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What to expect after peaking in training (Carmichaels time crunceh cyclist program)

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What to expect after peaking in training (Carmichaels time crunceh cyclist program)

Old 10-17-12, 04:40 PM
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8ounce
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What to expect after peaking in training (Carmichaels time crunceh cyclist program)

I am in the middle of planning out a winter training plan which will consist of a 12 week base. 6 weeks of build up and then 11 weeks of Carmichaels Time crunched cyclist program. I have read over and over again that with Carmichaels time crunched cyclist program you can expect to peak at about week 8 and perhaps hold that fitness for about 3 weeks then you will drop of some.
What my question is (as I have never done a periodized training before) is what exactly to expect after peaking? How much power can I expect to lose and will I still be able to race and go on fast group rides? Also after I experience a drop will I still be better of then when I was before starting the program. I am hoping to enjoy a full summer of riding and racing and not sure if this program would be right for me as I dont have any specific event i need to be in top shape for. If it is not right for me would anyone have another program to suggest for me.

A little about me
39 years old casual cyclist
bike approx 6 to 8 hours a week (thats how many hours i will have to train as well)
usually short intense rides ..almost never go on rides above 1 1/2 hours
Usually average 21 mph for a 45min to 1 hour ride on a flat road
would like to participate in a low level local crit series

Thanks for any advice and or information
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Old 10-17-12, 04:48 PM
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perhaps your $$ would be better spent on a coach. CTS has a basic coaching program that is pretty good. Others are around for good prices too.
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Old 10-17-12, 04:49 PM
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when u peak, you are flying, but its not like u just lose your fitness completly. Generally after a peak i lose the tippy top end power and repeatability, but most of my long term numbers stay the same. For example i was riding yesterday (note nearly 2.5 months out of race season) at just under 30 watts below my max 5 min power for 5 mins, and i was going, but not fully so i might still have my max 5 min.


another note: i peaked once in early spring, once during late june, and carried that peak over through most of july and part of august.
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Old 10-17-12, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by jsutkeepspining View Post
when u peak, you are flying, but its not like u just lose your fitness completly. Generally after a peak i lose the tippy top end power and repeatability, but most of my long term numbers stay the same. For example i was riding yesterday (note nearly 2.5 months out of race season) at just under 30 watts below my max 5 min power for 5 mins, and i was going, but not fully so i might still have my max 5 min.


another note: i peaked once in early spring, once during late june, and carried that peak over through most of july and part of august.
Do you generally have to decrease your training intensity after peaking to recoup?
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Old 10-17-12, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by 8ounce View Post
Do you generally have to decrease your training intensity after peaking to recoup?
Yes, according to Friel seasonal periods of recovery after the Race period is even more important than the short term recovery after big workouts. Friel calls this the "transition", and recommends going back into Build after at least 1 week of transition before trying to peak again, depending how far apart your A races are.
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Old 10-17-12, 05:09 PM
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after ur peak u generally relax a bit maybe a bout a week (same as any 3 week on 1 week off cycle) but for me i was still racing, so i just kept racing.

edit: what he said, week of easy riding, then abck to work.
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Old 10-17-12, 05:16 PM
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Oh..wow 1 week light/rest is not bad at all. I thought I read 4 weeks of rest/light which i thought was way too much.

Thanks for all the help.
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Old 10-17-12, 05:20 PM
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I did 2/3rds of the CTS Time crunched last year, but I had been training at similarly high intensity in short sessions on my own a good 6 weeks prior to that, so it was essentially a similar total time.

I improved some, but for me it felt a lot more that I increased my tolerance to extreme suffering as opposed to that feeling of being able to cruise at speed more easily that I get when i ride a ton of miles (the volume approach in lieu of intensity.)

