Race and Ride
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Atlanta, GA
Bikes: Gary Fisher Procaliber, Colnago C50 Cross, Cannondale road bike
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Here is a quote from Circlip from another forum about Base miles. I am not sure if his explanation is correct but it sounds good to me.
"That shouldn't be taken to say that a very effective program couldn't also be structured around a large amount of early season LSD. However, assuming someone aren't coming off an extended period on the couch with an endless supply of potato chips, then it's probably worth noting that over the years the terms "base training" and "base miles" seem to have gotten iappropriately tied into the LSD concept. Base simply refers to building and fine-tuning your aerobic engine. Intensity levels higher than LSD are more efficient (per hour of training time) for this purpose, so long as recovery is adequate.
If you have large amounts of free time, you could probably build a great program with large LSD components. However, if you're under 10 hours per week you should also seriously look at some newer-school concepts of building base through more "sweet spot" or tempo riding.
So why do professionals spend huge hours early in the season doing what (for their relative ability) is LSD? The answer is that most riders and racers (aside from these professionals doing long stage races) aren't hampered as much by aerobic efficiency as they are by aerobic capacity. These pros need the aerobic efficiency to tap out that final 1%-2% in their potential, and it takes many saddle hours to achieve this i.e. no shortcuts. For the rest of us, we're nowhere near to maximizing our aerobic capacity, and so our training is better to be focused on this instead of trying to squeeze out the last bits of efficiency.
Where 15 years ago everyone wanted to train like a pro, assuming that would also give them the best results, it's now a fairly commonly held belief that training like a pro doesn't necessarily scale down well to a smaller number of available training hours, and for riders who aren't doing 20+ days of ~200km racing. Current methodology for "real" people has come somewhat full circle in that regard.
Then again, there's many different ways to build and execute a successful training program, and it varies by individual. Although you can collect ideas from other people to experiment with, the biggest challenge is to find a program that works for you specifically."