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    Pure Aerobic Trainng

    What's the best way to increase aerobic capacity. I don't need more speed, have never experienced lactic acid buildup in my legs and have never had soreness from a ride, but a ride of 30+ miles at 18-20 mph leaves me feeling completely wiped out for a few days. Rides of less than 20 miles at 20+ mph are no problem, even several a day. Anaerobic training is easy, you destroy the muscles, eat, rest, and they rebuild stronger than before. But for some reason the whole aerobic thing completely escapes me and I can't find much information that is not sport specific. The heart and lungs don't seem to appreciate the anaerobic strategy, at least mine anyway. How many days a week should you push hard, how hard, how much recovery is required, is active recovery always better than complete rest?

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    It's often repeated that the biggest problem many riders have is riding too hard on easy days and not hard enough on hard days. You are basically in a base building stage and you should be doing lots of volume. The problem is you are doing your rides at too high a pace so you are unable to ride consistently. Slow down until you can ride 6-7 days a week. If you're tired keep your ride under an hour and just spin easily.

    Listen to your body and ignore your speedometer for a while. If you have a HR monitor, or better yet, a powermeter you can use those tools to monitor your effort and keep it at a reasonable level.

    You might have a look at Joe Friel's training bible or Thomas Chapple's "Base Building for Cyclists" for more detailed info.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    but a ride of 30+ miles at 18-20 mph leaves me feeling completely wiped out for a few days.
    Pick one day each week, slow down, ride longer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Pick one day each week, slow down, ride longer.
    So there is no aerobic training benefit from fast and short rides? Say you ride for 3 hours, but stop and rest for 5-10 minutes every 45 minutes, does that eliminate any aerobic gains?

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    All you would be getting from that ride is aerobic training (assuming a constant effort). To do anaerobic training you need to do short very hard intervals, like 3 minutes or less.

    If you have to stop and rest every 45 minutes you are going too hard for a three hour ride.

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    I found doing wind sprints (30 - 45 sec all out) 5 or 6 times reach ride with a 2 or 3 min rest in between was the fastest way to build speed and stamina. That said, to build aerobic base just ride at a heart rate just below your aerobic threshold.

    According to Dr Phil Maffetone, that HR is 180 - your age. Add 5 if you are already in shape, and 5 more if over 65 years old. It takes time, but frequency is more important that volume, that is, riding everyday for 30 min is better than one 4 hour ride.

    I just started training with the "Maffetone Method" and it can be pretty hard to keep your HR down in the proper zone, esp if you ride with others or live in a really hilly area. You may have to walk up hills. It is vital to keep your HR down during your training, and if you want to do any speed work like I mentioned above, keep it for the end of the ride.

    I just bought "The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing" by Dr. Maffetone. If you are doing any long distance riding or triathlons or other endurance sports, it's a must. IMHO
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    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    Any HR levels based on age are likely to be incorrect. It's not only Max HR that varies widely between individuals of the same age. LT HR does the same.

    In addition, and unlike Max HR, LTHR can be changed through training.

    If you're doing a 3 hour endurace ride you should be able to hold a conversation.

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    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    So there is no aerobic training benefit from fast and short rides? Say you ride for 3 hours, but stop and rest for 5-10 minutes every 45 minutes, does that eliminate any aerobic gains?
    My understanding of training effects are you get endurance benefits from long steady rides, and from short intense rides (mixes of short & long intervals). If you look at training plans for "fast centuries", you will see a mix of long endurance pace rides (several hours, 1-2/week), interval rides (typically 1-1.5 hrs including warmup, rest periods, and cool-down @2/week); remainder are easy recovery rides (little old ladies and kids are passing you), cross-training (something other than cycling) or rest days. The intervals train your body to work efficiently at higher intensities, making it easier to sustain longer efforts at an easier pace. You develop a reserve capacity for when you have to get up a climb, fight a headwind, or catch on to a group.

    [updated after I saw the post on HR-based training] "Some number - age" forumlas are not a good way to set training levels. Better methods are based on some sort of time trial effort; say warm up, then ride all-out for 20 minutes and take the average HR for the last 10 minutes (to eliminate lags). Recover, repeat, average of the 2 averages is your target threshold number. (The web and search engines are your friend here.) Every 6-8 weeks, retest and see if something is improving. Don't worry if you plateau at times. Testing well (consistently and with focus) is also a learned activity. Fundamentally, ride hard on hard days, moderately on long days, and easy on easy days. Don't sweat the details unless you like riding by the numbers.
    Last edited by ks1g; 06-10-13 at 02:37 PM. Reason: Additional info on using HR

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    Much of the advice above is good. Mix it up, vary the routine, make the hard rides hard and the easy rides easy.

