January 16, 2012 cburnham

Training Camps and “Crash” Training

It seems like this past weekend was team training camp weekend in Northern California.*  Most of the teams have their rosters set, racing is nearing, and the weather was pretty amazing for January in this area.  Every team has slightly different goal for their training camps but a lot involve some sort of over-reaching in training.  This may be one long suffer-fest day; a few harder, moderate distance days; or several mixed days; but all result in a short-term overload of training which results in super-compensation.


We have long known that our bodies react to stress by becoming fatigued, then adapting during rest to better handle that stress. In sports we use training to apply stress (i.e. workload), and then allow the athlete to recover and repair to an augmented state so the body can handle a higher stress or workload.  Applying too much stress to an athlete will cause them to go over the edge of no return and become over-trained.  Over-training is technically defined as a loss of external function or decreasing performance with increased training. Basically if your training a lot but seeing performance going down, then you probably are over-training.

This is making me feel over-training...

While during a normal training phase a slow progression of training stress results in the best adaptation of the athlete with the lowest risk of over-training.  However, myself along with several other coaches have seen very positive results by using a form of acute overload training also known as “crash” training.  This is basically a drastic increase in volume or intensity, or both, for a very short period of time with significant rest afterwards to allow a super compensation to occur in the body.  From my experience, I typically see a very positive increase in fitness from this type of training about 14 days after the “crash” training is done.

So how much is enough and what is too much?  That is a good question and that is specific to the athlete.  Typically, I have found that most athletes with a decent training base can handle 2 – 3 fairly long, hard training days with minimal risk.  These can typically be up to double the normal distance of the average training day for the athlete.  As the “crash” training gets longer it does increase the risk of over-training.  Typically, I do not advise athletes going over 4 days of “crash” training since that drastically increases the risk of over-training and I have seen diminishing returns from long over-load cycles.  Make sure you are recovering about the same number of days as your “crash” training.  The recovery period should include some easy spins as well.

Of course there is some risk to this type of training.  Connective tissue overuse injuries are the biggest risk.  It is important during these over load phases to pay close attention to your joints and understand the pain from suffering from long miles and the pain from a more serious inflammation.  Staying on top of hydration and fueling will also help this training be more successful.  A good goal is to drink at least 20 oz of water, although this will vary greatly by athlete and weather, and taking in around 250 calories per hour.

Do work and enjoy the suffering!

*I was super stoked to be a part of the Monterey Bay Racing Team training camp this weekend.  Great riding, good company, and awesome weather.  Those guys are going to do damage this year.

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