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Thread: Base training

  1. #1
    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Base training

    It's that time of year, again, at least for roadies in the northern hemisphere.

    I'm interested in opinions and experience regarding the fitness developed in base training, i.e. riding lots of slow, easy miles, and avoiding hard efforts. As a very general rule of thumb, I've heard keeping your HR below 140. I guess the purpose is to improve muscular capillarisation (not sure if that's a word) and mitochondria.

    So, is it inevitable that you lose some or all of your base conditioning during a season of hard riding? I mean, if you just did hard, 20 or 30 mile rides, I could see that you're going to sacrifice something. But what if you do lots of longer rides. Is it the lack of easy miles that causes it to decay? Granted, I'm ready to give my legs a good, long rest. But base training for three months just seems like starting over from scratch.
    Last edited by koffee brown; 10-10-03 at 03:59 PM. Reason: Oops, I meant to click on reply, and I accidentally clicked on the edit instead. My bad! :-D

  2. #2
    Bike Happy DanFromDetroit's Avatar
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    I find that I can keep my fitness base through the winter with regular long runs and relatively slow pace. I add tempo (LT) runs as Spring arrives and then spend about 6-8 weeks doing Interval training for late Spring and early Summer races. Then I have another "semi-relaxed" period followed by more tempo runs to prepare for a Fall marathon followed by JRA (just running around) in the Winter.

    One of the problems that I have with my own training is that when I am at my best, I am also very close to the level of activity and intensity that provokes injuries. I can only sustain this for a few weeks each year.

    I am a big believer in the training methods of Arthur Lydiard. Here is a short discussion of periodization as it applies to Cross Country running but I am sure you can see the parallels to cycling and could adapt this to almost any racing season.

    Dan
    There is nothing homlier than the face on your last dime.
    --John Wildcat, Greenback Friend

  3. #3
    The Cycling Photographer SipperPhoto's Avatar
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    I have already started my off-season training... I'm still going to ride on the weekends.. but at least during the week.. I'm stuck.. I ahte riding at night in the dark... I've picked up running... 2-3 times a week for 2-3 miles... working my way to running a 5k... and then riding 30-50 miles in my club on Saturday or Sunday... I have a bike trainer in my garage... but I haven;t been able to get myself on it yet... it is way too boring.. but I'm sure I'll be on there before long...

    Jeff
    Jeff

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  4. #4
    Guest
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    It's that time of year, again, at least for roadies in the northern hemisphere.

    I'm interested in opinions and experience regarding the fitness developed in base training, i.e. riding lots of slow, easy miles, and avoiding hard efforts. As a very general rule of thumb, I've heard keeping your HR below 140. I guess the purpose is to improve muscular capillarisation (not sure if that's a word) and mitochondria.

    So, is it inevitable that you lose some or all of your base conditioning during a season of hard riding? I mean, if you just did hard, 20 or 30 mile rides, I could see that you're going to sacrifice something. But what if you do lots of longer rides. Is it the lack of easy miles that causes it to decay? Granted, I'm ready to give my legs a good, long rest. But base training for three months just seems like starting over from scratch.
    Easy answer, cause it's just too hot to sit here and go through the complexities right now- As you stress the body more, you do lose some base conditioning. A good periodization program allows for a few weeks off the bike after the training season ends, then time base training as long as you need (can be 2 weeks or two months depending on how taxing your season was), then building with tempo training and steady state training after the base building). If you're a very fit individual, you won't need to spend much time in base, so if you can get tested by a performance lab, they can determine how fit you are (measuring VO2 max and anaerobic threshold as your benchmark for your fitness level). Let the tests determine how long you will be at base.

    At the end of the training season, you're just tired, and the body needs a break- a prolonged break from the stress you've continually put upon it with the stressful demands of your rigorous training schedule. As I said before, if you're very fit, you won't need a long time training at base, but if you're really concerned, get tested. The initial test always hurts the most because you have to pay for the equipment, but once you've paid for that, it's cheaper when you go back, because you keep the equipment you got tested with and bring it back and reuse it.

    Happy training!

    Koffee

  5. #5
    Pat
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadbuzz
    It's that time of year, again, at least for roadies in the northern hemisphere.

    I'm interested in opinions and experience regarding the fitness developed in base training, i.e. riding lots of slow, easy miles, and avoiding hard efforts. As a very general rule of thumb, I've heard keeping your HR below 140. I guess the purpose is to improve muscular capillarisation (not sure if that's a word) and mitochondria.

    So, is it inevitable that you lose some or all of your base conditioning during a season of hard riding? I mean, if you just did hard, 20 or 30 mile rides, I could see that you're going to sacrifice something. But what if you do lots of longer rides. Is it the lack of easy miles that causes it to decay? Granted, I'm ready to give my legs a good, long rest. But base training for three months just seems like starting over from scratch.
    The idea of base training had its origin, I think, in pro riders and it also had an appeal among most cyclists because most of them came from areas with cold winters that tended to shut down cycling for an extended period of time.

