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Old 04-19-05, 08:56 AM   #1
Pedal Wench
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How to improve speed

I have no desire to race, but I would like to increase my speed. I've worked to get my base mileage up - can do a century without a problem, and my regular rides are at least 80 miles. But, my average speed is only about 15.5 over the century. I would like to get my average speed up. I like doing long rides - I love the amount of calories that I can burn and just being on the bike for hours and hours, so I would like to incorporate the long distances into my attempt at getting faster. I have no clue what my VO2 max is, or my LT, but would like general tips on how to go about it. Do I just go out and try to maintain a faster rate for my entire 80 miles? Do I add intervals - at the beginning of the ride, middle, or at the end? Do I alternate days, doing long rides one day, work on speed the next? Help!
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Old 04-19-05, 09:20 AM   #2
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You can add a mid week interval ride. 5 x 5 minutes with 5 minute easy recovery.

Also, during the long ride, up the pace for 30 minutes to zone 3 (high aerobic).
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Old 04-19-05, 09:57 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by TriBob
during the long ride, up the pace for 30 minutes to zone 3 (high aerobic).

What is 'zone 3'? And, at what point in that ride - depending on the distance, I'm out for 4 to 7 hours. Do this at the beginning, or the end?
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Old 04-19-05, 02:56 PM   #4
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The best predictor of speed on a long ride is your maximum aerobic power.

The best way to increase maximum aerobic power is to do aerobic and threshold training. There are two excellent workouts to improve aerobic power: tempo training and lactate threshold intervals:

Tempo rides: go out and ride with a heart rate range of about 76%-83% of your maximum. You can do these a couple of days a week, as long as you're not fatigued.

Lactate threshold intervals: repeated efforts of 15-20 minutes each, at a heart rate of 88%-93%. These are tough and should only be done once a week. You can build up the intensity and duration as your fitness improves.

The rest of your rides during the week should be endurance rides (65%-74%) and active recovery rides (< 65%). Split up the hard days with easiser days.
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Old 04-19-05, 05:04 PM   #5
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I agree definitly with terrymorris on the training aspects. To increase your speed you have to ride faster, i.e. tempo rides. You will get to where you can do tempo longer and longer. Lactic threshold intervals are great for improving aerobic endurance. Racing I do those two days vs one day per week but I limit my intensity the next day after each session.

It sounds like you have a good base under you with the century training. A little bit of work and you will be there. My Advice on LT and other intervals though is to start them shorter, like 4 - 6 minutes then build up your time and then intensity. I started doing LT for 5 minutes, now I am doing 12 minute intervals x 5, with 3 - 5 minutes inbetween but I have been doing it for some time.
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Old 04-20-05, 12:13 PM   #6
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Good info here. I've only been seriously biking since last fall and had been wondering how to get my speed up. I do a lot of 50-75 mile rides, but my speed is generally only right around 13.5 mph. I then realized that I'm never really pushing myself to go fast, so I started doing interval training. I've really only been working at it for about a week, but I've already managed a 30 mile ride averaging 16 mph and I've definitely been spending more time at much higher speeds. That's still not great, even considering my clunky hybrid, but I know I'll get better.
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Old 04-20-05, 01:01 PM   #7
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3cannondales, training to increase one's speed for a century is going to require some resturcturing on your current regimen.

Terrymorse is spot on about increasing one's speed. It's all about MAP (Maximum Aerobic Power) and increasing one's LT (Lactate Threshold). Those just cannot be trained efficiently via 80 mile rides. I would suggest you do what he recommended but in addition only have 1 longer ride per week which could be about 40 miles at up to Tempo pace or just below. Cut back on your volume and save your energy for those Tempo rides and LT intervals. Don't go out and blow yourself up doing more 80 milers. You could limit those to once a month but don't try and keep your speed work up on those weeks.

In addition to that I would say you can do recovery rides around 65% - 70% of MaxHR but they have to be brief! 30 minutes. No 2 hours at that pace as that just became an endurance ride.
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Old 04-20-05, 08:34 PM   #8
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Arghh. I was afraid someone was going to say that I shouldn't be doing the longer rides. I really think I'm addicted to the endorphin rush from a long ride. Hopefully, I'll get the same rush from shorter/faster rides. I'll give it a try, but it'll be hard to give up those long rides! Hey - can I ride tempo for 40, and then putter along for another 60?
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Old 04-21-05, 07:16 AM   #9
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intervals and you have to learn how to ride slow before you can ride fast. recovery and being able to ride easy to work on your form helps a lot.

intervals are important. they are rides within a ride. even if they are 20 or 30 seconds of hard effort. they will soon become several minutes, then entire rides.

They say that if you want to ride 20mph then you have to train at 20 mph. That doesn't happen overnight unless you're a freak.
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Old 04-21-05, 07:05 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by RiPHRaPH
. . . if you want to ride 20mph then you have to train at 20 mph. That doesn't happen overnight unless you're a freak.
Exactly. You can't just "sneak up" on a higher average speed. (given infinite time, maybe) When I decided to see if I could actually break my personal "5-minute mile barrier," (running, thank you very much), I spent a lot of time doing speed work in 1/8's and quarters at the 5-min. pace or better. After a lot of work, the segments merged into a 4:57 mile. I am convinced I would never have gotten there by just "trying harder" over and over again at the whole distance.

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