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Chris Horner is not a fan of intervals

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Chris Horner is not a fan of intervals

Old 01-24-24, 10:32 PM
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Chris Horner is not a fan of intervals

I thought this was kind of amusing. https://youtu.be/98_Xf8MRmQQ?feature=shared
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Old 01-25-24, 06:04 AM
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A bit old-school, but I like it!
Snickers & coke isn't really an option on a long hot ride without a support car, lol.

I go back and forth on the merits of doing intervals, but I avoid the classic rigid fixed block intervals. Wahoo SYSTM has much more interesting interval workouts, which often mimic race scenarios rather than tedious fixed power block intervals and recoveries. I find those are far more enjoyable and they force me out of my comfort zone. But often I just use Zwift events to get in the hard efforts. Any Zwift race/event is guaranteed to generate a load of MAP intervals and the longer climbs are good for endurance and FTP efforts. Outdoors I get my "intervals" from the countless short/sharp climbs around my local routes.

However we achieve them, I think MAP/VO2 max "intervals" are a good regular habit in moderation.
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Old 01-25-24, 08:11 AM
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I've always thought that intervals are only needed by those that cycle in flat areas. The constantly rolling terrain I ride in around here gives me plenty of interval training.

I've got no argument with what he says about dieting on the bike. He's only talking to those that want to be able to perform their best. Not to everyone that is riding a bike.
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Old 01-25-24, 08:11 AM
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Coca Cola, Snickers and Cliff bars for nutrition but barely a word for the Hammer, etc. stuff on the other side. Talk about old school.
Considering most of his races were around 100 miles it seems to make sense that short burst intervals aren't going to be all that helpful.
His take on nutrition is spot on imo.
Considering how many days of racing a world tour pro did during his career it is likely during the 'season' he did lots of intervals, but they weren't programmed but either chasing down an attack or attacking...that brief burst of speed at full gas or nearly so then settling down into a maintainable high effort perhaps repeating several times is an interval.
At least in my opinion...
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Old 01-25-24, 08:27 AM
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I really respect what Chris Horner accomplished as a tour cyclist and like his analysis as a commentator.

A current resident of Bend, Oregon,[4] Horner dominated the American road racing scene by winning the points standings in the 2002, 2003 and 2004 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar.[5] He won the Vuelta a EspaŮa in 2013, becoming the oldest winner of any of cycling's grand tours in the process.[6]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Horner
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Old 01-25-24, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
I've always thought that intervals are only needed by those that cycle in flat areas. The constantly rolling terrain I ride in around here gives me plenty of interval training.
I sorta agree, sorta not. If one has a decent fitness and relatively low weight, and/or has sufficiently low gears, you can often climb in Z3 (if not even Z2), even on pretty steep climbs (I'd personally call 'pretty steep' up to about 10-12%). Ludicrously steep (say, 15%+) climbs will put most mortals into Z4, or at least high Z3, though. Everyone, and every region, and everyone's gearing, is different. My basic point is, though, that I can do a multi-hour ride with climbing rates up to 100 ft/mile and never leave low Z3 - IF I don't choose to. I am average fitness, relatively lean, but have very low gearing.
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Old 01-25-24, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Steamer
I sorta agree, sorta not. If one has a decent fitness and relatively low weight, and/or has sufficiently low gears, you can often climb in Z3 (if not even Z2), even on pretty steep climbs (I'd personally call 'pretty steep' up to about 10-12%). Ludicrously steep (say, 15%+) climbs will put most mortals into Z4, or at least high Z3, though. Everyone, and every region, and everyone's gearing, is different. My basic point is, though, that I can do a multi-hour ride with climbing rates up to 100 ft/mile and never leave low Z3 - IF I don't choose to. I am average fitness, relatively lean, but have very low gearing.
For the sake of brevity, I don't include all the many if's, and's or but's that would make one have to read a few pages or words.
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Old 01-25-24, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
I've always thought that intervals are only needed by those that cycle in flat areas. The constantly rolling terrain I ride in around here gives me plenty of interval training.

I've got no argument with what he says about dieting on the bike. He's only talking to those that want to be able to perform their best. Not to everyone that is riding a bike.
Flatlander here - intervals absolutely help me when on the hills.

I can say that I don't see huge gains in my FTP from intervals over non structured training, group rides or tons of Z2 - FTP goes up at about the same rate +/-, slow and steady.

