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Thread: Base Miles

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    Senior Member poperszky's Avatar
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    Base Miles

    Ok, all the articles I read tell me I need to increase my base miles, but are then vague about what base miles are and how to increase them.

    Can I get some some sage advice from this group of graybeards about where these figure into my overall training scheme? I would have asked this on 41, but I am 55, just coming off of a TKR and tired to being told to HTFU by a bunch of 20 year olds.

    I bought a new Defy just before surgery and my goals for this year are respectively a 70 mile commute once a week, and a century. Oh and I want to lose weight was well

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    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Depends on many things.
    Where you ride. What do you weight.

    200 miles a week for me.
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    Old, SLOW bike rider! ;)
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    I guess I'd be interested in finding out what "base miles" are too??? I just ride as much and as often as I can, long, short it don't matter, just ride! YMMV.
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    poperszky, This could be a very long winded answer so I'll start off and others will add to and or disagree.

    I consider base mileage what you can reasonably ride during the work week and one day on the weekend. I prefer a staggered system like 10 miles M, W & F and 20 miles Tu & Th and at least three hours of saddle time on the weekend. The two 20 mile days should include some interval training while the 10 mile days can include some mashing and spinning.

    Brad
    Last edited by bradtx; 01-11-11 at 08:20 AM.

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    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    Base miles are usually associated with those training for competition or to get into condition for specific events, i.e. a double century. Simply put "base miles" are miles/time spent riding at a level that is easier or at less effort than the usual ride and at a longer duration. It allows the body to reset from the previous season and to increase the aerobic capacity of the body's system for when added stresses are introduced later and to increase it's ability to burn stored fuel (fat) as well as fuel consumed during the ride. As the season progresses and the rider needs to begin riding faster and harder, Z5 intervals, LT intervals are added along with increasingly longer Z3 rides. The actual training time will decrease as the intensity ramps up. The time in the saddle during the base miles phase allows the rider to put stresses on the system, later on, without breaking down due to not having the aerobic staying ability.
    Last edited by Allegheny Jet; 01-11-11 at 08:36 AM.
    oldschool areodynamic brick

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    Senior Member poperszky's Avatar
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    Let me say first off, I am new to the Road scene. Last year because of a failing knee bicycling became my main form of exercise. Because of a personality flaw, because I was doing it, I needed to do it well. So, my using my Specialized Expedition (Comfort/Hybrid) I set out to increase my leg strength and to learn concepts that revolved around things like maintaining optimum cadences and using my gears properly. I run the same course three times a week, so using my Garmin 405 CX I was able to really track my progress. The funny thing was that I showed steady progress for the first half of the summer, yet I seemed to peak about mid way and then lose some strength from the high point and never get back to that peak. Most of my riding was under an hour and extremely high intensity (Another personality flaw), so as I get ready for this season with a new knee and a new bike, I want to extend the time in the saddle (aka Base Miles).

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    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    From a training perspective, base miles are those where the effort is sufficient to work your aerobic system, but not higher than that. It defines 'effort', rather than 'volume'. From a heart rate perspective, base miles are done in zones 1-3, mostly in zone 2. It is generally considered beneficial to do as many of them as you can. The more volume the better, and a solid foundation of base miles is considered a prerequisite to harder training. It establishes a fitness 'floor', that harder training then builds on. The higher your floor, the higher the more intensive training can take you.

    If you aren't using a heart rate monitor, you can just use your perceived effort. You want to feel like you are working, but that you could keep the pace going almost indefinitely.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

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    Senior Member poperszky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    From a heart rate perspective, base miles are done in zones 1-3, mostly in zone 2.
    If you aren't using a heart rate monitor, you can just use your perceived effort. You want to feel like you are working, but that you could keep the pace going almost indefinitely.
    Cool, based on this definition the warm up and cool down periods of my rides are my base miles because the rest of the time is spent in zones 4 and 5. And yes, I do have a HRM, fact is I have a hard time exercising without it, because my mind the exercise "doesn't count" because I can't upload it.

