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Old 06-11-12, 01:36 PM   #1
Yen
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Building aerobic base

I would like to work on building my aerobic base by doing some long (40, 50, 60) endurance rides at a slower pace -- MY pace, not trying to keep up (or catch up) with our group. I'll call it my Endurance Aerobic Base-Building Ride, and I'll invite other group members to join me if they wish.

I ride primarily with our group because I enjoy the camaraderie and I don't enjoy long solo rides . However, many of them are stronger with a solid aerobic base and many more miles in the saddle. I'm still playing catch-up since I was off the bike all last year waiting for bi-lateral tennis elbow to heal. I've ridden 1000+ miles so far since late January and completed three (unorganized) 60+ miles and a half-century last weekend. I do OK but the second half of the ride is a struggle for me to keep up and my HR stays in the higher zones. After those rides, my slow resting HR doesn't recover until during the night, but I'm usually like new the next morning. After a tough climb, my HR drops quickly; recently I've seen it drop 30 beats in 20-30 seconds. My fitness is improving but I fear I'm taking things too quickly and putting the cart before the horse.

So, I want to do some long slow flat rides to work on my aerobic endurance, and increase the pace over the coming weeks. An article on aerobic base training at Active.com mentions keeping the HR between 61-80% of max HR.

Does anyone have any suggestions, or anything to share from experience or the current thinking on the HR zones for aerobic base training, esp. in the 50+ group? I am aiming for two events later this year (72 flat miles, and a hilly metric) and want to do well and finish strong. I don't race but I like going fast and doing hills; keeping my pace down will be a challenge.
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Old 06-11-12, 01:58 PM   #2
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Yes. I train with HR and most of my training is extensive, rather than intensive. I find I need high-volume, low-intensive work before I can handle the fast stuff.

But you'll need to increase the amount of time you spend on the bike. One thousand miles since late January really isn't very much, if you're to get the benefits of low-intensity training you need to do more than that. I'd suggest long rides at Z2 HR. in my case that means I'd be trying to ride for three or four hours with my HR between 105 and 129. I'd also do a shorter ride, maybe an hour or ninety minutes, at tempo - HR 130 to 145 for me, but you might want to save this until you have got some more miles in at the lower level.

Obviously your HR numbers will be different from mine. My max HR is about 186, but the more useful number is my lactate threshold HR, which is 156. There's a sticky in the training and nutrition forum that explains how to derive your LTHR.
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Old 06-11-12, 03:08 PM   #3
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You want to be in zones 2-3, and as Chasm has said, mostly z2 given where you are training wise. I've had my Lactate Threshold determined by metabolic testing, and for me those zones look like this:

z2: 95-101% of LT; 72-77% of MHR
z3: 102-107% of LT; 78-81% of MHR

The Max HR I use is the highest number I've ever recorded, which I haven't hit in quite some time. The zones I use are from the Australian Institute of Sport, which has done a lot of research in the area and is widely respected. Other zones (like Joe Friel's, which are widely used) differ.
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Old 06-11-12, 04:15 PM   #4
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Thank you. There are many resources out there but even the best of them conflict, and new studies can be even more conflicting; it's hard to know what's most accurate.

The highest HR I've seen in my monitor is 187; that was 1-1/2 years ago at the top of a difficult climb. My HR now at the top of the same climb is more than 10 beats lower, so I am improving. I don't know my aerobic threshold and would like to perform the test described in the sticky in the Training and Nutrition forum. Are the zones in that article a % of MHR? I would assume so since I can't estimate % of LTHR without performing the test for it.
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Old 06-11-12, 04:46 PM   #5
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I agree with most everything said so far- but assuming you don't have unlimited time for a lot of really long rides, try to do a lot of 2 to 3 hour rides, mostly in zone 2 as others have said. Add a longer ride every couple weeks, as best you can. This has worked for me to prepare for multi-day rides averaging 60+ miles/day.

I agree that really long slow rides alone can get pretty boring.
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Old 06-11-12, 06:03 PM   #6
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Thanks for that suggestion, it gives me an idea where I can use the gym AND study at the same time on days when we don't have a group ride or the temps are blazing hot. I can do 30-60 minutes on a stationery bike (I know, but it has its merits), followed by a 1-hour spin class, followed by 30-60 more minutes on a bike --- all done mostly in zone 2.