What I do see is vast improvements in my ability to ride within or at my threshold without blowing up. The ability to do multiple repeat efforts at threshold level during a longer ride, and better recovery from those efforts. And my all day cruising speed increases as well.
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Old 01-25-24, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Kai Winters
Coca Cola, Snickers and Cliff bars for nutrition but barely a word for the Hammer, etc. stuff on the other side. Talk about old school.
Considering most of his races were around 100 miles it seems to make sense that short burst intervals aren't going to be all that helpful.
His take on nutrition is spot on imo.
Considering how many days of racing a world tour pro did during his career it is likely during the 'season' he did lots of intervals, but they weren't programmed but either chasing down an attack or attacking...that brief burst of speed at full gas or nearly so then settling down into a maintainable high effort perhaps repeating several times is an interval.
At least in my opinion...
Wahoo SYSTM actually uses pro rider power profiles recorded during races (scaled down relative to your own mortal FTP) for some of their interval workouts. Itís quite interesting to see how many hard efforts they really have to make.
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Old 01-25-24, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Wahoo SYSTM actually uses pro rider power profiles recorded during races (scaled down relative to your own mortal FTP) for some of their interval workouts. Itís quite interesting to see how many hard efforts they really have to make.
This is particularly true for domestiques vs. the protected leader, and particularly when escapes are trying to form near the start of the race; even more so in the third week of a Grand Tour when there are teams who still haven't won anything. There's surge after surge while the DS's are trying to figure out the right composition of an escape they can let go. People think the surges are at the end of the races. That's true for the protected leaders but for the water carriers the selections happen all along the way. It's brutal.

Like most riders at the top, Horner is pretty much a genetic freak. He never did hyper-structured intervals at target wattages for target durations because he never needed to. He got his interval work during training and racing. I'm not a fan of hyper-structured workouts, but I am a fan of some structure.
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Old 01-25-24, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
For the sake of brevity, I don't include all the many if's, and's or but's that would make one have to read a few pages or words.
I was showing you some courtesy by qualifying it. Ok, how's this: Nobody is forced out of Z3 (thus riding at an intensity that could be labeled an interval) by 'constantly rolling terrain' as you suggested.
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Old 01-25-24, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Steamer
I was showing you some courtesy by qualifying it. Ok, how's this: Nobody is forced out of Z3 (thus riding at an intensity that could be labeled an interval) by 'constantly rolling terrain' as you suggested.
I'm okay with either way you said it. I was talking about my riding. And for me, my terrain encourages me to work at a high level of effort.

I don't think anything in what I said was intended to be applied to everyone.
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Old 01-25-24, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
Flatlander here - intervals absolutely help me when on the hills.

I can say that I don't see huge gains in my FTP from intervals over non structured training, group rides or tons of Z2 - FTP goes up at about the same rate +/-, slow and steady.

What I do see is vast improvements in my ability to ride within or at my threshold without blowing up. The ability to do multiple repeat efforts at threshold level during a longer ride, and better recovery from those efforts. And my all day cruising speed increases as well.
Glad you agree.
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Old 01-25-24, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung

I'm not a fan of hyper-structured workouts, but I am a fan of some structure.
Same here. Without some kind of structure itís easy to either overcook yourself or avoid hard efforts. Of the structured plans Iíve tried in recent years, I like tWahoo SYSTM best. Their workouts have a meaningful narrative and the intervals are more varied and natural than the usual flat blocks.
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Old 01-26-24, 11:57 AM
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Evidently Horner got a lot of comments on the OP's video, so he just did another one to clarify. He also clarified eating during training.


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Old 01-27-24, 10:23 PM
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I don't really do many structured intervals. Rather, I identify certain days as intensity days and make sure to drill it on the climbs on those days. Most rides around here average over 100' elevation gain/mile, and there isn't a single loop I do that isn't at least 75'/mile, so there are plenty of opportunities to go hard on climbs.

The other way that I get my intensity days in, is through actual racing. I'm usually racing XC mtb at least once a week throughout the spring, these shorter XC races are extremely punchy with dozens of accelerations per lap. My ultimate race fitness goals are later in the season, so these serve as a good way to build form.

I totally understand the point of structured intervals, it's all about trying to maximize the time you can spend at above threshold levels. I could probably make some more gains by doing them, but like Horner said, I just don't really enjoy doing them much. Most of my despised trainer time is spent just spinning out zone 2 rides, something that can be difficult to do consistently on my local roads.
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Old 01-28-24, 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by work4bike
Evidently Horner got a lot of comments on the OP's video, so he just did another one to clarify. He also clarified eating during training.


https://youtu.be/6CozFLOtHRc?si=xkLVeTkbse0fYQ6k
Horner also thinks normalized power is for knuckleheads.



