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Old 12-15-07, 07:35 AM   #1
JayhawKen
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Intervals during base training

Is there any detriment to doing short intervals during base training this time of year?

Friel and Carmichael both suggest that VO2-type training should be deferred until later in the cycle, after maybe 8 - 12 weeks of base are laid down. But if you start doing shorter 60s to 90s intervals, maybe once or twice a week, does it somehow interfere with building an aerobic base? Put aside the issue of whether it increases injury risk.

During this time of year, work time and darkness conspire against me such that I only see daylight on weekends. So that means a lot of time on the trainer. Intervals are a way to make that time go faster, and have a big payoff for time spent.

Just wondering if there are times when you should not be doing them.
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Old 12-15-07, 08:40 AM   #2
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As long as you don't neglect base building I don't see how 1% of your time spent at L4+ should hurt?!?
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Old 12-15-07, 09:12 AM   #3
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I've thought of this quite a lot love the years-- as a runner and as a cyclist. And what's more, I'm in the very same boat as you-- for me this time a year, its intervals or nothing.

What I've discovered this year (and it this discovery that will have made my most successful winter ever), is the Spinervals DVD series. I bought two Disks in November-- 25.0 Aero Base Builder V- the Compilation and 22.0 Time Trialpalooza. So far, I'm only able to manage an hour and a half into the first. I figure that by the time I'm able to "comfortably" complete it in its entirety of 2 hours, I'll be ready to tackle the second.

The point is, I am doing intervals. Aerobic intervals. Disk 25.0 takes me right up to the top of my aerobic zone (if I understand it correctly), and takes me to the bottom of that zone during recovery periods. The more I do this, the more I believe in it. And I know for certain, that I would not be able to train this well without the assistance of the program.

I see no harm in doing short-burst work. Intervals of that nature will serve you well in terms of muscular conditioning. I know that in my days as a runner we would do 200 repeats throughout the year to maintain natural speed. But there is a big difference between that and the types of workouts in which you ride the aerobic/anaerobic threshold (400-800 repeats as a runner). The wisdom as I understand it holds that you shouldn't be doing those until later in the season when you mean to sharpen up.

All this seems very intuitive to me. But if anyone has a better, alternate theory, then I'd love to hear it!
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Old 12-15-07, 09:26 AM   #4
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You really need to do speed bursts even if you decide not to do intervals. If you train at one speed, you race at one speed. Do 20 second pickups, six of them or something with a minute rest in between at the end of your LSD rides.
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Old 12-15-07, 03:26 PM   #5
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I think it's okay to do intervals; I work them into my own schedule. I thought I had read that it might even be recommended for those that have winters and can't stay outside for 3-4 hrs and then do base miles later on. (Am I off track here?)
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Old 12-15-07, 03:41 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by JayhawKen View Post
Is there any detriment to doing short intervals during base training this time of year?

Friel and Carmichael both suggest that VO2-type training should be deferred until later in the cycle, after maybe 8 - 12 weeks of base are laid down. But if you start doing shorter 60s to 90s intervals, maybe once or twice a week, does it somehow interfere with building an aerobic base? Put aside the issue of whether it increases injury risk.

During this time of year, work time and darkness conspire against me such that I only see daylight on weekends. So that means a lot of time on the trainer. Intervals are a way to make that time go faster, and have a big payoff for time spent.

Just wondering if there are times when you should not be doing them.
When does your race season start....we start in about 6 weeks here in Socal, so most of us racing are in full throttle misery right now. I was stressing about this stuff a couple of months ago and my friend and our team trainer brought up the point that i (and most of us on here probably) can benefit from intervals year around as we aren't really that strong anywho...unless you're full on training to peak at a certain time most of us meer mortals have allot to gain from intervals on and off year around.
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Old 12-15-07, 08:33 PM   #7
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As most have stated, it is ok to throw them into the mix. This will in no way hurt your aerobic base. In fact, most off-season training plans that I have seen have at least short bursts thrown in. The key is to no overtrain and either injure yourself or burn yourself out before the season starts. One interval session per week is not going to hurt you.
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Old 12-15-07, 09:41 PM   #8
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Carmichael actually recommended recently doing intervals during the winter, so apparently he's changed his opinions.

