Criterium Training and Time Trial Training
Attack! Accelerate! Move rapidly and forcefully through multiple corners. Keep your line, repeat and sprint hard. This is Criterium racing!
A criterium is not a road race. It’s short, contains a number of laps, and the averages speed and intensity is appreciably greater.
How to Win a Criterium race
To perform at your best in a crit you need to have a solid base of aerobic conditioning. It is a battleground for the fast and the furious. You need to have explosive short-term repeatable power. This is a painful event! You must be tactically and technically astute and be willing to take risks.
Speed wins and it is never more evident than in a crit race. If your training does not include speed and agility it’s game over. Be prepared to get lapped!
In North America Crits represent a huge portion of a competitive cyclist’s season. They are spectator friendly and are easily organized. However, many racers adopt a road cycling specific training program with the intent to excel in crit races. Without specific criterium training, this will most likely not happen. No wonder many racers detest crits.
Criterium Training: Can it make you fall in love?
I’m not aware of too many competitive cyclists who specialize in crit racing. The winner will typically be a cyclist who has natural strength and speed. It’s the guys who love to sprint and go fast.
However, I firmly believe that with a little bit of specific criterium training, at the appropriate time, with the appropriate workout, could make the difference between love and hate.
Time Trial Training
The time trial can be a lonely endeavor. Get down and aero, pedal hard and fast, and become one with the suffering. This is the race of truth!
It’s a delightful fest of torture! It’s raw and pure and void of the complexities of the peloton. It is the cycling discipline that amplifies a cyclist’s weakness.
Time trialing is a steadfast application of power accompanied by labored breathing, quivering legs, and high heart rates. You cannot minimize the importance of the time trial or the training required to be successful.
What constitutes a formidable annual time trial training program?
For a time trial purist, the main objective will be to attain the highest level of muscular endurance for their event. It will require a cyclist to have an abundance of strength and endurance; the ability to apply high levels of power over a given period of time.
Muscular endurance is widely recognized as being a complex physiological parameter comprised of the basic core elements (force, endurance, and efficiency). Moreover, the compromised aerodynamic position challenges the ability to harness and control the necessary sustainable muscular power.
I would argue that most cyclists are not sufficiently prepared for time trials because they have not created an optimal annual time trial training program.
The structure of their program needs to change. It needs to focus on developing the core elements which form the catalyst for increased muscular endurance. Additionally, they must intensify their aptitude for an extreme aerodynamic position.
Take out your pen and paper and let’s get started. Always works backward from your goal and objective. By now it should be blatantly obvious that you need to increase your muscular endurance for time trials. A good annual training program builds fitness slowly. It develops the core elements systematically and methodically.
I have personally always found a linear periodization model to work best. However, I have strayed from the tried and true on numerous occasions. Sometimes it’s been successful and other times I questioned repeatedly what I was thinking. Experimentation is a delightful exploration that can lead to personal growth, but it can hinder that which you seek.
Do not immediately jump into specific muscular endurance training. Instead, prepare your body with general strength and endurance exercises. You want to possess high levels of force and endurance before you combine the two.
A weak starting point equals a weak ending point. You will reach extraordinary heights of time trialing success if you begin muscular endurance training after developing significant levels of overall strength and endurance