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  1. #1
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    Base Training or Intervals

    I am thouroughly confused. Reading books like Friel and Thomas Chapple which encourage AeT base miles for 8 - 24 weeks then more focused training. Then I read and hear of all these studies that say interval training will give me the same body changes for endurance that base miles will and that I can do it in less time.
    I am again thouroughly confused.

  2. #2
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    everyone reacts to a training stimulus differently, you need to find out what works for you.
    Personally my endurance lacks once I hit the 34km mark of a race so I am riding for 2h+ rides once a week, with interval or pace tempo rides on the trainer 2 times a week. Aswell as swimming and running.

    Try both types of training and see what works for you

  3. #3
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    I've been reading a lot about this lately. Forums lately have been discussing this a lot.

    I think it depends if you have the time to do base training properly. I'm a mid-pack Cat 1 and decided to do traditional base this year. So therefore I'm on the bike, mostly in Zone 2, for about ~12 hours a week. And weightlifting and yoga fitted into the schedule on top of this.

    I work 40+ hours a week, so it is difficult to get it all in. But it gets done.

    If you only have 6 free hours a week, then your probably better off doing a mix of intervals. Chris Carmichael has a new book called "Training for Time Crunched Cyclist" (something like that); another book that may be worth reading. There were persons discussing this book in another forum, and it seemed to me that the training inheritly results in a lower peak and focuses on a shorter season (or few events); goals that really don't work for me, but really works for others.

    But I believe the traditional base addresses my race weaknesses:
    -Fading in long races
    -Racing well through a long, long season

    I race from March through October, so I'm hoping going back to a big base (and "rebasing" a few times through the season) will help keep improvement going throughout the season.
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    a mix of both. Intervalls are a very wide concept and can be used for everything from extreme speedwork to "traditional" base training intervalls is the key to alternating your training. I do not have a bakground in biking but in Marathon kayaking and over the 15 years of hard traing >95% of the sessions was interwalls of different types and lengths everything from 15sec(on)/15sec(off) to 15-20 min pack riding.Except a few long sessions non stop riding in the spring to prepare for the first race of the season it was all interwalls and the races was the non stop long sessions during the season. The interwalls make you go faster for longer and helps keeping a better teknique it will give you better effect/time unit invested. In biking the terrain can provide a bigger variation then in paddling and the races are longer but structured interwalls is really good and a lot of fun too and its only your imagination that limits what you can do.

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    If you just do intervals all the time, you will eventually become great at doing intervals but will lose other important qualities important to racing. If your training time is limited, it would of course probably suit you better to do a higher percentage of different types of hard riding than if you are able to train with a lot of volume. But you can't do intervals every time out and expect to do as well as if you have a more complete training program.

    Some of the benefits of base training include helping keep you lean, increasing the number and size of your capillaries, strengthening muscles/ligaments/tendons so they are ready for harder efforts, increasing glycogen storage (endurance rides), increasing the size of mitchondria, and others. You also need to train your lactate threshhold (a lot) and develop your sprinting abilities.

    Until someone writing articles about doing intervals all the time coaches a World Champion in an endurance event--such as cyclying, mountain biking, running, triathlon, or cross country skiing--then I wouldn't put too much stock in those articles.

  6. #6
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    There's already a thread on this topic, just scroll down the page:
    Is base training dead?

    I recommend reading this article:
    Intervals, Thresholds, and Long Slow Distance: the Role of Intensity
    and Duration in Endurance Training

  7. #7
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    I'm pretty lucky in that I only work 14 days (actually nights) a month and never work more than 3 days/nights in a row without getting 2-3 days off so I have a lot of free time to get in some riding. This winter I am planning to do 2 offroad rides each week on my SS with each ride averaging 50 or so miles. I also plan to run 2 days, P90X Plyometrics 1 day and P90X Ab-ripper X twice a week. I've found that I can build "some" endurance with interval type training but it seems to be short lived. The longer rides early in the year seem to carry me through the season better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gatorback
    If you just do intervals all the time, you will eventually become great at doing intervals but will lose other important qualities important to racing. If your training time is limited, it would of course probably suit you better to do a higher percentage of different types of hard riding than if you are able to train with a lot of volume. But you can't do intervals every time out and expect to do as well as if you have a more complete training program.

