Top 5 Base Training Mistakes

Cyclists have long been fans of LSD. Not the mind-bending drug used in the MKUltra experiments, but Long Slow Distance workouts that are usually done in the winter in hopes of bringing in top form come spring. Have you been getting the most out of your LSD training? Here is a list of the top 5 mistakes we see people make year after year.

1. Forgetting the importance of nutrition:

Eating on your bike while out in the cold of winter is a severe challenge. Your nose is runny, hands are cold, and you can't feel anything inside your jersey pocket through your thick cycling gloves. Mix all of this with the fact that your appetite reduces as you attempt to stop shivering, and it is not a surprise most riders will end up with an empty tank of energy.


Do not let a lack of energy sources place a damper on your next base training session. We advise putting a little extra thought into the eating portion of your next ride by strategically placing your food into your jersey pockets. Start by placing the first course of energy food in the pocket closest to your dominant hand, pre-open any bars or snacks to make eating less of a challenge. We tend to start off with gels (these should not be pre-opened) and then work our way up to more solid foods as the day goes on. PRO-TIP leave yourself something special to eat for the halfway point, this can also be a strategically placed food stop if you would like but having something to look forward to eating during the first half of the ride is a great motivator, plus, the treat’s extra energy will help you stay on pace during the last half of the ride.

2. Keeping it long:

Not every ride during your base training period needs to be a long endurance ride. The key to training in the base period is still consistency, so if you are staying on the bike through the cold months, you are one step ahead of most. Do not stress if your rides are not as "Epic" as you might like them to be; keep rolling and  when you do have time for those longer days you will be in a good position with your fitness to go full EPIC!

With the extreme improvements in stationary training as of late, we would be remiss not to suggest some indoor exercise. Our favorite use of the indoor trainer during the base period is to jump on it for some evening "Zwifting" after doing a comfortable endurance paced ride in the morning.

3. Keeping it slow:

Confession time! We never think of LSD as Long Slow Distance, but rather Long Steady Distance. You do not have to go slow to get some proper training in but it is essential to keep your efforts steady and smooth as you build up your endurance. Overly fast rides will lead to an early-season sparkle usually followed by mid-season burn out. Unless you are looking for that sort of season, we recommend against this approach. Punchy routes with rough or steep roads can also result in higher amounts of fatigue than desired; keep the routes smooth and steady and you will be more energized during your long days and you’ll recover much quicker.


4. Cutting out all speed work:

Speed and endurance training do not always play well together, but this does not mean you should cut out all speed work during the cold months. Mixing in some high rpm intervals drills, muscle building slow cadence drills or moderately paced group rides 1-2 times a week will keep your speed up while you increase your endurance.  

Here is a quick workout you can mix into your next long ride-

In an easy gear, build up your speed while sitting down until you hit an rpm of 105. Then, stand up for ten-seconds while increasing your RPMs. Repeat this 6-8 times throughout your ride.

5. Not planning out rides in advance especially the long ones:

Let's face it, winter training can be hard to get excited about at times, but the worst thing you can do is forgo your ride planning. A good route and some good riding partners will be the key to keeping you motivated through the winter. As noted earlier, riding with consistency through the winter is a significant part of building a good level of base fitness. Do whatever you can do to find new routes, call your friends to join you and post your intentions on your favorite social platform. The added pressure from having your plans made public and your friends waiting for you will keep you clicking over the kilometers in style!


Roger Rilling