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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    As others have indicated, base miles are miles that are easier. The actual amount you need/want depend on your current fitness and your goals. For example, I ride all year round including commuting several days a week. Yet, I know that by winter's end, my fitness has suffered from not riding as hard or as long as I would in summer months. So, when spring arrives, I've used one of two methods to determine base miles. The first, is the use of a heart rate monitor. I keep in zones one of two with only a very occasional leap above that. I generally set an arbitrary limit of 500 miles at this pace. (After the first 100 to 150 miles I want to start pushing it. So, my impatience usually results in me riding more miles per day, just to reach the 500 mile goal quicker.) The second way I've dealt with base miles is to fore go the computer and heart rate monitor and simply spin within a range of three low gears for three weeks. Since I don't race and I'm usually not training for any early season event, my approach is simply done to avoid injury and/or over training. So, in determining your definition of base miles, you really do need to think about what your goals are. My approach would most certainly not work for some of our members like Allegheny Jet, Hermes, Cleave, and others.
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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    I like to think of base miles as the foundation of building a pyramid. So if one wants to use the term "base", it follows that there is some other types of miles added on to the top of the base. If you want a tall pyramid, then one has to have a big base. Hence in cycling it follows that cyclists ride long miles to build a base of endurance that will serve as a foundation upon which to add harder efforts. The human limit to this is duration. One cannot do long efforts at low intensity while simultaneously, doing hard efforts. The result would be over training, injury and slower progress.

    Over the years, cyclists break down the training in to times of the year and put in the base mileage first. They segue way to higher intensity as the season progresses putting harder efforts closer to events.

    If one has no special events then just ride a lot and forget about base mileage and etc. The key to successful training is not to do too much before there is a foundation which is used as much for recovery as it is for power production. If you ride a lot and have a special event you want to do, then add some intensity to peak up for the event.

    If the goal is to build the biggest engine for a special event then there has to be a programatic approach with each level of intensity managed to optimize performance.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poperszky View Post
    Cool, based on this definition the warm up and cool down periods of my rides are my base miles because the rest of the time is spent in zones 4 and 5. And yes, I do have a HRM, fact is I have a hard time exercising without it, because my mind the exercise "doesn't count" because I can't upload it.
    From what I understand, if you push yourself into the higher zones and then back off, the miles after you pushed yourself aren't the same as the ones before you pushed yourself. You've pushed your systems into a different mode, and backing off will not immediately get them back into the mode you are trying to train with base miles. My coach uses the metaphor of a dimmer switch. As you push yourself, you gradually start stressing the other systems. The light slowly grows brighter. When you back off, things slowly revert back. The light slowly goes dimmer. That is why I am prohibited from going into zone 4 for my current base building period, particularly on shorter rides of 90 minutes or less. Given my lack of a solid base (I'm a newbie who pushed too hard in the past), she wants lots and lots of base without kicking my system up into the higher intensity modes. After a few weeks of this, we are finally starting to add in some higher intensity training. I get an 'hour of power' where I can chase people, before going off on my own and getting back into z2-3. My coach is also a real believer in long rides. In her book, one 4 hour ride is far preferable to several shorter rides. She keeps me backed off enough so that one long weekend ride can be done with a good solid fresh effort. She wants quality miles.
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  12. #12
    Senior Member poperszky's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the input, it will definitely affect how I ride this season. I am going to have a good opportunity to practice z2-3 riding as I break in this new knee and I guess the stationary bike is a good place to start since I don't have a trainer.


    Terry

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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    From what I understand, if you push yourself into the higher zones and then back off, the miles after you pushed yourself aren't the same as the ones before you pushed yourself. You've pushed your systems into a different mode, and backing off will not immediately get them back into the mode you are trying to train with base miles. My coach uses the metaphor of a dimmer switch. As you push yourself, you gradually start stressing the other systems. The light slowly grows brighter. When you back off, things slowly revert back. The light slowly goes dimmer. That is why I am prohibited from going into zone 4 for my current base building period, particularly on shorter rides of 90 minutes or less. Given my lack of a solid base (I'm a newbie who pushed too hard in the past), she wants lots and lots of base without kicking my system up into the higher intensity modes. After a few weeks of this, we are finally starting to add in some higher intensity training. I get an 'hour of power' where I can chase people, before going off on my own and getting back into z2-3. My coach is also a real believer in long rides. In her book, one 4 hour ride is far preferable to several shorter rides. She keeps me backed off enough so that one long weekend ride can be done with a good solid fresh effort. She wants quality miles.
    I am not sure if Coggan would agree completely with the part about z4 triggering extended response. And this now gets into the discussion of how many angels can stand on the head of a pin. FTP is defined as the most power one can sustain for one hour. In the WKO Training Peaks software and in the book, Coggan discusses the difference between normalized power and average power.

