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Old 05-08-11, 07:07 PM   #1
alanknm
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Training on a time budget

I never thought I'd be asking this after my second year back in the saddle and my first year back on a road bike, but here goes.

Because of work, I generally have to limit my rides during the week to one hour a day. That usually consists of a 16 mile loop with about 1100 feet of climbing.

The trouble is that once I'm done, I feel like I haven't done anything. When I have the time, I've been working on getting my time on a different 30 mile loop down to two hours or less but I still have a lot in the tank at the end and I don't feel like I've done much of anything.

This weekend was the first time I've felt like I've had a decent workout since skiing season ended, but it took 3:22, 45 miles , 2257 feet of climbing and the reason why it took longer than 3 hours was because like a dummy, I keep forgetting to eat every hour or so.

My average cadence is back up to 87-92 rpm and after looking at the data from my Garmin, I see that I'm operating at zone 4 for about 85-90% of the time.

I don't always have 3-4 hours available for what I consider a decent ride/workout.

I'm not planning on doing any racing, I just like getting back into shape and I'd like to increase my endurance for longer rides.

There are plenty of nasty little hills just in the neighbourhood with 10-15% grades. Is it time to do some reps on those ?

I'm welcome to any ideas.
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Old 05-09-11, 09:50 AM   #2
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I leave my workouts till the weekend but when in training do a couple of 20 mile rides in the evenings after work. One is hilly and takes in about 2,500 fyt of climbing. The other is flattish. The hilly ride is obvious as it does give me a workout on the 3 hills on that ride. The flat ride I do with a bit of pace and keep myself working just a bit harder than the Weekend rides. On the flat ride I also do "Interval" Traing. Pick two points- say two markers about 200 yards apart- and sprint between them. Fully recover between sprints each time before the next one is attempted. First time out you may only get in one or two sprints and you not get any more in-Ever. But the speed will go up- the HR will get a pasting and the legs will get stronger. Now if you ever get it so that the Intervals are the last 200 yards of the 20% hills on the other night- then you are ready. For what I don't know but you will be ready.

No need to do milage for training but make every mile count.
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Old 05-09-11, 10:32 AM   #3
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Of course, the amount of training you "need" depends on your ambition, but if you regularly have an hour (or 90 minutes) to ride during the week and one or two longer rides on the weekend, I think you should be able to make progress. Something like 2 rides/weekend and 3 rides/weekday, with one of those weekday rides being hill repeats should be pretty effective, I would think.

Don't ride hard every time you go out. Alternate easy and challenging days.
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Old 05-09-11, 03:24 PM   #4
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You don't say how you determine what your zone 4 is but after a 1 hour effort with 85-95% of the ride @ Z4 you should be beat up. I have done testing using power to determine my training ones. My zone 4 efforts could never last more than 1 hr and then it would be the hardest workout or race done in a very long time.

To get a harder workout completed you could hammer the hills during your 1 hr rides at a high intensity, like the hardest you can go for 2 to 4 minutes then backing off the pace to recover while riding, those type of intervals would boost your VO2 Max.
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Old 05-09-11, 04:46 PM   #5
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AJ has it right. My hour long morning training rides are following the book "The time crunched cyclist", at least that's what my riding partner who set up the routine says. Anyway we do Lactate Threshold sprints, typically 3 at 10 to 12 minutes each. After three you do feel like you have had enough. It does sound like you are just not driving hard enough.
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Old 05-09-11, 05:01 PM   #6
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Is it not true that the answer to this question depends somewhat on what one is training for? Developing endurance for longer rides is going to require some long rides isn't it?
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Old 05-09-11, 05:07 PM   #7
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Is it not true that the answer to this question depends somewhat on what one is training for? Developing endurance for longer rides is going to require some long rides isn't it?
Indeed it does. In reading the OP's post it is clear he is not talking distance training. He is just trying to get a good workout on a short ride.
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Old 05-09-11, 08:27 PM   #8
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Let me correct my posting.. All my rides show that my average HR is about 151-155 85-90+ % of the time. My approximate Max HR is about 185.

The two constants I have where I ride and where I'm going to be riding in the summer are hills, and wind. To me, flat feels wierd. Flat with no wind makes me feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone.

My primary goal at the moment is better endurance on the big steep hills. I have a related endurance problem when xc-skiing which I'll expand on later.

Endurance for longer rides, especially into the constant infernal headwinds we get around here is a secondary goal for me at the moment. Riding 45-46 miles with a few short breaks totalling less than 10 minutes left me feeling that I still had another 15 miles in my legs so a century by the end of the summer would seem to be more than reasonable.

