Help with base training
So this year I am trying to do a more structured training. From what I have been reading, the base period seems to be mostly made up of long steady distance in zone 2-- correct?. My confusion is that living in PA it is nearly impossible for me to go on any ride and stay in zone 2- mtb or road. There is no flat terrain, every trail and route has some hills. To stay in zone 2 would require riding the trainer. It just seems kind of pointless to go out and ride at such a low pace. Any help would be appreciated.
What are you reading/what program are you following?
I think of it as more of an emphasis than anything else. If you're spending most of your time in 2, occasionally hitting higher efforts when you climb a hill or something isn't going to destroy your workout. The point is to be able to put in some good volume, then do it again the next day. As one of the coach's blogs says, "It's the forest, not the trees." That said, you can't go out, hammer up hills, tempo on the rollers, and call it base.
In Friel, base also starts including some bigger efforts in the 2nd month. So it's really only prep. and base 1 that are that low-intensity.
"Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx
Base training is a really good tool and a good way to start your training year, for sure. As cyclists, we are all at the mercy of our homeland terrain. Just do the best you can with what you have. after all, it's out of your control.
I think you should do 3 things here:
1) go ahead and ride outside, but just take it easy. who cares if you go above and beyond zone 2, occasionally? Use the hills that surround you to your advantage. Ride them, don't attack them. Practice good cadence and breathing while climbing. It'll help build good muscle memory and skills when it's time to ramp things up. When base training, think a/b your rides as a whole. When you're done, you should be able to say "that was good. not too easy, not too hard"
2) remember that cross training can be considered base training, too. things like running, brisk hiking and circuit weight training build a strong aerobic base too. If you think your rides have become too hard, then go for a long, brisk hike. Moderate intensity spinning classes are good too.
3) Use trainer time to break up riding and cross training. Most people can't spin on a trainer or rollers for more than an hour, so use it to get in extra low intensity hours and recovery between outdoor activities.
hope this helps
Phases - Good. Better. Best.
Thank you for the input! I am reading Friel's road bible, trying to modify it for endurance training, ie. adding in longer rides when I can. I guess I would be using the periodization model of training. As you both said, I think it is best to just use the terrain I have and take it "easier" during base this time of year. Thanks again, you reinforced what I was thinking.
The Mountain bible has some specific reference to mountain biking - there is one MTB-specific workout, I think he modifies some of the hill workouts a little for MTB, and the section on weights addresses MTB. I'm not sure how different from road it all is, I only have the MTB bible. I've been meaning to look at a Road bible to see if there's anything I might want to do differently for more track-oriented training. Anyway, it might be worth looking at, especially if you're including lifting weights in your training this year.
Since Friel likes relatively more evenly distributed training time and I'm probably doing an endurance race this season too (well, it's the name of the forum after all) I decided to modify the hours distributions to follow the 75% guideline. My race will run me a bit less than six hours. So I made the longest ride in the highest-hour distribution 4.5 hours, and backed off the rest of the hours to still hit the same total. Part of my goal is to actually do the training, so an unrealistic second long ride midweek wouldn't do me any favors to plan. I guess you can ask me how well that works out in September.
Another book I have is Thomas Chapple's Base Building for Cyclists. In general, I don't like it as much. But he has some good discussion of prep for endurance races, I think, including some ways to prepare for even longer races, that aren't necessarily feasible to even hit 75% of in a single workout in training.
Last year, I actually worked all the way up to the full length of my event in training. If nothing else, it's a confidence-booster. I wasn't following a periodized plan, however. More just the overlap of a weekly workout for track and +10%/week long rides to prepare for the endurance race. That worked okay too - I raced a little faster than in 2011, but I think conditions were a bit nicer too. So not that meaningful in terms of whether I was actually faster.
If I race the endurance race again, it'll be in August and it'll be a second peak. So I'll probably repeat base 3, or maybe modify it for more of a long rides emphasis. But I'm probably moving in April, so I'm not planning that far ahead specifically.
"Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx