Training Considerations for Junior and Novice Cyclists
• Young and inexperienced cyclists cannot sustain long training sessions. Plan to include breaks or a "drop off" in training midway through the season to enable the cyclist to recover
• Juniors and Novices cannot sustain long periods of speed work in their build-up
• Interval training and heavy gym work should be avoided until riders are physically able to cope (usually late teens)
• Leg speed and technique are the essential keys to good performances. Strength and power can be added once leg speed is gained
• Juniors and Novices are unable to tolerate high volumes of training as well as more experienced cyclists with a broader training history
• Juniors and novices take longer to recover from racing and training (as a rule) than older, more experienced cyclists
• The aim for all cyclists is to have fun and enjoy cycling. To continue in the sport for many years it is important to enjoy cycling. Winning is not everything.
• Everybody matures at different ages – therefore give the body time to mature. Beware of comparing one cyclist to another. Each of us is different, we are all individuals and we all have varying needs.
• Very good awareness of the characteristics of different stages of physical, social, emotional and cognitive development, along with the needs of the athlete at those different stages needs to be considered.
Common Training Errors
1. Riding too many Kilometres at One Speed
Leg speed is lost and tolerance to variations in pace that occur in races, is not developed
2. Not Developing Power
Usually generated from under gearing on hills or lack of base strength. Include some power work on hills or on the flat– aim for a cadence of about 70 rpm to increase power. Be aware that the rider does not labour on the gear but creates enough stress on the body to increase power. Spin legs on descents to recover.
3. Lack of Sprint Training
Developing a sprint will not only make the rider competitive at the end of races but will develop the ability to "jump away" from the bunch. It enables the body to recover more quickly from short, hard efforts during races.
4. Not Drinking Enough Liquid
Rule of thumb is one bottle (bidon) per hour during exercise, being sipped every 15-20 minutes. Water is preferable for short distances, however a carbohydrate drink or electrolyte replacement drink is recommended for longer distances. Commercial sports drinks are ideal, as long as they are low in simple sugars. Hydration and energy replenishment before and after training and racing is also very important and often under estimated.
5. Not Eating in Races or Training
To ensure optimal performance it is necessary to consume a source of carbohydrate in a ride over two hours. This can be done by taking on liquid foods about every 30 minutes such as a carbohydrate drink or eating bananas, energy bars, etc.
6. Lack of Technical Skill
For mountainbikers and BMXers especially, sufficient training time needs to be allocated for technical skills training, including starting gate procedure. Road training is ideal for fitness maintenance and some specific drills, but technical skills training can only be performed on the wide variety of terrain likely to be encountered during race conditions. Confidence levels need to be maintained through sufficient technical skills training.
7. Lack of Recovery Time
For juniors especially, it can be difficult to form an appreciation for the need to factor in sufficient recovery time after strenuous sessions, and indeed in general. Recovery should be considered as important as specific on bike training – a lack of recovery time can manifest itself in numerous ways, more often than not indicated through some form of apathy.
8. Sticking to a Plan
Adhering to training plans can be an issue when specific objectives and goals are being sought. Fostering a disciplined training approach together with athlete buy-in and understanding may avoid any surprises.