How do you increase long distance speed?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by donrhummy, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. donrhummy

    donrhummy New Member

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    I would like to greatly increase my solo-century speed but have been unable to. In the past, I've been able to increase my 50-mile speed but the century always seems stuck at the same speed. This year, I've changed up my training to be a little diff. (only the past 3 weeks, just started it) and I'm not yet sure if it's working. I wanted everyone's thoughts and suggestions.

    Currently I do 3 times a week like this:

    Day 1: Hard, all out 1-minute sprint intervals for max speed and then 1-leg intervals.

    Day 2: "Sustained Power" - 1 hour at 85%-90% of max HR (I don't have a power meter) (And then I usually play basketball or tennis for an hour afterwards)

    Day 3: Endurance (usually 75 miles but sometimes longer occasionally shorter with some hills and a small mountain thrown in) - don't really worry too much about pushing speed

    Am i on the right track?
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    This will do nothing for your sustainable speed for long events. This will train your ability to work anaerobically which can be helpful for racers initiating or responding to attacks but will do absolutely nothing for your ability to produce power aerobically which is what counts for any event over a couple of minutes in length.
    This is your best core aerobic workout but I'd block it into 20 to 30 minute efforts with five to ten minutes easier pedaling between each block. That helps you stay focused to really give a good effort for each block. This is where you'll get the best bang for your buck in terms of increasing aerobic fitness and the ability to go faster for longer events.
    I'd still emphasize speed and focused concentration for this workout but I'd block it again into 30 to 45 minute efforts a bit easier than the Sustained Power day. This is a good day to do Tempo or low SST pacing on a longer ride.
    Is this your complete training week or is this block training that cycles around again after a day or two of rest? 3 days a week is tough since it implies 4 days a week off the bike. If this really does represent a full week I'd suggest adding at least one a preferably two more days. Back off some of your durations if you need to make more time. Those extra days should be Tempo or SST/Threshold work depending on how you recover from your previous workouts. More is better to a point, but you should also have one or two good rest days in your weekly cycle.

    Good luck,
    Dave
     
  3. donrhummy

    donrhummy New Member

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    I know but if I can't even reach high speeds for 1 minute, how can i expect my legs to have the ability to put out speeds that are higher at all? (Not sure I'm explaining that properly)

    Are you sure I'll do better with easy riding in between? I'm using a HRM so i know if my effort wanes at all since it alerts me when I fall below the 85% mark. I'm pretty good at riding above that level for most of the ride and getting better every time I do it.

    Can you explain more why it'd be better to do this? I mean, there are easier blocks during my long ride since I hit downhills and straight aways every now and then (and have to stop at lights, etc). How will I aerobically benefit by cutting the efforts into smaller blocks?

    Yeah, unfortunately I don't really have time for any more riding. I could maybe add a 30 minute ride somewhere but that's probably it. If so, would that be of benefit and what should I do in that workout?
     
  4. Spunout

    Spunout New Member

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    You'll have to spend a lot more time doing centuries.
     
  5. wiredued

    wiredued New Member

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    Doing endurance rides doesn't raise endurance power very well because it is outside the sweet spot (duration to long) you are wasting training time if you ride more than 4 hours at your not thinking about it pace you have to concentrate to stay above endurance pace. If you don't have a power meter you might want to consider getting a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine to find your FTP and target 91% FTP it has a reliable power to speed curve. It will also help you fine tune HR for your outdoor rides. If 145bpm is my average at 91% for an hour (3x20 w/5min easy pedaling inbetween) on Wednesday then Tempo is about 7bpm lower on my Saturday outdoor ride.

