10 weeks till race - how best to train?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by mishkind, Sep 18, 2014.

  1. mishkind

    mishkind New Member

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    The Race
    I have a race in 10 weeks.
    60 miles (30miles in the flats, 30miles in the hills), 5000ft of elevation (with only one large hill of 1000ft).
    I can currently do the course in just under 4 hours. The pros do it in 3hrs.

    The Goal
    My goal is 3:30 or less for the race.

    The Background Info
    I am fairly new to cycling (12 months). I get in 8-12 hours/week, ~120miles, between 7-14k ft of elevation.
    I have an indoor trainer, cadence sensor, and a heart rate monitor but no power meter.
    I know my lactate threshold heart rate and have used that to determine my zones.

    The Rub
    I've been reading up on base periods, zone 2 training, hill repeats, interval training etc. but I'm a bit overwhelmed.
    Any advice or training plans would be much appreciated.
    Even something simple like
    Week 1-2: lots of base miles in zone 2
    Week 3: intervals
    Week 4: zone 1 easy with some hill repeats
    ...
    Week 9: taper to just 4 hours
    or something like that would be a huge help.
    thanks
     
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  2. smaryka

    smaryka Member

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    TT? Must be one otherwise you wouldn't be targetting a time. A road race is won by the first person to cross the line, not the person who rode the course the fastest.

    Unless you mean a sportive or "gran fondo"...? Which isn't a race. But if that's what you mean, you can finish the course a lot faster if you ride with a group. So you should find a group to ride with if you don't already, so you can get used to that and also be comfortable riding with strangers on the day of the event.

    Just ride your bike lots in the next 9 weeks, do short stuff, long stuff, some intervals, some easier longer rides of more than 60 miles, some 2hr rides at a tempo pace. Some 20-60 min efforts at 90% of the max effort you can do for those durations. Work on eating and drinking properly on your longer rides and also on the harder efforts. Ideally find some other people to ride with.

    The week before the event, don't overdo it but don't back off totally either. Just ride enough to keep your legs reminded of cycling (a bit hard but mostly easy) and aim to have fresh legs on the day.

    If it's a time trial (pretty lonely 60 miles!) then most of the above applies except you need to make sure you can pace yourself too. So on the day don't go out too hard, make the first 45-60 min fairly easy so that when you go into hour 2, you're raring to go. Don't overcook yourself on any hill, ride sensibly. Then the final hour give it what you have left.

    And don't compare yourself to the pros, it's not really relevant.
     
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  3. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    Coaching is a big business, and some folks like to make things as complicated as possible to imply they have found the holy grail of training but like smaryka says, mainly the key is just to ride your bike a lot in the next 9 weeks.

    If it were me with 10 weeks to prep for a race I would probably do something similar to the below. If it were a TT, I'd do it pretty similar except make some adjustments in the final 4-5 weeks (I'm assuming it's a race because only a sadist schedules a 60mi TT and at least here in the US 60 miles is a very common distance for Cat3-5 RR).

    I'm assuming I'm coming into the schedule with some basic aerobic fitness and the plan is to work up to a 3-3.5 hour ride with much of it mixed between tempo and riding relatively hard, sprinkled with multiple efforts of 3-5 minutes where the inquisitor is really turning the screws and a final few kilometers where I would literally be turning my lungs inside out, i.e. just about when Jens would be saying "shut up legs".

    My three goals for a race would be:
    1) to have the required endurance to ride 60 miles and have enough in the legs remaining for a final kick.
    2) to have enough sustainable power to hang with strong riders (great drafting and wily paceline skills can sometimes be a substitute unless there are extended climbs or lots of smaller steep selection climbs).
    3) to have enough top end to hang with any attacks or create my own, and have enough repeatability (matches to burn) so my legs didn't fizzle after one or two strong surges.

    For a TT I'd focus on #1 and #2 (especially #2), and ignore #3 altogether.

    I like to think of fitness as a pyramid with aerobic conditioning on the bottom, threshold power in the middle, and anaerobic capacity on the top. Aerobic conditioning takes the longest to develop and provides a foundation for all else. The closer we get to the top of the pyramid the skills are more quickly gained, harder to hold onto, and more quickly lost as well. With this in mind I'd work on a solid base and then focus on developing the race specific skills as I get closer to the event.

    Weeks 1-2 I'd want to to be on the bike 5 days/week and have a few end/tempo rides ~2 hours. Consistency, not intensity is the key here.

