Its December already. This time of year is always fun to hear people argue about the best way to prepare for next racing season. It seems like it was not that long ago that amateur racers took an "off season". I remember as a junior racer starting my pre-season training on January 1st. From September to the end of December I would hardly touch the bike. Even when I lived in Hawaii. I would run and do other activities to keep my fitness, but not train on the bike. Now that training seems to be more specialized, seasons are longer and competition is more serious if your not training all year around, you will probably lose.
There always seems to be discussion on how to train through the winter.
Idea 1: You race hard, why not train hard. All year around training should be at a high intensity. The thought and rational behind no slow distance, endurance base miles is that if you didn't take an extended "off season" what do you have to build up. Why lose high level of fitness just to have to work to get it back?
Idea 2: Winter is the time to tread along slowly to build the base miles. The rational behind this is that your body can't maintain the high intensity training all year around with going into a state of over training. Plus, like most things in nature, if you allow that higher level to drop slightly, you will be able to build it back at a higher level. Winter is the time to think about time on the bike.
Which one do you go for?
As for me and my clients, we have a mixture. Base miles have a real benefit to get you ready for higher intensity training. When it is cold out and there is long time before your next race, keeping the same interval style, threshold training is tough to do and could easily lead to burnout or over training. By allowing that part of your fitness to drop slightly and build on pure aerobic conditioning, you will prepare your body for an those hard intervals later.
That being said, base miles are not the end all. We work on high intensity training a couple times a week. The difference is that this training is in a controlled environment. Cross training on the Versa Climber and Jacob's Ladder will help you not to lose as much of your anaerobic fitness or threshold level. It is controlled, different so you don't over train, and just plain painful.
Its important to periodize you training for the time of year or goals you are attempting to reach. This type of pre-season training allows us to work hard while still building that important aerobic base.