    So if your FTP is 200 watts (z4) and you sustain 200 watts for one hour then the normalized power = average power. If during the ride, the power sometimes goes into z5 and z3 to average out 200 Watts, the average power will be 200 watts and the normalized power will be higher. Coggan has an equation in the software to take into account excursions into z5 as adding more stress to the body. Hence normalized power is higher and the TSS or training stress score is increased.

    I am sure SWMBO knows this. She probably told you the dimmer story to keep you focused on z2/z3 since you really do not know what your z4 really is. For rookies, it is better to go easier than harder.

    Once your power meter arrives and since you now have a coach, you are now a professional cyclist. It is not going to get any easier than it is right now. Enjoy it. This is like being in school and one cannot wait to get out and start working. Stay in school.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    I'm confused. I figure my base miles are my Long Steady Distance rides (LSD). But LSD is acid. How can base = acid?
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    I'm confused. I figure my base miles are my Long Steady Distance rides (LSD). But LSD is acid. How can base = acid?
    That is a mid-Georgia phenomena. Ride lots.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    When you folks are talking about HR zones, what system are you using? Is it the basic 60% - 70% - 80% - 90%, or something different? It always seemed to me that breaking it down that way was a little too handy, sort of like the 220 - age = max HR formula.

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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerlenbach View Post
    When you folks are talking about HR zones, what system are you using? Is it the basic 60% - 70% - 80% - 90%, or something different? It always seemed to me that breaking it down that way was a little too handy, sort of like the 220 - age = max HR formula.
    To quote Bill Murray in Ghost Busters.... it's technical. I use field tested threshold power or heart rate and set zones based upon that. There are serval popular guys who publish zones based upon threshold. Google Friel, Coggan or just heart rate zones.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerlenbach View Post
    When you folks are talking about HR zones, what system are you using? Is it the basic 60% - 70% - 80% - 90%, or something different? It always seemed to me that breaking it down that way was a little too handy, sort of like the 220 - age = max HR formula.
    Kurt,

    This will get you close. All you need to do is determine what your average HR is for a hard 20 minute effort. I compared it to my zones which are based on Friel's and it is very close. http://nencycling.org/wiki/heart_rate_zone_calculator
    oldschool areodynamic brick

  19. #19
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    poperszky--It sounds like you're looking for a plan that would allow you to ride longer distances--like the metric and century. It is generally a good idea to increase the number of miles you can comfortably ride over time and get to a point where you can do about 70-80% of the ultimate distance goal. Basically you need to ride a little easier than what you've been doing to build up to the longer distances. Along the way throw in some shorter distances with higher intensity workouts--just ride faster/harder for short stretches. You should see overall improvement in stamina and also strength and power over time.

    Have fun on your first of many bikes to come!!
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  20. #20
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jppe View Post
    poperszky--It sounds like you're looking for a plan that would allow you to ride longer distances--like the metric and century. It is generally a good idea to increase the number of miles you can comfortably ride over time and get to a point where you can do about 70-80% of the ultimate distance goal. Basically you need to ride a little easier than what you've been doing to build up to the longer distances. Along the way throw in some shorter distances with higher intensity workouts--just ride faster/harder for short stretches. You should see overall improvement in stamina and also strength and power over time.

    Have fun on your first of many bikes to come!!
    This is exactly what works for me. A century is my longest ride during the year so a Metric is what I shoot for on a regular basis. During the early season I am building endurance so that that metric is comfortable, I am not going after a hard effort, just a sustained effort. I start the cycling season in mid March and my first metric is usually in early May. All the time I am going longer but at a steady but not fast pace. Once I do that fist Metric I start adding sprints. My first metric is usually done at an average speed of 15mph but by the time June comes around that that average is up to 17Mph and I have done my first century. Then the fun begins, speed and strength improve, long climbs go from torture to tolerable. That stretch from the start of the season to Mid May is what I would call base building.
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