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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Seems trying to find a training plan is harder than training

Old 05-03-09, 05:40 PM
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cycle2death
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Seems trying to find a training plan is harder than training

I've been a recreational cyclist for about three years. I fade in and out as the weather trains but for the past couple of months I've been riding no matter what. With about 100-150 miles a week I've seemed to have platued on power and speed. I can only power so much over the hills and can only go so fast through the flats. In search of a training plan that will help me get in "race shape" I've been on the search for a training plan. Reading other posts is helpful but I'm becoming discouraged quickly. I've been trying to decipher the Cyclist's Training Bible but that can be harder than college courses I take. I know I can' be the only one that has felt this way. What have you guys done to push through this stage in your training? Thanks for the help and advice. I really appreciate it.
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Old 05-03-09, 05:52 PM
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I spent the past 5 weeks doing 20min intervals w/5 min rest twice a week; a steady tempo ride well below threshold and a very easy long distance ride with a 10-15 second sprint every 15 minutes. I made the biggest gains ever.
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Old 05-03-09, 06:06 PM
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You need something to plan for. Pick a goal. Something challenging will do.
A Century is one thought. One day a week do a long ride. Most weeks try to do it
a little longer; but once a month shorten it up and go fast.

Have one day a week where you do intervals, and on another day work on climbing.

And then stop worrying. You are doing great, after the initial burst, progress comes slower and you have to work harder and train smarter.
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Old 05-03-09, 06:09 PM
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What bike and gearing do you ride?
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Old 05-03-09, 06:54 PM
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I have an 07 Giant OCR C1. Just a standard 53/39 crank. Thanks for the advice Dubbayoo. I'm assuming a 20 min interval is an all out sort of thing? I have the edge 305 w/hrm and have kind of studied zones. Is this 20 min on then 5 min off supposed to be done in zone 4 or about 85% hr? As far as the goal, I'm a broke college student but my dad and I are doing the Seattle to Portland ride in July. I want to start racing though in mid to late June if I can scrounge up the cash. Thinking of doing a 60 mile RR. Kind of nervous to start in with the crits
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Old 05-03-09, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by cycle2death View Post
I have an 07 Giant OCR C1. Just a standard 53/39 crank. Thanks for the advice Dubbayoo. I'm assuming a 20 min interval is an all out sort of thing? I have the edge 305 w/hrm and have kind of studied zones. Is this 20 min on then 5 min off supposed to be done in zone 4 or about 85% hr? As far as the goal, I'm a broke college student but my dad and I are doing the Seattle to Portland ride in July. I want to start racing though in mid to late June if I can scrounge up the cash. Thinking of doing a 60 mile RR. Kind of nervous to start in with the crits
join a team? at least for my team, if you pay for the race team membership, you get a whole year of training plans and stuff. plus teammates are awesome.
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Old 05-03-09, 07:18 PM
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I'm learning, more through my training with weights, that the plan doesn't really matter all that much, especially in the beginning. There are what experienced coaches call beginner (or newb) gains, that are huge, linear, and will come even through bad training.

Does this mean you shouldn't attempt to train according to a plan? No.

Does this mean you shouldn't record your workouts in a log that you'll keep for years? No.

It simply means that you needn't worry so damned much about your training. Pick a program, stick with until progress stops or slows. Analyze your position, figure out what, if anything needs to change, and then implement that change. Observe, and figure out if you did the right thing. If not, go back, repeat. Note all your changes and soon you'll be your own best coach. Spend some time learning about how the body adapts to exercise, so that you'll understand what's under the hood.

Mostly, however, analyze less and train more. The internet has lead to people no longer thinking, and simply looking around for the next best program. The next best program is the one that you design specifically to address your weaknesses. Until you get to a certain point, everything is a weakness.
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Old 05-03-09, 07:21 PM
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I've joined a local race team but these guys are way out of my league. I was doing the weekend group rides but now that the race season is here they're out racing. None of them are below Cat 3 so even in group rides I'm out of my element lol. I'm in the process of trying to find a different group ride that's a bit more my speed but still challenging. Doesn't help with trying to find a training plan of sorts. I'm going to try this week and do the 20 min intervals with long rides on the weekend and see what happens. Thanks again for the advice guys!
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Old 05-03-09, 07:28 PM
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2x20min on/5min off, twice a week, with longer rides on the weekends. Intervals should be as hard as you can sustain for 20 minutes. Hills work best for this; find a hill that takes you 20 minutes to climb and climb it twice as hard as you can go, then cool down and go home. If you can't find a hill, just find a road that's about 6-10 miles long with no stops. Make sure it doesn't have much traffic; if you are doing it right, you aren't going to be terribly comfortable toward the end of the set.

