The Importance of Having a Training Plan—Even If You’re Not Racing

by | Aug 3, 2022 | Cross-Training, Training

I know the idea of having a training plan when you don’t have a race on the calendar might seem a little weird—but as a cyclist (or any endurance athlete!) there are so many benefits to having structured training, and a specific-to-cycling training plan. Trust me, as someone who has been known to completely ignore training advice and do dumb $hit like sign up for a trail marathon day-of, having a training plan and a bit of structure makes you a whole lot less likely to hurt yourself or get overtraining (or be undertrained, for that matter). I wanted to put together a couple of key reasons having a plan just makes a ton of sense, even if you don’t follow it 100 percent.

A Training Plan Points You in the Right Direction

We operate under the general training principle of high-low-off these days: go hard one day, long the next, recover after that. Having some structure in the form of a training plan helps me to keep progressing in all three of those (yep, including recovery—weirdly, that’s where I really needed to improve!). I love having a general blueprint of where I’m heading, even if I don’t have a specific race on the horizon. It’s nice to be working towards just being the fittest version of myself as an endurance athlete, and I like knowing that if I do pick up a specific race goal, I’ll just need to tweak my training to adjust for it, rather than starting from scratch.

It Keeps You Honest

It is WAAAAAY easier to not skip a workout when it’s actually already in your calendar. I know when I don’t have a training plan in place, I will generally sneak in some type of workout or movement in the day, but it’s not a guarantee, and if other work comes up, I will rarely prioritize the workout unless it’s been noted in the schedule. So having a daily schedule makes me feel more ‘pro’ about being an athlete, and make the time for it. Those empty (or red, in Training Peaks case!) slots that show where I skipped a workout keep me highly motivated to actually get mine done.

You Don’t Need to Be Perfect

What I love about my husband/podcast co-host/amazing coach Peter is that he is constantly reminding me that 80 percent is a passing grade. You don’t need to freak out if your workout didn’t happen one day, or try to cram 7 days of scheduling into one day. You just need to aim for doing what you can, when you can. That might mean cutting a ride short, it may mean not nailing that last interval. But as long as you’re trying to stay consistent, you’ll see progress.

A Training Plan Holds You Back

Huh? I know, it’s a weird one. But seriously—having a training plan is great because it will almost always help keep you out of overtraining territory—and often, it helps avoid burnout. I know for me, I used to train in waves: hardcore for a few weeks, totally crushed and burned out for a month. Lather, rinse, repeat. Having a plan I actually can follow let me feel OK about lower hours, periodization and the importance of rest weeks.

OK, so you want a training plan. There are a ton of great ones out there, and you can find simple ones in pretty much any issue of Triathlete, Runner’s World or Bicycling. But I’m personally a big fan of using Training Peaks-based plans because then, I get daily emails about my workout for that day/the next day, and I have a place to upload the actual files, versus just checking days off a ripped out page from a magazine. (I also love Training Peaks because it syncs with most of the apps that I rely on for recording HRV, workouts and food—that’s HRV4Training, MapMyRun, Wahoo, Strava, and MyFitnessPal.)

More info on training plans here


If you already have a training plan, or want to start this one but still have some questions about endurance training, cross-training, nutrition or some lingering saddle sore issues, book a consults where we can chat about all of your questions, and we’ll follow up with a targeted plan of attack!


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