Like this guy, we're going to go deep into le pain cave
To quote one of my favorite movies:
If you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further.
By reaching this point, we’ve accrued an aerobic base, set a baseline by testing, built strength with slow-cadence riding, and worked on pedaling skills with single-leg riding and spin-ups. These are hugely important and will allow us to now move on to bigger (and better) things.
Given that the length of most collegiate races are pretty short, it’s absolutely crucial to develop “top-end” fitness. Because we have a solid background with endurance training and tempo work, we can move into the LT and even VO2 arenas.
Our training program, visualized.
Here’s what this means: workouts are going to become shorter but also higher intensity. Hopefully you’ve found that the long work periods of the slow-cadence work has gradually become more doable. Riding at slow cadence is tres difficile, but will make the next step incremental rather than a big jump.
That being said, we’re not totally giving up on tempo. Here’s one of my favorite graphs when it comes to training and accumulation of fitness:
Hitting the sweet spot
The main idea is this: in terms of making the largest gains possible, it’s best to do a lot of medium hard riding as opposed to a little bit of really hard riding. However, because we do want to eke out every single watt, we will need to dabble in the “red zone” of the graph, where the gains are great, but so is the level of fatigue experienced by the body.
In sum: we’ll keep up with the tempo, because that’s where the “low hanging fruit” is, but because we want to be ballers and win races, we need the diminishing marginal returns of VO2 training as well. Here’s what this looks like as a weekly schedule. As always, this schedule is subject to your academic/social/personal obligations. Definitely move stuff around to make it work for you.
A basic reminder about how to think about the various intensity levels:
Recovery: VERY, VERY EASY.
Aerobic: Easy. Should be sustainable for multiple hours without too much effort.
Tempo: What you could sustain for 1-2 hours. A tad slower than the pace of an all-out effort up Greylock.
LT: What you could sustain for ~30 minutes. About the pace for an all-out effort up Petersburg.
VO2: What you could sustain for 5-10 minutes. Think time trial pace.
Monday: Recovery day. I’d recommend spinning easy if you have time.
Tuesday: Tempo work. 6×10 at tempo (HR around 80-90% of max) with 5 minutes easy in between each set. Ride at a cadence around 90. Okay to get out of the saddle every now and then. Remember that cadence is NOWHERE NEAR ALL OUT. This should not be a super hard day. Remember the graph! You’re not doing your body any favors by going too hard today and then being unable to do Wednesday’s workout.
Wednesday: 1&1’s! One of my favorite workouts. Do a long warmup with a few short, hard efforts. Then do 6 sets of:
1 minute on at VO2 (HR at about 90-95% of max. This is not an all out sprint, but definitely hard.
1 minute rest (keep spinning!)
After 20 minutes at aerobic pace, repeat the 6 sets.
Thursday: Another recovery day. Be ready for a tough weekend!
Friday: Repeat Tuesday.
Saturday: Race sim. This is a bit of a wildcard, best done outside, preferably riding with others around your fitness level. The idea here is to incorporate aerobic, tempo, LT, and even VO2 work into one ride. Think of this as a “hard group ride”. If you need a bit more structure, think about doing the following:
- Aerobic warmup
- 10 minutes at tempo, 5 minutes rest
- 5 minutes at LT, 5 minutes rest
- 2 minutes at VO2, 5 minutes rest
- 5 minutes at LT, 5 minutes rest
- 10 minutes at tempo, 5 minutes rest.
- Aerobic cooldownt
In order to do this workout and not kill yourself, it’s CRUCIAL to do your tempo at an appropriate level (i.e. not too hard) so that you can do your VO2 quite hard.
Sunday: Long aerobic ride. We aren’t forfeiting our aerobic strength! Try to get in a long, easy ride once a week. HR/wattage should be around 65-70% of max (i.e. this should not be a difficult day).
Questions? I’m here for you.
