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Solo riding: Structured training advice?

Old 04-28-15, 11:16 PM
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Solo riding: Structured training advice?

I do a considerable amount of my riding solo, and I'm looking for advice on getting a more structured training regimen to gain sustained speed.

In terms of goals, I want to train specifically for a series of local 15-mile time trial events, but also to gain the confidence to do more fast group riding. To make a long story short, I went down/was taken out in a group ride last year and went back to the solo riding I'd always felt more comfortable doing. Showed for another one this spring and was nearly taken out again, and back to solo it was. While I enjoy the camaraderie of it, I'd like to have the speed to get to and stay at/near the front to lessen the risk, and also be able to lay back or catch back up to the pack when I choose not to blow a stop sign or sail over train tracks at 30+ like the rest of the pack. So in essence, I want to be more prepared to ride with fast groups on my own terms and not get dropped.

I have roughly 1,400 base miles in thus far (175-200 per week), with a few hard effort rides mixed in, but no structured intervals to date. I have a "group" I ride with that does TT-style/no-draft/no pace-line rides on Wednesdays that are hard efforts, and then I do a moderate-pace long ride every Saturday. The other 3-4 days each week (I try to ride at least 5 days every week) are generally just gaining mileage or recovery rides but not really doing any form of specific, structured speed training. With this schedule in mind, where should I mix in interval-type training, and in what amount to start? For TT's and just getting faster in general, are intervals going to accomplish more than simply going out and pushing as hard as I can for 20 miles a couple times a week? I've been shooting for 30-35 miles on weeknight rides, but I have to assume intentionally cutting back on mileage but increasing effort is going to net greater results, correct?

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Old 04-29-15, 08:50 AM
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Yes, intervals are what you want, and do more good than just trying to ride hard for 20 miles, which is maybe the least bang for the buck. Buy a copy of Carmichael's The Time Crunched Cyclist. That's what you want, even if you aren't that time-crunched.
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Old 05-01-15, 04:24 PM
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After researching around, it seemed that 30 second intervals with 2-3 minutes of active recovery is a good place to start, but I found pretty quick that my fitness level is above that point. Maybe more like 1 minute on, 2 off, then working up to 1 on, 1 off?

To that end, is there a specific way to approach recovery when it comes to intervals? Do you want to fully recover between each push, or is there value in simply punishing yourself and pushing again before you're recovered? In my experience, this is going to cause each interval to be slower than the previous, because you're still spent, but does this aid in boosting LT and force the body to adapt to recovering faster?
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Old 05-01-15, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreww10
After researching around, it seemed that 30 second intervals with 2-3 minutes of active recovery is a good place to start, but I found pretty quick that my fitness level is above that point. Maybe more like 1 minute on, 2 off, then working up to 1 on, 1 off?

To that end, is there a specific way to approach recovery when it comes to intervals? Do you want to fully recover between each push, or is there value in simply punishing yourself and pushing again before you're recovered? In my experience, this is going to cause each interval to be slower than the previous, because you're still spent, but does this aid in boosting LT and force the body to adapt to recovering faster?
I don't know how you can say that your fitness is above 30s intervals. Short intervals (by which I mean anything under a minute) are typically done all-out. They will hurt; the only question is how long you suffer.

And you don't graduate to longer intervals. If anything it's the other way around. I'll do weeks of 2x20's several times a week early in the season to build up functional threshold power (FTP). As crit season approaches my intervals get harder and shorter.
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Old 05-01-15, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso
I don't know how you can say that your fitness is above 30s intervals. Short intervals (by which I mean anything under a minute) are typically done all-out. They will hurt; the only question is how long you suffer.