I read about the 'peak', but I honsetly didn't have a key race to truly measure a true PR, so that's limiting. However, I will say that I did notice that around the time of that expected peak, i wasn't getting any faster and the workouts werent' getting any easier. I simply was plateaud out, and that made training even more agonizing, since it's already bad enough to suffer through high intensity sessions, but take away the carrot of improvement, and it'll all go to hell quickly. I think that's pretty much what he was talking about - it wasn't like I suddenly got worse or had a puzzling drop in ability - it's just that the gains dropped off nearly completely, even for some serious suffering, and it just became not worth it at that point.

I've had much more success as of late of easing off a lot on the intensity and preferring volume instead - at least for me, I can continue to gain for long periods of time, without that quick plateau.

Still, it's a good program for the severe time constraints put upon it.
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Old 10-17-12, 05:29 PM
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Buy the book. It's cheap and will answer most of your questions.

Before purchasing the book I was doing my own adhoc HIT program. After 12 weeks I would simply become "fatigued" and incapable of really "hitting it", then I would get sick (a cold, the flue, etc.) I repeated this cycle a couple of times before investing the few dollars in Carmichael's and Friel's books.

I feel like The Time Crunched Cyclist is really a bit of a let down. He doesn't provide you with nearly as much info as he could have in that number of pages. There is a lot of repetition and salemanship toward getting a CTS coach for individualization. Instead of providing you with all the building blocks to create and manage your own program.

Friel on the other hand provides exactly those building blocks. But, aimed at individuals who have 10 or more hours available per week for training.

Read them both. Combine what you learn. Take all the interval variations that you're aware of and determine how they fit into Carmichaels TCC program and away you go.

I'm now much better at subscribing to 3 on/ 1 easy. But, Carmichael would still have you do an extended "recovery" or "build" after the 11-13th week.

I'm currently in my 11th week of a program and have 5 weeks to my goal century. My previous record before collapse was 16 weeks. So, I'll add another "easy" week between now and then and see how I go.

Really the books are cheap and combined they provide you with some knowledge for managing yourself, if you aren't going to hire a coach.
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Old 10-18-12, 07:10 AM
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Disclaimer: I haven't done the Time Crunched program. I also used to try and peak but realized that even with 10-15 hours of training weekly I was never actually peaking - my summer was usually one long build up period. Finally when I was committing to peaking (insanely hard build up to a period of rest, etc) I realized I was staking everything on one race. Since individual races aren't quite so important to me I decided to stop doing the peak thing. I found that my performance was better overall (that was a long time ago).

When a rider sacrifices the longer rides they lose the ability to bounce back from hard work. Think of it as eating sugary carbs instead of complex ones. Both fuel you for a bit of time but one leaves you feeling drained and weak in a short period of time. Longer rides condition you to make efforts over a longer period of time, meaning you can ride well for a month or three at a time. I can't prove it but this has been my experience.

With (any) HIT programs you end up lacking that resiliency. This means that you feel pretty good in the middle, working hard, then it kind of drops off. You fatigue quicker, you feel less coordinated on the bike, things don't flow so smoothly. That's what you'll feel at the end of the peak - a bit off, tired, grumpy, a bit disappointed in your riding.

Short HIT programs also, and more significantly, neglect form. I mean, okay, it's possible to work on form or improve it significantly but it's less likely if you're constantly thinking about when to make the next effort or trying to get to the end of the effort you're doing right now. (Likewise it's possible to work on form on a stationary trainer but highly unlikely - rollers seems to promote form much better and more consistently than trainers).

For me my form comes from longer rides. A lot of friends/riders question the wisdom of doing 5 or 6 hour rides when I'm going to be racing 1 hour crits. It's because my form gets more efficient on longer rides simply because I'm too tired to do inefficient stuff. I find myself relaxing this part of my body or using that part or whatever. After a few of these long rides (okay, maybe 50 or 100 over 5-10 years) I was much more efficient on the bike. Every position whether sitting or standing had a comfortable automatic feel. I could also sense when things were not so good and force myself to get on the rollers again, or work on spinning, or whatever.

