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  1. #1
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    Interval confusion

    Last season was my first season racing. Loved it and I'm excited for next race season! I'm trying to develop a somewhat structured training program and am trying to figure out this whole interval training thing. After researching on the internet I have found different intervals for VO2 max, lactate threshold, strength, endurance, speed, power etc....... So, I want to improve all of that. All of the intervals I have seen are basically the same workouts. It seems to me that simply doing any interval training will improve all aspects of cycling performance. Am I correct on this?? It is a little confusing with so many different workouts out there.

    Also, I have read that cyclists reach their "peak" performance once a year. Should I even be concerned with intense training right now or only working on base miles being that it is only January? The trainer gets real old after about an hour so, so I prefer shorter, more intense workouts.

    Thanks for reading! I greatly appreciate any help or advice you have:-)

  2. #2
    pk1
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    hmm, big topic there - probably best advice would be to get a good book, most common one is Joel Friel's training bible.

    to cut a long story short, if you're just getting into it don't worry too much about all these terms - they're really not separate things, just arbitrary points along the endurance/intensity continuum. (except perhaps threshold which has some specific meaning but is much the same in application)

    so most interval prescriptions you see will just vary on length with the training effect being fairly obviously related - if you want to go short and hard then train short and hard, if you want more endurance then train longer. in reality as you say you want everything, so do a bit of everything. standard plan would be to gradually increase the intensity/reduce the duration as you get closer to your peak goals

    the exception to this is strength - strength intervals will typically focus on low cadence for moderate durations or weights work

    in off season/base you might not do many intervals at all - much of your training could just be go for as long as you've got, as hard as you can maintain for that time. so an hour on the trainer as hard as you can sustain for an hour or several hours out on the bike at reasonably easy pace as and when the weather and time commitments allow.

    oh and you can peak more than once a year - general principle is you can be good all year, great a few times a year, or exceptional once a year - all up to how you structure your training and what goals you have

    most of all my advice would be just get into it. if you want to get real serious you will need to do a lot of research and work out what works for you and who you should listen to (possibly not me!)

    hope that helps

  3. #3
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    If you are in the off season, weight training and other forms of cross training along with base miles and having fun should be a priority. There is plenty of time for interval training in the spring and summer. You'll be toast by early summer if you are doing a ton of intervals at this time of year.

    Keep a training log if you aren't already and train with a heart rate monitor. Read some literature, Joel Friel's book was mentioned and is a good start. If you are lucky, hook up with some other riders in the area and train with them. Riding with some Cat 1 through 3 roadies will fast track your fitness.

    You can hold a high level of racing fitness for a relativey long time (several months) but a true peak takes knowing your body. If you are training hard and smart (which means knowing when to rest) then even at off-peak, you'll still be able to hold good condition. When you are full of enthusiasm and low on experience, burn out/overtraining is a bigger risk than not doing enough.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtblucas View Post
    All of the intervals I have seen are basically the same workouts. It seems to me that simply doing any interval training will improve all aspects of cycling performance. Am I correct on this??
    There's a lot of different intervals at different intensities and recommended durations:
    Tempo (up to 2 hours), SST (up to 1 hour), Threshold (intervals of 10-30min), VO2max (int of 3-6 min), AC (int of 1-2min), and sprint (int of 10-20s).
    Tempo, SST, and Threshold occur in mid and latter base (and sometimes throughout build).
    The shorter intervals are integrated into the plan for a couple of months before a peak.
    Sprints I usually do all year round though.

    Just keep in mind that zone 2 aerobic is the meat and potatoes of cycle training. Intervals are just thrown in there to make those small gains, but should be thrown in consistently and progressively.

    Quote Originally Posted by mtblucas View Post
    Also, I have read that cyclists reach their "peak" performance once a year. Should I even be concerned with intense training right now or only working on base miles being that it is only January? The trainer gets real old after about an hour so, so I prefer shorter, more intense workouts.
    Two peaks a year is more typical. I usually plan for one in early May, and late July. But have to start good-volume base in December to do that.

    Base typically takes place in the winter. If the trainer really sucks for you, then you can also just plan for a later peak. Start training proper base in March (large volume) and just plan to peak in late July/August.

    I'm starting base late this year to peak for late fall cyclocross. The training schedule I like to do I can historically hold for 9 months or so max, so for me, starting too early can lead to poor performance from mental burnout.
    Last edited by Poncharelli; 01-14-2013 at 11:49 AM.
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