    Some of the benefits of base training include helping keep you lean, increasing the number and size of your capillaries, strengthening muscles/ligaments/tendons so they are ready for harder efforts, increasing glycogen storage (endurance rides), increasing the size of mitchondria, and others. You also need to train your lactate threshhold (a lot) and develop your sprinting abilities.

    Until someone writing articles about doing intervals all the time coaches a World Champion in an endurance event--such as cyclying, mountain biking, running, triathlon, or cross country skiing--then I wouldn't put too much stock in those articles.
    you are absoluteley right about everything you need to become good but you could do almost all the things you say you need with interwalls interwalls is just breaking down your training into smaller more managable bits with rest in between say you are riding a 4 hour session breaking it up into 18minutes interwalls with 2 minutes rest will give you an easier time focusing on every bit and keeping the speed throughout the whole ride and possibly even going longer. Sprint abilities is also a typical interwall thing say you are training sprints for instance by doing 6 minutes interwalls with the last two minutes steadyly increasing the speed up to a sprint then rest and do it again. You want to climb a 15 minute hill break it up into 3minutes bits with one minute rest and you can go harder then you could at steady pace and your body will adapt to the higher speed. One other great thing about interwalls is when riding in a group you can go as hard as you want and in between interwalls you gather the group again. You are training for a timetrial of one hour do 12*5 minutes with one minute rest and you have probubly done 60 minutes at a speed higher than you will do in the race. Naturally you will need really low intensity cruise and chat sessions and so on but the absolute majourity of your training can be broken up into interwalls. And one other thing. being good at doing interwalls is not a bad thing it means you have been adapting your body to periodicly riding very hard and recover quickly to be able to do it over and over again which is a very disireable thing in a lot of competition situations.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the link to the article. Here's a summarizing sentence from the abstract:
    "The available evidence suggests that combining large volumes of low-intensity training with careful use of high-intensity interval training throughout the annual training cycle is the best-practice model for development of endurance performance." (emphasis added by me).

    This is the trend, as I see it: Don't drop interval training entirely during the winter.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gatorback
    Some of the benefits of base training include helping keep you lean, increasing the number and size of your capillaries, strengthening muscles/ligaments/tendons so they are ready for harder efforts, increasing glycogen storage (endurance rides), increasing the size of mitchondria, and others.
    Some of those benefits (increasing the number and size of your capillaries, increasing glycogen storage, and increasing the size of mitchondria) are also improved with threshold intervals (zone 4), rather than with long aerobic ride (zone 2). See this link--particularly table 2: http://home.trainingpeaks.com/articl...ew-coggan.aspx

    I'm not necessarily advocating threshold intervals for winter training, but I think it is a common mistake to believe that there are a whole bunch of special physiological adaptations happening when you're riding at lower intensities for long durations. Many (not all) of the same physiological adaptations that occur at lower intensities and long durations also occur at higher intensities and shorter durations (at least up to your threshold--beyond threshold, different things happen). This is why you have many folks saying that hard riding for shorter time periods can be just as useful for winter training as easy riding for long time periods.

    To me, the long slow distance stuff for winter has been the norm for many years because the pros and their coaches had to figure out how to give the pro cyclist a winter break (mentally and physically) but still get some benefits out of winter training. Easy riding is easy on the body and mind, and if you do it for long enough, it produces good physiological adaptations.

    Bottom line, to me, what you do during the winter has a lot to do with TIME and REFRESHMENT. Do what you can (time) that does not create too much of a burden on you (refreshment).

    I would also add that IF you can maintain some of your high end fitness during winter WITHOUT compromising your refreshment (with an occasional high end effort, whether it's from some intervals or something else like a group ride or maybe even spin class), you'll be more likely to have higher peaks the next season because you will start building in the spring from a higher fitness level and then work up from there.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli
    I've been reading a lot about this lately. Forums lately have been discussing this a lot.