That's your plan. At your stage in the game, choose a plan, any plan, the simplest plan that will get you some intensity, and just stick with it. It's not of much importance what the plan actually is. As long as it gets you some intensity.

-------------------------------------------------------
Here's a plan:

Monday: rest or commute to work easy
Tuesday: 2x20min intervals, 5min between intervals. Warm up medium effort and cool down easy for 20 minutes before and after set.
Wed: rest or commute to work
Thursday: 2x20min intervals
Friday: rest or commute to work
Sat: team or group ride
Sunday: solo ride, 2hours, around 40 miles, if you are up to it. Skip it if you aren't.

Now, go. If you must skip anything, just make sure you get the 2x20 intervals in, twice a week.

You'll be able to keep up with your teammates by the end of summer.
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Old 05-03-09, 07:29 PM
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I would think that it would take so many years to get into a perfect race plan, and even that would take constant consistent conditions in weather. one missed day CAN make a difference
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Old 05-03-09, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by cycle2death View Post
I've been a recreational cyclist for about three years. I fade in and out as the weather trains but for the past couple of months I've been riding no matter what. With about 100-150 miles a week I've seemed to have platued on power and speed. I can only power so much over the hills and can only go so fast through the flats. In search of a training plan that will help me get in "race shape" I've been on the search for a training plan. Reading other posts is helpful but I'm becoming discouraged quickly. I've been trying to decipher the Cyclist's Training Bible but that can be harder than college courses I take. I know I can' be the only one that has felt this way. What have you guys done to push through this stage in your training? Thanks for the help and advice. I really appreciate it.
I agree with you. For some bizarro reason or another, cycling workouts in books by nature seem to be completely indecipherable.

I'm fully aware of the various conditions, bike types, terrain, and other confounding factors that make it difficult to just prescribe and easy workout, but for beginners or early intermediates (heck, even for me!), an incremental plan that just said "ride xxx # of minutes at easy / medium / hard" would suffice - even to competition level.
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Old 05-03-09, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
2x20min on/5min off, twice a week, with longer rides on the weekends. Intervals should be as hard as you can sustain for 20 minutes. Hills work best for this; find a hill that takes you 20 minutes to climb and climb it twice as hard as you can go, then cool down and go home. If you can't find a hill, just find a road that's about 6-10 miles long with no stops.

That's your plan. At your stage in the game, choose a plan, any plan, the simplest plan that will get you some intensity, and just stick with it. It's not of much importance what the plan actually is. As long as it gets you some intensity.

-------------------------------------------------------
Here's a plan:

Monday: rest or commute to work easy
Tuesday: 2x20min intervals, 5min between intervals. Warm up medium effort and cool down easy for 20 minutes before and after set.
Wed: rest or commute to work
Thursday: 2x20min intervals
Friday: rest or commute to work
Sat: team or group ride
Sunday: solo ride, 2hours, around 40 miles, if you are up to it. Skip it if you aren't.

Now, go.

You'll be able to keep up with your teammates by the end of summer.
Thanks. I've seen this plan before and it seems easy enough. 2x20min intervals is two sets of a 20 min effort that's hard right?
Sorry for the seemingly obvious question that eludes my newbie ways lol
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Old 05-03-09, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by cycle2death View Post
Thanks. I've seen this plan before and it seems easy enough. 2x20min intervals is two sets of a 20 min effort that's hard right?
Sorry for the seemingly obvious question that eludes my newbie ways lol
Yup. And the hard effort is as hard as you can possibly sustain constantly for 20 minutes. It'll take a couple weeks to calibrate this effort. Don't be afraid to "fail" a set because you did your first 20 minute interval too hard. Just take note of it and adjust accordingly. Hills are best for this because wind (which varies day to day) doesn't play a large part. You can calibrate your efforts by just noting where you ended up on the hill, or how long it took to get to a certain landmark.

This plan has taken me to racing in the Cat3s. Now that I'm here, I'm expanding my horizons a bit (experimenting with "periodization" and "peaking" and "building," whatever the hell it all means), but it's all I did this winter.
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Old 05-03-09, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
...
You can calibrate your efforts by just noting where you ended up on the hill, or how long it took to get to a certain landmark.
...
One last comment: you'll need something to monitor your progress is the point.

Seeing yourself get stronger week by week is part of the appeal of the interval set. Unless you have a powermeter, doing the intervals on flat terrain is harder. You can get a heartrate monitor and pick a heartrate to follow and you'll get the training benefit, but you won't be able to see your progress as easily (speed is variable by the wind, and your 20min heartrate won't change as you get more fit).