When I do the longer steeper hills on my 1 hour loop I generally hit them pretty hard for the 2 minutes it takes to do them and my recovery has improved considerably from last year. I'm thinking that it may be time to do some reps. Since my calves are already musclebound I've been spinning up hills while keeping an eye on my cadence (I'll spin too high sometimes) and I'll rise out of the saddle when close to the top

At this point I don't need any more muscle on my legs. I've already got legs like a running back and if I start to put on any more muscle my legs will tend to tie up. Some lactate thereshold work would probably be good though. We don't have many long nasty grades here at home but there are some lovely ones (some people I know think of them as a deathwish) that I know of up north where my cottage is can make things .. ahem.. more than interesting and I'm thinking about doing some of them this summer.

At this point I suspect that the best thing for me to do is to start doing some reps on some of the nice nasty neighbourhood hills. I don't seem to have an endurance problem when it comes to long rides or with long gradual hills but I do have a problem with running out of gas on the long steep grades. I've got the same problem when I climb steep hills when xc-skiing and my HR monitor will beep all over the place. At first I thought it was a problem with technique because xc-skiing is a very technical sport but it appears that the problem is more to do with fitness. If you want to feel beat up in every part of your body, try xc-skiing at a high tempo for a couple of hours. My avg HR was about 10 beats higher and I can see some sustained parts where I was at or slightly above HR max for almost 5 minutes on some of my runs. I'm thinking that I'll have to start running up hills on alternate days in the fall to be better prepared for that.

Would doing interval sprints help with endurance with headwinds ? As a teen I always did interval sprints and it did make a difference. As I can recall I used to do two to three of them on an even shorter 10 mile loop.

The one hour workouts are doable 3-4 times and week (Monday is my rest day) and I can usually do a couple of weekend rides of about 3-4 hours so I can work on different things but that will be interrupted during the summer with kayaking (for the other half of the body). Most of that will be high cadence, shallow dip paddling for long distances (sound familiar ?).
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Old 05-09-11, 09:37 PM   #9
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Ride to and from work. Adjust distance/difficulty to suit.
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Old 05-09-11, 09:53 PM   #10
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Consider commuting by bike. It takes dead time--commuting--and turns it into training time.

Intervals are great training, and stoplight sprints during the commute are great intervals. (I race the cars--and sometimes I beat them.) Then, ride right past your house and do your usual one hour loop. Now you've not only expanded your cycling time, you're doing it twice a day, and you've added intervals.

And don't start on me with the "but I have to be presentable at work" excuses. So do I. I haven't missed a day of bicycle commuting since July 2006--and I live right across the lake from you.

My workday doesn't start until after lunch, so my workout miles are on the way to work. In the three seasons, my work week goes like this:
  • Mondays are hill days. Loaded panniers (a week's worth of work clothes, lunches, and snacks, plus library books to return) and riding a line of rolling hills to work--some seated, others standing. I'm negotiating use of a gate key to add a seminary on the top of a hill to my commute route.
  • Tuesday is my long flat loop (no panniers). It starts by heading six miles in the wrong direction from work. Then it circles around and overshoots by a couple of miles before doubling back.
  • Wednesday will be hills again, but without panniers.
  • Thursday will be long and flat again, but with panniers to bring home the laundry and more library books.
  • Every night is stoplight sprints on the direct route home. There are 20 stop signs or stoplights on that route. Whether the light is red or green, I win. If red, I get to rest. If green I get to crank.
Fridays are variable. They can be rest days, errands days or morning rides with the club. Saturday and Sundays split. One will be a rest day and the other a club ride day.
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Old 05-09-11, 10:15 PM   #11
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My commute is 0 miles.

I work remotely out of my house which is one reason why I can work out for an hour at lunchtime.

Riding to the office from my house is a 40+ mile round trip to midtown some of which are on streets where you can be sure that every driver is out to run you over.

It not only saves me a fortune in gas but it also saves me about $200 a month for parking plus a couple of hours of travel time every day.
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Old 05-09-11, 10:25 PM   #12
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Indeed it does. In reading the OP's post it is clear he is not talking distance training. He is just trying to get a good workout on a short ride.
"I'm not planning on doing any racing, I just like getting back into shape and I'd like to increase my endurance for longer rides." (italics added)
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Old 05-09-11, 10:48 PM   #13
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I swear by the Time Crunched Cyclist program (is a book by Chris Carmichael, Lance's coach). The majority of the training requires 45 to 75 mins 3 times a week plus 1 or 2 long rides on weekends (over 2 hours). That program will get you ready to race for 65 miles and not suck wind in century rides.