    I think it depends if you have the time to do base training properly. I'm a mid-pack Cat 1 and decided to do traditional base this year. So therefore I'm on the bike, mostly in Zone 2, for about ~12 hours a week. And weightlifting and yoga fitted into the schedule on top of this.
    Ponch: I'm curious about your plan--Is 12 hrs/week more hours than your normal week during the race season or during building in the spring? Also, how have you decided to break down that 12 hours--for example, 3 rides of 4 hours each? Thx!
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by millennium
    Ponch: I'm curious about your plan--Is 12 hrs/week more hours than your normal week during the race season or during building in the spring? Also, how have you decided to break down that 12 hours--for example, 3 rides of 4 hours each? Thx!
    I would say the total hours, with weightlifting, corework, yoga, is way more than I'm use to, at any time of the year. With the additional activities, it's pushing 17 hours, which is quite a time commitment when you have a full time job.

    Bike time each evening is 1.5-2 hours. Weekends 2-3 hours each ride.

    This also goes back to what LMN said one time, having a good support system at home really makes training possible. If it wasn't for my wife's support, I couldn't spend this much time training for cycling.
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  13. #13
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    great advice so far, both is best, if you have the time and energy......if not then intervals trump base everytime......but zone 2 base longer then 2-3 weeks is waste of time, after that you gotta increase intensity......

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    HR AFTER a Hard Effort

    What HR should I be aiming for after an intense interval? I find that once I have logged a couple of hard efforts I am usually pretty "jacked" and will continue on at around 150-155 until the next effort ( 167+). My goals this winter are like most to get faster but also to drop a few pounds (5,11 185, 15%). Should I let myself rest to a HR around 135 or keep pounding away?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by suvowner
    great advice so far, both is best, if you have the time and energy......if not then intervals trump base everytime......but zone 2 base longer then 2-3 weeks is waste of time, after that you gotta increase intensity......
    Based on what? Two to three weeks is hardly enough training time to force significant adaptation.

    Based upon my experience athletes are still improving after 8-12 week base period.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    Based on what? Two to three weeks is hardly enough training time to force significant adaptation.

    Based upon my experience athletes are still improving after 8-12 week base period.
    yes but some believe that after 2-3 weeks of base, further time spent at base would not produce as much adaptation as higher intensity riding beyond the 3 week point.......

    in the first 3 weeks improvement occurs largely due to oxidative enzyme capacity increases in the mitochondria, this beginds to taper at 3 weeks, and beyond that you need to stimulate mito biogenesis, which the stimulus for this only really occurs at higher intensities where there is sufficient lactate and oxygen deprivation to activate the genetic machinery for new mitochondria formation........

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    Quote Originally Posted by suvowner
    where there is sufficient lactate and oxygen deprivation to activate the genetic machinery for new mitochondria formation........
    Gulp, ok..

    I do know this, last year I spent 3mo of base riding, Avg 12.5hrs/week, lots of Tempo (85% of 1hr power/threshold), some micro burst (12sec low cadence bursts) workouts, and some 90-95% (of 1hr power/threshold) work. No workouts over threshold. I then transitioned to H-intensity and in about 6-weeks I was peaking.

    I think base is about steady, long efforts that are depleting. You can do it in 25hrs, you can do it in 12hrs, it depends on training history, age, and the intensity at which you ride long and steady. The goal is to empty the legs, regularly and beef up the ability to sustain long and draining efforts... aerobic power. At least thats the way my 46yo mitochondria thingies thinks it works

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    Quote Originally Posted by perryr

    I think base is about steady, long efforts that are depleting. You can do it in 25hrs, you can do it in 12hrs, it depends on training history, age, and the intensity at which you ride long and steady. The goal is to empty the legs, regularly and beef up the ability to sustain long and draining efforts... aerobic power. At least thats the way my 46yo mitochondria thingies thinks it works
    Do you mean 12-25hrs per wk of long, steady riding?

    [QUOTE=suvowner]

    in the first 3 weeks improvement occurs largely due to oxidative enzyme capacity increases in the mitochondria, this beginds to taper at 3 weeks, and beyond that you need to stimulate mito biogenesis, which the stimulus for this only really occurs at higher intensities where there is sufficient lactate and oxygen deprivation to activate the genetic machinery for new mitochondria formation........[Quote}

    I thought base was mostly about increasing muscle glycogen storage and that mitochondrial adaptations, increases in both number and efficiency, were not maximized until higher intensity efforts begin.

