Podium Quality Training for Master Women

By Peg Labiuk | 03/08/11


We’ve teamed up with Marilyn Trout, certified USA Cycling Elite Coach to answer Voler Newsletter List members’ training questions. You can view her coach profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/mountainpedalscoaching80903 Send your cycling inquiries to Marilyn, and for a limited time, if yours is selected to be answered in our Training column, Voler will send you a $20 gift certificate that can be used towards any purchase from the Voler Store at http://www.voler.com. To submit your inquiry, e-mail her at trout_mic@msn.com, and type “Voler Training Question” in the subject line of the e-mail.

Voler E-mail list member Dorothy Zarbo is our 68th winner of a $20 VeloWear gift certificate! Her training question that follows was answered by Peg Labiuk (nee Peggy Maass), a colleague of Marilyn Trout, and a certified NCCP level 3 coach with a career in international road and track racing. She is a World Championship medalist, World Record holder, U.S. Olympic Team member, former British national team coach and Kreb's Cycle co-founder (British Columbia, Canada).

Podium Quality Training for Master Women

Hello Coach,

I'm so glad the ice has been broken regarding senior women athletes. I've been competing in State Senior Games (now 55-59) for the past 4 years. I've been guided by a coach, in Multi-Rider/CompuTrainer Classes for rallies, even though, I thought it was for competition. My coach seemed to feel that there was no room for improving my wattage once I leveled off. I heard the quotes "After age 40, 1% of power wattage is lost every year. Now, it is maintenance at best." I attended Games the year before last when 70+ women were passing me in the 20K & 40K Road Races. This proved to me that improvement was possible.

This year, I finally knew enough to ask my coach how I should train. Five weeks before Senior Games I was told to ride several days in a row & add hills. I rode by the seat-of-my-shorts & felt ill prepared before the Games. I really don't know what I did to prepare, but I qualified for Nationals.

Are there cycling race training plans for senior women athletes that take in consideration of our different training/recovery needs? How far out from the race dates is it safe to begin serious training? Five weeks did not feel right... Would you be able to guide us to "good competition" on or darn close to podium quality?


Dear Dorothy,

You can check the Voler.com Connect archives for my answer to Monica, (Fitness Guidelines for Master Women Cyclist: http://www.voler.com/site/post.aspx?li=Fitness-Guidelines-for-Master-Womens-Cyclists) who is in the same age group as you. Your performance standards are the same: 2.00 watts/kg for the 20 minute power level, body fat 28%, and 10 mile Time Trial is 31:30, for 25 miles is 1:20:41 (30.7 kph or 19 mph and 30.5 kph or 18.6 mph respectively). Since you are aiming for the National Senior Games, here are their records for your age group:

5 km TT 7:25 = 25.0 mph/40.4 kph
10 km TT 14:43 = 25.3 mph/40.8 kph
20 km RR 29:27 = 25.3 mph/40.8 kph
40 km RR 1:15:20 = 9.9 mph/32.0 kph

If you have a base of fitness, I believe you can manipulate training and rest to produce a peak performance in about 3 months time. I maintain that seniors can train at the same percentage intensity level as younger athletes, but require more recovery time between hard workouts. Since you have been training for 4 years, perhaps you haven't reached the maximum training level of your potential. I think you'll maximize your preparation with a coach that has experience with masters racing.

As with younger athletes, don't forget that it's not just all about training. You have been taking indoor classes and commuting. You need to work on group riding skills so you can ride in a pack, corner and, most importantly, draft. Without that, you are expending energy that you could better use to place higher in the races. I find that riders who have good skills are more confident and can pay attention to the dynamics of the race, that "chess game on wheels" we call tactics.

You do have to be fit enough to be in the game, but it's a lot more fun to play the game using your skills and tactics, so pay attention to both.

Coach Peg

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