Planning for Success: 3 Steps to Jump Start Your Season

Matt Carinio is a USAC certified coach and the current Masters 40-44 Road Race National Champion. He has raced extensively throughout Europe and the United States and is dedicated to helping cyclists of all ages and abilities reach their goals. Matt resides in San Luis Obispo, CA and when he’s not helping other athletes, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. For information about his coaching services, contact Matt at

For those on the West Coast and warmer climates, you are well into your base miles work with an eye on early season spring races. For racers in colder climates, cross training and extensive work on the trainer are your friends. In both cases, to make the hours you are putting in now count for you later, you need to have a well thought out and organized training plan for the upcoming season. In this month’s blog, I’ll discuss three steps to help get you started.

Step 1: Choose your target events. I always recommend that my athletes choose at least two, but no more than three, top priority races for a given season. This might sound like an easy first step, but once the racing calendar is published, the excitement of what can be takes over, and the next thing you know ten races have been circled.  Keep your ego in check and do your best to restrain yourself and circle three or less.

Step 2: Evaluate the tools needed to succeed for your target events.  Depending on the type of events you are targeting, different types of training and preparation may be necessary. Is the event on hillier terrain where power to weight is important? Is it a stage race of 4-5 days where recovery and multiple days of sustained intensity are imperative? Are speed and bike handling areas of focus because you are targeting an NRC race or the Masters Nationals criterium?  Although your event may be 4-8 months away, it is never too early to internalize the assets needed to succeed.

Form = Fitness + Freshness

Step 3: Periodize your training: Now that you have a handle on the event, target date, and requirements needed to succeed, the most difficult thing is timing your fitness peak. Form = Fitness + Freshness.  We all know someone who is really fit in training, but due to continual hard riding, they consistently fall flat on race day. You need to balance the overload of your training with the appropriate amount of rest. A balance needs to take place and be evaluated on a weekly and monthly basis. There are many books and pre-made training plans you can buy to help create a general plan. However these programs won’t know you’re sick, or have a meeting at work that requires travel. Working with a coach will guarantee that your training program is customized to both your needs and the unpredictable nature of life.

Bonus: Re-evaluate the plan. When the season is over, do an honest assessment of how your season went. Did you start base miles too early or leave it for too late? Did you plan enough rest throughout the year to keep fresh? How did sickness affect your plan and did you make the necessary adjustments? It’s rare for an athlete to have a perfect season and the answers to these questions will help in the planning for next season.