    The proriders would stop riding at the end of the season. They would get out of shape. So they would go out and do 1000-2000 miles as a "base" before they rode really hard. If you go out and ride really hard without a base, you can easily injure yourself. So the notion of having a "base" became enshrined in cycling lore. It is less applicable nowadays with the procyclists remaining pretty fit year round.

    Now there is some advantage to be gained by long relatively slow rides. But it all depends on what your goals are. I mean if you are a sprinter on track bikes, long slow rides really won't do you much good.

    Also going out and developing a base at solely low effort levels for an extended period of time will do more harm then good. You will lose a lot of your fitness at the high intensity end of the work out. When you find a lull in your racing routine, you can put in more long slow rides to just round things out and perhaps to keep things fresh. But I would strongly recommend that you keep some high intensity workouts in the mix to maintain the fitness you already have gained.

  6. #6
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    Actually, the idea of base training comes from periodization training, which was largely developed in part by a (great) man, Tudor O. Bompa, PhD. He is regarded as the person who revamped the training regime of many athletes.

    Prior to Bompa, the idea of training was all out power, with little or no recovery time. This antiquated idea is still maintained worldwide by many recreational athletes, and (to a lot of shock) some professional athletes, although in the professional world, periodization is becoming more and more popular as the less successful athletes see the more professional and successful athletes using periodization training principles to hone and develop themselves into winning more and more often. Bompa was an athlete himself, and developed what he considered a superior training program, and using that program, he kicked major butt. When he moved into training, he continued to train his professional clients, and as his clients began winning, people began observing Bompa's success and his formula for training and replicating it with their own athletes. Sometime in the 1960's, he began training with athletes from Eastern Europe, which led to dominance of Eastern European athletes. Bompa finally took mercy on the Western world and moved his training program to our hemisphere, and mercifully, we also began developing our athletes so that they could also rise to dominance in the sport. Today, Dr. Bompa continues to lecture and teach in Canada, and if you went to every coach with successful athletes and asked them how they trained them, they'll tell you it was a periodization program, and if they ask who was the person who most influenced them with periodization program, at least 95% of them would (IMHO) say Dr. Bompa. Here's some sites about Bompa- everyone ought to have at least one of their books in their libraries if they're training!
    http://www.tudorbompa.com/main.htm

    http://www.t-mag.com/articles/202bompa.html

    http://www.exrx.net/Store/HK/Periodi...ningSport.html

    If anyone knows Barb Lindquist (http://www.barblindquist.com/), she is the current number one triathlete in the world. She's held that title for the last two years, having just been named number one for 2003 after she won all 5 Accenture triathlons in 2003. When she won Mrs. T's in Chicago this year, she said that she doesn't train harder since she's getting older and a little slower with her times, she just trains smarter- she does a smart periodization program, and this works for her, and as a result, she's developed into one of the greatest athletes of all time (in my opinion, that is). I actually consider her a much better athlete than Lance Armstrong- she competes much more than Lance and wins more often.

    Another person using periodization training is Lance- working with Chris Carmichael, he's developed himself into a highly successful athlete. All of us who read his first book remember when he talked about his all out training routine before meeting Carmichael. I doubt that he would be as successful today if he hadn't brought Carmichael onto his team and developed a superior periodization program. Notice how a lot of cyclists, both professional and recreational are now mimicking Lance's program for themselves and are seeing gains in strength, power, and endurance, and (hopefully) winning more races.

    Another great athlete, Steve Prefontaine, utilized periodization, but only after he failed to medal at the Munich games in 1972. He failed to pace himself and conked in the final meters, ending with a 4th place finish. The Europeans were all over him at this point, having trained with periodization methodolgies, and at that point, Prefontaine got a new coach and a new training program. We don't know how far he could have gone, as he died before he could compete at the next Olympics, but his records in some events still hold today, over 20 years later. Prefontaine was always a superior athlete, but his all out training methods kept him from attaining an Olympic medal, and after modifying his training program, many believe he would have medalled at the next Olympics, and even at subsequent Olympics, when he would have been well into his 30s. Here's a good one about Prefontaine: http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/6/6_1/240.shtml

    Knocking the importance of base training is a mistake made by many who have little or no reverence, respect or understanding of it's principals. To understand it is to know how to train to the highest levels, and that includes knowing how long to base train. For the fittest athletes, this will not be very long in base training, but for the less conditioned athlete, or for the athlete who's overtrained, base is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of periodizaton. Still, even then, in order to determine the length of your training, you will need to be tested for lactic acid clearance and formation during training, max hr, VO2 max, and anaerobic threshold, and at the very least, determine what your anaerobic threshold is at the conclusion of your training season. From this, one can determine how long to stay in base before incorporating other branches of the periodization training into your training program.

    Koffee
    (ever-toting periodization fanatic)

  7. #7
    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Thanks to all for your input. Came across this article today. It seems pertinent.
    Endurance
    Heed the Ironman's mantra: Going slower can make you faster.

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