More Cyclists Turn to Training Plans During the Pandemic

Training plans have not been put on hold in the cycling world, even though coronavirus has put a halt to events n the short and medium terms.


by Selene Yeager |

Events have been toppling like dominoes since the novel coronavirus pandemic took hold earlier this year. With nothing to prepare for, you’d think cyclists would shelve “training” for the foreseeable future and just go out and ride (or not, depending on circumstances).

You’d be mistaken. Not only are more riders riding (we can see that by just looking out our windows and reading the news), but also more riders are performing structured training, according to data just released from TrainingPeaks, one of the oldest and biggest online training platforms.

Though the number of training plans being sold and downloaded through TrainingPeaks is pretty flat this time of year, in 2020, that number grew 100 percent from February into March and then 100 percent again from March to April.

If their plans were box store inventory, the shelves would resemble the paper products aisle, as they are moving three times as many plans right now as they were this time last year.

Cycling accounts for a huge chunk of that growth, with 72 percent more training plans being sold in March and April 2020 than the same period of time in 2019.

Though it seems counterintuitive at first glance, it actually makes total sense. Lots of cyclists use events to stay in shape and to maintain their mojo to keep cranking even when the weather’s bad or motivation is low. Stripped of group rides and events to provide that built-in intensity and structure, many of us are left adrift, aimlessly spinning our wheels.

Virtual challenges like Zwift races, DIY gravel events, and Everesting have stepped in to fill some of that void, giving people something to train for and accomplish. The number of TrainingPeaks’ workouts completed in Zwift has increased by nearly 500 percent compared to last year.

But also, having a structured plan to follow provides a much-needed anchor point in the day during a time when the usual sense of routine is out the window, says Dirk Friel, TrainingPeaks’ founder, coach, and former pro cyclist.

“There is so much that people can’t control right now. So many of the usual rides and races they looked forward to are gone. So they want something they can look forward to that is structured and focused,” he says.

Like everyone baking sourdough or picking up an instrument, athletes are also taking advantage of this time to do some type of self-improvement, Friel says. “Structured training can help you feel like you’re doing something that will let you come out of this a little better.”

The stress-busting interval efforts in a training plan can help you feel a whole lot better while you’re stuck in this seemingly interminable holding pattern waiting for group rides, races, and events to return. And that’s something we all could use right now.

Looking for your own plan to get you going again? You can find a wide variety of structured workouts and progressive training plans on TrainingPeaks and other online training platforms like Zwift and TrainerRoad.

You also can follow one of Bicycling’s training plans, like this six-week plan that covers everything from cornering to cadence, while introducing you to riding in different intensity zones. Or, if you live in a part of the country where restrictions are more relaxed and riding a little further from home isnt a concern, try our 12-week super-plan. You may not have an organised ride to prepare for, but you can still enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes from logging triple digits in the saddle.

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