The program concentrates in keeping you a very high HR zones for 4 to 15 mins at a time with short rests. It has work wonders on my and I have noticed significant changes in my sustained power after completing the program.

The other suggestion I have - and this may be anathema to this forum - is to use the trainer EXTENSIVELY. One of the beauties of using the trainer (at least during the week) is that you dont really need anything other than a towel, a water bottle, shorts and shoes to get going. No planning, no bad weather - nothing stops you from getting your training in. Mine is next to my bed. I wake up early jump on the trainer and as I am spinning to warm up I figure out what is that I am supposed to do that day. Put in the 60 mins and then carry on with my day.

hope this helps,

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Old 05-10-11, 04:14 AM   #14
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"I'm not planning on doing any racing, I just like getting back into shape and I'd like to increase my endurance for longer rides." (italics added)
"I don't always have 3-4 hours available for what I consider a decent ride/workout."
"Endurance for longer rides, especially into the constant infernal headwinds we get around here is a secondary goal for me at the moment. "

It's not worth starting a flame over this.

alanknm,
I think everyone has a problem with those long steep grades. I have been working on it for the past 3 years and am finally getting it. I have limited time like you - a full time job and a busy family life. My usual week is two training rides at 6AM before work, these are 17miles and two weekend rides, one will include hill work and the other distance.

medinism (Welcome - BTW) is using the same program I have been using this spring - seems to be a good program and is working for me as well. The shorter routines will make you feel like you did something if they are done right. However you are not bone tired at the end, I still put in a full days work. I usually don't get bone tired on rides anymore but I still get a good workout.

Hill repeats are good and help hill climbing endurance. However nothing beats finding a long grade (not stupid steep) and just do it.
A 3 to 6 mile hill of 1200' to 2500' rise is what I use.
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Old 05-10-11, 04:16 AM   #15
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Yeah, do repeats of the tough hills available, and maybe buy a good set of lights and put in some additional miles at night.
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Old 05-10-11, 06:09 AM   #16
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Thanks for the feedback. I've got enough ideas to get me going for the time being.

I usually go out each time with a specific plan in mind but I've found that as I've been getting into better shape those plans are going to have to change. It seems that I've got to the point where it's time to work on more specific things while still working on the more general issue. Smoothing out the bumps so to speak.

I've thought about getting a trainer for those rainy days (thunderstorms) when I can't get out and for the winter months and since they're not that expensive, it's probably worth getting one.

One more thought that has occurred to me is for me to use an older heavier bike for the reps on the hills and intervals leaving the CF bike for the longer rides. I know that some of guys who race will use a bike that is slightly heavier (more for reliability) than their race day gear but it seems that in most cases, it's just a change of wheels. My one concern is that the extra resistance can be like lifting weights where the slow twitch muscles can get overdeveloped and the fast twitch muscles take a back seat. Any thoughts on that ? I know that if I mash my legs start building up too much muscle which actually slows me down because I can't sustain a decent cadence. The slow muscles actually start to cramp up.
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Old 05-10-11, 09:43 AM   #17
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One more thought that has occurred to me is for me to use an older heavier bike for the reps on the hills and intervals leaving the CF bike for the longer rides. I know that some of guys who race will use a bike that is slightly heavier (more for reliability) than their race day gear but it seems that in most cases, it's just a change of wheels. My one concern is that the extra resistance can be like lifting weights where the slow twitch muscles can get overdeveloped and the fast twitch muscles take a back seat. Any thoughts on that ? I know that if I mash my legs start building up too much muscle which actually slows me down because I can't sustain a decent cadence. The slow muscles actually start to cramp up.
Swapping equipment for me is typically about comfort and cost. I'd rather not put the wear on my more expensive equipment and I'd rather ride the more comfortable bike on more relaxed rides.

As far as your question, I don't have a clue - I'd be happy building muscle and dropping as much fat no matter where it is.
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Old 05-10-11, 08:28 PM   #18
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"I don't always have 3-4 hours available for what I consider a decent ride/workout."
"Endurance for longer rides, especially into the constant infernal headwinds we get around here is a secondary goal for me at the moment. "

It's not worth starting a flame over this.

...snip....
^^^Part you quote in RED ^^^^^^ was not in the original post but was posted by the original poster as a clarification after my post. Thus I could not have been responding to it, correct?

Not starting a flame I hope. We seem to agree that prep for long rides requires some long rides, which is the point I was making. I do think the original post was not all that clear.
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