- Pure Belgian
Congratulations! You’ve done well to come this far. By this point (assuming you’ve been doing the training program), you’ve
- begun building an aerobic base
- set a solid tempo foundation
- performed your testing (at least once) to get a baseline measure
- worked on pedaling form and efficiency via drills
Because of all these accomplishments, we’re able to begin taking the next steps forward. But first, make sure that you have
Tomorrow’s a great day to perform an outdoor test on Petersburg Pass. Again, this is really valuable data.
– TRAINED CONSISTENTLY
If you haven’t been riding frequently, don’t just jump to this next block of training.
– NOT OVERDONE IT
If you find the workouts we’ve done so far hellishly challenging, you probably aren’t doing them right. Let me know.
In any case, we’re just making gradual changes as we move from January to February. Tempo is still our bread and butter. Again, these are workouts that are at a challenging but not all-out pace. HR is around 75-85% of max. If you’re approaching your max heart rate, you’re doing it wrong. If you finish cross-eyed and unable to stand, you’re doing it wrong. But, if you finish and feel like you just went for a nice easy spin, you’re doing it wrong. You get the idea.
So, here’s the new line-up. Quite similar to what we’ve had previously. Start this next Monday. As always, include a warm-up and cool-down.
Monday: Recovery day. Either spend this off the bike or riding super dooper easy.
Tuesday: SE workout: 3×20 at tempo with low cadence (~70), 5 minutes recovery in between. This should be a challenging but doable day. Leave something in the tank for tomorrow. You’ll need it.
Wednesday: Intro to LT! Above tempo on the “pyramid” is LT (lactate threshold). Today’s pace should be significantly faster than Tuesday, but the work times are significantly shorter, and you should be getting plenty of rest. Make sure this isn’t too hard. Do one set of 4×3 minutes at LT (3 minutes rest in between), ride at an aerobic pace for 15 minutes, and then another 4×3 set. LT is NOT all-out. It’s hard to go by HR for everything, but think ~85-90% of max HR. Again, the pace is should be faster than tempo, but nowhere near an all-out sprint.
Thursday: Recovery day. See Monday.
Friday: repeat Tuesday
Saturday: Longer aerobic ride. Maybe ride outside? If it’s nice enough try to get out for a couple hours for a relaxed aerobic ride. Otherwise try to ride on the trainer for 120-150 minutes at a moderate pace (e.g. watch a movie).
Sunday: If you can get outside, ride outside again. Otherwise, repeat Wednesday.
Lastly, people have been asking a lot of good questions, so I figure I’d let you all know my responses.
Is it okay to move training days around?
More than okay. Do whatever you need to do to live your life and also ride your bike.
Are extra recovery days okay?
Absolutely. Especially at this point, the worst thing you can do is fail to recover enough from your workouts.
Can cross-training workouts be substituted for cycling workouts?
Yes, but ideally make this the exception rather than the rule. You get fast at riding bikes by actually riding bikes.
Questions? Keep ‘em coming.
How to survive hard training sessions
Over the next few weeks, training is going to become noticeably more intense. The goal with fall training was to help make this transition a gradual ramp rather than a hellish grade, but regardless of your background, you can make it through the Winter Study training period by being conscientious when it comes to a few key practices:
1) Consume More
I think it was Peter Parker who said that “With great increases in training volume comes great need for carbohydrate-rich food.” In any case, now that you’re riding more and riding harder, it’s all the more critical that your body is getting the fuel it needs. You can do this by increasing the amount of carbohydrates that you consume (carbohydrates are the main fuel source for your muscles). You don’t want to run on empty. Also, you’ll quickly realize that you will sweat a lot in the ark, so drink tons too.
2) Sleep more
Anything less than eight hours per night will probably not be enough. If you need to choose between riding more and sleeping more, chances are sleeping more is the right choice. Prioritize rest.
3) Laze more
Alas no, this has nothing to do with lasers. Professional cyclists are famous for doing nothing when they’re off their bikes. One famous French cyclist asked his team soigneurs to carry him up the stairs to his hotel room during the Tour de France. This might be a little much, but the truth is that if you want to be well-rested for your workouts, try to keep it low-key when you’re not training. I learned this the hard way when I tried to train a ton while working trail crew.
