how much base training does a beginner need

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by netscriber, Dec 31, 2005.

  1. netscriber

    netscriber New Member

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    Hello everyone...
    Now hoping that such a question is welcome here(new to this forum) :)
    I got back on my bike after being a couch potato for about 5 years. I trained for 3 months now and have put about 400-500 miles of easy riding. At this point I can do about 65 miles averaging about 14 MPH. Ok please dont get into the average speed technicalities. Merely trying to say that I am not really race ready.
    Now, the questions in my mind are... :confused:
    a. How much base training do I REALLY need before I can start my intervals, power training etc. What metric do I use to determine I am ready for intense training?
    b. We can assume I want to be road race ready in the next 3 months. Can one be? Now, again I understand all the variables. Just a wild idea for what it takes beginners to be in a state to finish a cat 5 race would do.

    I am 35 years old and have raced before. But, the days were different in the early 80s and I am COMPLETELY out of touch. :(
     
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  2. Doctor Morbius

    Doctor Morbius New Member

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    It sounds like you're on the right track. One of the overlooked values to base training is to prevent injuries while you get conditioned for harder workouts. Some people say that 1000 miles is a good 'round number for base miles but actually it depends on your tolerance for higher intensity training. Of course, that's an individual thing. A younger guy in his early 20's can recovery more quickly. They also usually don't (although some do) have the added stresses in life of family obligations, work, mortgage, etc.

    I would venture to say you could start doing some intervals but keep them low key for a while until you're sure you can recover between bouts as well as stay injury free. Once a week would be a good start. After a few weeks perhaps you can add another day. Don't be too rigid. If you feel drained one week skip the intervals.

    The following section is anecdotal and is based on my personal experience and isn't from any text book. I've found that I can increase volume OR intensity but not both at the same time without overdoing it.

    Provided you've ridden 500 miles over 3 months that breaks down to 167 miles per month or approximately 41.7 miles per week. Given that information if it were me I would probably try to increase my volume first before doing too much intensity. 100 miles a week would be a good goal although 75 or 80 miles is good too provided you are consistent. Remember that consistency is king.

    To answer your second question, I don't think you can be race ready in 3 more months. I don't think it's realistic. There is much more competition in the field these days. In 3 more months all you'll be ready for is more productive workouts unless you are a genetically gifted athlete. If you were though you probably wouldn't have stopped as pummeling a competitor can be too much fun.

    If you've spent 5 years as a couch potato (like so many of us have) then don't try to get in shape in just a few short months. Think of this as a life long adventure and you'll be happier and less stressed with trying to get back into shape. Over the years I've seen a number of people (self included) take the crash course approach to getting fit and losing the gut when they've been sedentary office workers (i.e. wussies) for years. It's just not a healthy approach. Don't turn a great activity into another job that you'll end up hating.
     
  3. MY02_STi

    MY02_STi New Member

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    Best advice I seen in a looooong while :cool:
     
  4. fergie

    fergie Member

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    Very true, I find after work that trying to squeeze in a 2 hour ride gets complicated if I am doing coaching or catching up with friends that I don't get to sleep till very late and wake up tired the next day unable to train as hard as I like.

    The suggestion from many texts and sport sci papers is to continue doing base training till you stop seeing improvements. Whether this be you can't increase your ave speed, power output or duration of rides. I am still going faster doing base miles so I will continue till I stop seeing improvement and add some overgear and undergear training to spice it up.

    Arthur Lydiard had his runners doing his 100mile a week base training for as long as they could.

    At the other end of the spectrum all the Pro riders who have come home to Christchurch are putting in 500+ mile weeks before heading back to Europe or the US. Some do include a day of intervals at their functional threshold and a day of weights. All are doing overgear training in the hills using 53X12 gears on moderately steep climbs.

    Over our winter (April to September) I clocked up about 600miles and tried racing in November. No show. It would take me a week or more to recover and I missed a lot of training.

    Having come back from 5 years of not riding I have set the following goals based on getting into cat 5 racing here (30 mile races at 20mph on undulating courses).