In calculating this year's mileage (since the end of January), I forgot to include numerous spin classes.
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Old 06-11-12, 06:24 PM   #7
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What AzT alluded to is that high z2/low z3 riding produces the biggest gains in aerobic fitness. Below that you're looking at more endurance adaptation. Above that and you start flirting with anaerobic capacity.

The problem with heart rate is there are a lot of factors, internal and external, that can throw off your actual watts:Hrate ratio. The best perceived exertion metric I've found is if you're in this zone, you should be able to just hold a conversation. Launch into a long monologue about your vacation or new bike and you should be shutting up fairly quickly.

You're on the right track doing this at your pace. It's difficult to find people who are both at your same level of fitness and who have the discipline to hold to a plan, and it can be counter productive at times to get sucked into other people's pace.
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Old 06-11-12, 07:14 PM   #8
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I agree that really long slow rides alone can get pretty boring.
Dude, that's the only way I can go.

I dunno, I've been using the HRM as much to gather information as for dictating the pace of my rides. The most useful thing I've found is that most of the time I'm not dogging it. When I get tuckered out it's because I've spend too much time in Z3-4. Unfortunately, all the interesting rides are out in da boonies, and hills there are just the way it is.

I'm guessing not to make it too scientific. As BD says, ride lots.
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Old 06-11-12, 08:01 PM   #9
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....snip...

In calculating this year's mileage (since the end of January), I forgot to include numerous spin classes.
Uh oh...Here we go!
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Old 06-12-12, 12:08 AM   #10
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*I don't know my aerobic threshold and would like to perform the test described in the sticky in the Training and Nutrition forum. Are the zones in that article a % of MHR? I would assume so since I can't estimate % of LTHR without performing the test for it.
Yeah, you'll see that there is a reference to how to relate the LTHR to MHR in order to adjust the zones given in the quoted book to your particular circumstances, but there are plenty of recommendations these days basing zones exclusively on LTHR rather than MHR.

Personally I would not scorn the stationary bike. Unless you know it has been properly calibrated and maintained, I wouldn't trust the HR or power readings it provides, but at least they'll probably be consistent if you use the same bike, and allow you to track your progress. Certainly I made a lot of use of one a few years ago when I was working away on home several days per week. An hour in the morning in zone 3, three mornings a week, plus a long Z2 ride on the road at the weekend, worked reasonably well.

And again speaking personally, I don't find the long steady distance rides boring, I find it pleasant to ride alone. It's riding on trainers etc. that taxes my patience.
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Old 06-12-12, 01:07 PM   #11
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Thank you, chasm. I don't mind the spin class at times because I can take my study materials and study while I do my own ride. I can do a steady long hill, or intervals, or long slow ride, or whatever i want on the spin bike AND study at the same time. I don't have the same control if I ride with the group or alone on the road due to traffic and other factors. Of course, a group ride on the road is my preference!

I have a new question:
I read a statement somewhere that in zone 4 one cannot talk except with a few words; I think it actually said "you will not be talking!". However, when my HR was is in high zones I am able to speak more than a few words... more like a whole sentence before having to take a breath. Does this mean my HR may be artificially high in those circumstances, or I may be more fit than I realize?

I am improving in spite of not having a huge base (CPtips.com recommends only 500 miles). I just feel like I want a long slow ride at MY pace, not always having to keep up or chase the group. Even when I am with them at pace and on the hills, I am working to keep up. But then, perhaps all of them are too!
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Old 06-12-12, 01:22 PM   #12
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I read a statement somewhere that in zone 4 one cannot talk except with a few words; I think it actually said "you will not be talking!". However, when my HR was is in high zones I am able to speak more than a few words... more like a whole sentence before having to take a breath. Does this mean my HR may be artificially high in those circumstances, or I may be more fit than I realize?
You're probably better to use the zone descriptions rather than rigid HR zones based on MaxHR. Fitness doesn't really change how you feel in the various zones just the power you put out. HR, as mentioned earlier, can change for many reasons including temperature, hydration levels etc.
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Old 06-12-12, 01:59 PM   #13
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Being able to talk comfortably is just a guideline. How fast you can go and still have a conversation is just an outcome of how fit you are. It also indicates how warmed up you are. Anytime you head off on a ride, you have to factor in some warmup time. In running, you warm up to the point where you've got your "second wind." It's not so dramatic in cycling. If you just start slow and let the speed come up by itself, you barely notice that you've crossed this threshold.

