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  1. #1
    LMN
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    Intervals waste of time?

    I am always changing how I train my athletes. A couple of years ago my programs had a lot of intensity in them, over the past couple of years I have been gradually decreasing the intensity and increasing the volume.

    This year I have removed most structured intensity from my programs. Other than a couple of interval sessions (of which the reps were longer in duration) and some good old fashion hard mountain bike rides there has been no intensity. Yet as race season approaches I am seeing more than one athlete do PBs in their testing. Not just a PB in a 20 minute test but a PB in a 2 minute test.

    I have observed this in the past too. It seems that most athletes that I have worked with get the biggest gains from an volume block that has minimal intensity.

    So, are the highly structured "scientific" programs necessary/beneficial, or perhaps, to quote Eddie Merkx, "ride lots" is the best way to train.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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    +1

    I think you are on to something. Lots of people think you need to run yourself into the ground with anaerobic intervals, even though the gains plateau quickly - and some people will do these year round on top of it.

    As stated in #1 in Hunter Allen article below.
    Peaks Coaching: Take Your Performance to the Next Level

    Admittedly, this off season I followed something closer #2 due to time constraints
    Preparing for first MTB race of the season

    LMN - what kind of weekly hours are you talking about? What was an example of a structured intensity workout?

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    LMN, I have enjoyed reading your comments over the past few years. The only athlete I train is myself, for the past 20 years. I too have reduced the use of intervals the last 10 months. Adding more endurance rides, setting my training heart rate using the Phil Maffetone method. The effort is very comfortable and I must say I enjoy them. I don't dread the workouts as I sometimes did with multiple days of intervals. My race results have improved, including many PRs. I read everything about training that I can find. Have you read any of Maffetone's writings? He also trained the great triathlete Mark Allen. Check out this link about how to figure the Maffetone training zone. Articles
    dm

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    The Mark Allen article seems to indicate that the gains from doing just aerobic work will plateau after a time (likely depending on how aerobically fit you already are), at which point you have reintroduce intensity work to your training.

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    And from what I've read, you wil plateau after a period of intervals, at which point you will have to reintroduce base miles again. Hopefully getting fitter each cycle. Tommyrod, what did you think of the suggested heart rate in the article ?
    dm

  6. #6
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    Well Eddy might be right, I been training 3 people on our team, one a pro junior and two masters. All three are going faster than ever. We do some intervals, but the type and quantity, goes according to if it is before the race or after the race.

    A lot of riding to recover and rest. Racing provides a lot of interval work according to the power files I seen from my junior. 60 surges of 500 watts in a 90 minute race is a lot of intesity, doing 2 or 3 races per month.

    Th plateau comes regardless of what you do, the human adapts to anything. So I belief in some shock every once in a while, either rest or a overreaching block. But thats just me.

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    For me, it's not necessarily the high end power that intervals help with, it's repeatability.

    When I was racing on the road, it wasn't my massive power that "cracked the field" when trying to get a break up the road, it was my ability to launch multiple times within a 10 minute span, get a gap once people really started hurting, and then drive a break.

    Same thing on the MTB. I probably won't get away from most people on the first 2-3min climb, but 5 climbs later, I can go again at the same intensity as the first one.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmassey View Post
    And from what I've read, you wil plateau after a period of intervals, at which point you will have to reintroduce base miles again. Hopefully getting fitter each cycle. Tommyrod, what did you think of the suggested heart rate in the article ?
    I did the math for myself and got 145 for a HR by that method. I have to admit I don't use HR during workouts usually, just power.

    I admit it is very tempting to think of only doing long rides at that HR (I do regular FTP intervals for 20-40 min at ~175 bpm iirc from when I used HR). Much less stressful

    My only concern is a practical one: with a job, wife and daughter I have 10-12 hrs per week at the very most to train. Dunno if that is sufficient volume at a lower intensity like the article prescribes. 145 bpm corresponds to mid-high zone 2 for me by power.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    I am always changing how I train my athletes. A couple of years ago my programs had a lot of intensity in them, over the past couple of years I have been gradually decreasing the intensity and increasing the volume.

    This year I have removed most structured intensity from my programs. Other than a couple of interval sessions (of which the reps were longer in duration) and some good old fashion hard mountain bike rides there has been no intensity. Yet as race season approaches I am seeing more than one athlete do PBs in their testing. Not just a PB in a 20 minute test but a PB in a 2 minute test.

