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  1. #1
    Road, XC and Cross
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    how do I get faster?

    I have the endurance but the speed just isnt there. Should I do hill repeats and intervals like every other day? I did my first cx race and sucked epically. DFL in my class. My bike is like 26 pounds i think but thats not important now I guess. I can go to mtb trails with my cross bike but not sure if that would help

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    I'm no expert, but at this point it is probably too late to build the fitness you seek. Check this out: http://www.cxmagazine.com/training-f...michael-birner

    Hopefully someone with more knowledge will check in.

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    what do you suck the most at? This late in the year, make up your time at things you are good at. For me, i can sprint a short time, and do runups... so when i pre-ride, i plan places to pass, and basically just endure through the real technical sections where it is more difficult for people to pass my linebacker size @$$

  4. #4
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    i suck at the sandpit but the barriers are good. no run up hills at the course i was at. I didnt struggle up steep hills it was just the flats. I couldnt get up to a good speed. i read that chart thing on the link but it says an hour but then only gives 30 min of exercise

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    The first thing I would recommend is finding a practice that happens in your area on a weekly basis, since they will simulate race type intensity. Assuming you have decent fitness and have been riding for sometime, I would focus on threshold type intervals (20x2 are the standard) twice a week during non race week and ratchet it down to 1 if you are. If you can't find a practice do the 2x20's twice. At this point you really need to raise your threshold power. Shorter type intervals are for more down the road.

  6. #6
    Senior Member irideacenturion's Avatar
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    Dumb question: Can you breakdown how to do 20x2 intervals? Is that 20 two-minute intervals or two-twenty minute intervals (at lactic threshold I'm guessing?)

    I'll admit I've never really learned about intervals except super short ones like Tabata.

  7. #7
    Godfather of Soul SBRDude's Avatar
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    The only way to ride faster is to ride faster. I also have a good endurance base and background, but lack a lot of high-end speed. I've been throwing in some hill sprints into my rides and some other pseudo interval work during them. I sprint uphill for about 30 seconds or so, wait for my heart rate to drop a bit, and do it again.

    Some people treat it like rocket science, but it all works out the same - short periods of high intensity speed to increase your ability to ride faster at speed.

  8. #8
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by irideacenturion View Post
    Dumb question: Can you breakdown how to do 20x2 intervals? Is that 20 two-minute intervals or two-twenty minute intervals (at lactic threshold I'm guessing?)

    I'll admit I've never really learned about intervals except super short ones like Tabata.
    If you can do 20 repeats of an interval then it's the wrong interval. 20 minute intervals have their place, but they won't build as much explosive power as 2 to 5 minute hill sprints at a higher intensity.

    If the OP wants to carry on racing this season then its probably too late for interval training - too soon after a race and they'll wreck recovery, too soon before and the muscle will still have the micro-tears that intervals are designed to provoke. And he'll risk virus infections if he leaves too little recovery time.

    My suggestion is to treat the race as training. Maybe if you race on Saturdays you could fit in intervals on Tuesday or Wednesday if you kept other weekday rides down to recovery level.
    Last edited by meanwhile; 09-20-10 at 09:24 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtb_man_14 View Post
    I did my first cx race and sucked epically. DFL in my class.
    Is there another class you could race in?

    In my first race (two years ago), I was not only DFL, everyone else in the race lapped me. It was a beginner race so I had no place to go but up. I raced a few more times that year and didn't end up DFL again. Two years later I'm still pretty slow, so I'm afraid I can't help you much.

    Hang in there and have fun.
    Last edited by Andy_K; 09-20-10 at 05:09 PM.

  10. #10
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    i was in the 15-18 junior since my racing age is 16. the class was dominated by a team that had 16 and 17yr olds winning the cat 4 open and some in my class. I did decent. I would be in the middle of the cat 4 race i think so should i just do that?

  11. #11
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    I didn't realize you were a junior. I'm used to racing with other old guys.

    Here's what I would do if I were in your position...if I thought I could beat the guy who finished ahead of me this week, I would work hard and make that my goal. But generally, if you think you'd have more fun racing in the cat 4 race, then do that. If you think you'd have more fun working your way up in the junior class, then do that. If you do race cat 4, there may be a bunch of guys who say they're humilated being beaten by a 16 year old, but that's really just their way of saying you did good.

