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  1. #1
    LMN
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    Intervals at the right time

    Over the past couple of years I have come to the conclusion that most people are doing too much intensity work. They spend all winter doing intervals and when race season comes they are fast but then proceed to get slower as the season progresses.

    This year I decided that I was going to do no structured intensity until cross season. All year I just road, some rides were hard, others were easy but each ride had a very limited structure to it. Despite the lack of intensity my mountain bike season went well, better then it ever had by a fair margin.

    In september I introduced structured intensity. The intensity combined with the massive base I built over the year has done wonders. I am way faster then I have ever been, I am battling with guys who use to lap me in cross races.

    When you are designing you winter program try backing off on the intensity and increase the volume.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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    this.

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  3. #3
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    Amen to that.

    Sure, you start a bit slow in March, but you just keep getting faster and faster through the whole summer. That is much better than the opposite.

    The last couple of seasons I've had some good performances. The big base has really helped. This recent base training emphasis has broken the plateau for me.

    A question for you. I had a coach that gave me tons of zone 2 in the winter, but would throw in little extras in there (10s sprints for example) at 5-10 minute time intervals. Do those have a training effect?? Or is it thrown in there for mental variation?? I mean, over an hour, it's like 1 minute total sprint work.
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  4. #4
    LMN
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    Amen to that.

    Sure, you start a bit slow in March, but you just keep getting faster and faster through the whole summer. That is much better than the opposite.

    The last couple of seasons I've had some good performances. The big base has really helped. This recent base training emphasis has broken the plateau for me.

    A question for you. I had a coach that gave me tons of zone 2 in the winter, but would throw in little extras in there (10s sprints for example) at 5-10 minute time intervals. Do those have a training effect?? Or is it thrown in there for mental variation?? I mean, over an hour, it's like 1 minute total sprint work.
    I believe you should do a bit of everything year round. If you go months without sprinting then your sprinting is going to be really, really bad and is still going to suck after 4 weeks of hard work. In the winter an occasional sprint or 5-10-30 minute effort isn't a bad thing. Just don't emphasis them in the winter.

    I actually do those efforts all the time, they just aren't planned. I do a sprint to merge into traffic, a 30 minute tempo effort because the trail I want to ride is at the top of a 30 minute climb. When those efforts come as part of your ride they don't require the same mental energy.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  5. #5
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    Actually I would say "high intensity at the proper time". Doing cadence or force intervals is perfectly valid during base and will help when you get to doing high intensity anaerobic intervals.
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  6. #6
    g3h6o3
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    Also, for many people, it's easier to do structured intervals during the winter as they are on the trainer. Unstructured rides then take the relay during the season...
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  7. #7
    LMN
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil View Post
    Also, for many people, it's easier to do structured intervals during the winter as they are on the trainer. Unstructured rides then take the relay during the season...
    My experience is that those people are better off doing another aerobic acticity in the winter. I know lots of people who have done quite structured intervals in the winter on the trainer and the majority of them are fit at the start of the season and progessively get worse as the season progresses.

    You can train quite effectively in a cold climate with minimal trainer work (some is necessary).

    Honestly though you don't need to put in the huge hours in the winter. You just need to do enough to maintain a reasonable level of fitness. Start training when the conditions are right and you will be fit enough at the first race and then improve as the season progresses.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  8. #8
    lgh
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    Over the past couple of years I have come to the conclusion that most people are doing too much intensity work. They spend all winter doing intervals and when race season comes they are fast but then proceed to get slower as the season progresses.

    This year I decided that I was going to do no structured intensity until cross season. All year I just road, some rides were hard, others were easy but each ride had a very limited structure to it. Despite the lack of intensity my mountain bike season went well, better then it ever had by a fair margin.

    In september I introduced structured intensity. The intensity combined with the massive base I built over the year has done wonders. I am way faster then I have ever been, I am battling with guys who use to lap me in cross races.

    When you are designing you winter program try backing off on the intensity and increase the volume.
    That's the voice of experience speaking. It sounds like you're having more fun, too!

    Winter weight training and intervals are a recent phenomenon. Prior to the breakdown of the Eastern Bloc countries in the '80's, traditional methods required a large base volume before even beginning intervals. "The first 1000 miles on a fixed gear" was the mantra I heard repeated.

    Eddy B immigrated from Poland and was the first I recall advocating the new methods of strength training followed by power intervals followed by volume. This was also popularized (in some circles) by Dr. Steve Johnson when he ran the Human Performance Lab at the University of Utah in the '80's. Steve himself was very knowledgable and a World Champion so his methods were quickly emulated. As frequently is the case with new things, its popularized use was not necessarily preceeded with scientific verification.

