A real training program



john.francis

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Jun 16, 2010
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Hi everyone,

I've been "stalking" the forum for quite some time (years) and have always enjoyed the discussions and advice you all provide to one another. So hopefully now you can help me as well? I've ridden my bike as a part of my training schedule as a rower for about 4 years, up until just recently incorporating a 2.5 hour ride 6 days a week into my training. However after coming back from my second back injury in as many years I've made the decision to stop rowing, at least certainly at the levels I've been doing it at. I guess what I would like some help with is determining what training I can do to go from being a decent "cycling enthusiast" to an extremely competitive elite amateur cyclist asap. I've detailed below as much information as I feel is relevant, hopefully you guys can point me in the right direction from there?

1) I'm 19, weigh 76kg, 6 foot tall, BF fluctuates between 7 and 9%.
2) I think I've probably got 3-4kg I could lose from my upper body in unnecessary muscle to get my power to weight up.
3) I've had my VO2 max tested and got 73.6 (as part of a phd students study on rowers)
4) Because rowing is a sport that spends a lot of time just above LT, I have quite a high LT (I believe) although I've never had it tested
5) Whilst rowing I was training 5 hours a day, 6 days a week total (down to between 3.5 and 4 during the off season)... as a uni student I have plenty of time for training.

My biggest flaw is my endurance I think, although my sprint isn't as impressive as I'd like it to be. I feel most attracted to tt's, and would to "specialise" in them. However, right now the main aim is just to get to a point where I can start racing at quite a high level. Looking at pro races (not that I'd expect to race at that level) the races are over 200km.... my training rides rarely go over 100k....

Many thanks for any advice

john.
 

vspa

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Jan 11, 2009
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with your sporting background you could try racing rather soon, then you will now where do you stand. There are certain skills you need to ride on a racing peloton, so maybe try some club training rides first. Of course file first for some amateur entry level races if you can find them near your location. good luck !
 

Chainringtattoo

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Jun 10, 2010
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John, you are probably head and shoulders above most as far as base fitness when they start to train for racing. With the rowing you are already extremely fit, and with 2.5 hour bike rides that often during the week you have quite a good mileage base already. I would start working on interval training rides a couple times a week and try to shoot for one LSD (long steady duration) ride maybe of maybe 160K on the weekends.

Also with the strong pulling muscles you no doubt have from rowing why not consider Mountain Bike racing ? It uses a lot more upper body strength than does road biking and you could probably really kick ass in it once you got your technical skills down.
Another advantage of mountain biking is you dont have to spend as quite as much time in the saddle as you would for road racing. Typical long MTB training ride is 3 to 4 hours. You wont need to spend all day on the bike unless you're doing ultra Marathon MTB races.
Anyways just something to consider.
 

john.francis

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Jun 16, 2010
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Thanks for your replies.
Firstly in response to the MTB suggestion, whilst that makes sense to be honest it doesn't hold as much appeal for me as road racing does, however it might be something I look into for a bit of fun in the future. However your suggestion of interval training is interesting... having cruised through the power forum a bit I suspect you mean quite long intervals between 90-105% of TT pace is that right? So would perhaps 5x10 minutes with 10 mins rest in between be good enough? Should my work:rest ratio be 1:1? And do these interval rides need to be long? or is 1.5-2 hours enough?
 

gman0482

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Aug 13, 2009
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Not that I am experienced by any means, cause I'm not at all, but from my personal training (on the trainer and on road) if I do 5x10's, my rest in between would be no more than 5 mins. I would go by a 2:1 interval:rest ratio. IMO if I rest longer than 1/2 my interval, then I get too relaxed and out of it.

Also try out some 2x20's at L4-L5, and the ever-so-great n' painful 1x120 L4.

-Good luck/have fun.
-Greg
 

john.francis

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Jun 16, 2010
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gman0482 said:
Also try out some 2x20's at L4-L5, and the ever-so-great n' painful 1x120 L4.
g

Thanks for the advice Greg, where can I find information on these "L" levels? and can they be measured with a HRM or need I look into a PM?
 

Chainringtattoo

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Jun 10, 2010
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John, 2 hours would be an incredibly long time to do the type of intervals you are thinking. Usually 40 to 60 minutes is normal. You have to leave some room for your body to recover and get stronger. You don't want to completely deplete yourself or else you risk overtraining. Of course if you are including say 20 minutes each of warm up and cool down time in there too I can see how it could be a 1.5 to 2 hour total ride.
Also after a day of intense intervals make sure the following day is a relatively easy spin, what would be known as an "active recovery workout". Or maybe cross -training in a related activity.

