Paralympic gold medalist Shawn Morelli: My week in training

Shawn Morelli has become the face of para-cycling in the United States, thanks to a series of stunning performances and medal wins that she’s achieved in recent years. A major in the US Army, Shawn experienced an injury during service in Afghanistan that changed her life forever. Shawn turned to cycling to help her to heal physically and mentally, and now she is a three-time Paralympic gold medallist.

Shawn has taken some time off the bike to share with us a recent week in training.

This training week is an intensity week while still working on base. The goal of this week is to introduce intensity while continuing building base.

Total stats for the week
Kilometres covered: 369 km
Number of hours on the bike: 13
Number of hours in the gym (or other training): 7
Maximum power output: 321


Shawn Morelli 1 Photo credit Casey Gibson Power Meter

Image: Casey Gibson

Monday: Intervals / Gym session/ Zone 2 ride
The first session of the week is an interval workout designed to work all the upper zones focusing on power and heart rate. Mid-morning I head to the gym, typically by 10.30am, completing a session that is designed in a circuit-focused manner. The goal of the circuit session is to facilitate the optimal number of muscle fibres working on neuromuscular activation of deinnervated muscle groups due to my disability. This session is followed by a one to 1.5 hour ride in the evening. I conclude my day with some foundation work and foam rolling.

Tuesday: Recovery spin/ Mobility session / Core session
Tuesday is a recovery day but not an off day. It is an active recovery day. In the morning I complete a mobility routine followed by a 1.5 hour recovery spin. The afternoon consisted of a core routine and flexibility routine.

Wednesday: Interval s/ Gym session / Zone 2 ride
The first session of the day is an interval workout designed to work all the upper zones power and heart rate. I usually make sure that I do either longer or shorter intervals than Monday’s session and switch the bike up too, so the bike to complete the workout may change from road bike, track bike to time trial bike. Similar to Monday, mid-morning I head to the gym for another circuit focused session followed by a 1-1.5 hour ride in the evening. Wednesday also ends with some foundation work and foam rolling.

Thursday: Recovery spin / Mobility session / Core session
Thursday is very similar to Tuesday – it is another recovery day. Again, it’s not complete rest, the focus is active recovery. Just like Tuesday, I complete a mobility routine in the morning, followed by a one to 1.5 hour recovery spin, with the afternoon consisting of a core routine and flexibility routine.

Friday: Intervals / Gym Session / Zone 2 Ride
Friday is very similar to Monday and Wednesday. You can start to see a theme here! The first session is another interval workout designed to work all the upper zones power and heart rate – again switching up the interval length and the bike I’m riding. Mid-morning, I head to the gym for my circuit session, followed by my one to 1.5 hour ride and foam rollers session in the evening.

Saturday: Long ride zone 2
Saturday is the longest endurance ride of the week. The ride is around two to four hours depending on the training load. This ride typically does not have any specific workouts within it. This allows me to just ride my bike, which is what I love do! Sometimes we add some z3 efforts, or hit the climbs harder, this also allows me the freedom to join group rides.

Sunday: Day Off
A genuine rest day! Family time and some stretching and mobility work. The goal is to rest and re-activate my body. I try to sleep longer and play with the dogs more.


Shawn Morelli 3 Photo credit Casey Gibson Power Meter

Image: Casey Gibson

What’s your favourite thing about training? I enjoy pushing myself to see what I can do, but really I just love to ride my bike. I really find it enjoyable to train or ride with others.

 What has been your most challenging training session? I feel cycling is just as much mental as physical. A lot of training is done alone on long rides. When I have to do Supra Threshold/VO2 Max intervals the mental game really takes over and I love the challenge.

 What’s the best piece of training advice you’ve ever been given? Listen to your coaching team, focus on you and what you are doing, focus on your training and your improvements. Do not focus on what others are doing.

 What would you say is the biggest training mistake you’ve made? Focusing too much on my competition and not on my training. This caused me to wonder why I was not doing certain things in my training and made me feel as if I was not progressing fast enough instead of just trusting my team that they had it under control.

What do you use your power meter for and what difference does it make to your training? InfoCrank is the most beneficial power meter on the market for several reasons. First, the rate of data capture and accuracy exceeds any other power meter, which helps a coach make better and more informed training decisions. Secondly, when using the InfoCrank during track sessions, the data collected allows for instant post-effort review so we can make needed changes and planning to make the most of subsequent efforts therefore getting the most out of my training sessions.

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