article by Anthony Walsh
As I’ve made my way through cycling, I’ve often heard a cautionary tale of cycling folklore.
It was said you must choose any two of the following: a relationship, work/college or cycling. But under no circumstances should you attempt to balance three. This series of articles is aimed at questioning and challenging norms.
Cycling shouldn’t be about lifestyle re-design. We are amateur riders; we cycle for fun but enjoy the challenge of competition or sportives. At A1 Coaching we work with clients who want to balance three of the above and we have found a way to make that happen for them.
It is possible to be a top A1 rider who is a family man and works 40 hours a week – if you know the system.
In order for us to make a physiological adaptation we need training stress. Training stress comes from the combination of duration and intensity. Some of us who have neglected career advancement and personal development or relationships can ride 15 plus hours per week.
But for the vast majority of us weekly duration is anchored.
There are two ways to skin a cat
When we take duration as a fixed number, let’s say 8 hours, intensity is the variable we must utilize in order to manipulate weekly training stress score. By adding in periods of high intensity we can make up for the shortcoming in duration. Weekly Training Stress is the goal – so there are two ways to skin the cat.
Unfortunately, for decades we’ve focused only on duration as a prescription for increased fitness levels. On a club ride, anyone who shows ambition to train at an intensity above zone one is branded a Winter Racer, December Champion or similar. It has been engrained into the psyche that intensity and intervals are taboo words in the winter.
We are told that if we attempt to train hard we’ll burn out mid season. A wall of fear is built to shelter those who want to train at 150 watts all winter. The guys who champion long slow miles are the same guys who you find in the car park after a cold wet race in March discussing how they only managed to hang on for ten of the sixty mile race.
They seem amazed that they aren’t in the winning move because they’ve completed all the training they were told – they made sure to keep the intensity down all winter. So what went wrong?
As I’ve made my way in the sport I’ve been told to go slow or you won’t develop mitochondria – this is where carbohydrate, protein and fat is broken down by inter alia oxygen and energy is produced. What I was never told was that mitochondria production can be increased threefold by interspersing periods of high intensity training into my long slow miles.
If you need to balance family, work and training you need to embrace intensity this winter.
Follow this link to watch me map out my ideal routine, where I take you behind the scenes of a perfect training week.
And remember; embrace the intensity revolution.
If you like this article and want to know more about building a perfect winter base program, click here for free access to A1 Coaching’s Winter Training Video Series.
Anthony Walsh is the founder and Director of A1 Coaching.
He grew up in a house enveloped by a love of cycling and it became a core part of his life from an early age. Anthony’s father was a bike mechanic and his apprenticeship began at an early age, working on bikes long into the night in a makeshift garage in the family home.
Anthony’s father was also a true fan of the sport and Anthony absorbed a love and appreciation for the sport that would one day turn into his profession.
Initially the bike was a tool of utility for transport. As a child, it allowed Anthony to explore beyond the boundaries of his local neighbourhood and expand his horizons. This, in time, led to summer-long romances and life-long friendships. The initial tool for transport would later morph into a means by which Anthony would earn his living.
Anthony took up cycling competitively in his early 20s as a student in University College Dublin (UCD) – a string of injuries had ended a long soccer career that included an All-Ireland Winners’ medal with Bohemians Football Club.
After a degree in Economics, Anthony’s academic career changed focus and he turned his attention to Law. He earned an MA in Law and a Barrister at Law Degree from The Honorable Society of Kings Inns.
Anthony excelled on the domestic cycling scene while balancing the demands of full-time study and his performances acted as the springboard to a professional career. He would go on to compete for the Irish National team and sign contracts in France with Division Nationale Team, Super U; in Canada with Jet Fuel Coffee, and in the US with Astellas Oncology Pro Cycling.
Anthony’s academic background gave him a particular perspective which helped him to learn within the professional environment. He fostered relationships, worked with top coaches and respected directors, and interacted with some of the world’s top riders against whom he competed. He soaked up the knowledge gained from these experiences while also studying everything he could find on up-to-day scientific training methods.
The analysis of all this input, viewed through his academic lens, gave Anthony a unique perspective and insight into top athletes’ successful training and conditioning regimes.
By 2011 Anthony had begun to advise friends in a structured way on how to prepare for events. Word soon began to spread about the successes gained on the back of his advice. In this way Anthony had, unintentionally, made the first steps in establishing a professional coaching service.
As the demand for his services grew, Anthony envisioned a coaching and mentoring approach based on the best available scientific evidence, combined with a high-level of practical experience and common sense. This would be blended with sensitivity to the unique physiology, ambition and life circumstances of every individual, and also respect cycling’s rich heritage, culture and handed-down wisdoms.
When his professional career ended due to injury, Anthony set aside his legal career to establish A1 Coaching based on this vision, and to return to domestic racing with his old UCD club.
The results were nothing short of astounding: National Road Racing Champions and Triathlon Age Group Winners as examples. He has advanced the career of every athlete he has touched and riders in his stable are achieving their ambitions and winning races all over the world.
As the business grew, Anthony recruited a team of coaches which would bring as broad a spectrum of expertise and experience as possible. While each coach brings a particular perspective and unique experiences, each shares the vision and approach that Anthony articulates for A1 Coaching.
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