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Athlete Profile: Masters Cyclist Who Wants to Podium

Coach Trevor Connor reflects on his work with a masters cyclist with big hopes for Nationals. Find out more about her athletic history and lifestyle in the lead-up to the racing season.

Photo of two cyclists before a ride
Masters cyclist with riding partner

Name: Cynthia Green 
Age: 52 
Sport: Cycling (criterium, road, time trial)  
Vocation: Professor 
Training Volume: 7-9 hours per week 

Season Goals

Performance Goals

  1. Podium in one race at Nationals.
  2. Top 10 in two other races at Nationals.
  3. Podium in local 50+ races.
  4. Finish in top 30% in SW1 for two races.  

Training Goals

  1. Improve climbing and efforts while climbing so I can stay with the climbers on the steep sections at Nationals.  
    Benchmark: Climb Pinewood at <22:00 with jumps 
  1. Improve sprint to address issue of top end sprint not being fast enough to podium at Nationals.  
    Benchmark: Consistent 15-second peak power >600W (compared to 515W in previous two years) 
  1. Remain relaxed and focused on the big picture with training and racing.  
    Benchmark: Focus on achieving recovery goals and primary training goals each week.  

Athlete history

Cynthia started racing as a competitive cyclist in her 20s. Her strength is in shorter, punchier events like criteriums. She has a good sprint and maneuvers a field well.  

She has a full-time professorship at Colorado State University that places a lot of demands on her time. So, while Cynthia has remained competitive and can race with the Cat 1/2 women, her time to train is limited. Most weeks, she gets in about 8 to 10 hours on the bike. The remainder of her available time is focused on off-the-bike work such as strength training, core work, and stretching. Being over 50, this investment in her functional strength and overall health is essential for her.  

During the previous season, Cynthia was on sabbatical, so she was off the bike for most of the year. She did not return from her sabbatical until late fall, so we were not able to get her back on the bike until early January. Because of the time off and the late start, we opted to push her base season into the spring months and not target any races until mid-May.  

Cynthia gets very stressed when she targets a specific race, so for the most part we set up each block so that no one race is any more important than the others. This allows her to stay in a better mental space and show up to each race feeling confident.  

The one race Cynthia did want to target this season was the 50+ Master’s Nationals in early September. She wanted to race all three events—the criterium, time trial, and road race. Because of her limited training time each week, I encouraged her to focus on a single event as I knew we did not have enough time to build her to full strength for all three events. However, she really wanted to target all three. She was particularly interested in developing her time trial since that wasn’t a discipline she had worked on in the past. Ultimately, as we got close to the event, I convinced her to race the time trial for fun and prioritize the criterium, where she accomplished her goal of a top 5 finish.  

Cynthia is very attentive to her training. She tries hard to accomplish the workouts exactly as prescribed. Unfortunately, this can cause a lot of stress for her and prevent her from being flexible with her training. If she misses a workout or doesn’t accomplish it perfectly, she can get upset and that frustration can cascade, affecting her entire week. Over the course of this season I asked her to focus more on the big picture. I wanted her to look at the week as a whole and focus on completing a successful week rather than getting caught up in particular sessions. This is why the third training goal that we came up with together was to focus on her mental approach to training.  

One thing I found very interesting about Cynthia was that during the base season, her threshold heart rate would stay around 140-141 BPM. But, once we got into the season and did anaerobic capacity work, she would “open up” and her threshold heart rate would jump to around 146 BPM. With every season it was a challenge to identify when this training effect was going to happen so I could adjust her training ranges and help her make the switch.  

Athlete assessment

I always write a short assessment of my athletes as I build their plans. Here’s what I wrote in advance of this season.