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Old 01-28-24, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Sierra_rider

I totally understand the point of structured intervals, it's all about trying to maximize the time you can spend at above threshold levels.
Structured intervals are more about optimising your time over a wide variety of power levels, not maximising time above threshold. How successful they are depends on how well your interval training plan actually aligns with your objectives.

Personally, I think structured intervals work best when training time is limited and you want to get the most bang for your buck.
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Old 01-28-24, 09:12 AM
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Horner's take was refreshing!

Interval training is definitely is a useful tool when it's well calibrated to the rider. I really like a 1-1.5 hr workout that's so hard I really want to quit, but not so hard that I have to take the next day off. Unlike after a 4-5 hr road ride, I typically need a day...or 2.
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Old 01-28-24, 11:09 AM
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Where I live, we had GLACIERS. Several thousand feet thick. Now we have hills, valleys and Puget Sound. And rain but that's not the fault of the glaciers, just the cause. So I only do intervals in the winter, when it rains too much to get the group to go out and torture me. When the weather's good, I usually get ~45' of Z4 and 10' of Z5 per week just trying to keep up. But yeah, no intervals in winter, no keep up in spring. Folks who live in hilly terrain and have favorable weather all the year, and folks available to torture them, nah, they don't need intervals, just desire. Some of us are tortured by our own desires, how it is. Nah, I think most folks say "prisoner of our own desires." Kinda the same thing. You know who you are. Some folks use a euphemism, just say "motivation."
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Old 01-28-24, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Structured intervals are more about optimising your time over a wide variety of power levels, not maximising time above threshold. How successful they are depends on how well your interval training plan actually aligns with your objectives.

Personally, I think structured intervals work best when training time is limited and you want to get the most bang for your buck.
I hear what you're saying and I know there are a wide variety of intervals. In my case, if I'm doing some sort of interval, it's to boost FTP. I know some people will train at even higher intensities, because maybe they're trying to improve peak power at times less than 20 minutes. I can come off the couch with no training and have a strong sprint, and even a good 5 minute climb time, so I'm always aiming to boost my endurance.

Just between racing and the frequent climbing, I don't really have the time available in my schedule to implement structured intervals, so I honestly haven't put much research into them. If I added any more high-intensity days into my schedule, they'd be cutting into my overall volume of training. I've even seen some structured, below-threshold intervals on various virtual cycling programs, but I don't really understand the point in those. I should be able to do zone 2 and 3 levels for hours on end, if they're too hard and you need to break them up, I'd suggest that they may not actually be low-intensity or even sweetspot IMO.
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Old 01-28-24, 03:55 PM
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One of the reasons I don't do many structured intervals...here's power data overlaid with heart rate from a couple recent rides. First is a typical mountainous road ride I do. The second is from a recent XC MTB race. The power/hr spikes on the road graph are all climbs. XC MTB racing is so punchy, that my HR often never fully responds to the effort.

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Old 01-28-24, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Steamer
I sorta agree, sorta not. If one has a decent fitness and relatively low weight, and/or has sufficiently low gears, you can often climb in Z3 (if not even Z2), even on pretty steep climbs (I'd personally call 'pretty steep' up to about 10-12%). Ludicrously steep (say, 15%+) climbs will put most mortals into Z4, or at least high Z3, though. Everyone, and every region, and everyone's gearing, is different. My basic point is, though, that I can do a multi-hour ride with climbing rates up to 100 ft/mile and never leave low Z3 - IF I don't choose to. I am average fitness, relatively lean, but have very low gearing.
I had the opposite problem of hills for intervals.. I have been trying to be more consistent about staying in Z2 on longer rides but was in the habit of naturally turning hills (of which we have many) into Z5 intervals. But I have been working on getting the effort down and I noticed yesterday that I did a long steep climb that even got up to 20% for a bit and I stayed in Z2. Yes my 1:1 gearing helped but also I have been learning how to do very slow very even pedal strokes. I still will usually make a hill into an interval but its nice to have the option not to..
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Old 02-01-24, 12:34 PM
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Chris has now crossed a line..you thought interval training was controversial

BTW, I tend to agree with him.



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Old 02-01-24, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by work4bike
Chris has now crossed a line..you thought interval training was controversial

BTW, I tend to agree with him.
Part of me wants to click that link, and part of me is screaming, "NOOO!!! Don't click the link!!!!"
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