    KK speed to power chart

    17mph=183.33w
    17.1mph=185.53w
    17.2mph=187.74w
    17.3mph=189.98w
    17.4mph=192.23w
    17.5mph=194.51w
    17.6mph=196.80w
    17.7mph=199.12w
    17.8mph=201.46w
    17.9mph=203.81w
    18mph=206.19w
    18.1mph=208.59w
    18.2mph=211.01w
    18.3mph=213.45w
    18.4mph=215.91w
    18.5mph=218.39w
    18.6mph=220.89w
    18.7mph=223.42w
    18.8mph=225.96w
    18.9mph=228.53w
    19mph=231.12w
    19.1mph=233.73w
    19.2mph=236.36w
    19.3mph=239.02w
    19.4mph=241.70w
    19.5mph=244.40w
    19.6mph=247.12w
    19.7mph=249.86w
    19.8mph=252.63w
    19.9mph=255.42w
    20mph=258.24w
    20.1mph=261.07w
    20.2mph=263.93w
    20.3mph=266.81w
    20.4mph=269.72w
    20.5mph=272.65w
    20.6mph=275.60w
    20.7mph=278.58w
    20.8mph=281.58w
    20.9mph=284.60w
    21mph=287.65w
    21.1mph=290.72w
    21.2mph=293.82w
    21.3mph=296.94w
    21.4mph=300.09w
    21.5mph=303.26w
    21.6mph=306.45w
    21.7mph=309.67w
    21.8mph=312.92w
    21.9mph=316.19w
    22mph=319.48w
    22.1mph=322.80w
    22.2mph=326.15w
    22.3mph=329.52w
    22.4mph=332.92w
    22.5mph=336.34w
    22.6mph=339.79w
    22.7mph=343.26w
    22.8mph=346.76w
    22.9mph=350.29w
    23mph=353.84w
    23.1mph=357.42w
    23.2mph=361.03w
    23.3mph=364.66w
    23.4mph=368.32w
    23.5mph=372.01w
    23.6mph=375.72w
    23.7mph=379.46w
    23.8mph=383.23w
    23.9mph=387.03w
    24mph=390.85w
    24.1mph=394.70w
    24.2mph=398.58w
    24.3mph=402.48w
    24.4mph=406.42w
    24.5mph=410.38w
    24.6mph=414.37w
    24.7mph=418.39w
    24.8mph=422.44w
    24.9mph=426.51w
    25mph=430.62w
    25.1mph=434.75w......Lance Armstrong FTP maybe
    25.2mph=438.91w
    25.3mph=443.10w
    25.4mph=447.32w
    25.5mph=451.57w
    25.6mph=455.85w
    25.7mph=460.16w
    25.8mph=464.49w
    25.9mph=468.86w
    26mph=473.26w


     
  6. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Yep, that's the logic that sucks a lot of folks into make ya puke minute long anaerobic intervals. Problem is it just doesn't hold up. Sure you'll learn to get your bike up to high speeds for a minute or so, but that fitness doesn't translate to longer efforts since you need to rely on completely different energy delivery systems for those longer efforts. If you want to do hard shorter efforts to bring up your sustainable top speed then make those efforts 3 to 5 minutes long which will train your ability to produce power at VO2 Max pace. That sets the high end of your aerobic capabilities or your aerobic ceiling bring that up over time and you have more room to continue raising your longer term threshold power and speed. VO2 max work is painful both physically and mentally and 3 minutes much less 5 feels real long when you do them at the correct intensity. But if you really want to bring up your sustainable speed with short intense efforts, these are a better bet.
    If you can actually hold threshold pace which is basically time trial pace for the duration or very close to it then no, you don't need the breaks. Most folks take the breaks so they can focus their efforts and give their all for each attempt. If you don't need the breaks then fine, but I know I sure do if I want to hold consistent power for all three of my 20 minute L4 efforts.
    yes, and no. HR has a lot of momentum IOW, it takes a while to get your HR up to the correct zone while applying constant power and then it doesn't drop instantly when you back the power off. If you do keep the power constant HR tends to drift or continue to rise all the way to the end of the effort. That lag at the beginning of the interval and drift to the end are problematic. It means you can't gauge off of HR for the first five to 6 minutes of a longer effort and if you try to cap your HR at some preset limit you end up backing off on power to hold your HR to a given ceiling. This became real clear to me when I started training with a PM but continued to wear the HR strap.