Regardless I'm pretty sure that you'll be stronger at the end of the program than at the beginning if you just started on the bike. You'll feel much stronger, understand how to work harder on the bike, etc. This would be the case with anything where you devote 6-8 hours a week to "practice" whether it be martial arts, a musical instrument, or the bike.

It's unclear where you live but if you live in an area where it snows and such in the winter (I live in CT so that's one such place) then now is not the time to destroy your pedaling form or start on some poor pedaling habits. There's something to be said for good pedaling form - in the spring you can tell who's been riding trainers and who did the rollers - the roller guys are super smooth but lack a bit of top end. The trainer guys are strong but all over their bike, very rough. After a month or two of racing the smooth guys gain power and the rough guys are still rough. That's an oversimplification, and it holds less true nowadays (with rollers with resistance etc) but this is what I observed for probably the last 20 years.

If I were a coach working with a new racer then I'd focus on pedaling form first. I happened to study violin for many years and I had a huge advantage because I was taught (unbeknownst to me) good form (my violin teacher was a pro, when I realized how good he was it was kind of like finding out after the fact that your cycling coach did the Giro and Paris Roubaix in support of Gimondi... which one of mine did). My form with the violin allowed me to play better than others, extract a better and more consistent tone. I was a top (4) rated violinist in the state in high school, limited by my lack of coordination (I couldn't play ultra fast). I learned with the violin that form is extremely important. It's the same with cycling.

Work on form. Are you clutching your bars? Relax your grip, your shoulders, your arms. Are your elbows splayed out? Tuck them in. Pedal circles - think "spin faster" not "pedal harder" when doing sprints. When you spin 110-120 rpm do you bounce on the saddle? That's a killer habit that you need to stop right away - a good friend of mine simply cannot get rid of his bounce after 25 years because he started with HIT (because he was so results oriented) instead of working on form. He was strong 25 years ago but now, with less time to train, his pedaling inefficiency really costs him. He regrets not working on his form early on and he admitted as much recently.

Can you hit 160-180 rpm on your bike outside, or 180-200 rpm inside? On an indoor flywheel fixed gear bike can you hit 220-250 rpm? Can you sustain 120 rpm average for an hour? These are sanity checks on form. They don't prove that you have good form but they are good checks to see if you're on the way.

If you resemble a pro in form then by all means do whatever HIT you feel like doing. But if you don't pedal as smoothly as a pro then you owe it to yourself to work on that first.
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Old 10-18-12, 12:29 PM
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CDR and JKS have offered some good advice.

Some other things to consider:

Peaking is not an exact science. You can set up a plan to peak at a certain point, but you may end up peaking two or three weeks early or two or three weeks late. So, don't worry too much about peaking.

If you have never followed a strict training plan before, you may see a huge improvement and that you are flying, or you may just find yourself ridiculously tired. If it is the second, you are over training. Sometimes, you don't even realize you are over training until it is too late. Last year, for example, I substantially upped my base mileage. By the time the race season started here in late January, early February, I was actually too fatigued to race well. I had to adjust my plan and insert a large break before resuming my training.

And the one week rest periods are designed to off set a three week build period. If you reach a point where you are fatigued, you may need to do a 3-4 week rest. After each race season, I take a month off the bike and spend that time resting, running, swimming and lifting weights. It's a good physical and mental break and helps to keep me from plateauing.

Don't forget to take mental breaks. If you are doing a strict training plan, it can sometimes wear you out more mentally than it does physically. I reached a point last year where I woke up one Sunday, it was at the end of a build period and the last day before I went on a rest week, and I just did not feel like riding. Don't be surprised if that happens.

Finally, if you reach a plateau - when no matter how much you are training, you aren't seeing any improvement and maybe even some decline, take time off.

Good luck, and remember, no matter how much you train, you won't be prepared for you first race. That's just the way it goes.
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Old 10-18-12, 12:56 PM
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My main critique of the CTS Time-Crunched having done most of it, is that I feel it's really almost all VO2-type gains, which plateau fast and are very hard to improve.

