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Excellent Velonews article on training
Last Post 03/10/2014 10:41 AM by Cosmic Kid. 7 Replies.
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03/05/2014 01:25 PM
Perfect for this time of year.


Explains why the old ways of training work so well.  Lsd, long STEADY! distance.  Those late miles at the same not very fast speeds you started at pay big dividends.

I like especially how he (Trevor Connor, cycling coach at CSU) talks about muscle fiber recruitment and reserves.  I always felt that in a race I had two resources I had to monitor and use wisely, carbos and energy fuel being one and my muscles being the other.  Long hills and riding in breaks cost me both, that was obvious, but as long as the tempo was measured and even, mostly at the energy level.  But the jump to get in the break would cost me muscle that I could never get back in that race.  I had to use that really wisely.

Neither Connor nor the racer he interviewed (Rory Sutherland) talked about the other piece I was very aware of, slow-twitch vs fast.  Being all slow-twitch (never got tested but I have spent 60 years verifying that fact!), I had to be really careful about those reserves.  BUt the article does show how to protect that reserve; get a really strong base then add intervals on top.  Sounds like something from the Italian CONI manual of nearly a lifetime ago.

Which reminds me, I really should suck it up and ride the fixie on a 17 (or, gawd!, an 18) instead of the big man 16.

Cosmic Kid


03/05/2014 03:42 PM
There is a lot there worth commenting on....overall, I agree with the premise and overarching thought. Some of the concepts he lists, however, are somewhat questionable.

Re: base miles: there is an interesting trend going on now re: "base miles" or building a foundation. In the past, we all slogged away for weeks / months doing LSD and vowing to not touch our big chain rings until we had 1000 miles in. The new trend, sometimes referred to as "reverse periodization", can call for doing high intensity work early in the year (especially if confined to the trainer) and then adding in longer miles later. That said, it depends on the type of racing you are doing....and the reason this approach is better referred to as "specificity" vs. periodization. The idea is that as you approach your critical part of the season, your training efforts should start to mirror your racing efforts. So if your "A" goal is the state RR, you should start your season with higher intensity efforts to build your FTP and then begin to add in longer rides as he season progresses.

This is now often recommended for long-course triathletes....whose efforts are about long, steady efforts and not time spent at or above FTP. For short-course triathletes, or crit racers, you would want to do the opposite, however, because your "A" race efforts will be about shorter, higher intensity efforts.

But the idea is not to go from "slower to faster" but more "general to specific". This also assumes, however, that you don't take an extended period off during the fall / winter.

The theory makes sense to me, and many have reported success with it. That said, I also think much depends on the makeup of the athlete. I tried it this year for a bit, and was very frustrated. I had taken a lot of time off the bike this fall due to injury, so I probably wasn't in the best place to try it....but more importantly, I have come to the conclusion that I respond better to volume vs. intensity. This is especially true early in the year....but again, it could also be related to the fact that I usually take an extended time off the bike.

Re: heart rate: I really disagree with him re: riding LSD by HR vs power. Races are own and lost on power, not HR. You should be training based on power and using HR AFTER the ride to evaluate cardiac drift. Riding by HR just trains your body to reduce effort at the end of rides, not hold it steady. I have been struggling with that this year, but may have finally cleared that hurdle. All my rides have had both declining Power and increasing HR this year....not good! Sunday I did 2.5 hours on the Computrainer with 2 other guys...we stayed together the whole time, but our avg power slowly increased over the entire ride. After 30', I was at 175w avg but by he end, I was up to 184w avg for the entire ride. If I had just ridden by HR, my power would have been declining the whole time.

His thoughts about sustainability, however, really hit home. I have been getting crushed this year by guys on the Computrainers....real watt monsters. But I also know that I can sustain my wattage over a much longer timeframe than they can....so the longer a ride goes, the better chances I have at doing well. Endurance is my strength, not power.

I could go on....but I thinkis post is long enough. Looking forward to other's thoughts.
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!