    I've attached a screenshot from a typical 20 minute SST effort. Notice how it takes nearly a third of the interval for HR to hit the mean(red line at top) and that HR continues to drift upwards all the way to the end. Also note that the HR doesn't drop instantly when the power drops, even when I coast and put out no power at the end of the interval where it takes 32 seconds to drop back to the mean and longer to drop out of zone. All those things make HR a poor gauge of interval effort. If I didn't have a PM I'd go back to paying attention to perceived exertion (RPE) and trusting that over HR. FWIW I trained religiously with HR for two decades and wondered why my results were so spotty. I have a better idea of what was happening now that I can see power and HR side by side.

    Maybe you can't. In your earlier post you said you "don't really worry too much about pushing speed" on this ride. I'm just saying the same thing Wiredued is, you need some intensity to encourage fitness adaptations and just getting miles isn't the most time efficient approach. If you're already pushing tempo where you get your effort and breathing up during parts of this ride then that's all I'm suggesting. If not it will be a better use of your time than just covering miles.
    The basic rule of thumb is to raise intensity if you can't train as much or as long during each session. 30 minutes is hardly worth the time of getting into bike clothes. If you have a trainer I'd say get on it for 30 minutes, do 5 minutes of warmup, one 20 minute L4 effort and 5 minutes of cooldown. That's about the best bang for your buck if you don't have much time. It's not much fun to sit on a trainer but there's no junk miles and you get a lot of training for the time invested. You could try the same approach outside, just try to get to a steady uninterrupted stretch of road or hill quickly, then do a good 15 to 20 minute steady threshold effort then cool down and go home. It's not great but it beats 4 days off a week. The body definitely needs rest after hard workouts, but too much rest and most of us get "blocked up" and need a loosen up ride just to get ready to train again.

    Good luck,
    Dave
     
  7. a5hi5m

    a5hi5m New Member

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    This drift and the in-effiency have become more obvious to me now that im riding a trainer indoors also. For the last 3-4 weeks I have been riding a constant gear ratio and cadence for 20min intervals, with a warm-up, and a few minute break inbetween and a cooldown at the end. When i download the data from the HRM, the drift is real easy to see. In addition to this, as time has progressed, my HR doesn't get up as high, even riding at a slightly higher cadence to theoretically increase power (same gear ratio). Av HR for the interval is about 8-10 beats lower than when I first started.

    -ash
     
  8. donrhummy

    donrhummy New Member

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    Thank you so much for the very informative response (and thanks to everyone else too!). I'm gonna have to think on this before I respond to everything, but one question...

    So, how do I judge how hard to be riding those 3-5 minutes? Should it be all-out like my 1-minute rides? Is there a way to use HR to judge this at all or do I just have to "go hard?" And how long do I rest in between?
     
  9. sidewind

    sidewind New Member

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    You should ride those so hard that you can make those, e.g. 5*5 min intervals. Too hard, your power/speed will drop in the last ones. Too easy, you feel you could continue with those. The HR won't probably get as high in the first and second interval than in the last ones. One way for pacing could be that you take some there and back course or a loop which you can ride in ~5 minutes, and try to ride it in same time in each interval.
     
  10. wiredued

    wiredued New Member

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    Good VO2 max intervals are at 113% FTP between 3 to 8 minutes long if you can find a ride with alot of 3 to 8 minute hills and attack them you can get some VO2 max in easily.

     
  11. donrhummy

    donrhummy New Member

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    Can you guys explain why if 1-minute intervals won't help for a 5 hr plus ride, 3-8 minute intervals will?
     
  12. wiredued

    wiredued New Member

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    Although VO2 max is out side the sweet spot (intensity high duration short) if you have 85% tempo and 91% L4 covered and you have hit a power plateau then VO2 Max can be used to either peak your power 6 weeks before an event or smash the glass cieling on your FTP.:cool:

     
  13. grebletie

    grebletie New Member

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    Just to reiterate what wiredued said, working on VO2 will "raise the ceiling" on your aerobic abilities, allowing the other work you do at aerobic levels to increase further before leveling out. It's sort of high end aerobic work. Very stressful, but very beneficial.

    The 1-min work you refer to targets the anaerobic energy system, which while extremely important as a part of your overall plan, has less to do with century distance speed than aerobic ability.
     
  14. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Because the two efforts are fueled by different energy sources and different metabolic processes. The 3 to 5 minute VO2 max intervals are at least connected to your aerobic fitness and set a limit to how far you can bring that system up. The shorter L6 intervals are working a completely different process.