    Of course, you should check with the race promoter and make sure that it's OK for you to race with the older guys. Some of us cat 4's don't have great bike handling skills, so it can be dangerous racing against us.

  12. #12
    Wheelsuck Fat Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtb_man_14 View Post
    i was in the 15-18 junior since my racing age is 16. the class was dominated by a team that had 16 and 17yr olds winning the cat 4 open and some in my class. I did decent. I would be in the middle of the cat 4 race i think so should i just do that?
    Don't worry about specific interval training, but ride a lot. I don't know how much you ride now, but try to put in maybe 10 hours a week. Not at some crazy pace, but not loafing around, either. The general rule of thumb is about the pace where holding a conversation might be a little tough. This will be *about* high zone 2 on your heart rate. If you come to a hill and want to go hard up it, then do that. If you want to go up it at a normal pace, then do that. Don't worry about structure. The best thing to do right now is work on your aerobic fitness. Because you're already into the season, it's going to be essentially impossible to make any huge fitness gains anyway, but you can always work on your 'base' fitness.

    You're 15 or 16, so your body recovers super fast. Having said that, take the day off prior to your race and get decent sleep the night before. Make sure you've got plenty of water in your system. Then go and have fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by irideacenturion View Post
    Dumb question: Can you breakdown how to do 20x2 intervals? Is that 20 two-minute intervals or two-twenty minute intervals (at lactic threshold I'm guessing?)

    I'll admit I've never really learned about intervals except super short ones like Tabata.
    They are two twenty minute intervals with a 5 minute break in between. You want to do them at about 90%ish of max heart rate. They do wonders for raising your threshold power.

    To the original poster, being that you are 16 I would take Fat Boy's advice and ride lots and focus and building your aerobic base and just racing on the weekends. That being said, I would still highly recommend hitting a local cross practice once a week. It will get you one day a week of high intensity, and accustomed to dealing with technical sections and barriers when you are red lined.

    Also, depending on you schedule and the fact that is getting dark earlier and earlier, I would recommend picking up a trainer if you do not already have one.

  14. #14
    Wheelsuck Fat Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 45suited View Post
    That being said, I would still highly recommend hitting a local cross practice once a week. It will get you one day a week of high intensity, and accustomed to dealing with technical sections and barriers when you are red lined.

    Also, depending on you schedule and the fact that is getting dark earlier and earlier, I would recommend picking up a trainer if you do not already have one.
    Agreed. Getting better at line selection and dismount/remount is something we can all spend more time on and it's never a bad thing to go get your heart pounding a little.

    But remember one thing above all.....HAVE FUN.

  15. #15
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Boy View Post
    Don't worry about specific interval training, but ride a lot. I don't know how much you ride now, but try to put in maybe 10 hours a week. Not at some crazy pace, but not loafing around, either. The general rule of thumb is about the pace where holding a conversation might be a little tough. This will be *about* high zone 2 on your heart rate. If you come to a hill and want to go hard up it, then do that. If you want to go up it at a normal pace, then do that. Don't worry about structure. The best thing to do right now is work on your aerobic fitness. .
    But riding the way you suggest will do absolutely nothing for aerobic fitness! This sort of training program was discredited years ago. It's especially unsuited for training for an hour long intense effort like that called for in cross racing. The OP is right to want to do intervals, it's just too late for him to do them now.

    This article by a professional coach is a fairly good summary of modern training techniques for aerobic fitness:

    http://www.training4cyclists.com/threshold-power/
    Last edited by meanwhile; 09-21-10 at 04:46 PM.

  16. #16
    Wheelsuck Fat Boy's Avatar
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    Meanwhile...Did you read the link you posted? It had this nugget in it:

    "Their training principles probably include more LSD training (Long Slow Distance Training) than my training programs advice, but I have to admit that these riders become extremely strong (or at least some of them do.) I am not sure these riders will ever reach their physiological potential, but they might hit 98% of their optimal performance and that is more than enough to make talented and determinant riders professional."

    Here's the deal. Good trainers like Friel and Chapple know the importance of base building. The don't recommend doing JRA (just riding around) rides. The recommend base training. That means riding for relatively long periods of time in the upper 1/2 of zone 2 heart rate. Most cyclists (even good ones) can't continuously ride in zone 2 for 2 hours or more. It takes training to do it.

