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Training Tips

Lesson Learned: Slowing Down to Go Faster

By: Amber Neben  November 29, 2021

Hear from Amber Neben; BaseCamp Master Coach, USAC Level 2 coach, and a 3x Olympian, 3x World Champion, and 6x National Champion

My biggest mistakes have always been my best lessons. One of the biggest mistakes I have made in the offseason, and one we all can make, is to not slow down to go faster. I learned this the hard way. Over the years, season-to-season fatigue accumulated, performance stagnated and declined, and I lost my ability to use my fatty acid oxidation energy system.

One of the main reasons that I’ve been able to maintain my longevity in the sport, including top 5’s at the Olympics and World Championships in 2021 at age 46, is because my coach Tim Cusick and I have been very intentional about spending a focused period of time working on my aerobic energy systems. I slowed down to go faster. Tim has been brilliant in helping me through the process of maximizing and optimizing my aerobic engine. With that focus, I have also increased the depth to my fitness, my resilience, fatigue resistance, lactate processing, and my ability to do and absorb work while also getting stronger all the while getting older. Having a focused “Base” season has been key to all this. I think it could be very valuable to many of you as well.

If we are honest, we can all be susceptible to riding hard all the time. We like to be fit. We like keeping up with our buddies, chasing Strava segments, and always doing the fast group rides. We enjoy feeling like we worked hard, and we want to maximize our limited time. Whatever the reason, riding hard and fast becomes our default plan.

Why is riding hard all the time a problem? Ultimately, it results in “permafitness” and then a decline in fitness. NOT getting fitter and faster. This stagnation and diminished performance often sends us on a downward spiral. We ride harder, or we ride harder more often, which actually perpetuates the fatigue and decline. To solve the problem, we need to focus on slowing down and committing to aerobic riding.

How can we fix this? It’s knowing and then actually doing. It’s understanding how important an intentional base season is to our cycling and that performance involves optimizing the relationships of the cardiovascular, muscular, metabolic, and neurological systems. A proper training plan will correctly (not equally but correctly) balance these relationships through the right timing and amount of the content. (credit T.Cusick) By slowing down, we can set ourselves up to get fitter, faster and stronger by progressively addressing the foundations of these systems.

How can we “DO” this right now? Make a plan or find a plan, and then follow through on it! Adding even two days a week of the right progressive structure can help you get better. One way to do this is to join me every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:45PM EST from Nov 29th through March 17th on Zwift. Look for the BaseCamp workout p/b USA Cycling or follow the link here to RSVP for an email reminder for the rides: As for a full plan and deeper education dive, one option is to check out the full 16 week customized BaseCamp program and community where you’ll find myself and my coach, Tim Cusick.