I think it's okay to do a few intervals now and then, but I wouldn't spend a lot of time doing.
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Old 12-17-07, 11:29 AM   #9
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I've read the exact opposite of what everyone here is stating. Even one interval will destroy the tiny capillaries that base training builds. That being said, I'm doing intervals, but I understand that I'm not doing base.
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Old 12-17-07, 12:46 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Pedal Wench View Post
I've read the exact opposite of what everyone here is stating. Even one interval will destroy the tiny capillaries that base training builds.
I read that thunder is caused by two clouds bumping into each other; both theories have beed proven false.
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Old 12-17-07, 02:34 PM   #11
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Whoever recommended the short microintervals in their rides has the right idea. Ignoring the half-life of energy systems/detailed physiology explanations, doing 30sec microintervals with some rest between them -- 30-60s -- is a good way to get "free" power.
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Old 12-17-07, 03:09 PM   #12
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I read that thunder is caused by two clouds bumping into each other; both theories have beed proven false.
http://www.bikereg.com/Cycle-Smart/a...s/20070202.asp
Quote: Notice that nowhere in these recommendations for the base period has there been mention of any anaerobic intervals. That's because you don't need to do them until your goal volumes of easy, light and middle have been achieved. This frightens many riders, but once they try this approach and find out how much easier their races have become, how much longer their season lasts, and how many more anaerobic intervals they can do once they finish their base training, the results speak for themselves. Normally in your base period, introducing racing or hard group rides once a week in the final month will provide you with all the anaerobic work you will need, and often more, as you begin to make that transition to being fully in season. Remember that training hard is easy. You want to add some brain to that brawn, and leave your ego, as well as your competitors, behind.

Or:

BASE UPDATED

By Rick Crawford

I have taken a strong stand on base training for many years, and I have adopted a very strict regimen that has proven extremely effective for my athletes. As the time looms large for base to start in earnest for a large sector of the competitive cycling world, I thought it would be good to address the most pertinent issues, go into more detail, and provide scientific references that support it. I also took the opportunity to fix some problems with my past references to base. It is my hope that this will provide help to those in defining what base is really about and give guidance and confidence that the work will be truly effective. I protect my stance on base largely because my experience bears out the incredible effectiveness of low-intensity base work. believe me, over thirty years I have tried just about every way of starting a program. I keep coming back to low intensity because it just plain works best.



The process has not changed. Base will be carried out exactly the same way as in years previous, with requisite increases in volume and intensity that progression dictates. But other than that, the only changes are corrections to the theory behind base, and analogies used to describe base. I have researched exhaustively on the topics of capillarity and oxidative enzymes, as they are affected by base. I have compared low-intensity with high-intensity regimens to better understand the reasoning behind a strictly low-intensity base regimen. While the results of doing base are the same, I must update my previous understanding.

For years, I have preached that constant low pressure stimulates increased capillary density (capillarity). After continuing study, I have discovered more details. At low intensity, arteriole flow is increased by endothelial cell response (vasodilation). Arterioles are the terminal branches directly upstream of the capillaries, and are primarily responsible for regional flow capacity of blood to muscle fibers. Arterioles grow in size and in number at low intensity exercise, significantly increasing flow to affected regions (McAllister et al. 2004). It is the capillaries that actually distribute that regional blood flow. For simplicity sake, it is safe to say that this results in enhanced delivery of oxygen and substrates to muscle fibers.

A new and super significant concept of base has emerged from my research. At the ~70% max base HR, which is relatively low intensity, the tortuosity of the vessels are increased also, which means that more of each capillary is in proximity to the muscle fibers they supply (Kadi et al,**** 2003). The term tortuosity means that the capillaries twist and wind themselves around the specific muscle fibers they are serving, which means better service. More capillaries that are specifically oriented to serve the specific areas of need means more goodies arriving to the fibers in demand.