03/05/2014 05:41 PM


03/05/2014 08:02 PM
Trevor Connor writes some good stuff. There is a good article in the January paper issue of Velonews (no link yet) that talks about how a cyclist's plan for improvement must be viewed as a long-term project.

It describes the biochemical and structural changes needed to improve performance. Where the biochemical process ramps up quick and doesn't change much year to year, structural improvements take much longer in the order of 3 to 5% year after year. And that's in a perfect world. Masters have a slower rate of improvement.

It's never about only that one workout, or training week or a race, but it's important to stay consistent and keep looking beyond to the bigger year-to-year project.


03/06/2014 10:35 AM
Yeah I kinda agree with CK, in his first part of statement but not sure about doing the opposite for short crit racers, but again maybe that’s why I never won any BAR titles. I never rode in my granny gear to build base miles and still won’t.

I start the season hard and rely on the training I’ve done on the trainer in the winter months (10 minutes spinning +110rpm, two minutes of recovery, six minutes of hard climb (60 rpm) and three minutes of standing on harder climb, for an hour to hour an half a session three to four times a week).

Back in the day team mates used 13-23 cassettes to start the season off especially on climbs and eased their way to 11-21. I tried that for one season and found that it took me much longer to reach my level of fitness that I was used to. Yes I struggled early grinding my 21 uphill and granted the first few rides hurt like crazy, but muscles will learn to heal and recover faster (muscle memory) and by April I had no problem climbing in my 21 while others struggled, even today it’ll take me about three +60 miles rides and maybe two climbs up the Manayunk Wall to be pain free after a ride. I think it’s how you train your muscle and body not just one season but over the years.


03/06/2014 01:46 PM
It's definitely a year over year thing. Totally agree that the point is to be strong at the end, though. I think that's one of the big weaknesses of the "time crunched" programs (in addition to the fundamental sleaziness and criminality of the guy who popularized the phrase - TimeCrunched(tm) - I freaking hate Carmichael), is that guys who do them are so often firing bullets - albeit good ones - off left and right in the early going, and then got no mas when it's crunch time (CrunchTime(tm)? - I slay me).

I've gotten sucked back into helping a few people with training this year and one thing I'm very conscious of is back-loading the work. During the week in the winter when you don't want to keep people on the trainer forever, you put one salvo early on in the workout, and then give some recovery, and then really crush it in the back half. On the days when you can't afford to give them as much training load, you might do have them warm up and do 45' of tempo without any power drop off as time goes by. There's always a bit of HR drift in that, but you also watch out for HR bifurcation, where say 26' into that effort the HR makes a jump up and then continues the low grade lift emblematic of drift. Bifurcation generally indicates too high a workload for what you're trying to achieve with that work.

CK a great workout for this is "the riser." These can be kind of deadly. You do 20' at a given, fairly low power - say 60% of LT. In the range of your example above, you might start with 20' @ 150. Then after that 20' is over you have to add 1w to your average power every 2' for the duration of the workout. As time goes by it gets REALLY hard, because your average is going up, and adding a watt to a 170 average that's 5' old is no sweat, but when you're 30' in, you're going to be doing like 230 for two minutes to add that incremental watt, and it only gets harder from there. You can also do them as a "miss and out," where if you can't add a watt in two minutes for two straight two minute blocks, you're done.
formerly dkri
Cosmic Kid


03/06/2014 02:35 PM
Damn, that just sounds painful.......and too familiar.

I was kinda chuckling this AM during my FTP test (OK, not really chuckling since my eyes were crossed and my tongue was in my spokes....). We are 20+ minutes into the 30' test and the guy who runs the palce is yelling out for people to "add 3 watts!!! Add 3 watts!!!" Wait....wut?....you want me to add 3 watts in the final minutes of an all-out effort on a baseline average that took over 20' minutes to establish?? Yeah, I'll get right on that.....
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
Cosmic Kid


03/10/2014 10:41 AM
Out of curiosity....does anyone pay attention to TSS or IF scores (if they use power when training)?
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
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