Peaking with O'Mara

A couple days ago Steve O. sent out his thoughts on training and peaking in the sport of cycling to the team. Here is some a little insight to some of the conversation that goes out on our team list from a guy that just a few weeks ago took the crown stage at the Tour of the Gila (like a boss). - Hank

If you’re really going for a true peak, you’ll feel like you’re losing fitness in the process, particularly in parts of the taper. And to be fair, in some ways you are. The basic trade is you lose some aerobic fitness as you rest and focus on workouts with modest, but targeted efforts to sharpen the higher end stuff.

I’ve seen a lot of guys, myself included, freak out about this feeling of lethargy

and loss of fitness and then throw in some ill-conceived extra workload. You need to know these feelings are going to come and commit to the taper. Assuming you got in a decent base and the race(s) you’re targeting aren’t stupidly long for you, losing a little aerobic fitness doesn’t matter and is far outweighed by the benefits of the increases you’ll see in the higher end stuff. We all know that’s where the racing really happens, unless you’re trying to “win” double centuries or something.

From there, you can hit your target race and still not have a great day. There’s lots of chance in our sport. If you want to continue the peak through subsequent weekends, you need to stay on the peak program. Another common problem I see with people is after trying a peak for a week or two, they basically get back into fairly regular training and then are disappointed they’re not peaked the following weeks.

Again, you need to commit. If you have goals later in the season that you feel you need to start training for again, then you need to do that. For instance, if you’re peaking too long in May, you are missing valuable training time for races you may care about in July or even August. It’s a trade off. But if you’re at a point where your season is basically done, or you have a high priority race the next week of two, there is no reason to add back volume aside from maintaining that sculpted beach body. You need to stick with the low-volume peak program.

Different people will have different ideal lengths of taper/peak periods. I discovered through some unintended post-season fitness in college that my ideal taper/peak period is fairly long. This led to some solid performances in the team beer mile and indoor roller challenge, but not in the n/a, target races in the weeks prior. But I now know I like a long taper followed by several weeks of peak/racing at the end of the season.