Also try some shorter intervals at anerobic threshhold at around 1 to 4 mins effort and 5 to 8 mins recovery (1:2 ratio) for maybe 4 to 8 intervals. This can be incorporated within a normal training ride where for instance you do the majority of the length your ride at say 75 to 85% heart rate and incorporate the harder interval sessions in a row in the middle portion of the ride. This will simulate sprints and breakaways in the middle of a road race.
 

gman0482

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Aug 13, 2009
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If you're planning on racing, training with power will help you huge. You can get a Powertap Elite with a wheel for around $1k.

I attached a file you can look through about power levels. It's by Andrew Coggan, and it should tell you mostly everything you need to know.
 

gman0482

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Aug 13, 2009
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I am also without a PM right now, and what I do for my intervals, is I just try to maintain a fixed mph and cadence for the duration. So if I do 2x20's, I'll get up to +/- 20 mph and 95-100 rpm, and I'll try to stay at it for 20 mins, then spin out for 5 min's at lets say 16 mph and 80 rpm, and go again. I haven't used HRM since my trainer days during winter.

Try to establish your RPE and guide yourself by that as well.
 

john.francis

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Jun 16, 2010
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Power training seems like an extremely interesting (and efficient) way of running a training program, however at least for now I don't have $1k to spare, although perhaps in a few months. The interval suggestions (and the session times) seem rather attractive, so perhaps I'll start to throw those in.

Perhaps something along the lines of 2 sessions with shorter intervals (say 8x3 mins?), 2 sessions with longer intervals (2-3x20 mins?) and 1-2 120-160km rides a week? Having read through a few posts criticizing the use of LSD training I wonder whether the 2 longer rides couldn't be replaced with more intense work at LT or, to quote (not that I follow fully) "at L4"?

Thank you all for your replies, you've been very helpful.
 

Chainringtattoo

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Jun 10, 2010
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gman0482 said:
I am also without a PM right now, and what I do for my intervals, is I just try to maintain a fixed mph and cadence for the duration. So if I do 2x20's, I'll get up to +/- 20 mph and 95-100 rpm, and I'll try to stay at it for 20 mins, then spin out for 5 min's at lets say 16 mph and 80 rpm, and go again. I haven't used HRM since my trainer days during winter.

Try to establish your RPE and guide yourself by that as well.

Gman, do you prefer using the "rate of perceived exertion" over the heart rate percentage. I can see how heart rate percentages can fluctuate relative to the rest of the body on different days such as if you have a cold or allergy's ,or just general low or high bio rhythms.
But, if you perceive your efforts at say a "8" it would still feel like the same amount of effort regardless of whether you felt strong that day or not. In other words the performance might be different but the amount of effort you are feeling would still be the same at a given RPE number, correct?
 

gman0482

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Aug 13, 2009
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john.francis said:
I wonder whether the 2 longer rides couldn't be replaced with more intense work at LT or, to quote (not that I follow fully) "at L4"?
Yea L4 for me is where I feel I benefit the most. Sure doing some L5+ work is very importnant, but my main focus is at L4. The goal is to eventually be able to do that 1x120 completely at L4. (like RDO :))
Chainringtattoo said:
Gman, do you prefer using the "rate of perceived exertion" over the heart rate percentage. I can see how heart rate percentages can fluctuate relative to the rest of the body on different days such as if you have a cold or allergy's ,or just general low or high bio rhythms.
But, if you perceive your efforts at say a "8" it would still feel like the same amount of effort regardless of whether you felt strong that day or not. In other words the performance might be different but the amount of effort you are feeling would still be the same at a given RPE number, correct?

Yea that's why I really don't use RPE, mainly cause I just never got around to focus on it. I mainly use mph/cadence/time averages as my main guides. Doing mostly the same set of routes, I know what times I should be finishing at, what average speeds I should hit, and my average cadence. Those 3 #'s are my next best measures (and a PM is soon to join :)).

I still have my indoor PM which was how I measured my power during the winter on the trainer. It doesn't work outside though.
 

john.francis

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Jun 16, 2010
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Guys just to clarify, long work intervals in L4 is considered on par with an endurance ride for building up a base? correct?
 

Sid Nitzerglobi

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Jun 15, 2010
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I am by no means highly experienced, but what I've read so far regarding distance training seems to indicate that you want long periods of zone 2/3 work for endurance/base training with zone 4/5 intervals for strength/speed. This is all referencing HR zones however, not RPE.

