At present it seems there is more virtual racing than ever before. With respect to various countries’ lockdown policies and racing being off the cards amateur to professional cyclists have turned to online racing, the most popular of which being Zwift. While eRacing is nothing new the volume of people participating in it is skyrocketing meaning a lot more people are looking to integrate it into their week to week training decisions. This blog will help guide you through the dos and don’ts of blending eRacing into training.
- Know your goals.
Few if any of us dabbling in eRacing set these types of races as our primary objective for the year therefore it goes without saying that we’re not set up in the best possible shape to do well in them (without a bit of practice). Don’t be so hard on yourself when you’re scrolling for what seems like an eternity to find your result. Building on this the racing can be used as part of a broader goal to develop specific physical aspects such as sustained power, coping with fast starts or repeated intervals above anaerobic threshold. If these areas are weak points in your arsenal you can choose an eRace to address them.
- Respect the added demands the indoor trainer places.
If we’re going to incorporate eRacing as part of our training approach we need to be aware of the added demands that indoor training places on the body. Increased sweat rate and differing pedaling/ riding dynamics are two that spring to mind off the bat. It is crucial to ensure you’re training in a well-ventilated area with adequate airflow (big fan!) and hydrating enough. Using electrolytes and isotonic for intense sessions or sessions over 60 minutes in duration is key. Different riders cope differently to producing power on the indoor trainer, along with differing power readings between alternate units means that the load is simply not the same as the road. If you’re going to train specifically on the turbo, ensure you’re performing your performance tests on the turbo trainer to give accurate and reliable power and heart rates zones and benchmarks.
- Understand your need for sunlight and fresh air
We’re aware the of the need for sunlight in meeting our daily vitamin D needs1,2. Vitamin D plays a key role in immune function, muscle function and skeletal health2. As endurance athletes in a non-weight bearing sport plagued with energy deficiency issues, we are already at risk of bone mineral density loss therefore it is crucial to ensure adequate vitamin D levels along with loading our musculoskeletal system. Moderate sunlight exposure can help here along with targeted strength and conditioning work and simply walking! You don’t need to read a blog to tell you that fresh air is good for you, yet we still remain indoors for extended periods. Get outside adhering to your local guidelines.
- Be aware of the difference in physiological demand these races illicit
While these eRaces are short they are by no means easy. A simple review of a power file from many of the riders we work with here at Premier Endurance will show that many sustained power peaks this year have been hit in these races. Drawing on the above points regrading ventilation and hydration these races are draining. The closest thing we could equate them to is a cyclocross race in that there is a very hard start followed by a sustained threshold heart rate effort until a final surge to the line. We would not advise backing these races up one after the other day after day without respecting the toll they have.
- Have fun
Our last point is as simple as it sounds. These are not real races, don’t get angry or annoyed when the rider in first puts out 7w/kg for 45 minutes and wonder why even bother – use them as a training session, compare your own performance week on week and compare with your friends and teammates where you know their physiological background (and their honesty!!).
Holick, M. F. (1996). Vitamin D and bone health. The Journal of nutrition, 126(suppl_4), 1159S-1164S.
Holick, M. F., & Chen, T. C. (2008). Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 87(4), 1080S-1086S.