by Rachel McBride

Ed. Note—we launch Rachel McBride's Super Kitty 3 kit today, celebrating everything we all love about McB, "The Most Interesting Woman in Triathlon." Resplendent color, bold design, and designed for speed, the kit perfectly suits Rachel and her amazing fortitude and positive, gritty attitude. 

What does a "typical" week of cycling look like for you?

A typical week of cycling for me is anywhere from 9-13 hours of riding, divided into 3-4 workouts.

Do you separate your days into different types and intensities of training?

During a typical ironman build, each week I have a longer ride (most often followed by a brick run), a workout focusing on muscular endurance, and a workout focusing on anaerobic efforts. I may also have a 1-2 hour recovery spin at some point.

How is your spring periodized from a cycling perspective? Do you build base and then move to intensity?

With the colder weather through the Vancouver winter, I’ll get at least 1-2 weeks in some warmer weather with more volume. However I spend much of the late winter building up intensity with shorter, harder workouts, supplemented with strength training.  Then in the Spring as the weather warms and I start my Ironman build, I’ll start increasing my base with longer rides.

Recently, "polarized training" has been the in vogue thing in the cycling world; have you ascribed to this particular model?

No, my training is definitely very periodized.

What is your approach to improving your speed on the bike? How has that approach changed over the years?

My approach to my training has really been dictated by my coaches. When I first started my career in half iron distance, I think it was a lot of intensity and hours in the saddle. Then I had a coach who focused more on longer race-pace efforts.

Almost 3 years ago, I was in a more self-coaching mode and asked my spouse Shane to help me with my training. He has been racing bikes for almost 25 years and is an incredibly understated (by his own design!) cycling coach. Over the years I’ve watched the athletes he’s worked with achieve some pretty awesome progress, including hitting the start line of the UCI Elite Road World Champs. Road racing is one thing, but 180km TT with a marathon after is another. After two Ironman bike course records in the past year, I have learned to trust in his process.

Since he’s been at my side through the trials and tribulations of my whole pro career and all my injuries, he’s had a unique perspective (and strong opinions!) on what works and doesn’t works. He’s very good at reining me in and so my volume tends to stay pretty low, with a lot of meaty and carefully controlled intensity. I definitely get the volume when I need it, but nothing excessive. There is no junk in my workouts. And I love that we get to race gravel together!

Can you share one session that you found particularly effective (or that you believe to be particularly effective)?

I really like doing short anaerobic work. My favourite summer sessions are going out to a local mountain with Shane and his team and doing 30s all out efforts on 15s rest on the climb. We’ll doing a few rounds of 10 and I just try and stay as close as I can to these guys! They kick my butt – it’s a great motivator, though I curse them every time they hammer it on the way home.

How much data and quantifiable stuff do you use?

I use my Pioneer power meter to track wattage for specific intervals in workouts. During racing I’ll also keep an eye on my heart rate. However, I’m not a super data geek. I’ll take a look at it after my workouts, but I don’t spend much time on it.