Also, the fitter or stronger you are as a cyclist, the longer it's going to take you to warm up. More muscle mass takes longer to warm up. I've known track sprinters that take about an hour to warm up. Back when I was racing, I'd do a 30-km warmup prior to a 15-km criterium!

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Old 06-12-12, 02:33 PM   #14
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I have a new question:
I read a statement somewhere that in zone 4 one cannot talk except with a few words; I think it actually said "you will not be talking!". However, when my HR was is in high zones I am able to speak more than a few words... more like a whole sentence before having to take a breath. Does this mean my HR may be artificially high in those circumstances, or I may be more fit than I realize?
It could be your LT is higher than you think, or it could be that, like many women, you have exemplary speaking skills.
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Old 06-12-12, 02:35 PM   #15
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Being Also, the fitter or stronger you are as a cyclist, the longer it's going to take you to warm up. More muscle mass takes longer to warm up. I've known track sprinters that take about an hour to warm up. Back when I was racing, I'd do a 30-km warmup prior to a 15-km criterium!

Luis
And the shorter the race, the longer the warmup, because you will be cranking it right from the start.
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Old 06-12-12, 03:11 PM   #16
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People tend to think of training zones as hard numbers when in fact there is a lot of overlap. High zone 3 for example, also has some low zone 4 in it. In this digital age we often see things as stepped or absolute when they are actually analog and dynamic. There will always be some portion of your muscles working at different intensities. Also, hr is a lagging indicator. It trails effort and late in rides is often higher than it would be for the same effort earlier in the ride. Just a couple things to consider when heading out for a long ride.
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Old 06-12-12, 04:40 PM   #17
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Hello, Yen! I remember how distraught you were when your elbow injury occurred, and it's great to hear you're back in the saddle - black, or whatever color it is now!!

Have you read the notes, etc, by Matchka over on the Long Distance Forum? One piece of her wisdom is, it's "long, steady distance," not "long, slow, distance." I don't think you need all the latest ruminating by people who do some training and read all teh "latest." I think you'd be better served reading one or two sets of guidance written by really good, well-established and proven coaches and their colleagues. Examples include Joe Friel (with Dirk Friel) and Chris Carmichael.

I've been trying to keep my average HR between 120 and 125, backing off if I seem to be lingering at 140. I think that takes me from the middle of Zone 1 to the middle of Zone 3, but it really depends on the zonign system. I tend to use Joe Friel as default guidance, but I don't take any of it that seriously.
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Old 06-12-12, 07:58 PM   #18
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You're probably better to use the zone descriptions rather than rigid HR zones based on MaxHR. Fitness doesn't really change how you feel in the various zones just the power you put out. HR, as mentioned earlier, can change for many reasons including temperature, hydration levels etc.
Are you referring to the zones of perceived exertion?
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Old 06-12-12, 08:02 PM   #19
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Being able to talk comfortably is just a guideline. How fast you can go and still have a conversation is just an outcome of how fit you are. It also indicates how warmed up you are. Anytime you head off on a ride, you have to factor in some warmup time. In running, you warm up to the point where you've got your "second wind." It's not so dramatic in cycling. If you just start slow and let the speed come up by itself, you barely notice that you've crossed this threshold.

Also, the fitter or stronger you are as a cyclist, the longer it's going to take you to warm up. More muscle mass takes longer to warm up. I've known track sprinters that take about an hour to warm up. Back when I was racing, I'd do a 30-km warmup prior to a 15-km criterium!