Distance up a hill gives you the training benefit and lets you see your progress in no uncertain terms. A trainer with a rear wheel speed sensor has the same benefit (power is proportional to speed on a trainer; as you get stronger, you'll get "faster"). A powermeter is the grand-daddy of all training tools, and priced accordingly, but gives you both benefits on any terrain.
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Old 05-03-09, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
One last comment: you'll need something to monitor your progress is the point.

Seeing yourself get stronger week by week is part of the appeal of the interval set. Unless you have a powermeter, doing the intervals on flat terrain is harder. You can get a heartrate monitor and pick a heartrate to follow and you'll get the training benefit, but you won't be able to see your progress as easily (speed is variable by the wind, and your 20min heartrate won't change as you get more fit).

Distance up a hill gives you the training benefit and lets you see your progress in no uncertain terms. A trainer with a rear wheel speed sensor has the same benefit (power is proportional to speed on a trainer; as you get stronger, you'll get "faster"). A powermeter is the grand-daddy of all training tools, and priced accordingly, but gives you both benefits on any terrain.
I don't really have the long climbs that last 20 min. I do have long rolling rides that I think I can do this on. Should I stick to only 2 sets of 20 or should I do more if possible. I guess if I can do more than 2 then I'm not pushing hard enough so nevermind My max heart rate is about 210 bpm. You say I should set a certain heartrate, would about 175 be acceptable or is this something I need to figure out myself?
Thanks Brian
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Old 05-03-09, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by cycle2death View Post
I've been a recreational cyclist for about three years. I fade in and out as the weather trains but for the past couple of months I've been riding no matter what. With about 100-150 miles a week I've seemed to have platued on power and speed. I can only power so much over the hills and can only go so fast through the flats. In search of a training plan that will help me get in "race shape" I've been on the search for a training plan. Reading other posts is helpful but I'm becoming discouraged quickly. I've been trying to decipher the Cyclist's Training Bible but that can be harder than college courses I take. I know I can' be the only one that has felt this way. What have you guys done to push through this stage in your training? Thanks for the help and advice. I really appreciate it.
Go to www.trainingpeaks.com. You can either buy a pre-packaged training plan or create your own with "Virtual Coach," where you enter your events and their respective priorities (A, B, C) and it spits out a training bible-compliant schedule for you. It's most excellent.
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Old 05-03-09, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by DrPete View Post
Go to www.trainingpeaks.com. You can either buy a pre-packaged training plan or create your own with "Virtual Coach," where you enter your events and their respective priorities (A, B, C) and it spits out a training bible-compliant schedule for you. It's most excellent.
I've looked into this but I don't know if I'm at that point where I want to pay money for something that may not stick with me. Besides, I'm already living on rice and chicken as it is lol
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Old 05-03-09, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by cycle2death View Post
I don't really have the long climbs that last 20 min. I do have long rolling rides that I think I can do this on. Should I stick to only 2 sets of 20 or should I do more if possible. I guess if I can do more than 2 then I'm not pushing hard enough so nevermind My max heart rate is about 210 bpm. You say I should set a certain heartrate, would about 175 be acceptable or is this something I need to figure out myself?
Thanks Brian
You should be blown after two. Warmdown and go home. 175bpm is probably a good starting place. It really depends on the individual though. Mine is 170-180. But I've got a teammate who would do his at 180-185, and another who's at 150-160. It really varies by person and age. If you are young (your max suggests you are), you might try 180 to start and adjust from there. The objective is to do the entire 40 minutes of intervals at the same HR. If, at the end of the set you have more left in the tank (you could have continued after the second interval), do the next set (on a different day) at a couple bpm higher HR.

Again, it'll take a couple weeks to get into rhythm. Don't be afraid you are somehow "missing" training; no such thing. Any intensity leads to improvements in fitness. The worse thing you can do is panic and think you aren't doing enough and to compensate by trying to cram in too many miles in a week. You'll fall into the fabled 80% trap where you are doing an awful lot of riding every week, but everything is being done at 80% effort. You never train the top end, which is what is required for racing.

These intervals should be at 100%, and then you go home; even if you feel you could have ridden longer afterwards. The intent is to train your body to go harder than it's gone in the past. To put more force to the pedals for longer periods of time. It's not the intent that you are pedaling squares at the end of the workout or to go so hard for so long that you can't walk the next day. You probably won't even feel it the next day because you are training primarily your lungs and heart, not your muscles.

Hopefully this is putting things in perspective. The training programs you read about in the books are mostly directed at riders who've been training and racing for several years and are trying to further hone an already sharp knife. In fact, in Friel's book (The Cyclist's Training Bible), he even says that if you are in your first two years of training, to ignore almost everything he's written and keep it very simple.
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Old 05-03-09, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
You should be blown after two. Warmdown and go home. 175bpm is probably a good starting place. It really depends on the individual though. Mine is 170-180. But I've got a teammate who would do his at 180-185, and another who's at 150-160. It really varies by person and age. If you are young (your max suggests you are), you might try 180 to start and adjust from there. The objective is to do the entire 40 minutes of intervals at the same HR. If, at the end of the set you have more left in the tank (you could have continued after the second interval), do the next set (on a different day) at a couple bpm higher HR.