    However, the biggest bang for the buck in terms of aerobic benefit comes in high Zone 2 low Zone 3. If you don't have a HR monitor this won't mean much to you, but it equates to an effort of about 6 on a scale of 1-10, one in which you are breathing deeply but not panting, able to converse but in sentences, not paragraphs. A pace you can maintain for hours, but not all day unless you are very fit.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ks1g View Post
    My understanding of training effects are you get endurance benefits from long steady rides, and from short intense rides (mixes of short & long intervals).
    This is part that is confusing to me. I've read many training plans that include long steady efforts, and short intense intervals. But do the shorter interval rides have any benefit at all for long steady efforts? The long steady distance ("long slow death" to me) is what I have problems with, and the level of effort seems to be incidental to the steady aspect. Intervals are basically what I do for fun when I ride by myself, my natural inclination when just going out for a ride. So from my own experience I'd have to say that the shorter efforts may be worthless in that regard. Maybe I'd do better skipping a few shorter rides to make time for at least one long ride per week?

    There also seems to be broad disagreement about the duration required to gain aerobic benefits. Everything from "at least one hour of steady exercise is needed before any aerobic processes begin", to "there is aerobic benefit from as little as 10 minutes per day". Is aerobic simply too general of a term?

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    If you want to be able to ride 30 miles comfortably, it will start with slowing down a bit and riding 30 miles. Instead of attempting to do it at 18-20 mph, slow down to 16-18 mph. When it starts to feel a bit more comfortable, increase your speed.

    And if you want to be able to ride 30 miles really comfortably, start building up your distance. When you can ride 60 miles comfortably, 30 miles will feel like a walk in the park.


    So yes ... pick one day each week and work on the long steady distance. You can keep doing your shorter efforts on the other days. And remember that long steady distance does not mean painfully slow. Long steady distance is the fastest speed you can keep up for that distance, and still be comfortable enough to ride again the next day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    This is part that is confusing to me. I've read many training plans that include long steady efforts, and short intense intervals. But do the shorter interval rides have any benefit at all for long steady efforts? The long steady distance ("long slow death" to me) is what I have problems with, and the level of effort seems to be incidental to the steady aspect. Intervals are basically what I do for fun when I ride by myself, my natural inclination when just going out for a ride. So from my own experience I'd have to say that the shorter efforts may be worthless in that regard. Maybe I'd do better skipping a few shorter rides to make time for at least one long ride per week?

    There also seems to be broad disagreement about the duration required to gain aerobic benefits. Everything from "at least one hour of steady exercise is needed before any aerobic processes begin", to "there is aerobic benefit from as little as 10 minutes per day". Is aerobic simply too general of a term?
    Aerobic probably is too general a term. As I understand it, intense efforts promote adaptations to heart and lungs while longer, steadier efforts promote peripheral adaptations, such as increased capillarisation of the muscles, increases in the number and size of mitochondria etc. You need both - greater cardiac output and greater ability in the muscles to use the additional oxygen that is supplied.

    The level of effort on LSD rides is not incidental, that's why it is long steady distance not long slow distance.

    Research into the training habits of elite cyclists (and elite runners, rowers and cross-country skiers, as it happens) indicates that their training regimens tend to involve spending about 80% of their time at moderate intensity - long steady rides, for the purposes of this discussion - and 20% at close to or above their lactate threshold.

    It isn't rocket science. If you spend all your time doing intervals without building a big base of aerobic endurance, you'll just tire yourself out, your capacity for recovery will be limited, your training will make slow progress.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    Aerobic probably is too general a term. As I understand it, intense efforts promote adaptations to heart and lungs while longer, steadier efforts promote peripheral adaptations, such as increased capillarisation of the muscles, increases in the number and size of mitochondria etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
    This is cool! A lot more detail than similar charts I have seen. When just going out for a typical ride, not the longer rides with a group, I probably spend a lot time in the 6 and 7 levels.

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    Are you riding with a HR monitor? Are you riding in your aerobic zone on the long rides?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenji666 View Post
    Are you riding with a HR monitor? Are you riding in your aerobic zone on the long rides?
    No HR monitor, no computer, just me and the bike. Yes, the long rides are not terribly uncomfortable during the ride, I'd say anywhere from 2-4 on the above chart. The main difference is that at the 4 level (fairly rare for group rides) I completely run out oxygen with no leg fatigue at all and even at 2 it's the non-stop effort that seems to cause the unpleasantness afterwards. If I do the exact same distance at the same speed, stopping to eat, drink and rest for 5-10 minutes every 45 minutes it's completely different, can ride all day with no ill effects the next day.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    No HR monitor, no computer, just me and the bike. Yes, the long rides are not terribly uncomfortable during the ride, I'd say anywhere from 2-4 on the above chart. The main difference is that at the 4 level (fairly rare for group rides) I completely run out oxygen with no leg fatigue at all and even at 2 it's the non-stop effort that seems to cause the unpleasantness afterwards. If I do the exact same distance at the same speed, stopping to eat, drink and rest for 5-10 minutes every 45 minutes it's completely different, can ride all day with no ill effects the next day.
    So ... you don't actually know if you're riding at a pace of 18-20 mph. Or how far you're going. Or what level on that chart you're riding at different times.