Luis
When I ride alone, or ride to meet the group, I always warm up. That's difficult on the drive-and-ride events where we unload the bike and start riding soon after we arrive. I like to get there several minutes early to cruise around the parking lot but that's not always feasible (traffic, running late, etc.). It seems to take my legs 20-30 minutes to "come alive". It's been my assumption that's because I'm less fit than the others, which I probably am because they've been riding more often for much longer (i.e. they retired sooner!).
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Old 06-12-12, 08:03 PM   #20
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It could be your LT is higher than you think, or it could be that, like many women, you have exemplary speaking skills.
Eh?
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Old 06-12-12, 08:10 PM   #21
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BikeWNC: Thanks for the tips.

Road Fan: Hi and thanks! It is good to be back. We have Joe Friel's Cycling Past 50, and Carmichael's Food for Fitness: Eat Right to Train Right. I've skimmed both books but have yet to read them cover to cover. Does Carmichael have a training book you'd recommend for the average cyclist?
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Old 06-12-12, 09:40 PM   #22
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When I ride alone, or ride to meet the group, I always warm up. That's difficult on the drive-and-ride events where we unload the bike and start riding soon after we arrive. I like to get there several minutes early to cruise around the parking lot but that's not always feasible (traffic, running late, etc.). The rest of the group takes off like they're shot out of a cannon and don't seem to need a warm-up; it seems to take my legs 20-30 minutes to "come alive". It's been my assumption that's because I'm less fit than the others, which I probably am because they've been riding more often for much longer (i.e. they retired sooner!).
I takes me about 30 minutes to warmup which is typical for most independent of fitness. A couple of years ago, I attended a training camp. We all left the start together to ride to long climb where the real workout began. The start was really fast and I was immediately stressed. When we got to the climb, I was already fatigued. A couple of others commented to me they felt the same way. At dinner that evening, I asked a 30 something Cat 2 what he thought of the warmup. He thought it was an easy warmup. There you have it. It was an easy warmup. I just did not get the memo.
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Old 06-13-12, 01:17 AM   #23
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The rest of the group takes off like they're shot out of a cannon and don't seem to need a warm-up; it seems to take my legs 20-30 minutes to "come alive". It's been my assumption that's because I'm less fit than the others, which I probably am because they've been riding more often for much longer (i.e. they retired sooner!).
It may be that they are fitter than you, yes. But they'd still benefit from a warm-up. Speaking for myself, I need to warm up pretty hard: cruising around the parking lot wouldn't do it for me. It's counter-intuitive, because one feels one is using energy that might be needed later, but actually what it is doing is getting the vessels dilated so your muscles can get the oxygen etc. that they need right from the start. If I don't warm up properly for a race I am toast very early on.
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Old 06-13-12, 07:37 AM   #24
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I'll recommend it.
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Old 06-13-12, 11:12 AM   #25
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Yen,

I don't think riding long rides would help you to go faster. To be able to maintain a higher cruising speed, you need to push yourself some. You can do intervals or just pseudo intervals. If you don't push yourself on a regular basis, you are not going to get faster. But beware of getting fixated on "no pain no gain". Making exercise a painful ordeal is a good way to sabotage your exercise schedule. I believe that most people tend to avoid pain. Pushing yourself for either a short period on most sessions or being intense on one out of every three sessions is a good idea.

For building a base or improving, nothing works like more workouts in a week. For some strange reason, I do fine exercising every day out of the week. Now I do understand that most people can not. I would suggest that 4-5 days per week of aerobic exercise is a good idea. I don't think riding just on weekends works very well. If you can't ride during the week, some aerobic exercise that works the legs will help also like stair climbing, walking at a high speed up a sharp incline or better yet spinning. Spinning is pretty close to cycling especially if you do it on your own. Spin classes, to me tend to change up the pace to often to really feel like cycling.

Since your heart rate recovers fast after a climb, it seems to me that you are already in pretty good shape.

Now there is another thing to think about. Are you forgetting that you are a female? For some reason, many women think that they should be able to ride as fast as men. Yeah, it isn't fair. But then again, women live what is it 7 years longer than men on the average so maybe it balances out.

I figure that a woman who is my age is in as good a shape as I am if she can draft me and hang on. So if you are riding with men, take really short pulls.

I hope this helps, otherwise just ignore it.


Good luck


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