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The endurance challenge of training in the north

There is plenty of information out there about periodization, base periods, builds and peaking. But how does the standard periodized training approach apply to those of us that live in the northern climes, where winter training means indoor training.

Our biggest challenge in the north, and having to train indoors, is in logging those all important endurance miles. While there are some riders that love riding the trainer, and many of us that can do longer days on the trainer when motivated, I would still say time on the trainer is a real double edged sword. On the one-hand, it is extremely efficient - no coasting or stops means that indoors we pedal pretty much all the time. On the other-hand, the mental cost of riding the trainer too much can be very high. Too much trainer riding will probably leave you very fit, but hating your bike. If you end up hating your bike you will never put that fitness to good use!

How then to manage this endurance problem? I would say that if you live in northern climes you have to take a different approach to periodization and the end of your season.

Taking a break

Traditionally, we ride throughout the summer and into September. At this point we put an end to our season and take a post-season break. The break, if you feel mentally and physically that you need it, isn’t a bad idea. Take a mental break by not worrying about doing anything specific on the bike, not worrying about eating properly, and generally taking the time to smell the roses while out riding. And if you need a physical break, take an easy or off week to let the stress from the season dissipate.

Logging some miles

Just don’t let your break turn into a month off the bike. Why? Because, when living in the north we should make use of the good weather while it lasts throughout the fall. Hopefully, the weather is good enough and many of us can ride through October and well into November.

This is a great time of year for riding, where the leaves are changing and we get a break from that summer heat. Log some long days, maintain and even build your aerobic base. Which you can then take into the winter, where the indoor training will become very specific and controlled, but not as long.

Unless you have an event to get ready for there is no need to make the miles hard. There shouldn’t be any pressure to feel fit. There will be plenty of time on the trainer to do specific work. We can’t be good all the time so take it easy, log the miles and enjoy chatting with your friends. Our goal is really on the aerobic side of things at this time of the year.

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