    During weeks 3-6 I'd transition to developing power, doing sweet spot intervals 2 times a week. Either two efforts at about 18-20 minutes, or three efforts at 13-15 minutes after a 30 minute warmup at endurance pace. When I start the VO2 work in week 5 I'd drop one of the sweet spot sessions.

    Weeks 6-8, I'd add VO2 work. Some like 4 minute intervals, some like 5 minutes, some go even a little longer (crazy people). They can be as short as three minutes and as long as 7 or 8 minutes. I've found 4 minutes works well for me as I get a sufficient workload, but I don't start hating life on the bike. These are tough. I would not do this sort of intensity more than twice a week. And considering I'll be doing some VO2 work on my long ride in weeks 7 and 8, I would only do one additional structured VO2 interval workout (for a max of 2 sessions a week... this is 90+%MaxHR territory!) VO2 work needs a healthy warmup, I typically do an hour of endurance and one effort where I wind up a big gear till I spin out beforehand, pedal easy till I'm composed then prepare for entry into the pain cave (that's somewhat evident on the 2nd chart below with the two spikes at the 25 and 30 minute markers).

    Weeks 7-9 I'd probably add one session a week where I did 5 or 6 two minute anaerobic intervals, with a few minutes rest between each rep. I'd basically just go as hard as I could go keeping in mind I want to try and be consistent through all my efforts. Again, I'd tailor my schedule so only two days of the week featured work into the 90+%MaxHR zone.

    From weeks 4-8, I'd want to add one 3-4 hour ride every week. The first one or two at endurance pace is fine, but as the training progresses into weeks 5 and 6 start adding a couple 15-20 minute segments in the middle of the ride at sweet spot (~90%FTP, or in HR terms 75-85%MaxHR). The last two long rides at week 7 and 8 I would want to be doing some of the ride at tempo, two or three 10-15 minute intervals at threshold (or sweet spot, ~90% effort), and one or two 4-5 minute efforts at VO2 output, deep in the pain cave. I'd want to come home from these last two "big" rides completely destroyed.

    This is a relatively easy 10 hour/week kind of plan. It won't get anyone to the pro's but something similar would be enough for me to have fun and be somewhat competitive in a low Cat race. The schedule assumes I'll be on the bike 5 days a week with two hard days (threshold/VO2/anaerobic intervals, or one of those plus a long ride w/intensity) and two endurance/tempo days. An easy mistake would be to ride those end/tempo days at the top of the zone. Try to vary the pace on those "slow" days.

    Because it's a pretty short schedule I wouldn't take a whole rest week in the middle as some coaches may recommend but I would take a few easy days around the 6th week just to bring about some freshness.

    My last "big" ride (long + hard) would be 10-12 days out from the race. I'd still however continue my anaerobic intervals into the early part of the week before the race. Anaerobic fitness disappears more quickly than aerobic fitness and for a race decent anaerobic capacity is essential to be competitive.

    The week before the race I'd take relatively easy, doing some 1-2 minute all out anaerobic efforts early in the week, but I wouldn't want to come home from any ride this week beat up. I would ride for an hour the day before the race with one or two hard 1 minute efforts to open up the pipes. Assuming the race is a Saturday, Wednesday and Thursday should just be easy pedaling. Nothing you do in the last few days will have any positive effect, it can only make you slower.

    Disclaimer: A lot of folks poopoo HR as a training method, mainly because of it's inconsistency, it's essentially useless at for measuring any short effort (it would take a full two minutes for HR to catch up during a two minute interval rendering it moot), and the fact HR rises slowly over a consistent effort and riding at a steady HR actually means completing an interval with descending power output.

    I've attached a chart I made of how my HR operates over 20 minute intervals (sweet spot/sub-threshold), and 5 minute VO2 intervals. One can see as my power output remains steady, my HR rises, and in the case of the VO2 interval, quite dramatically (personally I would do those at RPE). When in doubt always do the first interval slightly easier than you think, especially when doing VO2 work. Some coaches even refer to the first in a short interval set as a throw away.

    See chart below for recommended rest between intervals. There's all sorts of interval protocols, but these are two simple types that do the job.

    [​IMG]

    I'm not advocating this plan, it's off the top of my head, but it may help give an idea of how to ramp things up. I'm sure there's something in there that doesn't line up properly but don't over think it, just ride as much as you can, ramp up the intensity over the several weeks leading up to the big day, and taking the week before relatively easy. Eat well, and get lots of sleep. On the big day, follow wheels and let others do the work, keep your nose out of the wind, and keep a handle on your personal limits.

