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  1. #1
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    More miles... or intervals for Long Distance Ride training?

    More miles... or intervals for Long Distance Ride training? I'm planning on doing the Seattle-to-Portland ride in mid July of this year. I'm not looking to set any speed records, I just want to finish the ride in one day. I've been reading alot about interval training and how it is a great cardiovascular work out. I'm just wondering if this is something I should implement into my training? Or should I just keep pluggin' away at the big miles?

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    umd
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    More miles. Not that I'm saying that intervals aren't good but if you want to ride long you have to train long, longer, and longest, not harder. Intervals will just make you tired and you will have to spend more time recovering, which is time not riding.

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    Zinophile tibikefor2's Avatar
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    The easy answer is both, as I disagree with umd. When training for long distance rides, I do two types of workouts.

    Workout 1: Short distance high intensity training. Usually lasts about 1 hour, warm up 10 minutes, 10 minute interval, rest 10 minutes then repreat. I try to maintain 250+ watts for the 10 minutes.

    Workout 2: Long distance and medium to high intensity. I throw some intervals into my long rides and then recover. During non-recovery times, I keep a moderate pace that I could do for the whole ride.

    Remember that you are trying to increase your cruising speed. As you get stronger, you will be able to perform your intervals at a higher wattage and for a longer time. It takes time to buld your strength.
    Tibikefor2

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    depends on how many miles a week you're doing now. If you're already doing a lot of miles, then I'd definately shoot for the intervals. Heck, I'd add in a day of intervals regardless. The benefit of increase in vo2max will be worth it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aikigreg
    depends on how many miles a week you're doing now. If you're already doing a lot of miles, then I'd definately shoot for the intervals. Heck, I'd add in a day of intervals regardless. The benefit of increase in vo2max will be worth it.
    sounds like good advice. I'm tempted to do my interval training on an indoor trainer (just so I can control the intervals without being concerned about traffic.) Is this a good way to do it? Or, should I be out on the road. It just seems that I can monitor the workout and control things better on the trainer.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I agree with both umd and tibikefor2. First thing is distance. Map out a training program that has you doing 200-250 miles/week in weeks STP-2 and STP-3. Include small training cycles, meaning increase mileage for 3 weeks at no more than 10%/week, then drop back for a recovery week and start over again with the increases. So it's a climbing sawtooth pattern, starting now.

    Include one hard group ride/week. On that ride, starting now, do LT intervals, meaning get your HR up to LT or a few beats below, and hold it there for 15 minutes. Do no more than three of these. Maybe start with just one. Try to find out what the longest climb will be on your group ride, and try to stay with the leaders on that climb. You probably won't be able to, so cap it at LT. No higher. Gradually increase the length of that group ride until you are doing centuries about every couple of weeks toward the end. You won't need to ride more than a century on any single ride, as long as that ride has 5000' or so of climbing in it. It would be a good idea to do longer rides, but 100 miles is all that I've found necessary.

    In May your fitness should be good enough for you to do two or three LT intervals midweek, also. Then you might try going over LT for 5-10 minute periods on your group ride. Do no more than two of these. That's really all you need to do. You can fancy it up with all sorts of fun intervals, but like umd said, don't let the intervals take away from your mileage. If you feel yourself getting tired, cut back on the intervals and group ride intensity until you start feeling better. Especially, over LT intervals can really sap you.

    Ride in the mountains some in late June and early July. That will be really helpful.

    I use a Polar 720i and download the information into my computer, so I can keep track of time-in-zone for the week. That helps me keep from overdoing it. No more than an hour of Zone 4 (LT) work and no more than 20 minutes of over LT work, per week, is necessary or probably a good idea between now and July.

    Consistency is everything. Keep it up, week after week. Don't blow off your planned rides. Missing three days in a row can set you back three weeks. Don't try to "make up" missed rides, either. You will have to miss some workouts. Just continue with the plan as though nothing had happened.

    See you there.

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    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Concentrate on building up your mileage. Intervals will help your speed, but first you need the endurance. If you want to do interval training, do them mid-week so they doesn't interfere with doing long rides on weekends.

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    You'll want to do both, but the exact mix will depend upon your current state vs. where you want to be. What is your goal in "long distance rides"? Is it to simply finish a double-century? Or do you want to do a sub 5-hour century?