    Maybe we'll see a perfect spin popularized again. Its importance doesn't seem recognized anymore. Anquetil on a bike is a thing of beauty. And it's interesting to watch the old tapes of LA versus his later years. Slugging it out as a youngster and spinning up the mountains later on. Watch his style versus Ulrich.


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  9. #9
    g3h6o3
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    My experience is that those people are better off doing another aerobic acticity in the winter. I know lots of people who have done quite structured intervals in the winter on the trainer and the majority of them are fit at the start of the season and progessively get worse as the season progresses.

    You can train quite effectively in a cold climate with minimal trainer work (some is necessary).

    Honestly though you don't need to put in the huge hours in the winter. You just need to do enough to maintain a reasonable level of fitness. Start training when the conditions are right and you will be fit enough at the first race and then improve as the season progresses.
    Yeah I'll be trying to do other sports this winter. Last year I rode a ton in the winter on the trainer and I didn't burn out or get slower as the season progressed. I pretty much plateaud honestly but more importantly I developped severe muscle imbalances. After the cycling season I could ride 6 hours straight without problem but I went for a 1 hour walk with my wife and my legs hurt as hell... Go figure!

    Anyways I started running since and I'm now up to 5.5km of trail running on lunch time or 7.5km of gravel roads and I'm not pushing to prevent injuries (Cardio can handle it, but muscle & joints need some more adaptation). We have a superb spot for snowshoe hiking right at our doorstep and I'll probably start XC skiing as well. I think being a well rounded athlete is better in the end.
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  10. #10
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    I took 3 years off the bike( almost) after 15 years of top level racing in my area. I started riding again in January 2011. I rode zone 2 (easy But long) through august. started Int. 4 weeks ago (20 sec. on 40 sec off down to 20 sec on 10 sec off) Did a MTN bike race last weekend and beat the guy who has been winning most of the Vet expert races all year by over 10 minutes and he was second. I learned the hard way years ago that a very large base in the winter will bring about great success. Lots of hard group rides and intervals in the winter will make you want to find a new sport by may.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    My experience is that those people are better off doing another aerobic acticity in the winter. I know lots of people who have done quite structured intervals in the winter on the trainer and the majority of them are fit at the start of the season and progessively get worse as the season progresses.

    You can train quite effectively in a cold climate with minimal trainer work (some is necessary).

    Honestly though you don't need to put in the huge hours in the winter. You just need to do enough to maintain a reasonable level of fitness. Start training when the conditions are right and you will be fit enough at the first race and then improve as the season progresses.
    LMN, for those of us who don't live in areas where we get enough snow to do some cross country skiing and who can actually tolerate riding the trainer/rollers for about 2 hours a few times a week through winter what would you recommend as far as base training?
    I appreciate your postings on this forum they are alwasy stimulating and good food for thought/training

  12. #12
    lgh
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Yeti View Post
    I appreciate your postings on this forum they are alwasy stimulating and good food for thought/training
    +1 on that. You have a wealth of practical experience and insightful obervations associated with your coaching (and, I'm guessing, your wife!)

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  13. #13
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    What's a good average length (in hours) for a ride while concentrating on volume (Cat 1)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails View Post
    What's a good average length (in hours) for a ride while concentrating on volume (Cat 1)?
    In the winter 80 to 90% of my hours happen on the weekends. I'll try to ride 3 to 6 hours. one day mountain bike, one day road bike and the rollers during the week no more than 45 minutes at a time. If you live in the north I have no advice on how to get long rides In because I'm not riding the trainer over an hour and I'm not riding in the snow.
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  15. #15
    LMN
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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails View Post
    What's a good average length (in hours) for a ride while concentrating on volume (Cat 1)?
    Generally I don't think rides over 4hrs are that benifical (unless you are an endurance rider). I feel after that point you get a lot of fatique just from sitting on the bike.

    As a working stiff I find the max sustainable volume I can do is about 14hrs. That may come as T-2, W-2.5, Th-2, Sa-4 and Sun-4. I have worked with a couple of elites who worked who could do more, but not by much.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  16. #16
    LMN
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Yeti View Post
    LMN, for those of us who don't live in areas where we get enough snow to do some cross country skiing and who can actually tolerate riding the trainer/rollers for about 2 hours a few times a week through winter what would you recommend as far as base training?
    I appreciate your postings on this forum they are alwasy stimulating and good food for thought/training
    Thanks you,

    I would just embrace that your hours are going to be lower in the winter. Try enter the winter fit with a good aerobic foundation, do what you can (maybe 6-8hrs) and then when the weather and daylight arrives start to build you fitness.