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    [QUOTE=stillhardtailing]Do you mean 12-25hrs per wk of long, steady riding?

    Quote Originally Posted by suvowner

    in the first 3 weeks improvement occurs largely due to oxidative enzyme capacity increases in the mitochondria, this beginds to taper at 3 weeks, and beyond that you need to stimulate mito biogenesis, which the stimulus for this only really occurs at higher intensities where there is sufficient lactate and oxygen deprivation to activate the genetic machinery for new mitochondria formation........[Quote}

    I thought base was mostly about increasing muscle glycogen storage and that mitochondrial adaptations, increases in both number and efficiency, were not maximized until higher intensity efforts begin.
    base will improve oxidative capacity, but not total mitochondria number.......but the oxidative capacity improvements tend to plateua after 3 weeks of base training......you will still make some gains, but not as much than of you increased the intensity.....

    the best way to increase muscle glycogen storage is to exercise near lactate threshold in a fasted, glycogen depleted state for one hour........intense exercise in the absent or deficient energy substrate state is a much more potent stimulus to increase glycogen storage than a long base ride........

    some evidence suggest well trained cyclist get no benefit at all from base training......the challenge here is how do you define base training........some believe long slow base miles actually cause type I fiber atrophy..........

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    Quote Originally Posted by stillhardtailing
    Do you mean 12-25hrs per wk of long, steady riding?
    Hey Stillhardtailing,

    I was trying to say that volume is important, but base can be done with less volume if a larger portion of that volume is dedicated to Tempo work. Ride more hrs=less Tempo, ride less hrs=more Tempo. Find the balance of volume/intensity that = regular depletion, empty legs. And it can be done without exceeding threshold power.

    This is my own experience, as I dropped base hours by about 20% last year. But I also significantly increased Tempo volume.

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    Thanks Perry,

    I'm still pretty new to the racing game and last year was the 1st time I did a proper base phase and the 1st full year utilizing a road bike. In '07 I had a hard time making a jump from Cat 2 to Cat 1 with the faster longer races.
    Last year I spent a lot of time in zone 2 during base because doing multiple 2-3 hr rides was uncharted territory for me and depleted the legs for sure.

    This year I move to 50+ age group and most of the races will be 1.5 hrs or less. So I'm also planning to reduce volume and spend more time in tempo and introduce SST sooner.

    Happy Training.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by suvowner
    in the first 3 weeks improvement occurs largely due to oxidative enzyme capacity increases in the mitochondria, this beginds to taper at 3 weeks
    Could you provide a reference for this?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by suvowner
    yes but some believe that after 2-3 weeks of base, further time spent at base would not produce as much adaptation as higher intensity riding beyond the 3 week point.......
    Higher Intensity training always results in quicker gains in form. However, continued improvement over the long term by relying on high intensity training has proven to be allusive many athletes.

    Improvement over the long term requires the development of a large aerobic base. Which is best achieve through a combination of intensity and duration. But long steady rides are an important regular part of a training program.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by perryr
    Hey Stillhardtailing,

    I was trying to say that volume is important, but base can be done with less volume if a larger portion of that volume is dedicated to Tempo work. Ride more hrs=less Tempo, ride less hrs=more Tempo. Find the balance of volume/intensity that = regular depletion, empty legs. And it can be done without exceeding threshold power.

    This is my own experience, as I dropped base hours by about 20% last year. But I also significantly increased Tempo volume.
    I think you have. Most people do not understand that an aerobic base is developed through a variety of intensities and durations.

    Never letting you heart rate brake 75% for weeks on end is going to be come ineffective fairly quickly.

    After a couple of weeks long rides should include some intensity in them. This can be achieved by riding tempo for certain lengths of time, or if you live in a hilly region ride a rolling route.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by strader
    Could you provide a reference for this?

    http://article.pubs.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/p...&startPage=428

    maximum performance for cyclist. Michael Ross MD

    1997. Effect on lactate/ventilatory thersholds:A meta-analysis. Medicine and science in sports and exercise.June
    Last edited by suvowner; 12-03-2009 at 07:02 PM.

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