Again, it'll take a couple weeks to get into rhythm. Don't be afraid you are somehow "missing" training; no such thing. Any intensity leads to improvements in fitness. The worse thing you can do is panic and think you aren't doing enough and to compensate by trying to cram in too many miles in a week. You'll fall into the fabled 80% trap where you are doing an awful lot of riding every week, but everything is being done at 80% effort. You never train the top end, which is what is required for racing.

These intervals should be at 100%, and then you go home; even if you feel you could have ridden longer afterwards. The intent is to train your body to go harder than it's gone in the past. To put more force to the pedals for longer periods of time. It's not the intent that you are pedaling squares at the end of the workout or to go so hard for so long that you can't walk the next day. You probably won't even feel it the next day because you are training primarily your lungs and heart, not your muscles.

Hopefully this is putting things in perspective. The training programs you read about in the books are mostly directed at riders who've been training and racing for several years and are trying to further hone an already sharp knife. In fact, in Friel's book (The Cyclist's Training Bible), he even says that if you are in your first two years of training, to ignore almost everything he's written and keep it very simple.
Sounds awesome! This is exactly what I needed. I've just picked my race. It will be a 30 mile crit (5 laps of 6 miles) and now with a plan and a goal (staying in the pack without getting dropped) I'm pretty excited to start a real training plan. And to think I was just going to do my normal week of 150 miles of random pedaling lol.
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Old 05-03-09, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
You should be blown after two. Warmdown and go home. 175bpm is probably a good starting place. It really depends on the individual though. Mine is 170-180. But I've got a teammate who would do his at 180-185, and another who's at 150-160. It really varies by person and age. If you are young (your max suggests you are), you might try 180 to start and adjust from there. The objective is to do the entire 40 minutes of intervals at the same HR. If, at the end of the set you have more left in the tank (you could have continued after the second interval), do the next set (on a different day) at a couple bpm higher HR.

Again, it'll take a couple weeks to get into rhythm. Don't be afraid you are somehow "missing" training; no such thing. Any intensity leads to improvements in fitness. The worse thing you can do is panic and think you aren't doing enough and to compensate by trying to cram in too many miles in a week. You'll fall into the fabled 80% trap where you are doing an awful lot of riding every week, but everything is being done at 80% effort. You never train the top end, which is what is required for racing.

These intervals should be at 100%, and then you go home; even if you feel you could have ridden longer afterwards. The intent is to train your body to go harder than it's gone in the past. To put more force to the pedals for longer periods of time. It's not the intent that you are pedaling squares at the end of the workout or to go so hard for so long that you can't walk the next day. You probably won't even feel it the next day because you are training primarily your lungs and heart, not your muscles.

Hopefully this is putting things in perspective. The training programs you read about in the books are mostly directed at riders who've been training and racing for several years and are trying to further hone an already sharp knife. In fact, in Friel's book (The Cyclist's Training Bible), he even says that if you are in your first two years of training, to ignore almost everything he's written and keep it very simple.
Thanks for taking the time to answer this post so thoroughly im in the same position as the op and all this helps out a lot.
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Old 05-03-09, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Aimulator64 View Post
I would think that it would take so many years to get into a perfect race plan, and even that would take constant consistent conditions in weather. one missed day CAN make a difference
Not at the OP's level of fitness. No need to be OCD right now, as long as the gist of "intervals, twice a week" is followed.
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Old 05-03-09, 09:18 PM
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Wow, thanks for the detailed explanation, Brian. I'm in my first full season so this kind of thing is exactly what I need to read. I doubt I'll be racing, but I do sort of feel like I've peaked with the rather all-over-the-place "training" schedule and I would like to be able to see improvements.
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Old 05-03-09, 09:19 PM
  #23  
Barese Rider
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Ive looked thru Cyclists Training Bible a few times.. Ive come away with a few thoughts train hard, rest harder,eat like youre 50000 years old, and look for his next book any time soon.
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Old 05-03-09, 09:23 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by cycle2death View Post
Sounds awesome! This is exactly what I needed. I've just picked my race. It will be a 30 mile crit (5 laps of 6 miles) and now with a plan and a goal (staying in the pack without getting dropped) I'm pretty excited to start a real training plan. And to think I was just going to do my normal week of 150 miles of random pedaling lol.
Good luck!
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Old 05-03-09, 10:55 PM
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This thread reflects how GREAT this forum can be! Cheers Brian!!

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