And you don't graduate to longer intervals. If anything it's the other way around. I'll do weeks of 2x20's several times a week early in the season to build up functional threshold power (FTP). As crit season approaches my intervals get harder and shorter.
By that, I simply meant that I've gotten this spring to where I don't need 2-3 minutes to recover from 30 seconds. My assumption is at that point you simply shorten the recovery time between intervals, correct? When you say 2x20, what does that mean specifically? I'm guessing 2 sets of 20 intervals, but at what interval time and recovery time?
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Old 05-01-15, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreww10
By that, I simply meant that I've gotten this spring to where I don't need 2-3 minutes to recover from 30 seconds. My assumption is at that point you simply shorten the recovery time between intervals, correct? When you say 2x20, what does that mean specifically? I'm guessing 2 sets of 20 intervals, but at what interval time and recovery time?
2 20 minute efforts usually with 5 minutes easy pedaling between them. Opinions vary on intensity. 95% is common. Some people go harder, although that impacts recovery time. Some people don't work as hard; although at 91-95% I just ride for 75-80 minutes ending up with an uninterrupted hour in the middle.

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Old 05-01-15, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreww10
By that, I simply meant that I've gotten this spring to where I don't need 2-3 minutes to recover from 30 seconds. My assumption is at that point you simply shorten the recovery time between intervals, correct? When you say 2x20, what does that mean specifically? I'm guessing 2 sets of 20 intervals, but at what interval time and recovery time?
Sorry. 2x20' is exactly what Drew said. 20 minutes at 95%, 5 minutes rest, 20 minutes at 95%.

How much rest between intervals varies, depending on the protocol. One of my go-to sets is 6x5' at 105-110% with 1' of rest between them. It's not enough time to fully recover so it makes the final 2 or so a real struggle.

I second the recommendation to get Carmichael's book. It's a great introduction to structured training. It's geared to power but can also be done by HR, or even rate of perceived exertion (RPE). I had great results using it to train for a hill climb TT and I just used a HRM (and diet )

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Old 05-18-15, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso
Sorry. 2x20' is exactly what Drew said. 20 minutes at 95%, 5 minutes rest, 20 minutes at 95%.

How much rest between intervals varies, depending on the protocol. One of my go-to sets is 6x5' at 105-110% with 1' of rest between them. It's not enough time to fully recover so it makes the final 2 or so a real struggle.

I second the recommendation to get Carmichael's book. It's a great introduction to structured training. It's geared to power but can also be done by HR, or even rate of perceived exertion (RPE). I had great results using it to train for a hill climb TT and I just used a HRM (and diet )
Are 2x20s more beneficial than 5 minute, Zone 5 (HR) VO2max intervals? I find that I'm unable to get in one full 5 minute interval at 90% or above, so without having tried it, I'm guessing I could manage 75-80% for 20 minutes, at best. Obviously you're still riding hard, but nowhere near the stress of VO2max.
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Old 05-18-15, 09:59 PM
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They're both beneficial and they will both raise your FTP. I think that if you're training for a TT, you would want to do the shorter, harder efforts. They will pull your FTP up and just as importantly, will get you used to dosing your effort when you're above threshold, and uncomfortable.
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Old 05-20-15, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreww10
Are 2x20s more beneficial than 5 minute, Zone 5 (HR) VO2max intervals?
Opinions and scientific studies vary.

Some show bigger power gains from polarized training where 20% of sessions are above your anaerobic threshold/AnT/VT2/lactate threshold/FTP and 80% below your aerobic threshold/Aet/VT1. Especially for people training 20 hours a week, but also for those on very reduced schedules.

2x20 at 95% of your FTP is between the two and right out under that theory.

The polarized people seem to like 4x8 minutes, where the idea is to be past AnT but still at a point where total time at intensity can be good.

I like 3x10 or 4x10 starting at 110% of FTP where "pulling up" FTP seems logical, more time in zone is good, and it seems to work. Previously I naively believed replacing easy days with tempo rides as I got more fit was good; although it didn't make me gain power faster and stopped my weight loss so that may be wrong. I do still notice that two days later.

I also like to spend another day a week doing a 1:15-1:20 zone 4 ride operating under the theory I'll be better riding at higher intensities longer but have no science behind that. One day of recovery is fine. Some of the polarized science suggests this correlates with reduced performance.

The other side of this is that you need rest.

You need rest weeks so that supercompensation can occur. 1 in 4 is traditional, although some athletes (especially older ones) benefit from 1 in 3. I ride the same mileage but replace the hard days with endurance days and aim to arrive at the following Monday with zero stress balance. The big gains seem to happen then, and stick once no longer fresh.