    I'm certainly no expert but maybe some of this will be helpful.
     
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  4. mishkind

    mishkind New Member

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    @smaryka:
    So it is a RR (http://www.strava.com/segments/3846537), but I know the field and I can never keep up with them. Most do it in 3:15 or less on social rides so I'm guessing race day will be considerably faster. Since riding with the peloton is probably too far outside my reach to consider, I've set a goal of 3:30 as something that I would be very happy with regardless of my position in the race. So even though it is a RR, I'm training more like it is a TT. Make sense?

    @danfoz :
    Amazing. Thanks. I'm reading and re-reading the post and making up my plan. I know all about the caveats of HR training, but can't afford that splurge on a power meter right now. Those graphs are very illustrative.

    A question for both of you, and I know it will probably depend a lot on race day conditions and the peleton's speed etc. but do you think I should try and keep up with the group at the beginning for as long as I can, reaping the rewards of the group ride, or should I just pace myself based of my HR or RPE or what I know is within my limits for the whole race? In a past race, my first actually, I just went with the group, but on the first hill climb i blew up, and I think as a result I was slower for the remaining 75% of the race, and probably got a worse time overall than had I just started out slow and steady.
     
  5. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    The good thing is that after some specific training you will be amazed at how quickly your body will adapt to not blow up with a significant surge. The problem many beginners have in their first race is that they've been training a few times a week at mostly endurance and tempo speed, maybe they've done a few sprints with riding buddies, but they are woefully unprepared for any real speed yoyo's. Very often if someone could simply hold on for another 15 or 20 seconds they'd be able to hang on that very last wheel and find themselves back in the group when the hill crested or the hammerhead at the front eased off the gas.

    (Edit: I erased the first bit as I didn't realize it was your first race where you got dropped, I thought you had said group ride. Btw that happened to most of us)

    Training for a race like a TT is a mistake. A TT is a steady effort, a race is alternating extremes in speed between often mind boggling highs and lows. The VO2 and anaerobic intervals will have a huge impact on not getting dropped when the surges begin, I can't stress that enough. Beyond a big aerobic engine, they are in no uncertain terms, the essence of bike racing. And I know I'm stating the obvious but the higher the speed during the race, the more critical it is that you are directly behind someone, not out in the wind, or leaving a big gap between you and the wheel in front.

    The VO2 efforts will prepare you for high speeds, and the 1-2 minute intervals as hard as you can go will prepare you for repeated efforts. And even though you will probably be using RPE for the effort, you should be finishing your VO2 efforts at well over 90% of your max HR (see my chart above). And if you are seeing Jesus during a 1-2 minute interval you are probably at around the right intensity level. While a few endurance workouts will likely have zero impact on overall aerobic condition, only a few anaerobic workouts can have a surprising effect on one's top end and repeatability, especially a beginner. Aside from making us stronger, these efforts also put us in touch with our own bodies, we learn what we are capable of, and we develop a deep intimacy with our limits.

    You don't need to stay with the guys on the front, but as the race fragments try and stay with riders somewhere in the group, even if it is at the back.

    You should have some basic experience with group riding, enough not to feel nervous around other riders but don't feel you need to be able to hold an inch off the riders wheel in front of you to ride efficiently in the group. Avoid drastic movements and hold your line as straight as possible, avoid overlapping your front wheel with the wheel in front of you but if it happens don't panic and apply a handful of brake. Wheel overlap for just a second or two is ok just don't make a habit of it. Sometimes just sitting up and letting some wind catch your chest is enough to avoid using the brakes altogether. I would personally avoid hanging off the back, a mistake many beginners make because they think they haven't yet earned their place in the peleton. If you are the last rider in the bunch and you do happen to loose that last wheel when the surge comes, you will be doing a 60 mile solo TT to the finish. That will be no fun.

    10 weeks is long enough to make significant gains.10 weeks is long enough to unleash the animal in you! Bike racing is hard, training to race is hard, if it wasn't everyone would do it. I know a lot of guys who prefer just shooting the breeze and ogling fancy bikes on the ride. Nothing wrong with that. But make no mistake about it, if you are going to race, you are going into battle. You are going against guys who have been living eating and breathing the thought of your head on a spike at the end of the day. Train hard, train consistently, believe in the process and let 'em know they thought wrong!