High intensity exercise yields increases in oxidative capacity as well as capillarity, but does not enhance regional blood flow, which would lead to the conclusion that the arterioles are not positively affected at higher intensities. That means that increased capillarity without arteriole enhancement yields no gain in regional blood flow (Maxwell, et al. 1980). Studies done on subjects with diseases that limit blood flow show great losses in endurance performance, which should demonstrate how important regional blood flow is. So, the proper terminology is "vascular enhancement", specifically, "arteriole enhancement" and "capillary tortuosity" being the primary vascular tenets of base. It is my understanding that arterioles can adapt in both size and number, increasing the amount of blood that can pass downstream to the capillaries. The key point is that base must still be done at low-intensity to make this happen. Vessel tortuosity is also exclusively a low-intensity operation and is extremely important to the base mission.

I will still stick to my guns that base can be blown if you go over the designated intensity. I will do that on the aspect of progression alone, and because I have enough history with base to respect its importance. It makes sense that the body makes decisions based on trending and will interrupt growth trends in response to fluctuations in trends. It's not worth the risk to take chances that the full benefits will not be realized. Can base be blown with a single high-intensity burst? That would make a good study! As stated above, it has been shown that low-intensity endurance training induces endothelium-dependent vasodilation of arterioles (McAllister et al. 2004). This coupled with the aforementioned study showing no change in regional blood-flow at higher intensities would lead me to conclude that lower-intensity is the means to greater blood flow. The idea of base is to give the body consistent, low pressure that it can make residing adaptations to. burst of intensity will logically interrupt trends the body is trying to react to. The moral. just say no to intensity during base.

The CNS sparing effect is worth considering as a tenant of base as well, and as such, a low-intensity program fits nicely. There is a knee-jerk reaction to try to hold on to fitness gained during the season before, and that is a logical objective. But it should be evident from the facts stated here that there are aspects of fitness that must be addressed at low-intensity to make the endurance athlete whole. Doing sprints in the middle of January to maintain/build speed gained the season before rather than fortifying the bases of endurance is not good logic. The time for speed comes all too soon. The CNS will drain quickly under intense regimen, and that system must be managed at all costs, even at the price of letting go of top-end speed temporarily. The net gain in base will make the need for top speed less determining. If you are one who is willing to bank on your sprint in every race, you should consider base so that your ability to conserve your energy for the sprint will make your chances even better of winning. If your not making the selection to use your sprint, base can help with that. Or perhaps you increase your chances by eliminating the need to sprint at all with your enhanced endurance. Doing base will not cost you speed, it will make you faster, bottom line. Managing systemic central fatigue is a large part of the form management process. use energy as it is needed, when it is needed. It is wise to hoard CNS energy for the time when it will most be needed.

There is a direct correlation of mitochondrial size and population to endurance performance. Mitochondria are the cellular entities where aerobic energy production is performed, using oxygen to metabolize food and produce ATP. Low-intensity endurance training will increase mitochondrial size and number, and the progression to higher volumes will stimulate increased mitochondrial proliferation (Holloszy et al. 1967). Aerobic energy processes will be enhanced because of more and bigger mitochondria. This is a huge aspect, as the mitochondria is where the oxygen processing occurs, and with the added benefit of better delivery due to enhanced vascularity, two significant limiters of endurance performance are addressed through base.