    I have observed this in the past too. It seems that most athletes that I have worked with get the biggest gains from an volume block that has minimal intensity.

    So, are the highly structured "scientific" programs necessary/beneficial, or perhaps, to quote Eddie Merkx, "ride lots" is the best way to train.
    Yes and no with a caveat for both. As a full time coach with N>100 over the past 5 or so years of experience, it really all depends.

    -Yes, you can pull away intervals from the athletes who have the time to 'ride lots' and leave it unstructured. A good amount of volume dosed with some spirited group rides and racing will keep them both motivated and focused and also well rested.

    -No, in that majority athletes haven't laid down the ground work to get to that point. Introducing structure and intervals will help them achieve fitness quicker and faster than 'ride lots' For the guy/gal who started in Late winter and riding the trainer most of the time, they need the added intensity to ramp up for a spring start. As they get fitter and stronger, I will remove the intervals...

    However, you must be careful. I've seen it happen to athletes and myself personally. You remove all 'work' and ride hard group rides and races. You can fall into the trap of not pushing yourself hard enough. Races don't always traditionally see the best PB's (due to high all around intensity). Sometimes you need a good ol' isolated effort or going back to that favorite climb and pushing yourself that extra few seconds to the top.

    The Protour guys and champions who have rolled through our facility (and there have been more than a few being in Boulder, CO: the past few seasons are doing intervals and supramax efforts combined with loads of riding. Something must be working

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    Sproketjockey, when you refer to the Protour riders doing intervals and "loads of riding", is the loads of riding done at the much lower effort? Also, I read and enjoy the articles on the FastCat site. Thanks
    dm

  11. #11
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    Yes, they do a very large percentage of riding at what most people would consider a bit easy (zone 2/3). But then again, they are riding larger volume day in and day out (dependent on their race schedule of course). They are also holding consistent wattage at the end of these longer rides and accruing a pretty large training stress. Something the typical lay person has trouble doing on a 10-15 hour training schedule. Even with the lower volume training, its primarily about the training stress incurred from the rides. That is the magic fairy dust....

    One of the more common things we've been asked to do lately is for them they go ride 4-5 hours and then have someone meet them and motopace them the final hour or so at full gas. They want to pre-fatigue themselves with a large training dose and then do the work at the end. (Though this is mostly for the cream at the very top, most 'regular' pros will just grab a moto and thats all. Big difference)

  12. #12
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    Im liking what I am reading.
    This has been my approach to this XC season after an interval heavy CX season. I have had good results with both approaches, but much less fatigue with volume. Still getting some intensity in the form of fast group road rides, fast MTB rides, and obviously races on the weekends.

    its definitely more fun than intervals... And more fun is always a good thing.
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  13. #13
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    Another interesting article, this one written by Phil Maffetone. His books/articles are loaded with good info. Here's the link: Phil Maffetone, www.philmaffetone.com - 180-Formula
    dm

  14. #14
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    Intervals waste of time?

    You can get faster without intervals, bit you can't get fast. "Fast" takes practice time at high turnover and intense heart rate .... Is my experience.

  15. #15
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    When I say "Intervals waste of time" take that with a grain of salt. The athletes I am working with are still doing interval sessions, but not that many. Probably 5-10 interval sessions to date. Recently they are averaging about one a week.

    What am I talking about for volumes? Well it depends on the athlete, I am tending to look at monthly volume instead of weekly volume (I think it gives a better read of training load). The younger athletes and time constrained athletes are doing 40-55hrs. Where as some of elite athletes are peaking around 90hrs, but most are averaging around 70-80hr.

    As I said the testing results are impressive and despite doing minimal intensity the early race season results are good. Really good.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    When I say "Intervals waste of time" take that with a grain of salt. The athletes I am working with are still doing interval sessions, but not that many. Probably 5-10 interval sessions to date. Recently they are averaging about one a week.

    What am I talking about for volumes? Well it depends on the athlete, I am tending to look at monthly volume instead of weekly volume (I think it gives a better read of training load). The younger athletes and time constrained athletes are doing 40-55hrs. Where as some of elite athletes are peaking around 90hrs, but most are averaging around 70-80hr.