In short, more
- unnecessary exertion
Hope this helps! Good luck and godspeed,
Well done! We’ve made it through 2012 and are on sure footing for the start of 2013. As we inch closer to the start of the ECCC racing season in March, it’s time to start turning up the intensity.
The goal of the training season up to this point was:
- develop comfort riding on the bike
- work on pedaling form with drills
- build the aerobic base
- begin to introduce tempo workouts to work our way up to LT workouts
If you’ve worked on the following, you’re in fantastic position. If you haven’t been as vigilant as you would have liked, never fear. It may mean that the next weeks will feel like a big jump, but just pace yourself appropriately so that you don’t get burned out or overtrained.
Here’s what we’re doing now:
Depending on your disposition, this will either be really fun or really fucking horrible. Testing is how we set a baseline as to your current level of fitness. It allows us to look back and see how you have progressed over the season. The goal is really just to get good data. If you have a heart rate monitor, it’s crucial that you wear that during testing. If you have a power meter, even better. If you just have your bike, it’ll do.
It would be nice to do this testing outside, as an all-out effort up Petersburg Pass. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday actually look rideable, if you have warm clothes (highs in the mid 30s and sunny). If you can ride outside, this is your best option. Otherwise, if you want to ride inside, then the trainer will work too.
In either case, here’s how to do the test:
- make sure you are well-rested. No hard rides for two days before hand.
- warm-up thoroughly. No less than 30 minutes. Include some medium-hard efforts for 1-2 minutes.
- begin the test. This is a 20 minutes all-out test. Ideally, you want your output to be steady over this time period. If you are totally fried after 8 minutes, that’s no good. If you are just a little winded once it’s over, that’s also no good. Rule of thumb is that you should spend AT LEAST the last 5 minutes in absolute agony seriously questioning why you ever listened to me in the first place. When you are done, you should be 100% completely drained. Nothing left in the tank. You get the idea.
- again, collect as much data as possible. Heart rate, power, speed, etc. Also pay attention to your perceived rate of exertion. Your output on this test will inform how you do future workouts. Record this data to the best of your ability. This way, when we repeat testing you can compare.
- especially if you’re riding inside, you’ll want to do this with other people.
Once you’ve done testing, here’s what the schedule should look like. I’ve assigned days of the week, but if you need to move things around, that’s fine.
Monday: drills (single-leg drills and spin-ups). Focus on good form. This should not be overly taxing. Sort of an active recovery day.
Tuesday: SE workout: 3×15 at tempo with low cadence (~70), 5 minutes recovery in between. This means (after warming up) to do 3 sets of 15 minutes at medium-hard pace (think 75-85% of max HR) with a low cadence, and 5 minutes of active rest between each set. You should feel it a little at the end of the workout, but this is definitely not all-out.
Wednesday: 8×6 at high tempo with 4 minutes rest in between. Choose your own cadence today. This means that you’ll be doing 8 sets of 6 minutes at a slightly harder pace than yesterday. Again, this should not be all out, but let’s say that at the end you should feel pleasantly tired. However, if you would not have been able to do two more sets at the same pace, you went too hard.
Thursday: recovery/crosstraining day. Take the day off, spin easy for 30-60 minutes, ski, or do whatever as long as its not too taxing.
Friday: repeat Tuesday
Saturday: longer ride. Maybe ride outside? If it’s nice enough try to get out for a couple hours for a relaxed aerobic ride. Otherwise try to ride on the trainer for 90-120 minutes at a moderate pace.
Sunday: another recovery day.
3) OTHER STUFF
- Crosstraining: take advantage of skiing, running, etc as a chance to mix it up a little, but the best training for cycling is cycling. The more time you spend on the bike the better, but don’t obsess over it.
- Weights: in the previous training update I included a weights regimen. This is a good addition/substitute for the SE workout. Try to find other people to do this with to make sure that your form looks okay.
Questions? I’m more than happy to answer them!
This actually looks pretty awesome.
Congratulations on getting through the first semester! We may be half-way through the academic year, but the training cycle is just getting started.