    You cannot substitute intervals for endurance-rides and vice-versa. They train different systems of the body and both workouts will be beneficial to long-distance riding. Muscle-fatigue and cramps is an issue with long-distance. Intervals will build max-strength and power. This allows the muscles to stay far away from their max at endurance paces. So 20mph on a century will be a piece of cake with no soreness if you've been doing pyramid intervals & sprints once a week.

    At the same time, you'll want to do one long ride a week as well to tax the energy-delivery system. Endurance is really about pacing yourself, eating and drinking sufficiently. Too many people start out a century at TT speeds and end up frying themselves. Doing a 3-4 hour ride once a week will train yourself to have some discipline with pacing. Nutrition and hydration will also depend upon the pace. A 5-hour century pace will require completely different eating & drinking schedules than a 6 or 7-hour pace. Again, practice will let you figure out the optimum nutrition schedule for you.

    So the answer is ... do BOTH.
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 03-05-07 at 04:51 PM.

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    Zinophile tibikefor2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trace22clawson
    sounds like good advice. I'm tempted to do my interval training on an indoor trainer (just so I can control the intervals without being concerned about traffic.) Is this a good way to do it? Or, should I be out on the road. It just seems that I can monitor the workout and control things better on the trainer.
    trace: i almost exclusively do my intervals indoors. I use a computrainer which allows me to calibrate each of my training sessions. Most people I know do 10 minute intervals. If you do not have a powermeter, then you will want to use a heart rate monitor. Things that you will want to keep an eye on are heart rate that you can sustain for the 10 minute interval and how much your heart rate recovers in 1 and 3 minutes. If you have a powermeter, then you will want to try to maintain a steady output for the 10 minuutes. Also remember to not accelerate too quickly in your intervals.

    My short intervals workouts are as follows:

    10 or 15 minutes warm up:
    #1: 10 minute interval
    Recover for 10 minutes
    #2: 10 minute interval
    Recover for 10 minutes
    #3: 10 minute interval
    Recover for 10 minutes
    #4: 10 minute interval
    Recover for 10 minutes

    Total workout time is approximately 1.5 hours.
    Tibikefor2

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    Quote Originally Posted by trace22clawson
    sounds like good advice. I'm tempted to do my interval training on an indoor trainer (just so I can control the intervals without being concerned about traffic.) Is this a good way to do it? Or, should I be out on the road. It just seems that I can monitor the workout and control things better on the trainer.
    I wouldn't fret about it either way - do what's most convenient. The idea isn't so much that you have to do it on the same grade of road every time, or for the exact amount of seconds for every interval. If you're shooting for 30 secs, and you do 35, it'll all still work out. You're obviously not racing pro or semi-pro, so to worry about it too much is time you could be spending on the bike, indoors or out.

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    Senior Member DanteB's Avatar
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    Most of my training ride for doing doubles and triples are 1-2 hours long with some kind of intervals five days a week. Starting 5 weeks out I will do first 2 metric centuries on Saturdays and then 2 centuries on the next 2 Saturdays. The weekend before I’ll some kind of 2-3 hour endurance ride and then taper the week before the event.
    Make mine a double!

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    umd
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    Quote Originally Posted by tibikefor2
    The easy answer is both, as I disagree with umd. When training for long distance rides, I do two types of workouts. {snip** Remember that you are trying to increase your cruising speed. As you get stronger, you will be able to perform your intervals at a higher wattage and for a longer time. It takes time to buld your strength.
    The OP did not say they were interested in increasing their cruising speed, just the total amount of miles (although I supposed it was implicit in saying they wanted to complete a certain event in a day).If all you want to do is increase your endurance, you just need maximum time on the bike. If you want to increase your speed too then some kind of strength building workout will of course be required, but it will compromise the amount of time spent riding because it will increase the need for recovery.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I'm inclined to say ... both.

    -- Pick a day in the middle of the week to do intervals.

    -- Do your long distance riding on Saturday and Sunday.

    -- Rest a couple days a week

    -- Ride a medium distance on whatever's left in the week.

    The intervals will help you with things like getting to the tops of hills comfortably. In fact, once I'm off the trainer and out on the road, I switch from intervals to hill repeats.

    The long distances on the weekends get you used to putting lots of time in the saddle. That's where you work out fit issues, nutrition issues, etc., as well as just getting used to being out there a long time.