    As I said the testing results are impressive and despite doing minimal intensity the early race season results are good. Really good.
    I guess when you are talking about how many interval sessions your athletes have done to date, I should ask how long they have been racing this season. We start here in NC in early March...

    Is this approach working as well for your younger/volume limited athletes? I (and most others I know) have to fit training in around work, family, etc. and though I have gotten 2 or 3 14 hour weeks in this year (a huge challenge with the cold wet weather we've had), 10 or so is where I usually average out per week.

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    I find the whole proposition very interesting. After all these years of competition in all the sports, training, lab tests, studies, etc. etc. really, no one really seems to know the definite answer…

    A lot of training schedules are very, very specific (I wonder how any mountain biker can possibly do some of these programmes unless they never leave the turbo!) and to me that exactness seems rather prescriptive if the basic principles underlying them are still somewhat in doubt….

    Even in the same event (ironman Tri) you can read about the completely different training strategies of two big champions: Mark Allen (huge aerobic base, massive volume) vs. Chrissie Wellington (more high-intensity no training session over 2 hours)

    I wonder if the core idea is that we are trying to change ourselves from a machine for sitting at a desk into a machine for cycling and maybe at some fundamental level, the more time we spend simply turning the pedals, the more signals to change and adapt we give to the body as a proportion of our waking hours? Could it be that simple?

    Younger / time constrained: 40-55 hrs per month
    Elites: 70-90 hrs per month
    Doesn’t that in itself say something? I know it’s a bit chicken and egg…but (genetics aside) are they elites because they do 80 hrs or do they do 80 hrs because they are elites?
    Last edited by jimification; 05-13-2013 at 03:29 PM.

  18. #18
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    Excellent points here, but it seems to be all based on available time.

    If you're short on time (5 hours a week, for example), then zone 2-only training will not induce the training load to create improved performance.

    But most people will realize that short-hard, low volume training plans are limited. 3 months typical to a plateau.

    My best season were pretty proportional to larger training hours. A couple of good coaches really taught me how to plan those hours for better success. It seems I had to ride easier than I was, but just longer. But 15 hours per week (carefully planned heavy weeks) is all this old man can take.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprocketjockey9 View Post
    One of the more common things we've been asked to do lately is for them they go ride 4-5 hours
    I thought I was doing good if I got that many hours in a week...

  20. #20
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    Based on my experience, I felt the best the year I averaged 25 hours/week for 4 months straight. When your average ride for the year is over 70 miles doing a 3 hour race is a breeze. I wish I had the time to do those hours now, but having a job cuts into the unlimited biking time.

    With a lot less mileage, but more intervals, I do a lot better with repeated efforts at 120%+ over my threshold

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    I must be the oddity; I'm 'training' 4-8 hours per week, which makes me very time constrained (self employed, 2 small kids will do that), but I'm having success in C2 mtb after quite some time off, those races are only about an hour. I don't do proper intervals, but my training loop is a 10 minute warmup, then a 25 minute rough trail loop with 4 hard short hills (1 to 2 minutes, up to a 180-185 bpm and the highest i can ever hit is 192) and quite a few very short smaller ups and downs). 1 to 3 laps there and ride hard back home for 5 min on a slight incline, then easy 5 min cool down spin before situps/pullups/pushups and stretch, this 3-4 x per week. Like somebody said above, quick recovery from repeated hard efforts is very helpful.

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    I like this type of thread!
    I use very minimal structure in my training. In fact, I use no structure other than hard med. and easy to log my efforts (strava pulls other things out that seem to help keep intensity high if I know of a timed section). I try to ride 15 hrs a week but generally digress into an 11-13 hr week. This has been my standard for a minimum of ten years now. I have tried to implement intervals over the past 6 years and feel that I have slowly gotten worse. family and work have become increasingly more time consuming but I dont think I can use them as a legit excuse... I have time and lack drive from time to time for the hard efforts.
    This year all rides are hard. I am not doing any medium or slow stuff other than family and kid riding. I do no intervals but have hill climbs in rides that change up from 3-5-10-20-40min to 1hr. 2 hrs daily during the week and 3 plus hours riding sat sun if no races. I only have one race to judge by but it went well considering I had about 4 mechanicals that each involved about a minute of down time and trying to get by the same peeps over and over again. In the end, I was 10 off of the fastest guy and I am a SS'er. It felt good. This is the first year that I have gone away from trying to do intervals to be a fast guy in 6-7 years. I think it was more stress thinking about doing them than anything. I think that worrying about how I did my intensity took away my motivation for a great bike ride. I love riding my bike and seem to love riding in fast. I have more motivation now than I have had in a long time. I think that structured training is for some and not others. If you thrive on structure intervals probably work, if you despise structure, I think it will stress a person to the point of saying f*&k it, I'll go climbing/hiking..etc and drink beer!
    Disclaimer: all of my training ideas are from MTBR and the training bible. I have more faith in the subjective pondering than the absolute thinking, and this forum has been and is a wealth of knowledge to me. I think there are some smart folks on here.
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  23. #23
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    Intervals waste of time?