That's the nature of the VO2 system - yes, it's probably your hard race pace, and is vital for performance in short distance racing, but it's also been shown to be genetically determined for the most part. It improves very quickly if you're untrained, and accounts for most of the huge gains in speed that untrained or out-of-shape athletes get when they start training for real. However, you can near-max your VO2 in 2-3 months of hard training,and after that, you won't be squeezing out significant gains.

That's when the distance component comes in - your musculoskeletal and aerobic efficiency systems are much slower to improve but have a much slower plateau. This is why cycling (or running) for years at high volumes continues to pay small but real dividends, even if your VO2 is maxxed.

I'm familiar with how improving each of these system feels, and for sure, those short CTS bursts were highly, highly geared toward Vo2 efforts. Yes, it'll get you the greatest amount of speed in the short term, but be prepared as well for a rapid plateau and dropoff if you back off the intensity. I've switched back to more aerobic volume type training in this off-season, as I'm going to build the base now and top off that VO2 in the 2-3 months prior to racing again next season.
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Old 10-18-12, 03:13 PM
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Thanks for all the great suggestions and advice. During my base building period i will definitely do lots of reading to better plan a decent training regiment.As i said before peaking is not a priority for me and I would rather have a consistent season then big peaks. I looked into betting a coach/trainer but was more then I was willing to spend (costs were around 1200$ for 12 weeks of 2 sessions a week) I guess I could afford it, but have other priorities and at the end of the day I do enjoy reading up and learning things on my own.
As for form, I just dont have the space for rollers, I have a r&r kurt kinetic and have done lots of 1 leg drills as well as fast pedals. i did see quite some improvement last year... I will do more of that this year and just do the best with what I have got.
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Old 10-18-12, 04:08 PM
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I did the Time-Crunched program this past winter in preparation for races this past year. My plan was to be flying at the beginning of the year, get as many points possible at the early spring crits and road races, and upgrade to CAT3...mission accomplished. The "Crunch" plan makes you really fast and strong, for a short time (for me that was about 3 months, from March to May). After that, I burned out pretty bad. Like SDC put it, my form went to sh*t and I felt tired all the time. I could not keep up during the longer road races and crits over the summer.
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Old 10-18-12, 05:09 PM
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Would 3 days a week of intervals 1 recovery ride and 1 longer tempo ride done for 3 weeks on 1 week rest/light be a decent plan to build on?
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Old 10-18-12, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by 8ounce View Post
Would 3 days a week of intervals 1 recovery ride and 1 longer tempo ride done for 3 weeks on 1 week rest/light be a decent plan to build on?

In the simplest of terms, 5 rides a week similiar to what you're suggesting is the back bone in the most basic sense of what's in the HIIT programs and should come out to around 6-8 hours per week. What type of intervals you include, their realative distribution, the order you do them in, etc. will impact your outcome.

Really, The Time Crunched Cyclist is a cheap book. Less than $15, as is The Cyclist Training Bible. You'll get way better advice and knowledge from purchasing and reading those two than you will by trying to build a training program over the forum.

I think forums such as this one are great for answering questions about others experience, and subjective results. But, they work best when answering a specific question.

Your first question was way more specific than your last.
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Old 10-18-12, 05:28 PM
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One of the most important parts of The Time-Crunched Cyclist is the part labeled "Terms and Conditions". In it, Carmichael outlines what this program can and cannot do. The most important part for me was where he wrote that the program works well for events under three hours. Since the events I'm interested in are over three hours, I hoped he was wrong...but he wasn't.

The program did improve my fitness, so I decided 1) to make more time available on the bike and 2) to get a coach. I'm using Carmichael's least expensive program, and am on the bike up to 11 hours/week. This is working out far better for me and my goals. I'm both stronger and have better endurance than before. To Carmichael's credit, he points out that if you can spend more than eight hours/week, the traditional training model works better.