    If you actually want to train, Step 1 would be to get a computer. That's a start. Step 2 would be to get a heart rate monitor. Then Step 3 would be to find a good-sized hill and start doing hill repeats with the hrm on to get some idea of what your max hr might be. Then you can calculate the percentages listed on the chart.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    If you actually want to train, Step 1 would be to get a computer. That's a start. Step 2 would be to get a heart rate monitor. Then Step 3 would be to find a good-sized hill and start doing hill repeats with the hrm on to get some idea of what your max hr might be. Then you can calculate the percentages listed on the chart.
    Actually, the percentages on the chart are based on threshold HR, not max HR. You'll see that they rise to >105%. Max HR isn't a terribly useful number.

    OP, it is perfectly possible to train on the basis of perceived exertion. On the basis of what you say, my view is you need more endurance work, and if you are "running out of oxygen" (which I take to mean getting out of breath) without your legs feeling fatigued then it is indeed your aerobic fitness that is poor. Go longer. If that means, for now, going slower, that is absolutely fine.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    So ... you don't actually know if you're riding at a pace of 18-20 mph. Or how far you're going. Or what level on that chart you're riding at different times.
    Of course I know, following basically the same routes of known length over a period of years, noting when I depart and when I arrive. You might find this hard to believe, but there was a time long, long ago, when people were in fact able to count, multiply and divide without the aid of computers

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    Of course I know, following basically the same routes of known length over a period of years, noting when I depart and when I arrive. You might find this hard to believe, but there was a time long, long ago, when people were in fact able to count, multiply and divide without the aid of computers
    I'm a lot older than you think ... and I've been cycling for 40 years.


    What I'm saying is that if you want to take "training" seriously, get the tools to do so. Yeah sure, you can guestimate distances, speeds, etc. but if you really want to train, why not work with more concrete numbers?

    If you just want to ride, then don't worry about it.

    And incidentally, riding the same route all the time isn't a particularly effective training method. Mix it up!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I'm a lot older than you think ... and I've been cycling for 40 years.


    What I'm saying is that if you want to take "training" seriously, get the tools to do so. Yeah sure, you can guestimate distances, speeds, etc. but if you really want to train, why not work with more concrete numbers?

    If you just want to ride, then don't worry about it.

    And incidentally, riding the same route all the time isn't a particularly effective training method. Mix it up!
    Mostly I'd just like to better understand how it works. After that, if I can learn something that would allow me to get more aerobic conditioning with the limited time I have for rides, it's a bonus. I've been riding for 45+ years, have a strong predisposition towards power over endurance and seldom have more than 4-5 hours per week to ride, so I expect any gains would be marginal at best. But hopefully tangible while not interfering with just going out for a ride.
    Last edited by sprince; 06-12-13 at 07:35 PM. Reason: spelling, grammar

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    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    You should read a book on training and physiology rather than asking a forum, where the answers will vary widely in quality and even the best will be too brief.

    I suggest Thomas Chapple's Base Building book as it has the best explanation of the physiology.

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    People just tend to train to hard too soon. Focus, like the first replier said, on riding ~6 days a week(i tend to enjoy one full day off per week of no riding, just helps mentally and physically to not ride). Do your rides at an easy intensity. One ride per week should be a long slow effort of 3+ hours. Keep the rest around 1-1.5 hours, and GRADUALLY increase the normal rides until you can do about 1.5-2 hours on 5 days a week and 4+ hours one day a week

    It isn't until you have a strong aerobic base to be able to benefit from this anaerobic, high intensity training. And just remember, pro riders hit MHR at most once per month. No need to push extremely hard, but enough resistence to improve

    I say, do the least amount of training as possible to reap the most fitness

    This may sound boring to you to just ride and not do high intensity, but it is so worth it. One day a week I hit it hard with hills. One day a week I do a long, easy ride (16-17mph) of 100k+. One day is completely off the bike. One day is recovery of 30-60minutes. The rest are easy 1-2hr rides

    Hope the best for you!!

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    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
    You should read a book on training and physiology rather than asking a forum, where the answers will vary widely in quality and even the best will be too brief.

    I suggest Thomas Chapple's Base Building book as it has the best explanation of the physiology.
    More brutally: a lot of people here are idiots. If the OP doesn't want to buy a book (and not all books are good) then he'd be better off googling than asking a forum question. Eg

    http://ultracycling.com/sections/art...y_training.php

    Interval training at high intensity has been an accepted part of endurance training at elite levels for years now, because it works - as for why it works, there you get into some pretty complicated physiology.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sprince View Post
    This is cool! A lot more detail than similar charts I have seen. When just going out for a typical ride, not the longer rides with a group, I probably spend a lot time in the 6 and 7 levels.
    Really? Are you sure? Read the descriptions. Unless you are going out for a steady diet of 3x3's and standing start sprints, those are not intervals that a rider would typically just find himself doing on a solo ride.
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