    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    This year I have removed most structured intensity from my programs. Other than a couple of interval sessions (of which the reps were longer in duration) and some good old fashion hard mountain bike rides there has been no intensity. Yet as race season approaches I am seeing more than one athlete do PBs in their testing. Not just a PB in a 20 minute test but a PB in a 2 minute test.
    Advocating Long Steady Distance over structured intensity work sounds just like a return to the training methods of the 1970s and early 1980s.

    This article about running seems quite apt and applies to cycling too: the idea that training theories go in cycles. They become popular, fall out of fashion but then after a few decades can come back into vogue again.

    http://www.scienceofrunning.com/2010...-training.html

    Another example of these cycles would be fluid intake. Go back several decades and the idea of drinking lots of fluid whilst exercising wasn't widespread at all. One bottle of cold tea would do whatever the length of ride, just drinking when thirsty.

    Then you have the shift towards drinking large quantities of fluid during exercise (the famous advice to drink before you're thirsty that everyone is familiar with nowadays), followed by a questioning of that and the idea that actually the drink when thirsty approach may be worthwhile after all.

    http://www.amazon.com/Waterlogged-Se...9916998-486342

    .

  24. #24
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    jimification: I know it’s a bit chicken and egg…but (genetics aside) are they elites because they do 80 hrs or do they do 80 hrs because they are elites?

    I assure you that they are elites because of genetics, not because of 80 hour months. Always remember that genetics determine your potential and training determines how close you get to your potential. In other words, genetics is the main factor that drives both response to training and tolerance to volume.

    But as LMN mentioned, intervals are not literally a waste. They are probably still a valuable training tool, but with large volume of training, they can be greatly reduced, even more so when racing regularly. That is how I read it.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    The younger athletes and time constrained athletes are doing 40-55hrs. Where as some of elite athletes are peaking around 90hrs, but most are averaging around 70-80hr.
    Wow, those are huge hours (I track my monthly hours in a calendar). ~50 is normal for me, but 70-80 is pretty ridiculous. I once did a 70 hour month when i wasn't working, and I got sick after that; but a few months after that won my first race ever.
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  26. #26
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    I'm lucky if I can do 20-25 hrs and then in July - August 30 hrs (teaching job - summer off). Although, as I get in better and better shape I continue to be able to increase my weekly hours when time allows because my ability to recover from longer days has improved significantly.
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    Damn qdawg, what level you racing? Those are some envious hours you are putting in. Good for you!
    If you do something often enough it tends to define you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by butryon View Post
    Damn qdawg, what level you racing? Those are some envious hours you are putting in. Good for you!
    That was 20hrs per month not per week, just in case that was lost in translation. Last year was my first year racing and I raced Cat 3, this year I upgraded to Cat 2. I'm hoping to finish middle of the pack this year. One guy signed up for the NYS series which is what I mostly focus on, probably should be racing Cat 1. He beat friends of mine at Battenkill, on of them by 12 mins and they race Cat 1. Then beat me at a hike and bike race by 40 mins.
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  29. #29
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    So we are back to Lydiard, huge base and maintance

    with some intervals, at the right time. Then race
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  30. #30
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    This is a great thread, very interesting to read everyones take on it.

    I used to think volume was most important then intensity a couple days a week.
    Volume rides =longer then your longest race. Intensity= intervals on trainer and climbing intervals. It payed off and I started doing really well.
    Moved up now I'm at work 12 hours a day 5-6 days a week and have a baby at home so it's mostly intervals and "rides" on the trainer at 3-4am before work.
    Like some other posters here, I'm lucky if I get 5 hour/week in, my races are the only real training.