For what the OP wants, I think the time-crunched program will fulfill his goal. Also, if he's comfortable with the internet, the Carmichael Training Systems coaching program I'm on is $160/month for a year contract. It's money well spent, IMHO.
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Old 10-18-12, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
In the simplest of terms, 5 rides a week similiar to what you're suggesting is the back bone in the most basic sense of what's in the HIIT programs and should come out to around 6-8 hours per week. What type of intervals you include, their realative distribution, the order you do them in, etc. will impact your outcome.

Really, The Time Crunched Cyclist is a cheap book. Less than $15, as is The Cyclist Training Bible. You'll get way better advice and knowledge from purchasing and reading those two than you will by trying to build a training program over the forum.

I think forums such as this one are great for answering questions about others experience, and subjective results. But, they work best when answering a specific question.

Your first question was way more specific than your last.
Yes I am getting ahead of myself.
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Old 10-18-12, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by revchuck View Post
One of the most important parts of The Time-Crunched Cyclist is the part labeled "Terms and Conditions". In it, Carmichael outlines what this program can and cannot do. The most important part for me was where he wrote that the program works well for events under three hours. Since the events I'm interested in are over three hours, I hoped he was wrong...but he wasn't.

The program did improve my fitness, so I decided 1) to make more time available on the bike and 2) to get a coach. I'm using Carmichael's least expensive program, and am on the bike up to 11 hours/week. This is working out far better for me and my goals. I'm both stronger and have better endurance than before. To Carmichael's credit, he points out that if you can spend more than eight hours/week, the traditional training model works better.

For what the OP wants, I think the time-crunched program will fulfill his goal. Also, if he's comfortable with the internet, the Carmichael Training Systems coaching program I'm on is $160/month for a year contract. It's money well spent, IMHO.
+1 to Terms and Conditions and 3hrs.
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Old 10-19-12, 11:54 AM
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So, good plan for a triathlete doing 20-40k rides in his races?
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Old 10-19-12, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
So, good plan for a triathlete doing 20-40k rides in his races?
It's actually a perfect plan for triathletes doing 20-40k bike legs for sprints/olys. That's exactly the distance this training is optimized for and will yield greatest results.

For longer stuff like HIM or IM where the bike is 56 or 112 miles, this program will be inferior to ones that call for long bike rides to get the aerobic system at distance trained. But for hammerfest 1hr intensity or shorter, it doesn't get much better than the high-intensity Carmichael system. You would actually go faster in the shorter race on the time-crunched hi-intensity program than doing a traditional big miles but more mellow overall traditional bike training regimen unless you were a LOT higher in volume on the traditional program. To ride fast at 30-60 minutes, you gotta train fast.
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Old 10-20-12, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
+1 to Terms and Conditions and 3hrs.
True, but the book does included TTCC training plan for a century. I doubt the expectation is that you'd complete it in under 3 hrs.
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Old 10-20-12, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
True, but the book does included TTCC training plan for a century. I doubt the expectation is that you'd complete it in under 3 hrs.
That's correct, but he points out that you have to consciously conserve your energy, and recommends you do negative splits (the first half slower than the second) to ensure you make it through without running out of legs.
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Old 10-20-12, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by revchuck View Post
That's correct, but he points out that you have to consciously conserve your energy, and recommends you do negative splits (the first half slower than the second) to ensure you make it through without running out of legs.
How many legs do you all have?
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Old 10-20-12, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
True, but the book does included TTCC training plan for a century. I doubt the expectation is that you'd complete it in under 3 hrs.
True, but, within those Terms and Conditions and again at the beginning of the Century training plan he makes it abundantly clear that Time Crunched Training is not ideal for such a distance, that you will have unrealized potential that the program is incapable of developing and that the reason for that plan's inclusion is a commercial one because it represents the largest share of potential book users. He makes it perfectly clear that if you want to pursue a personal best or come close to your personal potential, you need to dedicate more than 6-8 hours per week.
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