It's worth noting that anaerobic exercise shrinks and reduces the number of mitochondria, and that fast twitch muscles aren't blessed with loads of mitochondria like slow-twitch fibers are. High intensity work produces significant positive changes in mitochondrial output (Dudley et al. 1982), but does not lead to mitochondrial proliferation. I could not find studies that demonstrate the combined effect of low-intensity, followed by periods of high-intensity (as a proper periodization would suggest) on mitochondrial status. It makes sense that you would want to optimize your mitochondrial work force by doing low-intensity exercise, and then train them to put out more with high-intensity work. That is very consistent with sound periodization. That should get the message across that doing low-intensity base hours are what an endurance athlete needs to help them deal with oxygen, and while we will butt up against that anaerobic monster in due time, base is when we deal with the physical build-up of our aerobic arsenal. We are endurance athletes, and we are defined in good measure by our aerobic capacity. Build the energy factories first, and then progressively teach them how to produce through progressive intensity.

Metabolic efficiency is also a major area that is addressed during base. It is well documented that low-intensity exercise promotes the body to use fat stores over precious glycogen stores (Romijn, Coyle et al. 1993). Base is where this task will predominantly take place. In the two mesocycles (8 weeks) of consistent low-intensity, the body is given plenty of time to make metabolic decisions about what fuel should be utilized and where it should come from. While metabolic efficiency is important throughout the season, base provides a unique opportunity to focus on the task at hand. Teach your body to burn fat during base, and as you progressively work towards higher intensities in the training phases to come, your body will have the basis for the most efficient use of its endogenous fuel sources. Base is a good time to incorporate a high-protein, low-carb diet, with a good measure of essential fatty acids through good oils, to train the fat-burning mechanism.

You won't "blow" base with a playful surge. But you may compromise it, and until more evidence is available, I'm telling my athletes to respect the prescribed limits like there's a whipping for going over. There are extremely complex biochemical relationships going on in the body, and it makes sense that each progression to higher form would require physical and chemical structure, and adequate time allotted to build that structure, to support its ultimate load.

Additionally, base is a good time to work on structural issues. Get a good line on your structural patterns and disparities and work on them during base. Really, the structural issue is year-round and base is no exemption. Work on neuromuscular efficiency and muscular strength by using a variety of cadences during base, all done of course while honoring base HR prescription. Single leg pedaling is a good way to rebalance and a little should be done each day to help reverse structural degradation.

I spent dozens of hours reviewing abstracts and studies to document the tenants of base, and to explain its critical role in endurance training. I have an absolute testimony of the effectiveness of this base program.This review reinforces my belief that there is an absolute order to endurance training, and that progression must be honored for potential achievement. I am sure that revelations will continue, along with progress in the realms of exercise physiology, and that my understanding of the marvels of athletic endeavor will also progress. Progression is fundamental, and for every progression, there is a commencement. Let base commence, and with it, a fortified expectation of success.
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Old 12-17-07, 03:21 PM   #13
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So many words. If you were going to quote Rick, why didn't you find where he wrote explicitly that his statement that high intensity efforts destroy capillaries was wrong?
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Old 12-17-07, 03:42 PM   #14
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Rick, albeit a great coach, is not a physiologist and does not have the research to prove that point.

Most of his athletes have unlimited time to train. If you increase intensity with each athlete's already long, 30hr weeks, you probably will kill their base -- with overtraining.
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Old 12-17-07, 03:54 PM   #15
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So many words. If you were going to quote Rick, why didn't you find where he wrote explicitly that his statement that high intensity efforts destroy capillaries was wrong?
Because instead of just quoting something that could be construed as being taken out of context, I believe that you and the original poster might benefit from a full explanation of his reasoning. Sorry if there are too many words. I did not write the article, and I was not the one who needed explanation of a theory.
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Old 12-17-07, 04:08 PM   #16
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Because instead of just quoting something that could be construed as being taken out of context, I believe that you and the original poster might benefit from a full explanation of his reasoning. Sorry if there are too many words. I did not write the article, and I was not the one who needed explanation of a theory.
I did not comment one way or the other on his theory. I only remarked on the statement that higher intensity can "burst" capillaries; something Crawford himself has disavowed and admitted was an error.
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Old 12-17-07, 04:28 PM   #17
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I did not comment one way or the other on his theory. I only remarked on the statement that higher intensity can "burst" capillaries; something Crawford himself has disavowed and admitted was an error.
Had I known that the theory was disproved, I would not have posted it. Since you obviously do know that, perhaps you could educate both myself and the OP he can figure out his own training?
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Old 12-17-07, 04:33 PM   #18
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Had I known that the theory was disproved, I would not have posted it. Since you obviously do know that, perhaps you could educate both myself and the OP he can figure out his own training?
Based on my knowledge of the effect of intensity on the destruction of capillaries, I advise you and the OP to disregard bursting capillaries as a factor in setting the volume, intensity, and specificity of your training plans.
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Old 12-17-07, 04:48 PM   #19
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The Crawford quote only reiterates what Lydiard had preached. It's not new. There had been recent talk in the Googles Wattage forum about the possibility that Lydiard may have been right all along regarding his approach to base building, strength building, increasing VO2Max, and then peaking. And, yes, doing it that way does require time.