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    As they said in a Chuck Norris way about Eddy Merckx, he doesn't spin or mash big gears, he spins big gears!

    If the best in the world could ride 6 hours a day at maximum effort, 7 days a week, I'm sure they would. As it's been clearly proven, you've got to be doped to the gills to do that.

    As for myself I have found that HIIT is a great temporary substitute for volume when the day job's work hours run long. I don't discount volume and love my long Zone 2 rides, but maintenance and improvement on a tighter schedule is much better than not riding at all.

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    Intervals are always important to any regimented training program in my opinion. The timing of them seems to be the key; when to incorporate them and when to back off. I like Sprocket's advice to the commoner, which is the majority of us out here; we need to push our bodies in order to force adaptation for race day.
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  33. #33
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    Intervals waste of time?

    Intervals are really effective and are a great substitute for longer rides if your schedule is fried each week.

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    I found this tabata/anaerobic interval article interesting - I stopped doing "short" anaerobic intervals after reading this and some related studies and focused on longer intervals - at least 10 min - my race results have been for the better

    "the running coach Arthur Lydiard made this observation half a century ago; after months of base training, he found that only 3 weeks of interval work were necessary to sharpen his athletes. More than that was neither necessary nor desirable. Other studies using cycling have found similar results: intervals improve certain parameters of athletic performance for about 3 weeks or 6 sessions and then they stop having any further benefit."

    Effects of Moderate-Intensity Endurance and High-Intensity Intermitten Training on Anaerobic Capacity and VO2 Max - Research Review | BodyRecomposition - The Home of Lyle McDonald

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    Another thing I was thinking about was energy expenditure. Doing a short interval session or super hard short ride is intense and really hurts, but not much energy is really expended.

    Energy = Power * time

    If you rode a full hour at threshold power (which is very, very difficult) then the energy would be:

    E = 250W * 1 hour = 250 units of energy (assuming a 250W threshold)

    If you rode say two hours at Zone 2, which is about 160W for a 250W threshold, then:

    Energy = 160W * 2hours = 320 units of energy

    More energy in a much easier ride. Easier mentally and doesn't induce the same muscle damage.

    I wonder if energy expenditure is the magic variable in these longer easier rides?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    Another thing I was thinking about was energy expenditure. Doing a short interval session or super hard short ride is intense and really hurts, but not much energy is really expended.

    Energy = Power * time

    If you rode a full hour at threshold power (which is very, very difficult) then the energy would be:

    E = 250W * 1 hour = 250 units of energy (assuming a 250W threshold)

    If you rode say two hours at Zone 2, which is about 160W for a 250W threshold, then:

    Energy = 160W * 2hours = 320 units of energy

    More energy in a much easier ride. Easier mentally and doesn't induce the same muscle damage.

    I wonder if energy expenditure is the magic variable in these longer easier rides?
    This is why many coaches have their clients track kilojoule (energy) expenditure.

    I have a good friend who is a domestic road pro; on many of his rides his coach just gives him a kilojoule target and allows him the freedom to accomplish it in however much time it takes. It's usually a 4-ish hour ride that does it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyrod74 View Post
    This is why many coaches have their clients track kilojoule (energy) expenditure.

    I have a good friend who is a domestic road pro; on many of his rides his coach just gives him a kilojoule target and allows him the freedom to accomplish it in however much time it takes. It's usually a 4-ish hour ride that does it.
    On Sunday I did a 4-hour zone 2 trying to stay within 150-200W, even over a couple of mountain passes. Last hour still wasn't too bad ending with a final big climb (200-220W at 51 rpm average), but i couldn't believe how wrecked I was next day even though it was such an enjoyable ride. But it seems the muscle damage induced is still less than a 4X15' threshold session (which is not an enjoyable ride, due to intensity and logistics).

    But like the pro friend your talking about, riders should eventually get used to those loads, while reaping all the rewards of the adaptations happening during those big hours.

    Coggan Power Zones - Power Training Levels by Andrew Coggan | TrainingPeaks
    I've also wondered when looking at Table 2, on the row "increased lactate threshold" (for example) Zone 2 has 2 check marks, and Zone 4 has 4 check marks.