    Think of your fitness as a pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid is your aerobic fitness. The broader the base, the higher you can ultimately build the pyramid. If the base is narrow, then the height will be limited. You must establish solid aerobic fitness before starting any high intensity training. It takes a mental and physical fitness to do VO2 Max work. Those intervals _suck_. When you've established good base fitness, though, your body and your mind is trained to accept the load you're giving it. Just trying to run out and do them right off the bat is a sure recipe for injury and burn out.

    Get this book.
    http://www.amazon.com/Base-Building-...5128203&sr=8-1 It's an easy read and it will definitely steer you in the right direction.

  17. #17
    Wheelsuck Fat Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    But riding the way you suggest will do absolutely nothing for aerobic fitness!
    Could you give me your definition and an explanation of 'aerobic fitness'?

  18. #18
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Boy View Post
    Meanwhile...Did you read the link you posted? It had this nugget in it:

    [COLOR=Red]"Their training principles probably include more LSD training (Long Slow Distance Training) than my training programs advice, but I have to admit that these riders become extremely strong (or at least some of them do.) I am not sure these riders will ever reach their physiological potential, but they might hit 98% of their optimal performance and that is more than enough to make talented and determinant riders professional."

    Yes, I read the article. Did you read the part you quoted? It says, effectively, "Some riders are genetically gifted enough to train the wrong way. Which is exactly the way you recommended...

    Anyway, here's the passage in full:

    If an athlete with the right talent (right parents) starts to train using any of the four above training principles and for the required duration of each training session, he will be able to become professional.
    It might sound controversy, but road cycling is not as scientific as many cycling coaches would like to see it. Talented riders who train hard, will always be able to ride faster than you.


    That is why some athletes become very strong and maybe even make a professional career without ever using a cycling coach. They train hard, they eat right and they rest – and are talented. Their training principles probably include more LSD training (Long Slow Distance Training) than my training programs advice, but I have to admit that these riders become extremely strong (or at least some of them do.)


    I am not sure these riders will ever reach their physiological potential, but they might hit 98% of their optimal performance and that is more than enough to make talented and determinant riders professional.
    Last edited by meanwhile; 09-22-10 at 08:35 AM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Boy View Post
    Could you give me your definition and an explanation of 'aerobic fitness'?
    In a way that you could understand? Based on your inability to understand the source I already gave - probably not.

    Also: even before Long And Slow had been discredited, it s still doubtful that any coach would have recommended it as a way of increasing speed in a short burn event ridden at a constantly varying effort level! The idea is as silly as training to increase your benchpress by practicing picking up pencils with your toes. The scientific basis of all training is:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercompensation

    Last edited by meanwhile; 09-22-10 at 08:34 AM.

  20. #20
    Wheelsuck Fat Boy's Avatar
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    Why so aggressive? There's really no need for it at all. If you're interested in having a discussion, I'm all for it, but all you seem to want to do is have a meaningless internet shouting match. To what end?

    I have specifically said that 'Long Slow Distance' was not what I was proposing. This is the third time. Also, I've stated that the cyclocross season has already begun, so the fitness that he has is pretty much the fitness he's going to have for the next couple months. You can make incremental gains here or there, but true fitness is an evolutionary process. I'd love to tell you that there are short cuts to being a strong rider. Maybe go out for 2 weeks and do threshold intervals and all the sudden you're Sven Nys. Sorry, man, it doesn't work that way.

    Your benchpress analogy is flawed from the beginning, because a benchpress is strictly an anaerobic event. However, let's say that you want to do constant bench presses for 45 minutes and increase the total amount of work you could produce. My advice would be to start with moderate weights and lift them for longer than 45 minutes. Raising your benchpress 'max' would be of little use if you pooped out after a couple minutes when your anaerobic system started to diminish its capacity. Have you ever hear the adage, "To finish first, you must first finish?" This is certainly applicable here.

    I asked the question, "Give me your definition and an explanation of 'aerobic fitness'". I was just trying to get a conversation going, but you don't seem to be interested in that. So I'll answer my own question.