The goal for the first semester was for you to accomplish the following:
1) Acclimate to riding your bike regularly
2) Develop some aerobic base
3) Work on pedaling efficiency skills (spin-ups and single-leg drills)
4) Attempt some basic tempo workouts
That being said, if you’ve been lazy/busy and haven’t gotten past that first item, you’ll still be good to go when everyone gets back on campus for Winter Study, at which point in time there will be NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER TO NOT BEGIN TRAINING. Take advantage of your freedom by deciding to put in some serious ark time over WS. I’ll let you all know what that period of time should look like in a couple weeks, but here’s what you should be prepared for starting early January:
– riding a minimum of 4 days/week
– starting with 2-3 interval workouts/week
– “testing” (this is fun)
To prepare you for this, I want to let you know what you can do between now and then. Obviously, enjoying your break and spending time with family is great, but I assure you biking is much better. Here are your options, ranked from most to least ideal.
1) RIDE OUTSIDE! If you are lucky enough to live in a relatively warm place, try to ride outside a good deal. You’ll miss it. Trust me.
2) RIDE INDOORS! Have a trainer/rollers? Keep up with the same stuff we’ve been doing thus far: drills, steady aerobic rides, and moderate tempo sessions. Throw in some sets with a lower cadence to build strength.
3) CROSS-TRAIN! Nordic skiing is exceptionally good training, running and swimming are okay. Keeping active in some way, though, will help maintain gains that you’ve worked for. Also included here is LIFTING. Here are effective exercises that you can do:
– leg press
– hamstring curl
– calf raise
– hip ab/adduction
When doing these exercises, remember the following:
- low weight, high reps (15-20)
- Start easy– you’re not doing yourself any favors if you work really hard the first day and are sore for a week
- Generally three sets is good.
This should give you a sense of direction for the next couple weeks. After that, we’ll start moving into harder stuff.
Questions? Email, call, or text me whenever.
We will be extending the deadline for ordering Williams cycling clothing from Nov. 9 to Nov. 16. See the “Clothing” page for ordering details.
2012 CLOTHING ORDER INFORMATION
You too can own a geunine Williams cycling team jersey! Those of you who have seen Williams cycling apparel of the past, brace yourselves for a whole new experience (those of you who are unfamiliar with the designs of old should consider yourselves lucky).
Check out the “Clothing” page for ordering details!
Returned to racing from my brief hiatus after Gloucester with the Cat 4/Citizen races at the Uncle Sam GP in Troy, New York. Initially I had planned to do both the Cat 4 and the Cat3/4 races on both Saturday and Sunday, but I didn’t sleep much this last week, so I toned down my aspirations.
Saturday morning was absolutely freezing cold, with temperatures in the mid-30’s when I arrived at Prospect Park in Troy. The course was not my favorite: lots of grass, lots of tree roots, some off-camber, a killer run-up. As it started to warm up and the ground started to thaw, things got slick. Not muddy–I like muddy–but slick and unpredictable. Starting near the back, I maneuvered my way through traffic, and rode as hard as I could to a solid mid-pack finish.
Sunday was a bit more interesting: it had rained all night, and was still raining when I arrived. The course had been torn up from the previous day’s racing, and combined with the precipitation things looked to be slippy, sloppy, and a barrel of laughs. And they were, at least through the first lap, during which some smartass appropriately blasted “Yakety-Sax” over the PA. I once again was staged near the rear, but was riding very well, making my way from group to group, picking off riders on the power sections and paved road. Everything was going well until I made my to the off camber traverses for the second time. Guessing that it would be faster to run, I dismounted and threw my bike up over my shoulder. I was making my way around a dude struggling to stay on his mountain bike when my feet slid out from underneath me, and my handlebars connected squarely with my right eye socket.
I’ve never had the misfortune of being full on decked in a bar fight, but I imagine it must be similar to smashing your face onto your handlebars. I pulled myself from the race and went to make sure I hadn’t done anything permanent. The damage: a cut on my nose which didn’t want to stop bleeding, a scrape above my eye, and some serious bruising on my eyelid. Baby’s first black eye.
Not my best weekend. But I’ll be back next week for the Saratoga Spa CX.