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Gravel Goals: Using the 80/20 Model to Balance Endurance, Strength, & Recovery

In this week's installment of our Gravel Goals series, coach Paul Warloski talks about balancing the key components of a training plan into your busy life. Follow along with the Gravel Goals series to improve your performance in your 100+ mile gravel events.

Words by Paul Warloski of Simple Endurance Coaching.

To learn more, visit our Introduction to the Gravel Goals series.

This week in our series on training for a long gravel race, we’re focusing on how to actually create a schedule that can work in your daily lives.

It’s important to create a schedule that maximizes your training time.

And we need to include endurance training, strength training, and yoga to improve our health, mobility, and fitness.

How do you do all of that?

Set up a gravel base training schedule around your life and work schedule

Remember, here’s what we talked about in the last post:

  • One long day of endurance riding

  • Three to four days of short endurance riding

  • Two days a week of strength training

  • Two days a week of yoga - recovery and/or strength

  • One or two days a week of intervals

  • One rest day

Scheduling Your Key Long Easy Ride

Generally, most people have more time on the weekends, so schedule your long rides on weekends if that works.

Plus more people are free on the weekends for group rides.

Your other workouts can be scheduled for 30 to 90 minutes on days you’re working, again, depending on your schedule.

You might find it easier to do double days or maybe you can ride to work and ride home the long way.

You have lots of options to fit your schedule!

Remember to practice your fueling and hydration along with using potential race gear like bags.

Strength Training on Hard Days

Generally, I advise athletes to have hard days and easier days.

That means on hard days, couple your strength and your intervals.

Unless there’s a specific reason you’re working on strength training, I’d suggest doing the intervals in the morning and strength training after work.

We’re not trying to become Olympic lifters or bodybuilders so it doesn’t matter if we’re a little fatigued when we lift.

Our goal is to lift to fatigue the muscles a little more than usual.

Base Training Endurance Days

I schedule longer base endurance days for the weekend when I have more time.

If I’m training for a gravel century, I don’t necessarily need to eventually ride 100 miles in training. On the other hand, doing 60 miles Saturday and 60 miles Sunday at an endurance pace puts a lot of training stress in the bank and doesn’t cause as much muscle damage.

During the week, you can add in as much endurance riding as you’re able to muster with your schedule.

The more volume you can build with easy endurance miles, the better off you’ll be.

But make sure you increase the volume incrementally each week.

If you try to ride 60 miles and you’ve never done more than 20 before, you’re going to set yourself back!

Scheduling Yoga Sessions

Yoga for recovery - shorter sessions based on simple movements - can happen any time.

For example, I have an 8pm Yoga Recovery session for my athletes every Monday on Zoom.

Yoga for strength, a Hatha or Flow class, can be counted as strength training or done as part of a double day when you do your ride in the morning or after work.

Do the yoga AFTER you ride.

The 80/20 Model Keeps You Focused

The idea of the 80/20 model is that 80 percent of your sessions or four out of five rides are endurance and the others are intensity.

As we’ve talked about in the previous article, endurance rides are key elements of your training plan.

You can build up a lot of training volume and stress without as much of the fatigue that builds up with higher intensity.

So generally, do mostly easy endurance miles and some hard interval days, and you’ll get the adaptations you need in your muscles and cardiovascular system without too much fatigue.

Sample Week

Monday: Rest day

Tuesday: intervals and strength

Wednesday: easy endurance

Thursday: easy endurance and strength

Friday: rest or recovery ride

Saturday: intervals and endurance

Sunday: long endurance day

You can always switch the weekend days.

Try to get at least 48 hours in between interval sessions for full recovery.

About Coach Paul Warloski

Paul Warloski is a Level 2 USA-Cycling Coach, a certified yoga instructor, and a certified personal trainer.

He supports everyday endurance athletes at Simple Endurance Coaching, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He's been racing gravel, road, mountain bike, and cyclocross for decades, so he brings both experience and training knowledge to help you to your best gravel race performances in 2024. He'll be racing the Big Rivers Gravel Series in Illinois, the Hungry Bear in Cable, likely the Coon Fork 40 in Eau Claire, and other gravel races this year.

To learn more, or for a free 30-minute Virtual Coffee to talk about your training and your goals, visit Simple Endurance Coaching.




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