    I believe there is a time dependent equalization there. Another words, 3-4 hours of Zone 2 has as much benefit to lactate threshold as 40 minutes at Zone 4. The advantage of Zone 2 being sustainable frequent training due to less required recovery.
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    Ponch - I use the TSS to judge my load between different types of rides. The only time I feel wreaked from a long duration at low intensity vs a high intensity ride at the same TSS is when I don't eat enough on the ride.

    So I think your looking for Dr Coggan's Train Stress Score (TSS).

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    Quote Originally Posted by mooddude View Post

    So I think your looking for Dr Coggan's Train Stress Score (TSS).
    Initially I thought TSS and KJs would work similar for rides with flat power output. But there are two factors that are different in the TSS formula: Normalized Power consideration, and the squaring factor.

    If IF = NP/FTP, then

    TSS = (sec x NP x IF)/(FTP x 3600) x 100 = t (NP^2/FTP^2) * 100.

    Where t = hours ridden


    Ride # 1:
    Ride 1 hour at FTP. With flat power output NP should be very close to average power.

    TSS = 1 (250^2/250^2) * 100 = 100

    By definition, 100 TSS is 1 hour at FTP. So that checks out.



    Ride #2:
    Ride 2 hours at Zone 2 = 160W, with flat power output (NP very close to AP)

    TSS = 2 (160^2/250^2) *100 = 82


    So 1 hour at FTP has higher TSS than 2 hours at Zone 2. The whole point of TSS was to better capture how a ride actually feels. To reach a TSS of 100 in Zone 2, you'd have to ride 2.44 hours. You know, that feels about right.

    Therefore TSS would be a better metric to use especially if you're doing group rides, races, and mtb rides (NP much different than AP) as part of your training load.
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  40. #40
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    When I was racing Masters 35+ road, I did alright with interval-heavy training - 5th in Snowbird, top 10 in National Capital Open (now defunk), top 4 in State Time Trials, etc. I could beat some of those doing 25% more volume but my friends who made top ten at Nats were doing upwards of 40% more volume. I realized the barrier, for me, was volume. I concluded that the intervals help get you to a certain level but they won't take you to the top. I think there are reasons for that which go beyond just grinding out hours but that is a different subject.

    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by lgh View Post
    When I was racing Masters 35+ road, I did alright with interval-heavy training - 5th in Snowbird, top 10 in National Capital Open (now defunk), top 4 in State Time Trials, etc. I could beat some of those doing 25% more volume but my friends who made top ten at Nats were doing upwards of 40% more volume. I realized the barrier, for me, was volume. I concluded that the intervals help get you to a certain level but they won't take you to the top. I think there are reasons for that which go beyond just grinding out hours but that is a different subject.

    Larry
    Larry

    What is your idea of intervals? Sample week?

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    Typical program beginning in March (more or less): Sprint intervals once a week. 1:1 2-5 minute intervals once a week. Weekend racing or extended intervals of anywhere from 5-20 minutes. Variable rest on the weekend intervals. The intervals were modified quite a bit to ramp up to State TT in June but still were 3 times per week. 1-2 rest days/week. Training as measured in distance might be 150-175 miles/week. National level guys were 250/week at the Masters level.

    Winter training began with 12 weeks of resistance training in the gym with some lower volume intervals.

    None of it was fun!

    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    On Sunday I did a 4-hour zone 2 trying to stay within 150-200W, even over a couple of mountain passes. Last hour still wasn't too bad ending with a final big climb (200-220W at 51 rpm average), but i couldn't believe how wrecked I was next day even though it was such an enjoyable ride. But it seems the muscle damage induced is still less than a 4X15' threshold session (which is not an enjoyable ride, due to intensity and logistics).

    But like the pro friend your talking about, riders should eventually get used to those loads, while reaping all the rewards of the adaptations happening during those big hours.

    Coggan Power Zones - Power Training Levels by Andrew Coggan | TrainingPeaks
    I've also wondered when looking at Table 2, on the row "increased lactate threshold" (for example) Zone 2 has 2 check marks, and Zone 4 has 4 check marks.

