A training schedule to get faster on the bike

author : Ali Winslow
comments : 1

How to improve your bike split in a triathlon through careful planning and execution of your training schedule

Member Question

Hi! This is my first year of competing in triathlons. I'm 40 years old and just did my first Olympic Triathlon in 2:25.02. My bike is the weak link: at 1:16. I want to drop down to about 1:06 by the end of the year. I can train up to two hours on the bike four days a week. What do I need to do?

Answer from Coach Ali Winslow

This is a great question, and there are many possibilities for training that will help you improve. My first few questions back to you would be this:

  1. Are you doing any kind of interval training?
  2. Are you doing any kind of hill training or power training?
  3. Are you using a heartrate monitor when you train?
  4. Do you have a specific race in mind at which you are looking to achieve this time goal?
  5. What other workouts are you doing during the week?
  6. What was your intensity during the race in question and what was your run pace off the bike?
  7. Are you doing other races or do you have other races to compare your results?

As you can see there are many variables to look at when you are looking to improve upon your overall race times. Also, a time of 1:16 isn't poor. Are you comparing your overall time with your competition or your age group?

Seeing as how this is your first year of racing Olympic Distance there will be room for improvement in all three disciplines.

Here are the basics:

  1. You need to divide up your bike workouts into different intensities.
  2. You need to use either heartrate or power on the bike to learn about your effort levels and to design appropriate workouts.
  3. You will need to do one longer ride per week of up to 40 to 45 miles. All other rides can be shorter: 20 to 30 miles.
  4. You need to do at least one ride per week with high intensity built into the workout. For example, 10 to 15 minutes of warmup as easy pace. Then 6 X 5 minutes hard effort (almost all out) on 2 minutes easy spin recovery. Follow this with 10 minutes of easy riding.
  5. You should do one workout, every other week, of hill training. This will build strength on the bike. If you don't have hills to train on, you can use a hard gear and low cadence to try to get the same effect or use an indoor stationary trainer.
  6. On your longer rides, do at least one hour of race intensity during the ride. For example, ride one hour easy, then one hour race pace, then 30 minutes easy. Then run off the bike: about four miles, with two miles at race intensity. Do this workout once or twice per month leading up to your A race.
  7. Your weekly workout schedule on the bike doesn't need to be four times per week of two-hour rides. Instead, three times per week of riding is more than adequate for Olympic distance racing. You need one long ride per week with a run off the bike; one intensity ride per week of either hills or hard effort intervals; and then one easy ride per week for recovery. I would suggest doing a run off the bike for the long ride and for the intensity ride. That way you will know how hard you can ride and still have a good run off the bike.

The saying goes: bike for show, run to go. If you go too hard on the bike you will ultimately ruin your well paced run. Too many times I have seen people push hard on the bike, pass many people and then get re-passed and lose their pace on the run. You will need to determine how hard you can push on the bike to get the results you want.

Good luck and I hope you achieve your goals!

Ali Winslow
Head Coach, Boston Performance Coaching
Assistant Coach, D3 Multisport


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date: August 29, 2011

Ali Winslow