.

I have written about this in the past. As an example, check out my post entitled The Law Of Progression (And Adaptation) – Or Reflections On Whiteface from last June.

Allow me to start this post the same way as last year’s post on on this topic. This is how Carmichael Training Systems founder and CEO Chris Carmichael describes adaptation and progression:

“All forms of physical training are based on your body’s stress (or overload) adaptation system. To gain positive training effects, you must overload a muscle group or energy system. The training overload will cause these muscles to grow stronger, or the targeted energy systems to become more efficient. As you adapt, the training intensity and volume must progressively increase. If the training load does not increase as you adapt, your fitness will reach a conditioning plateau. CTS always increases training intensities and volume in small amounts to avoid overtraining or injury. You must recover from your training. Recovery is extremely important, and an integral component in the training process. It is during the recovery period, not the training period, that your body adapts — that is, grows stronger, faster, and more powerful.

No recovery–no gains! The proper amount of training intensity, volume and recovery is critical, as overtraining can result from any imbalance among these three factors.

Training needs to progressively move forward. To enjoy further training gains, you will need to increase training loads as you adapt. The progression principle is applied in daily workouts to broad, long-term training plans. For example, your CTS coach will apply progression to your daily workouts as you adapt to a certain volume of training intervals. As adaptation occurs, you need increase the number of intervals, reduce the rest between intervals, increase the length of the interval or increase the intensity.

The long-term application of the progression principle can be shown in the early training of a teenage Lance Armstrong. Early in his cycling career his endurance training was generally done with rides of 40-60 miles. Now, as Lance has progressed and matured, so has the length of his endurance rides. His endurance rides now range from 80 to 140 miles.”

I can hear my friends saying: “Yeah sure, this might apply to Lance but how does it apply to me?” Well it applies to all human bodies so it applies to you. I was reminded of the Law Of Progression and Adaptation very clearly yesterday. The story of yesterday’s training ride actually starts in June 2010.

The following is my 2010 race result for the Whiteface Mountain Uphill Bike Race.

Race Time: 1:03:31 hrs.

Racing time: 1:03:31 hrs

I don’t have a power file for the 2010 Whiteface Mountain race as the battery in my power meter died litterally five minutes before the start. I could however estimate my power at around 250 watts as my buddy Bijan then had the exact same weight as me and we both had the same time. No matter what, I did give it everything I had and could not have done a better racing time.

I am doing that race again this year on June 16. Yesterday I decided to drive down to New York State and go train on the exact same hill I will be racing on in two weeks. This is my power file from yesterday’s training ride on Whiteface Mountain:

Training Time: 1:01:52 hrs

Training time: 1:01:52 hrs

My average power was 249 watts and normalized power was 253 watts. (The dip in power is due to having to stop to pay a fare to go up the last five miles of the climb).

The point I want to make is simple: “If you want to progress as a cyclist you need to either educate yourself on how to train right, get a good coach or do both.” Just riding your bike is not necessarily going to make you a faster, stronger rider.

Progress is relative. For one individual progress might be to extend the occasional long ride from 50 kilometers to 100 kilometer. For another it might be to climb Whiteface in 90 mins one year and 80 mins the following year. Progress for me this year meant being able to  do not only the Tour of California CTS Race Experience in May (which I also did last year) but to add the USA Pro Cycling Challenge CTS Race Experience a couple months later. It doesn’t matter what your starting point is and what your goal is. Proper training will deliver results and make you enjoy the sports even more. Worked for me.

I attended my first Carmichael Training Systems climbing camp in October of 2007 in Asheville, NC. I was terrified. I had trained all summer just to be ready to survive the three day camp. I thought I was doing pretty well at the camp until the last day when we went out for a long group ride that included a fairly long climb. I was happy to be hanging out in front with the big boys on the bottom part of the climb. That didn`t last long. It took only a moment and I couldn`t see them anymore. Once I got to the top the front group was ready to go down. Imagine.

My CTS coach Tim was there at the camp. I remember our conversation at the top of the hill before coming back down very well: “Tim, if these guys just keep training the way they normally train and if I train the way you tell me to train according to the CTS protocols, could I ever beat them?” Tim quickly answered: “Absolutely.” This thirty seconds conversation completely changed the way I approach training and riding my bike. I knew Tim meant what he said but I wondered how he could be so sure. The results of the last few years have convinced me that Tim was right: “Just riding my bike without much of a training plan won’t get me the results I am looking for”.

This post is not a CTS commercial. I am sure there are lots of good coaches out there. This post, like all my posts, is meant to be inspirational.  And if reading that “race time will soon become training time” inspires you to learn more about structured training then I have achieve my goal. Structured training doesn’t necessarily mean more time on the bike or training harder. Training right means just that, training the right way and understanding the Law of Progression and Adaptation is the first step towards training right.