I find that I'm unable to get in one full 5 minute interval at 90% or above, so without having tried it, I'm guessing I could manage 75-80% for 20 minutes, at best. Obviously you're still riding hard, but nowhere near the stress of VO2max.
Note that

1. These are power numbers relative to FTP (Functional Threshold Power) which is what you could theoretically manage for an hour, and is usually approximated as 95% of what you manage in an all-out 20 minute effort with some protocols preceding that with a maximal five-minute effort so you're less fresh.

2. Equivalent heart rate numbers (94 - 100% for zone 4 threshold, 100-103% for zone 5a VO2max) are relative to your Lactate Threshold Heart Rate NOT your actual maximum heart rate (lactate threshold varies as a fraction of it), and definitely NOT your estimated maximum using a formula which has a 12 beat standard deviation so a given heart rate could be anywhere from recovery to unsustainably hard.

You can estimate LTHR as the average heart rate over the last 20 minutes of a 30-minute all-out effort.

Chris Carmichael has a zone system using the higher heart rate and/or power from a pair of 8 minute intervals that may be easier to accommodate logistically.

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Old 05-29-15, 12:49 PM
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Wattbike and several other sites have free training plans on offer. https://wattbike.com/uk/guide/traini...joanna_rowsell for example.
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Old 05-29-15, 04:26 PM
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From CTS:
Three Key Climbing Workouts for Sustained Power, Surge Strength, and Winning Attacks - CTS
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Old 06-25-15, 11:25 PM
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So as the original post implied, I've been getting more structured with my training of late, including fast group rides and intervals, and have come across some interesting findings.

I've used 5x5 (5 min. rest) and 2x20s (10 mins. rest) as my primary intervals thus far. I know these rest times are perhaps a bit long, but they're a start. What I've discovered is that I can only barely crest into and hold Zone 5 MHR on a 5 minute interval, while on a 20 minute interval, I can cruise at the very top of Zone 4 and even dip into Zone 5 on occasion. This would seem to go along with my actual riding experience, where I can hold a good tempo and cruise at 20-23 mph, but am simply unable to lead out a fast group at 25-30 mph for a stretch - the short 1-3 minute burst simply isn't there.

My MHR is about 194-195, and on a 5 min. interval, I've peaked it at 184 and pretty well stay in the upper 170s, while on the 2x20s I can get and hold it in the low to mid-170s. Without more experience to go by, I would have to assume that HR and therefore power output should be much higher in 5 minutes versus 20 than I'm seeing.

Would this all suggest that I need to work on the short Zone 5/VO2max intervals to build raw power moreso than doing 2x20s, or would that be an incorrect assessment?
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Old 06-26-15, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreww10
So as the original post implied, I've been getting more structured with my training of late, including fast group rides and intervals, and have come across some interesting findings.

I've used 5x5 (5 min. rest) and 2x20s (10 mins. rest) as my primary intervals thus far. I know these rest times are perhaps a bit long, but they're a start. What I've discovered is that I can only barely crest into and hold Zone 5 MHR on a 5 minute interval, while on a 20 minute interval, I can cruise at the very top of Zone 4 and even dip into Zone 5 on occasion. This would seem to go along with my actual riding experience, where I can hold a good tempo and cruise at 20-23 mph, but am simply unable to lead out a fast group at 25-30 mph for a stretch - the short 1-3 minute burst simply isn't there.

My MHR is about 194-195, and on a 5 min. interval, I've peaked it at 184 and pretty well stay in the upper 170s, while on the 2x20s I can get and hold it in the low to mid-170s. Without more experience to go by, I would have to assume that HR and therefore power output should be much higher in 5 minutes versus 20 than I'm seeing.

Would this all suggest that I need to work on the short Zone 5/VO2max intervals to build raw power moreso than doing 2x20s, or would that be an incorrect assessment?
I believe you are correct. Check out: https://www.bikeforums.net/33-road-bi...cipe-book.html
and look at the VO2max and anaerobic intervals.

Although not listed 3' intervals work well for VO2max work. 3' on, 2' off, a set of 3 of those. Don't worry about specific HRs, just hold a steady pace that's absolutely as hard as you can hold for 3 minutes. Tabata intervals are another fun workout.
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