    Everybody takes a couple of months off/down, even those who live in climates where they can ride year round. The only difference for your off time is a bit later which means your peak will arrive a bit later in the season. Given that most people peak in late April this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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    Funny how just 1-2 years back all you had to do was grind those 20 min's all through the winter,and in spring add some long ones and you'd be ready to go. Now it's the other way round, I mean could we make up our minds please
    Tried both ways. Those 20's really broke me down mentally, by summer it was not fun going out riding anymore, felt like a working day. This year just rode and had fun, and by summer found it was very very hard to up the gear and start "training" for real = riding hard systematically. I had turned into a all terrain diesel Some kind of mix seems sensible. Like throughout the year at least one session of intervals every week...

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    I think that the aerobic base is so important. Racers should consider the number of years spent developing it, as well as the number of winter hours in a given season. As a relatively new mountain biker (almost 3 years now), my aerobic base was not good enough for my last race season. I advanced up through Cat 2 very quickly and started racing Women's Elite after only riding bikes for 2 years. I trained through the winter for my first Elite season, doing mostly intervals. When my early spring races began, I was usually last or close to it, in a field of 15-25 Elite women. I think a big part of my problem was that my two year's worth of aerobic base was miniscule next to the veterans in my class. My sprint work helped me adjust to the insanely fast Elite race starts, but I would "hit a wall" about 14 miles into each race. This year, I plan to spend a lot more time concentrating on my base. There will be very little sprint work until spring. I also think that the pure act of doing this "racing thing" for numerous years is going to help me naturally progress. I think the plan I had been following was designed for Elite level athletes who were already very close to their potential. Not such a good plan for someone who's just starting out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    As a working stiff I find the max sustainable volume I can do is about 14hrs. That may come as T-2, W-2.5, Th-2, Sa-4 and Sun-4. I have worked with a couple of elites who worked who could do more, but not by much.
    How would breaking those sessions up effect the workouts themselves... ie. for the Tuesday 2 hours it's really 2x1 hour sessions in the same day?

  20. #20
    LMN
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    Quote Originally Posted by hysteriamk2 View Post
    How would breaking those sessions up effect the workouts themselves... ie. for the Tuesday 2 hours it's really 2x1 hour sessions in the same day?
    You are going to get a similar effect if you break them up (not the same, but similar). But I think if you don't have the time to fit a single 2hr session then recognize that and do what you have time to do.

    Optimal training volume has to take everything in, work, family, recover, ect... If you are too busy to do a single 2hr session then you are probably too busy to train 2hrs. Trying to break it up will not help in the long run.

    Multiple session per-day work for pro-atheltes who recover between them. Most of us go to work and do the opposite of recovery.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    Multiple session per-day work for pro-atheltes who recover between them. Most of us go to work and do the opposite of recovery.
    I didn't know how true this is until I started my real career this year... and had a baby.... Stress kills training.

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    LMN - your posts are always good. Couldn't agree with you more. I pretty much did like you did the past two season. I probably do less volume overall, but the same kind of approach. Way less intensity than when I followed programs in the past. Felt much better overall most of the summer, way less fatigue & pretty much the same kind of results.
    One month before the race I wanted to peak for, I allowed myself two hard efforts per week to try to "sharpen the knife". It worked well, I peaked, felt really FAST/good for 2 weeks. But man, things sure dropped off after that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    I believe you should do a bit of everything year round... In the winter an occasional sprint or 5-10-30 minute effort isn't a bad thing. Just don't emphasis them in the winter
    I think this is pretty good advice. We usually do one kind of training and then switch over - long rides to interval. Mixing it up - say 2 days long rides + 1 day interval - should carry one through and then switch to 2 days interval and 1 day long ride...

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by whybotherme View Post
    this.

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  25. #25
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    Good thread lets keep it alive.

    Yeah, base is good. Totally true, I used to burn out by june and cramp up during races cuz of a weak base. In 2009 and afterwords because of these guys advice I performed a solid base plan each winter, and did the time crunched cyclist plan (lots of intervals) for 10 weeks to have be my fastest ever off of 4-6 hours a week.

    Going to expert this season so even more emphasis will be given to a strong base. I have a lot of type 2 muscle fibers so sprinting is easy for me and intervals are pretty fun as well so I still will include intervals to sharpen up with. I'm rereading mt bikers bible and structuring a plan.

    What do you guys think? If I have 8ish hours (kids self and employed not much time) per week how would I structure my time (generally)? My races in expert will be 2.5-3 hours

    Tues=1.5 Thursday=1.5 S=2 and S=3-4 This sound ok

    How long should my longest ride be?
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