    The shorter one minute intervals are completely anaerobic and fueled by a process called anaerobic glycolocis where you burn stored sugars (glygogen) in the absence of oxygen. Training that system will improve your ability to rely on that system but won't do much for the other ways your body fuels its efforts. Anaerobic glycolocis is a fairly fast process but it also burns out quickly so it's good for efforts lasting between 30 seconds and 2 minutes or so. Beyond that it just runs out of steam and you drop back to slower but longer lasting methods of turning stored energy into power.

    If you sustain a slightly easier but still fairly intense effort for at least two and a half minutes your body can start to use the high end of its aerobic energy delivery system. At these durations it will still be converting glycogen to power but will need a lot of oxygen to burn it aerobically. Actually it needs a whole lot of O2 at the top of the aerobic range and that's why this is VO2 Max range. You're processing as much O2 as your body can take in, combining it with glycogen and producing power. Think of the first two minutes of these intervals as priming the pump or getting this energy delivery system up and running. The point of 3 to 5 minute efforts is to get the pump primed and then actually get some work out of that system. Most folks can only use this system for 5 to 8 minutes before it runs out of steam and you need to drop down another notch to yet another slower but longer lasting system.

    Drop down into your core aerobic energy delivery mode or threshold work and you're using a bit less O2 so your breathing is more controllable and you're burning a mixture of glycogen and stored fats. Again it's a slightly different flavor of energy production and although it doesn't work as quickly(delivered power is lower) you can sustain it much longer. It also takes a while to prime up this system, somewhere between 7 and 8 minutes so these longer threshold efforts should be maintained for at least 10 minutes to get some training benefit and longer is better. That's why the 2x20 threshold blocks are so popular, they're long enough to get well past the 8 minute initial priming but not so long that you can't focus from beginning to end.

    The key thing here is that training to be fast on the bike is all about how well you deliver stored energy to your muscles and how well those muscles convert that energy to power. It has almost nothing to do with strength in the weight lifting sense for healthy adults. In that screenshot I attached for a 20 minute effort my average pedal torque was 260 lb-in or roughly 38 pounds per pedal stroke with my 172.5mm cranks. That was what it took me to produce 278 watts. If I were able to sustain a world class 450 watts for that duration(I can't obviously) I would still only need roughly 61 pounds per pedal stroke. Well most healthy untrained adults who don't even own a bike could pump out endless one legged 61 pound leg presses if you gave them all day to do it. But very few could do those leg presses 90 to 100 times a minute for an hour straight. The point is, it's not about how strong your muscles are as in how much dead weight you can squat. It's about how well you can continue to produce power with rapid muscular contractions and that translates to how well you can supply fuel to your muscles and how effective your muscles are at converting that fuel to power.

    That's what we're training, those specific energy delivery systems and to do so we've gotta target the systems most important to our efforts and train them to be very efficient. Target the right intensities for the right durations and you're on your way.

    Good luck,
    Dave
     
  15. donrhummy

    donrhummy New Member

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    Makes total sense.

    Thank you again for a super informative response! I really appreciate you taking the time and effort to help me out with this. :)

    I'm going to change up my intervals to be 5 minutes instead of 1 minute and work up to doing them for 8-10 minutes (with 5 min. rest between, or does the rest increase as the interval times increase?).

    Two questions

    1. Should I be working just as hard in minute one of the interval as the last minute or do I build up to it? And since I don't have a power meter and the HRM lags, do i have to go simply by feel?

    2. There are two ways I can work hard for the full 5 minutes. I can put it in the big ring and power my way for 5 minutes or I can spin super fast for 5 minutes. Which is of more benefit here and why?
     
  16. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Well the idea is to put out constant power, but lacking a PM that's tough. Your perceived exertion(RPE) follows the same sort of priming curve as the system you're training. IOW if you pace correctly the first two to two and a half minutes won't feel that bad but the last minute or two will really hurt. That's one beauty of the PM, the ability to accurately pace shorter efforts. Just aim for the best sustainable steady speed you can hold for the duration. It'll take you a few tries to dial in the effort, but don't worry that's still good training time if you are at all close. I like to use short hills for my VO2 max repeats but you can do them on the flats as well.