    The common definition of aerobic fitness relates back to respiration. People feel as if they have good aerobic fitness when they can go at a moderately hard pace without excessively rapid respiration. In truth, respiration is not a good measure of aerobic fitness in and of itself. Aerobic fitness concerns the muscles that you are using for a given activity. We have 2 main types of muscles, type 1 (slow twitch) and type 2 (fast twitch). They can be further broken down from there, but let's just keep things simple. Type 1 muscles are less powerful than type 2, but they can do their job for long periods of time. For instance, you use type 1 muscles when walking. These muscles burn their fuel by combining it with oxygen, which is why they are called 'aerobic' (means 'requiring air'). They don't produce much waste and they have the ability to burn body fat. Type 2 muscles burn carbohydrates without the use of oxygen, which is why they are called 'anaerobic' (not requiring air). These muscles are more powerful than type 1 muscles, but they produce a lot of metabolized waste that your body has to deal with. Lactic acid has gotten the blame for muscle burn, but it's actually hydrogen ions (H+) that causes this sensation, and H+ ions are produced by type 2 muscles.

    If you just go and try to go out and train type 2 muscles without optimizing the type 1's, then you'll probably increase your threshold power quite quickly, however, just as quickly you'll hit your ceiling because your body hasn't learned how to effectively fuel the muscles you're training. You'll also probably have to deal with usage injuries by ramping up your training so quickly. Lastly, high intensity workouts are mentally hard, and can very easily lead to burn-out, especially in a young athlete.

    Meanwhile mentioned 'Super-compensation'. That's when you gradually step up your training over the course of several 'cycles' (often months) then rest so that your body over-compensates when rebuilding your muscles and makes you stronger than you were previously. It's exactly what I'm talking about doing. You can't 'ramp-up' your training by starting at the last step in the process. You have to start at the bottom of the ramp, which is long distance (time duration) at moderate intensity. As you become more fit, you increase the intensity and decrease the time periods you spend at that intensity. Someone earlier said that if you can do 20 of the same interval, then you're doing it wrong. Well, maybe or maybe not, but without a doubt, you will not be able to do 20 of a super hard sprint intervals, ever (assuming you do them correctly). That's OK. You're not supposed to. Those types of intervals are at the top of the ramp and their time duration is short. A full workout for a 1 minutes all out sprint might be 2 sets of 3 intervals for six minutes of total work, and it will leave your tongue dragging the ground. When it's time to do that work, then they must be done to really achieve peak fitness. Having said that, this work is at the end of the process, not the beginning.

    Meanwhile is a proponent of hard intervals right away and getting a quick gain. This may or may not help you over the course of this season, but it certainly won't help you over the long term. At 15, you're new to cycling. Getting more miles on your legs will do a couple things. The first is help you to become more efficient. The second is it will help your bike handling skills. Third, you will train the type 1 muscles to use fat as their primary fuel source. Lastly, and most importantly, you will probably learn to appreciate cycling more and have more fun doing it. Very, very few of us will ever make money on a bike. This means that learning to enjoy your time on the bike is really the most important part of the equation. At the end of the day, it's a hobby. Don't lose sight of that.

    Aerobic fitness will probably take you to about 85% of your total fitness potential. The last 15% will be found in anaerobic work and nutrition. That's assuming you reach 100%, which no one really does. So make an effort to get the first 85%. You'll be surprised at how strong you can get on just on type 1 muscles.

    The next discussion we need to have with the OP is race strategy and how he can race to improve his performance.

  21. #21
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    that was a really helpful post, thanks.

  22. #22
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    I couldn't agree with Fat Boy more. Very nice way of putting everything.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Boy View Post
    At 15, you're new to cycling. Getting more miles on your legs will do a couple things. The first is help you to become more efficient. The second is it will help your bike handling skills. Third, you will train the type 1 muscles to use fat as their primary fuel source. Lastly, and most importantly, you will probably learn to appreciate cycling more and have more fun doing it. Very, very few of us will ever make money on a bike. This means that learning to enjoy your time on the bike is really the most important part of the equation. At the end of the day, it's a hobby. Don't lose sight of that.


    The next discussion we need to have with the OP is race strategy and how he can race to improve his performance.
    Whole post was brilliant, but this is without a doubt the most important. At such a young age just have fun with it.

  24. #24
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    Thanks, guys.

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    it's ok to be DFL. I'm almost always DFL in the beginner category but who cares? by the weekend i'm usually fatigued from my long commutes during the week but i'm not willing to A) train instead of commute, or B) stop commuting.

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