Crawford may not be a physiologist, but he did quote studies performed by physiologists.
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Old 12-17-07, 07:46 PM   #20
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There are essentially two ways to train:
1) I have unlimited time and want the best possible result.
2) I have limited time and want the best possible result.

In situation #1, riding so much base that doing intervals would result in overtraining is probably the way to go.
In situation #2, a mix of intensities gives the best result.
I've tried using method #1 in situation #2 and can testify that the results are much worse than a using mix of intensities. Talking 10 hours a week or less.

That's not to say that one shouldn't periodize one's training. Quite the contrary. But if you're in situation #2, doing some zone 3 and LT intervals in the winter will have you in better shape when March rolls around than if you hadn't done them.

I usually avoid anaerobic intervals in winter as they really cut into your ability to ride a lot of base when you're not in top shape. But a few sprints seem to be a very good idea as they keep your legs strong.

Whoever mentioned microintervals knows something. I find my base rides are much more effective if I go hard on two or three short hills - so short that my HR doesn't come all the way up to where my effort would drive it if I continued.
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Old 12-17-07, 09:33 PM   #21
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Is there any detriment to doing short intervals during base training this time of year?
No one can base an answer on the little info you post. The main thing about any training program is to repeatedly stress a particular energy delivery system and muscle tissues repeatedly.

No one knows whether your Intervals are hurting your workout, apparently, not even you.
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Old 02-25-08, 06:23 PM   #22
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Base Mileage

[QUOTE=Can base be blown with a single high-intensity burst? That would make a good study! [/QUOTE]

I am one person that, based on what I am experiencing now, has blown a lot of my hard winter work out the window.

I started my base mileage in the middle of December, being careful to keep the HR ceiling at 70% of my MaxHR. During this time I also threw in some Charmichael-inspired workouts - Power Starts, Fast Pedal. Week after week I could feel that I was getting stronger. On weekend rides with my buddy I would throw in the occasional jump, but nothing seriously intense.

Roughly 3 weeks ago, I went out on a group ride and decided that I would ride with the A group. I had previously ridden with the Bs and felt that I needed to bump up the intensity on my weekend rides. I also felt it would be a good test of my fitness and to throw in some race simulation would allow me to work on the tactial aspects of racing.

People, this was a MISTAKE. Things were fine as we rolled out and got moving, but when we hit the hills the pace got much too intense for me. I fell off the back during climbs and fought like hell to catch them on the flats. Me and my ego were NOT going to let them loose. I was wearing my HR monitor and I can tell you that I was on MaxHR or close to it (189) for several minutes during the ride. My average HR for the 2 hr, 36 mile, HILLY ride was 167.

That night, I felt an intense fatigue that I have NEVER felt before in my life, and I'm not new to this cycling thing. I decided to take the next day off and see how things felt the day after. Did my usual 70% workout and could feel I still hadn't fully recovered. Fever, night sweats, no deep breaths bothered me for 3 weeks as I've rested and made small improvements since.

I may not have ruined my cycling season, but I think I came damn near doing it..

Last edited by miljam; 02-25-08 at 06:28 PM.
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