    Had to go there didn't you :) This is a hotly debated topic. Personally I like to time trial and do shorter intervals at a fairly high cadence both because it feels right to me and because I believe being able to put out power at a high cadence pays off in races when you have to make sudden speed changes to cover attacks or when jumping out of crit corners. But others feel differently and just tell you to ride at your naturally selected cadence. If you're newer to the sport and tend to stay in your biggest gears then I really do think it pays to develop the muscle coordination to spin a bit quicker but if you have that down then I suppose just ride them where they feel the most comfortable for the terrain.

    -Dave
     
  17. donrhummy

    donrhummy New Member

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    I know, I know. It's sort of morphed into the Lance/Carmichael/Ferrari vs everyone else thing but still I wanted to get your thoughts on it.

    Do you think that active recovery will be of greater benefit to me on my off-days than just resting? I feel pretty worn out, sore and tight the day or two after my workouts. (I also do some light weightlifting for my core) If so, why? And what level or amount? IOW, should it be 30 minutes Zone 2 or 2 hours zone 2 or whatever?

    Thanks again!
     
  18. Pendejo

    Pendejo Member

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    Here's a question that still puzzles me. I do 5 and 10K TTs exclusively. My hard training used to consist of shorter intervals, typically one and two miles, where I'd go very hard and would be reaching speeds greater than I would during an actual TT. Then the "It's Killing Me" thread persuaded me to dump those short intervals and start doing the 20-minute intervals at a little under max effort. So in these intervals I'm typically not going quite as fast as I would in an actual TT.

    But it still seems to me that if I want to average X mph in a TT, then at least some of my training should involve going that speed or a little faster. So is that false, or should I also be doing some faster, shorter intervals to add to the 20-minute ones?
     
  19. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Didn't we cover this several months ago?. If you do L4/Threshold work it will be slower than your best 10 k TT pace (20 minute efforts vs. 14-15 minute efforts) but at some point you should add L5/VO2 Max work which will be quite a bit faster than your 10K and 5K paces. Here's a response to your Intervals post from January:
    The L5 work should be built on a solid L4 and SST base but I'd have expected you to have already added a day a week of 3 to 5 minute intervals with equal rest periods like 5x5s or 8x3s. Do those above race pace but do them steady and at a pace you can sustain from beginning to end. It's the same stuff we've been talking about in this thread, it'll work your ability to deliver power at the top end of your aerobic range and its an energy system you'll most likely hit during the final minutes of your TTs if you've paced them well.

    If you've still got competitions ahead this year and you haven't started them yet, I'd add an L5 day at the beginning of your training week. Work your hardest intervals then but keep the overall workout short. That should leave you plenty of juice for a longer L4/SST session the following day and then a L3 session to round out a 3 day block.

    That's been my bread and butter training week for the last couple of months and it's working real nicely along with racing this time of year. I don't follow it like gospel if I've got an important event to taper for or feel flat or even if I feel extra good with nothing important on the weekend(I'll take the L3 session up into L4/SST when that happens). But it's still a good rough schedule to work around.

    How are the TTs going?
    -Dave
     
  20. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    It's pretty normal to feel sore two days after a hard workout. I read somewhere that two days is about when the inflammation from all the muscular microdamage peaks and that's what we feel. Whatever the reason a lot of folks prefer an active rest spin day to total time off the bike as it helps loosen things up a bit.

    The key is to be disciplined and honest with yourself if you do on the bike rest days. No chasing down or hanging with other faster riders, no jamming that one hill or sprinting for the city limits sign just 'cause you feel like it. You're supposed to rest on rest days so you can train hard on training days and mixing the two is a bad idea. If you can really just go out and spin with very light pedal pressure(L1 in Coggan's schema but I don't know what zone system you use, there are several) and maintain easy effort for half an hour to an hour than great but don't fall into the trap of adding a bit more to rest days and then having to back off a bit for your real training days. That leads to mediocre training and poor results. If you can't make yourself go slow and easy on rest days then just stay off the bike.
     
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