    The medium distances improve your fitness level, help you lose weight if you need to, help you build some strength, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trace22clawson
    More miles... or intervals for Long Distance Ride training? I'm planning on doing the Seattle-to-Portland ride in mid July of this year. I'm not looking to set any speed records, I just want to finish the ride in one day. I've been reading alot about interval training and how it is a great cardiovascular work out. I'm just wondering if this is something I should implement into my training? Or should I just keep pluggin' away at the big miles?
    It would help if we knew more about how you are training now, and where you plan to be in July. However, given what you've said...

    For finishing STP in one day, base aerobic capacity is the most important thing to develop - that's what gives you the ability to finish. Intervals and tempo work can also be useful, but think of those as icing on top of the cake, where the aerobic base work is the cake. It's okay to be doing some tempo work now, but I'd be very careful on the intervals - if you do them now, you can easily compromise your aerobic development. When you get into May and June, that's a good time to be thinking about adding them in. It's more common for riders to work too hard than not to work hard enough.

    The other thing you need is group riding experience. Even if you aren't riding with a group, there are ample opportunities to draft, and you really want to be able to save energy that way. Please don't be one of the STP riders who drafts without really knowing how.

    Plan on riding flying wheels, ideally with a group. That's a good tune-up. Seven hills is also nice.

    I did STP one day last year without a ton of miles - I was only around 100 miles for most weeks - though it was fairly focused training. We did the first century in around 5:30 and felt good, though I got sick (allergies) and had a miserable second century, riding alone (couldn't do a pace line) and finishing in 11:45 of total ride time.

    "The ultimate ride" is a decent book on periodic training.
    Eric

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    Quote Originally Posted by ericgu
    It would help if we knew more about how you are training now, and where you plan to be in July. However, given what you've said...
    Currently this is how I train and plan to train. I commute on my bike 4-5 days per week. 14 miles round-trip. I try to take this opportunity to ride fairly intense even though I'm loaded down with gear (15-20 lbs.) During the week I try to do a moderate ride of 15-30 miles. A Saturday ride of 40-80 miles. A Sunday ride of 20-50 miles. The mileage on the rides will increase until I am about 4-6 weeks out from the 200 mile STP. I'm trying to follow the guidance from the STP website:

    http://cascade.org/EandR/stp/pdf/stp..._book_2007.pdf

    see page 8 of the document for the training plan. I don't follow it exactly and I don't count my commute miles in the mileage totals (They are only 1/2 hour rides each way - I figure they can't hurt, huh?) From what I'm reading in the thread, maybe I should kick in session of intervals once I get to May/June.

    I will begin doing my midweek ride with a group in April. The pace is between 14-16 mph and the rides are 20-30 miles. The local bicycle club also has Wednesday rides for beginners. It's a 4 week curriculum that includes the basics of group riding including etiquette and safety... I plan to complete that course (the rides will be about 1 hour at 12-15 mph)

    Where I'm at now?? I guess my best measuring stick is today's ride - 40 miles in 3 hours (13.3 mph) This was on an MUP - it was pretty wide open, but you have to come to pretty much a complete stop to get through the gates that are in place at all the crossroads. I was loaded down with my 20 lbs of commuting gear for the entire ride. I was tired, no question. I feel like I need to get to a level of fitness that will allow me to ride a 14 hour day (14 hrs bike time + 2-3 hours of breaks for a total of 17 hrs) at 14-15 mph for the duration of the STP.

    I'm open to suggestions and advice from experienced long distance riders.

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    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trace22clawson
    Where I'm at now?? I guess my best measuring stick is today's ride - 40 miles in 3 hours (13.3 mph) This was on an MUP - it was pretty wide open, but you have to come to pretty much a complete stop to get through the gates that are in place at all the crossroads. I was loaded down with my 20 lbs of commuting gear for the entire ride. I was tired, no question.
    Ok, being tired at that 13.3mph pace shows you're stressing your muscles too much. Are you spinning easy gears? This is where increasing strength & power through intervals will definitely help. Doing various types of intervals once a week at 25-35mph will make riding at 15mph a piece of cake.

    Quote Originally Posted by trace22clawson
    I feel like I need to get to a level of fitness that will allow me to ride a 14 hour day (14 hrs bike time + 2-3 hours of breaks for a total of 17 hrs) at 14-15 mph for the duration of the STP.
    I'd suggest getting in at least one 3-4 hour ride a week. Gradually increase it by 30-minutes every two weeks. The benefit in doing these long rides is to practice pacing, gear-selections and nutrition. These factors have a larger impact on endurance than pure-fitness (which only determines how fast you're gonna do that distance).

