To be a good athlete, you need to build your entire house, not just pieces of it. Let’s focus on the ceilings and floors right now. One of the pointers I give to my athletes is: go fast to go fast and go slow to go fast. While this might seem strange, the point is that to go fast you have to practice going fast, and to recover you have to go slow.
Ceilings and floors: first let’s talk about ceilings. Raising your ceiling is important because if you raise the high end of your power it will allow you to raise your threshold. This type of work is short, fast intervals.
A great interval set for this is 6 x 5 seconds max with 55 seconds recovery. The max should be all out maximum, finishing up and barely being able to pedal. The goal is to raise your high-end power. After you get better at 5 second max, try to hit 10 second max power, but add 1:20 recovery. Your body will learn how to clear lactate through these intervals. Most athletes forget to focus on this part of their training - why? Because it hurts! And it should hurt.
Once you have this higher power work done, turn around and focus on getting your threshold work in. One great session is 5 x 5 minutes threshold pieces with 5 minutes recovery. This will help you raise your threshold up under your ceiling. Another workout that helps with threshold is 8 minutes of 40 seconds hard/20 seconds easy.
Most athletes associate the winter with easy base mileage and a lot of athletes need to do this indoors since the weather is not good outside. But it is actually the best time of the year to work on high power. Sitting on the trainer for 4 hours is good, but putting in a hard session in 2 hours can prove much more benefit. The trainer is also a great time to work on those higher power intervals, since the environment is controlled and you can focus entirely on your workout instead of being outside on the roads.
In addition, allowing yourself time to recover will help you with your floor. Taking the time in between workouts and not going hard on your recovery rides will allow you to push harder. This also is one of the nice pieces of training in the winter, since you are not outside you can keep it easier without friends pushing you beyond what you want on easy days. To get ready for your season, try to add in some short high power intervals, then transition to threshold style intervals to work on bringing that threshold up along with the high power. Finally, focus on getting in your recovery days to prepare for your harder days. Work to raise your ceiling!