    I believe there is a time dependent equalization there. Another words, 3-4 hours of Zone 2 has as much benefit to lactate threshold as 40 minutes at Zone 4. The advantage of Zone 2 being sustainable frequent training due to less required recovery.
    It's all shades of grey and one should adress his specific needs using a wide range of intensities, both specific and general. Most people hammer out the Z3-Z4 (Coggan levels) during most part of their season because they are time constrained. Training Z2-Z3-Z4, below FTP, is actually training the same energy system and is a tradeoff between duration and intensity. People should be aware that one long Z2 ride a week wont do it for optimal adaptations. Long rides need both duration AND frequency. Think a 2 weeks training camp riding mostly Z2 for 4-6h a day with a few recovery days.

    Long rides and intervals are NOT the same thing. The cell signaling pathways to adaptations are not the same, therefore, it is interesting to use both approach to build one's aerobic engine.

    I myself have built my fitness during the winter months here in Canada, exclusively on the trainer. I did LOTS of micro intervals at 150%+ of FTP (low total volume) and LOTS of Z5 intervals, mostly 4 and 5 minutes at 110% of FTP. I have seen the best gains from the lat 3 years of training. I still did Z4 efforts and Z3 efforts but I was far from living on a sweet spot diet.

    For those who like mtb training, here is my blog, on which you can find a few article about long rides, intervals and nutrition. Cycling training nuts

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    What do other people do to get their intensity in for training if they don't do intervals? Sweet spot stuff seems to build a plateau for me...I am getting faster but stuck.
    I like the kilojoule idea.
    If you do something often enough it tends to define you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by butryon View Post
    What do other people do to get their intensity in for training if they don't do intervals? Sweet spot stuff seems to build a plateau for me...I am getting faster but stuck.
    I like the kilojoule idea.
    Getting faster...but stuck? It does take time

    Increase weekly hours/length of SST/L4 intervals.

    See #2 below
    Peaks Coaching: Take Your Performance to the Next Level

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    Thats a good read. I do not understand "a rest day between each training day", idea? That would take my during the week hours down a lot! I suppose you are getting that time back by doing the 5-6 hr rides three days a month. hmm, something to ponder.Thanks. I do not think I can swing 5-6 hr rides three weekends a month just cuz of life stuff. I do get 3-4 hrs back to back on the weekends.
    If you do something often enough it tends to define you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by butryon View Post
    Thats a good read. I do not understand "a rest day between each training day", idea? That would take my during the week hours down a lot! I suppose you are getting that time back by doing the 5-6 hr rides three days a month. hmm, something to ponder.Thanks. I do not think I can swing 5-6 hr rides three weekends a month just cuz of life stuff. I do get 3-4 hrs back to back on the weekends.
    'Quality' over 'quantity'? Except for long rides?

    All my rides are SST/L4 efforts. My longest are 2 hrs. Just following #2, #3 &#4 in article did a lot for my performance this last off season

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    Quote Originally Posted by butryon View Post
    Thats a good read. I do not understand "a rest day between each training day", idea? That would take my during the week hours down a lot! I suppose you are getting that time back by doing the 5-6 hr rides three days a month. hmm, something to ponder.Thanks. I do not think I can swing 5-6 hr rides three weekends a month just cuz of life stuff. I do get 3-4 hrs back to back on the weekends.
    When I read what Hunter wrote, it states that if you can't maintain the effort for the interval - than stop, ride home and take a rest day. Therefore if you can maintain 2, 3, or 4 days of hard effort before a rest day or recovery ride - than do it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by butryon View Post
    What do other people do to get their intensity in for training if they don't do intervals? Sweet spot stuff seems to build a plateau for me...I am getting faster but stuck.
    I like the kilojoule idea.
    The whole point of training is to get faster - so if you are getting faster than you aren't stuck yet!

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    I wouldn't say you should not do interval training.

    Endurance rides (long distance, steady cadence) will help increase the strength of slow twitch muscles (Type I). This will increase the rider's ability to ride and pedal longer.

    "Strength / balls-out rides (short runs, "sprints") will help increase the strength of fast twitch muscles (Type II). This will help with finish line sprints, bypassing other riders, "sprinting" uphill, or even situation in where you have the fight (ie: brake) or flight (speed up) situations involving automobiles / traffic. The more you train these muscle fibers, the harder/stronger you can push before going out of endo.

    Of course, there is also other muscle groups that need to be trained other than your legs. If after the rider plateau's after bike interval training, move to other muscle groups as well. You won't see a huge performance increase, but it will keep the rider both healthy, active, and not "bottom out".

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