    So do intervals once a week to build strength and conditioning to make the longer rides easier. Then do real endurance riding once a week to tax your energy systems. You'll probably want to experience the bonk at least once to learn about nutrition and hydration on long rides.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trace22clawson
    Currently this is how I train and plan to train. I commute on my bike 4-5 days per week. 14 miles round-trip. I try to take this opportunity to ride fairly intense even though I'm loaded down with gear (15-20 lbs.) During the week I try to do a moderate ride of 15-30 miles. A Saturday ride of 40-80 miles. A Sunday ride of 20-50 miles. The mileage on the rides will increase until I am about 4-6 weeks out from the 200 mile STP. I'm trying to follow the guidance from the STP website:

    http://cascade.org/EandR/stp/pdf/stp..._book_2007.pdf

    see page 8 of the document for the training plan. I don't follow it exactly and I don't count my commute miles in the mileage totals (They are only 1/2 hour rides each way - I figure they can't hurt, huh?) From what I'm reading in the thread, maybe I should kick in session of intervals once I get to May/June.

    I will begin doing my midweek ride with a group in April. The pace is between 14-16 mph and the rides are 20-30 miles. The local bicycle club also has Wednesday rides for beginners. It's a 4 week curriculum that includes the basics of group riding including etiquette and safety... I plan to complete that course (the rides will be about 1 hour at 12-15 mph)

    Where I'm at now?? I guess my best measuring stick is today's ride - 40 miles in 3 hours (13.3 mph) This was on an MUP - it was pretty wide open, but you have to come to pretty much a complete stop to get through the gates that are in place at all the crossroads. I was loaded down with my 20 lbs of commuting gear for the entire ride. I was tired, no question. I feel like I need to get to a level of fitness that will allow me to ride a 14 hour day (14 hrs bike time + 2-3 hours of breaks for a total of 17 hrs) at 14-15 mph for the duration of the STP.

    I'm open to suggestions and advice from experienced long distance riders.
    While the Cascade plan has a lot of history behind it, it's an "old school" plan. The old school said that you had to ride pretty much the whole distance to be in shape to do the ride. While there's some truth in that - you especially need rides long enough for you to work out your nutrition plan - you don't need a ton of miles. You need quality miles and a good training approach. Most real plans these days are periodicalized, but the cascade plan is too old for that.

    Once you've got the nutrition part down, it's hills that really take it out of you on a long ride. Since STP doesn't have much in the way of hills, it's fairly easy to come up with a "ride all day" pace, especially if you are able to ride in a paceline. And I think you'll be surprised how much easier that makes things - if you have a good training program, it's not hard to average 16 MPH for the first century of STP.

    How fast are you when you're rested and not carrying around the extra weight? My guess is that a two-hour comfortable pace by yourself is something you'll be able to hold for the whole STP with a group and some more training.

    Oh, and if you don't have a heart rate monitor, they are a great help in training.
    Eric

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  18. #18
    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    You'll probably want to experience the bonk at least once to learn about nutrition and hydration on long rides.
    It will certainly help you become more disciplined re/eating and hydration.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ericgu
    How fast are you when you're rested and not carrying around the extra weight? My guess is that a two-hour comfortable pace by yourself is something you'll be able to hold for the whole STP with a group and some more training.
    One of the things that held down my average speed on this ride was coming to nearly a complete stop every mile or so on the MUP as I crossed intersections and went through the restrictive gates. I'm new to the STP, but I'm not sure if there is alot of stopping and starting... or if there are long stretches of several miles where you can just pedal. My fastest pace on a 50 mile ride (same MUP, but on a lighter bike and unloaded) was 14.6 mph - but, I could never ride that bike for more than 4-5 hours.

    As far as the "bonk" goes... I'm diabetic, so I know all too well, what that feels like when your blood sugars are low and your energy is gone. I keep a few bottles of energy drinks with me at all times and I make sure that I keep drinking some at least every 30-45 minutes. But I'll have to experiment with some solid foods for really long rides.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by trace22clawson
    I'm new to the STP, but I'm not sure if there is alot of stopping and starting... or if there are long stretches of several miles where you can just pedal.
    On almost all of it you can just pedal. Police are stationed at lights and intersections to wave you through until you get out of the urban areas. Then it's mostly country roads. You just go and go. Pretty flat. If it's a nice day, you'll have a north wind, which really helps for the last 30 miles after you cross the Columbia.

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