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Tracking Your Mileage and Progress

By Shannon Sovndal, Dede Barry, and Michael Barry

Keeping a detailed training diary allows you to track progress in training and racing, evaluate successes and failures, and refine future training programs. Your training diary supports and monitors your workout plan. If you use one of the workout programs in this book, you will have a plan for what you should do during each workout. However, your diary will keep track of what you actually did rather than what you had planned to do. After working out for a few weeks, you will be able to look back over the training diary and see how you are progressing. Are you sticking with your program? Are you becoming overly fatigued? Do you feel stronger? After tracking your progress, you will be able to modify future riding and training. For instance, if you found yourself consistently overachieving on your rides, you can adapt your next training cycle to be slightly more difficult than previously planned. Thanks to your training diary, you can fulfill the first point of our training philosophy: train effectively. If you don’t keep track of your workouts, you may miss an opportunity to improve your fitness during the next phase.

You can use any basic calendar as a training diary. Some people prefer to purchase a diary specifically for cycling, while others prefer to create their own on a spreadsheet program. Your diary can stand alone or your periodization program can serve as your diary. Both systems work well. Page 47 provides a basic training diary template that you can copy for your own use. Page 47 also provides a sample of how you can use a basic training diary to track your progress.

Regardless of the type of calendar you use, you should record key information daily. This information will differ depending on whether you use the basic diary or the advanced diary. The most basic diary records a few key parameters: how you feel (happy, sad, motivated, and so on), the type of ride you have completed, ride distance, intensity of ride in RPE, and fatigue level before and after your ride. Fatigue can be rated on a scale of 1 to 10. A fatigue level of 1 means you feel fantastic—well rested, fit, and ready to take on the world. A fatigue level of 10 means you’re exhausted; you can barely make it from the bed to the bathroom. In your training diary, you will also record your goals and your progress toward achieving them.

Keeping a more advanced training diary requires more time, tools, and effort. Ultimately, you will learn more and be better able to adapt your future training programs using the information you have collected. If you are just starting out in cycling, the basic diary offers you adequate information to monitor and improve your training. If you are more advanced, you will likely want to use a more comprehensive diary. You may also include average speed and pedal cadence. If you have a heart rate monitor, record maximum heart rate, average heart rate, and time spent in each heart rate training zone (discussed in more detail in part II). Additionally, if you have a power meter, document the maximum power, average power, total work in kilojoules, and calories expended for each ride. Because sleep is important, include the number of hours you sleep each day. Include brief comments about life stressors and things that are going on outside of cycling. Finally, whether you are keeping a simple or complex diary, keep track of your cycling goals and your progress toward attaining them. This record can serve as motivation and increase your enjoyment of your training program.

In addition to tracking your progress, your training diary also helps you adjust your training so that you peak at the appropriate time for your event. Your whole periodization program’s purpose is to peak for your primary goal. After a few months of riding, you will be in better shape than when you began. In training lingo this is referred to as progression, and it is the result of a well-planned training program. When you look back over your training diary, you will see that your body goes through cycles. As you increase your training workload, your fatigue increases. As you taper off after an intense training period, your fatigue will start to drop and fitness will improve. If you graph your fitness and fatigue, you will see two graphs that oscillate in a sinusoidal fashion. Like the waves in the ocean, there will be peaks and troughs.

Your goal is to adjust your training so that your fatigue level approaches a trough while your fitness level approaches a peak at the time of your primary goal. This is the concept behind peaking for an event. When Dede won her silver medal in the Olympic time trial, she had timed her training to perfection. She maximized her fitness and came into the race feeling fresh and ready to crank out a fantastic time.

This is an excerpt from Fitness Cycling.

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