It's been really hard for me not to push the majority of my solo riding into zone 4 so far personally. It just doesn't feel like I'm working hard enough to really be getting a workout. We'll see if I wind up injuring or burning myself out, I suppose. The most useful way for me to get the long, conversational effort rides so far is to go out and pull my friend who's got a recumbent trike w/ MTB gears, spinning a low gear at 90-110 rpm.
 

Eldrack

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Jan 10, 2005
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I used to be a rower who then shifted over to cycling because of back problems.

Rowing is very much an anaerobic/aerobic threshold sport. The standard 2km race takes around 6-7 minutes and a lot of the training you'll do takes less than an hour (e.g 5x1km ergo's, 30 minute ergo's etc etc) with quite a lot of time spent practising technique as well.

Not that much 'technique' to cycling beyond spinning your feet in circles rather than squares. Then there's the bike handling stuff like going round corners and riding in a bunch but you don't really need to concentrate to hard on that, once you're out on your bike 10 hours a week it'll come fairly naturally.

With regards to training, if you're not entering any races any time soon and with your high intensity background in mind I'd suggest doing some 2-4 hour long rides making sure you keep the intensity up so you're totally bricked by the time you get home. Don't forget to eat and drink lots! This is the upper L2, L3 and lower L4 region known as the 'sweet spot' and it's a great way to get used to riding a bike.

A good way to introduce yourself to racing is time trialling. You don't have to worry about crashing into anyone else and you can learn how to pace yourself on a bike and throw yourself around some corners pretty quickly. Try some group rides as well, there will be plenty of experienced cyclists willing to give you good (and probably some bad) tips.

Personally I wouldn't bother with L4 and L5 intervals for the first couple of months, unless you plan to go straight into racing or are short of time. Get the mileage in, but make sure it's quality mileage!

edit:
LSD training is a waste of time, anything over around 4 hours is so low intensity it doesn't really do much to help you.

L4 is great for building your FTP (1 hour power) but so is L3 and I think given the number of hours you have to train L3 is the better option!
 

gman0482

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Aug 13, 2009
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I agree that L3, mainly higher L3 ~85% is the most beneficial to establishing a solid base. I just got used to mainly training in 85-95% for my regular workouts. L3 goes from 76%-90% and L4 is 90%-105%. Sweet spot training (SST) is somewhere between L3 and L4, or 85%-95% of your power.

I guess if you are using HR, then the levels are slightly different but not much. L3 is 84%-94% of your HR, and L4 is 95-105%.

IMO, 2x20's are best performed at lower L4, (again, in my opinion).
 

Threshold

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May 10, 2010
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There's a lot of great information in here... I'm happy to stumble across this.

I have a similar situation to another member that posted in here where it is stated that they find it hard to not get caught up in L4 training on almost every single ride cause they don't feel like they are getting any type of workout. Usually when I ride, I'm in the L4 range and can't seem to be able to get down to an L3 level. Because of this, I find that right now I have the "Heavy Legs" syndrome and will be taking 1 week off due to being fatigued. I went out yesterday and the day before and just felt like **** the whole ride... felt like I had nothing to give at all.

In the next week I will concentrate on core and upper body workouts with some low intensity running to keep the aerobic training going. All of this will hopefully allow my legs to undergo some type of a healing/recovery process.
 

BushyMule

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Jul 18, 2010
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In regards to LSD training, I am not a very experienced cyclist but was a competitive runner for some time and found that LSD, base training, during the off-season and during my competitive season to be very helpul. I saw gains as large as 45secs in my PR for my 5k-10k times (atleast until I got injured early in my college career).

LSD sessions are a good time to focus on ones technique, form, breathing pattern, and getting to know your body (and bike in this case) better. I always found it a good way to sharpen the mind and better prepare for the intense training sessions and races.





Sid Nitzerglobi said:
I am by no means highly experienced, but what I've read so far regarding distance training seems to indicate that you want long periods of zone 2/3 work for endurance/base training with zone 4/5 intervals for strength/speed. This is all referencing HR zones however, not RPE.

It's been really hard for me not to push the majority of my solo riding into zone 4 so far personally. It just doesn't feel like I'm working hard enough to really be getting a workout. We'll see if I wind up injuring or burning myself out, I suppose. The most useful way for me to get the long, conversational effort rides so far is to go out and pull my friend who's got a recumbent trike w/ MTB gears, spinning a low gear at 90-110 rpm.