    PS. Just a note, 60 miles is long enough to completely drain your gas tank. You need to go in fully hydrated and fueled up, and you need to start consuming gels or other easily digestible items as soon as an hour into the race. At threshold we can drain our glycogen stores in about 90 minutes, that means if you wait too long to start eating into a 3+ hour race you'll almost certainly be off the back with heavy legs.
     
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  6. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    Do you do the course in 4:00 alone? If so bring a few friends, work together on the flats, and you will pick up most of the 30 minutes.

    More miles would help. I don't know where you live relative to the ride, but I would do rides like from 90k to 70k and back, 90k to 60k and back, and the entire loop.

    Proper gearing would help. Do the 1000' climb in various gears to learn how you do it best.
     
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  7. mishkind

    mishkind New Member

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    4:00 is with one other, so a bit of help on the flats.
    I live at km 30 of the 100km loop between the flats and the hills so I have good access to everything, and I can drive to the big 1000ft climb (~km 65) to get some practice in.

    when you say 90k to 70k and back, do you mean do from km marker 90 to km marker 70 and then back to km marker 90?
     
  8. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    With times like that, I need to ask what those Pros do for a living because 20mph and only 5000ft of elevation gain doesn't add up. What are they professionals at?

    :p
     
  9. smaryka

    smaryka Member

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    So if it's a RR are you the only guy who's going to be dropped? I'm sure you can't be... worth working as hard as you can to keep up for as long as possible then when you're dropped (hopefully with others) then work with them to finish the race.

    Tbh I would never enter a 3.5 hr race where I'd be dropped 30 min into it... I'd look for a race that was within my capabilities and do that instead and work my way up to doing a 60mile race. You can ride 50 miles solo anytime, why pay to do it? YMMV of course.

    Fwiw a 60 mile race around here takes well under 3hrs to race, so yes I'm wondering too what pros these are! If it's not got long alpine climbs in it, why are they so slow?
     
  10. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    Yup, as long as one is not dead last there's always hope. The problem with racing in the US is that sometimes the fields are filled up (my last RR had a maxed out field of 110 riders), but I've seen some vids posted by members who must live in more secluded areas where it seems there's only like 15 or 20 guys lining up at the start.


    mishkind, one big mistake many beginners make is to ignore the warmup or not warm up properly. I say this because you mentioned you got dropped on the first climb in your last race. Regardless of skill level, while a warmup is no substitute for fitness, you don't want to be redlining for the first time in a race. I got dropped on the first climb of a big RR in the northeast a couple years ago that I was actually pretty well trained for because we got to the course a little late and then had to help my teammate unpin and re-pin his number... the dufus had used about 20 safety pins and pinned the front and back of his jersey together! I did get to ride around in the parking lot for a few minutes but the race opened with a monstrous climb of about 10 minutes and in 5 minutes I went from about 20th place to 90th place. I had just not opened up my legs properly enough. Luckily I didn't crest dead last and was able to work with another rider to make up some time. The hysterical part was I saw him coming up behind me close to the top and if anyone looked like death warmed over this guy was it. His tongue was hanging severely out one side of his mouth with thick drool rolling off, he was red as beat, and his eyes were rolling back in his head enough so that all I could see was white. Basically he looked like he was about to have a heart attack and as he rolled up he blurted "C'mon, we can catch them". I almost fell off my bike with laughter!

    Usually the longer the race the less need for a warmup but you don't want to be hitting your threshold the first time in the race. I typically start a warmup at endurance pace for 5-10 minutes, then do another 10 minutes moving up to tempo/sub-threshold pace, then I really open my legs for about a minute, Afterward I just pedal easy for a few minutes and roll to the start line. This way if some coconut wants to drop the hammer right at the start or if the course opens with a punchy climb I'm prepared. Some riders need more warming up, some need less and some riders are so far ahead of their peers in fitness a warmup is unnecessary. I am not one of those riders.
     
  11. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Even with long alpine climbs, the average speed for the mountain stages in the Tour is around 23 to 25mph for a 5 hour stage and some HC climbs. Of course domestic pros are not going to be riding at that speed on stages like that but for a quick 60 miler smashfest, I'd expect the speed to be over 26 mph.

    Looking at the link to the Strava entry for the course, the record is 2:37 from just 224watts. 224watts - that's a Pro just pulling his Velcro straps closed on their shoes...
     
  12. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    I was suggesting that you ride the 1000' climb once or twice. From your location you can ride from home (if you have time), up the climb and then back home. When that gets easy and you have time, ride down the far side of the hill and back up it for 2000' of climbing.
     
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