Week 2: Getting ‘Big Race’ Ready – The 1Zambia Training Series

In terms of training, week 2 is almost going to be a repeat of week 1. I know you’re itching to get out and do some 100km rides in the mountains, but those rides will be much more effective if they’re done after a good adaptation period. We will get there, though.

In week 2 we’re still in the adaptation phase. Last week I talked about the importance of giving your body time to adjust to the demands of regular training. This week’s topic is just as important: helping your mind to adapt to the regular training.


Routine is important. That’s why Mondays suck. Over the weekend, we break the routine of getting up early and heading off to work. On Mondays we have to force ourselves back into it, and that can be hard, even if you enjoy your job. Something I’ve learned over my years in cycling is that having a routine makes training infinitely easier. Once the routine is established, you can follow it mindlessly. This helps a lot on days when you’re distracted by other stresses.

Here are some tips to help you to develop a sustainable training routine:

– Train at set times on set days. Even if Tuesday’s time is different from Saturday’s time, having set times will help you to incorporate training into your working life, and ward off procrastination. For example, I train with the Kansanshi team at 7:30 AM, six days a week. On Sundays we always train at 13:30, so that guys can go to church in the morning.

– Develop a pre-training sequence. I wake up at 6:00, put my oats in the microwave, and make coffee while the microwave goes. Once I’m done with breakfast, I get my bike and bottles ready, then I kit up. Having this sequence means that as long as I get my oats into the microwave, I can do the rest on autopilot.


This Week’s Training

This week we’re encouraging adaptation by forcing you to pedal at high and low cadences. The high cadence efforts will create neurological changes, improving your pedalling efficiency, while the low cadence efforts will create muscular changes, increasing the maximum torque you can produce.

Monday 29th Jan:



30 minutes gentle spinning (on the indoor trainer if necessary). RPE: 3



  • 30-minute ride: High/Low Cadence Repeats


  • 10 minutes light spinning to warm up. RPE: 3
  • 2 minutes in your biggest gear. Don’t ride full gas. Rather, let your pedalling slow down to about 50rpm (5 revolutions every 6 seconds, if you’re counting manually). Stay seated, and focus on matching the downward push with the upward pull on the pedals. RPE 7
  • 2 minutes in your smallest gear. Really spin your legs as fast as they can go, but without going into an all out sprint. The resistance should be so low that you barely feel it. Again, stay in the saddle, and focus on being smooth and controlled. RPE 5
  • Repeat these two steps 3 times, for a total of 12 minutes.
  • 10 minutes light spinning. RPE 3
  • Friday:



    2 hour MTB ride. Ride a route that you know, and try to keep moving consistently from start to finish. Ride the first hour at a pace that feels easier than what you’re capable of. In the second hour, turn up the pace a bit, and try to cover more distance than you did in the first hour. This will build more endurance than hammering out the first hour and limping home.


    Optional cross training. If yesterday didn’t tire you out, do something other than riding today. Running is a natural alternative, but swimming or Pilates will help you build the core and upper body strength that will get you down those rocky descents.


Should I Follow My Training Program to a “T”?

Nora Richards

Should I Follow My Training Program to a “T”?

Something that I’ve learned on my journey to becoming a pro athlete is that I, personally, do not train well without a coach. If I have coach that I trust, I follow my training program exactly as its given to me, no questions asked. However, this mentally can become a unhealthy compulsion that leads to overtraining.

After training with my coach obsessively for nine months, I fell sick and was forced to take two weeks off. Afterwards, I suddenly had a TON of energy, more strength than I remembered I could have, and I was happier. I realized that I had been severely, chronically fatigued for a long time, and had continued training simply because my training program told me to. My race results had suffered, my mental state had suffered, and my fitness had suffered, simply because I had followed my training to a ‘T.”

This balance between following your training program and following your instincts is something that many athletes struggle with, and one that both rider and coach need to address in their correspondences. Most coaches agree that only the rider herself really knows what’s going on with her body, and yet we hire coaches so that we don’t have to think about that. The compromise, usually, is that the rider should tell the coach exactly how they feel, in as much detail as possible, and the coach will analyze and rewrite their program from there.

There’s one issue with this though: pride and social expectation. Many are unable to distance themselves from the information that they give to their coaches. With me, for example, I feel like I’m whining and making excuses if I say “I feel tired,” too often. By saying “I feel tired,” you put pressure on the coach to make compromises for that. Good coaches should probably be able to say when you should just deal with it an push through, and when you should rest. Nonetheless, the social pressure to fulfill both people’s expectations and needs is there.

The conclusion, thus, is this: you need to do what feels right to you, and what works best for you. If following your program verbatim makes you feel less guilty and more optimistic about your progress, as it does to me, you should follow the program verbatim and just do your best to communicate with your coach. If you’re following an online training program or feel like your instincts are better than what a coach can give you, do what you feel is best for you.