Coaching Questions

Art Macfarland is a Level II USA Cycling certified coach and active racer on both the mountain and road. Art is also an accomplished multi day endurance racer having completed such events as TransRockies, BC Bike Race, Cape Epic, La Ruta de los Conquistadores, TransMexicana and Baja Epic. Over the past 10 years, Art has coached State Champions in various disciplines (Criterium, TT, and MTB) and currently coaches from Cat 1 to Cat 5 Road racers and Pro to Beginner level MTB racers.


7 comments on “Coaching Questions

    • Before I try to answer your question, let’s define what “recovery ride” means. To me, a recovery ride is one where you just soft pedal and keep your hear rate below 65% to get blood flow through the legs and assist in the recovery process. This is what we call active recovery. I’m assuming this is what you are referring to.

      There are two answers to your question and you probably won’t like either one, but hopefully you can understand how to incorporate active recovery rides into your training program.

      1. When you need one!!! Everyone knows their body and when the body is tired, you must rest. I know, this is kind of a cope out, but the best answer I can come up with without knowing exactly what your doing.

      2. It depends – and this will probably be my answer for many questions unless specifics are provided – on many variables. Let me explain. In order to tell you how many active recovery rides you need, I would need to know training phase, season goals, type of training/intervals being performed, level/experience, etc. As you can see too many variables to give you a clear answer.

      For my athletes, I usually have them ride above active recovery (in the aerobic zone) with no drills at least twice per week. Usually 3 times a week, but one day is typically a long endurance ride in the weekend so it’s not really considered an “easy” day. With one day complete rest, most cyclists do not require more rest unless you’re in your 50’s or older. I do prescribe active recovery rides during a rest week (after a 3 week build) or a couple of days before a big race. If you’re doing a lot of high intensity intervals during the week you might want to add a recovery ride on Fridays before the 2 long weekend day rides.

      To summarize, if you feel tired, you probably are and you should take a day off or do a short recovery ride. A good time to do a recovery ride is a couple of days before a big race and always incorporate them into a recovery week. If you’re following a structured training program or if you have a coach, make sure active recovery days are incorporated into your plan.

    • As with all my answers … it depends. What’s your experience? How long have you been riding? What’s your knowledge of physiology? Bottom line, a coach is a better investment than a new bike, a new set of lightweight wheels, or ceramic bearings. “Things” don’t make you faster, training your body to go faster will make you faster. But understand that there is no magic formula to get better/faster. You have to work on it and it takes time. You must be disciplined and patient. Typically you will start to see improvements in your fitness in 3-6 months.

      Something to consider is when to start working with a coach. My suggestions is to start as soon as your “cycling season” is over (which varies depending on what part of the country you live in) unless you’re new to cycling, then I would recommend getting a coach as soon as you can so you don’t develop bad habits. When you pick a coach, think about what you want and what the coach can provide. Some coaches limit the times you can call or email them, others don’t. Some coaches will workout with you, others don’t. This also helps understand the cost. The more hand holding you want/need, the more you should expect to pay.

      Try talking to other cyclists that have coaches and see what they like and dislike. Hope you make the decision to get a coach and if you do, good luck.

    • Brian,
      Hate to answer a question with a question, but what do you mean by recovery? Do you mean when should you race again? When should you ride again? Or lastly, when should you do another 24 hr solo race?

      Most of my clients will rest anywhere from 3 to 7 days. After that it’s easy riding for another week or so. You shouldn’t need more than two weeks to “recover”. I really think it takes about 3-4 weeks to fully recover from a 24 hr event, but some riders can recover in less time while others may take a bit longer. Your cycling background comes into play here.

      Always go by how you feel. If you feel tired, you need more rest. If you feel good, then go for a hard ride and see if you can do it. You’ll know when you have recovered, but remember to take at least 2 weeks of easy or no riding even if you feel good. Good luck.

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