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Training mostly on hilly routes?

Old 09-09-14, 06:18 PM
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coasthead
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Training mostly on hilly routes?

Hi everyone,

New road biker here. Thanks for all the info in these forums!

I've loved biking so far and am training for a 65 mile ride in October. One thing I don't enjoy is finding time in my life (with 2 kids) for the increasingly longer rides I have to take as my body has gotten into bike shape. I can usually sneak out for a long ride on one weekend day, but have been trying to ride 3-4 days a week.

I am fortunate, or unfortunate, to live in an area with lots of hills, both short and steep ones as well as some regional classic big ones. I've quickly discovered that I can get a great workout by focusing on hills instead of longer flatter rides. I also suck at climbing, and want to improve. So, I've wound up doing lots of shorter, intense hill workouts (8-12 mile rides with 1,500-2,500 ft of climbing) and the one longer 30+ mile ride on Sunday. It's just easier for me to fit in these 45 minute to 1 hour workouts.

My mileage per week has been around 70-80 for the last five weeks, but the amount of climbing has gone up significantly against those miles. I can feel myself getting much stronger, and climbing faster, so I'm happy so far.

The question I have is whether this is a good training program? Can I just keep pounding at hills in shorter rides and mix in a longer ride once a week, or should I increase mileage more and find time for longer rides? I feel like I get a great, intense workout even with an 8 mile ride, better than what I might get in a long 15-20 mile flatter ride. I'd like to build endurance to get to doing centuries or 50+ mile hilly rides on weekends, but primarily do want to get stronger and faster in climbing.

Any thoughts would be appreciated!
-coasthead
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Old 09-10-14, 08:46 AM
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bikebreak
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Yes keep at it. If you are doing 12 miles with 2500 feet that is over 200 ft/mile, which is excellent training and will make you strong. You live near Santa Barbara?

If you have the route for the 65, see how steep it is in ft/mile, and do your longer rides through similar terrain.
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Old 09-10-14, 11:57 AM
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I live in the SF Bay area, the peninsula, so lots of great hills everywhere.

My concern is that it seems like none of my friends who are great bikers do short rides, but an 8 miler with 1,300 or 1,400 feet of climbing seems like a great workout to me and very efficient time wise!

Also, I find it hard to motivate enough to ride fast on a flat ride, whereas a hill forces you to work!
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Old 09-10-14, 12:28 PM
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In my way of thinking, the best type of training is the one that can be maintained so it seems to me your schedule and responsibilities have you doing what is optimal for your situation. It is usually recommended the training proceed from long slow rides to build up a foundation level of fitness to more intense efforts later on. That foundation builds bone and ligaments as well as mitochondria to power up the new muscle. This all takes a while so doing too much too soon is not recommended. The risk is over training or injury.
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Old 09-10-14, 11:40 PM
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It's not miles, it's time. You want to put in about 1.5 times the hours you think the 65 mile ride will take you, per week for the last few weeks before your taper week. The more hills, the better. That'll more than do it.
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Old 09-11-14, 12:22 AM
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Training in the hills will get you good at climbing hills, and it's terrific stuff for building strength. But if you want to build endurance, time on the bike is essential. The problem with doing nothing but shortish, hard workouts is recovery - your body doesn't have the time to recover and adapt between sessions, so you start to get tired and, eventually, burn out.

At your present volumes I wouldn't worry too much about that. But from now on I'd recommend increasing the volume of low-intensity work, and keeping the high-intensity stuff at or below its current level. If you are interested enough to read a long article on the balance between low and high-intensity training in elite athletes, here's one. the tl;dr version is that they seem to do better when spending about 80% of their training time at low intensities and only 20% at or above threshold. But of course, their training volumes are high.
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Old 09-11-14, 11:03 AM
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@berner - agreed - I ramped up 5 miles per week for the first four weeks and now have kept miles flat and just added more vertical per week, so I think I've tried to manage building a foundation and training on top of it so far. No pains or injuries yet, at least!

@Carbonfiberboy - thanks for the advice on time, that's exactly what I'm short on unfortunately which is why I've been doing the shorter / harder rides! I'm probably at 5 hours of riding per week right now, so only around what I expect the 65 ride to take. I'm definitely planning on stretching my longer rides the next two weekends before taper, so that should help. The 1.5x the ride time is a great rule of thumb to know!

@chasm54 - very interesting. Like you said, I'm probably at low volume enough right now that any workout is helpful to improving my bike fitness, but I'll have to make sure to do a longer, easier ride whenever I can find time instead of just making every ride as hard as I can!
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Old 09-11-14, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by coasthead View Post
@Carbonfiberboy - thanks for the advice on time, that's exactly what I'm short on unfortunately which is why I've been doing the shorter / harder rides! I'm probably at 5 hours of riding per week right now, so only around what I expect the 65 ride to take. I'm definitely planning on stretching my longer rides the next two weekends before taper, so that should help. The 1.5x the ride time is a great rule of thumb to know!
Not really any great rule of thumb. In general for rides of about that length 1Xdistance/week = finish; 2Xdistance/week = finish strong. The multipliers usually increase for shorter distances of less than a century and decrease for distances over. Lots of variability, though, depending . . .
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