    Be able to train at 17 mph for 2 hours on undulating courses.
    then
    Be able to do 10 min efforts at 20mph
    then
    Be able to do 3min efforts at 23mph
    then
    Be able to do 30sec efforts at 27mph

    Once I can hit these targets I know I will be ready to race. Once each target is met I will move on to the next but make sure I do at least one of the original efforts each week to maintain my fitness.

    Hamish Ferguson
    Cycling Coach
     
  5. netscriber

    netscriber New Member

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    Umm...I like to think my recoveries are quick. But, I agree with what you are saying, and I do have the rather conciously added stresses in life :D

    Any specific suggestions? Maybe 4x2 min LT intervals?

    Here, I was a little inconsistent. I have ridden over 100 miles in weeks. I try to stick to atleast a 50 mile ride on the weekend and 2-3 15-25 mile rides in the week. That brings up another question I have in my mind.

    REALLY good way of putting it. Thanks for the responses DM. Its a little dissapointing, though very realistic.

    So the other questions that come to mind are...
    a. If I am riding 50-65 miles on the weekends what kind of rides do I do during the week? Provided I have only 1.5-2 hrs during 3 weekdays these cannot be endurance rides.
    b. So far I am using my judgement to increase the milage on the weekends. Has anyone used a percentage or some other metric for this forced growth?


    VERY GOOD response btw. Thanks :)
     
  6. netscriber

    netscriber New Member

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    Thanks!
    So...
    - Do you mean a 2hr ride averaging 17mph?
    - The test goals seem to be a good metric. I remember chasing a guy a couple of weekends back at 21mph for about 5 mins. What does that mean?

    One big question I still have is, how long should I be able to ride at a time? The max I can do without being in extreme pain is about 65 miles right now.

    I started with 30 miles...then 45...then 50 and finally 65. but the transition from 50 to 65 was very slow. It took me about 3-4 weekends.

    So the 1000 miles everyone talks about...
    Doctor M, I have done about 500 miles. You are suggesting 500 more miles over a period of 24 weeks :confused: That is about 20 miles per week. Or perhaps I misunderstood you in some way.
     
  7. fergie

    fergie Member

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  8. netscriber

    netscriber New Member

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    Perfectly clear! Thanks guys. I guess Ill get back to my riding.

    Fergie/Doc, how about the 1.5 hrs I get during the midweek? People suggest I shouldnt do hard training and at the same time 1.5 hrs wont add endurance. :)
     
  9. Doctor Morbius

    Doctor Morbius New Member

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    1.5 hours sounds just about right for a Tempo ride. The definition for Tempo is pretty varied so I will give you the version I use.

    Tempo ... about 82% Max HR give or take a few % depending on fitness levels, heat, hydration levels, etc. Or a pace you could sustain at a good clip for 2 to 3 hours without being exhausted afterward.

    And yes, Fergie is correct. 500 more miles.
     
  10. Doctor Morbius

    Doctor Morbius New Member

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    Anyone happen to have that link to A. Coggan's chart handy to show netscriber where the best "bang for the buck" training is? I can't seem to find it. :(
     
  11. netscriber

    netscriber New Member

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    OK here's what I do without getting into building a training plan on a forum! ;)
    50% of time in Z2 - about 5-6 hrs on the weekend averaging 14 MPH
    25% of time in Z3 - about 2 1.5 hr rides during week averaging 14 MPH (very hilly)
    20% of time in Z4(LT) - one 1.5 hr ride during the week (very hilly)

    Age - 35
    Max HR - 194
    LTHR - 175 (tested a week back)

    So here's what happened. After 6-7 weeks I just couldnt move from 55 miles to 65 miles without much pain. But I used to feel recovered after a day. This is what confused me. I started feeling maybe it was the weekday slightly fast rides on a very hilly terrain here in Santa barbara. :)

    Thanks for the patient responses guys!
     
  12. Doctor Morbius

    Doctor Morbius New Member

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    Sounds like you just hit your first hurdle. It's pretty common. Gains, whether they're increases in mileage or in sustained power, are never linear over time. I'm guessing this was your long ride for the week and you had been sucessfully adding 10% a week without incedent? That's great while it lasts but it never does. There's always going to be a place where the law of diminishing returns kicks in for a person's fitness level.

    It looks like you have a few options...

    1) Make your weekly long rides a more gradual increase, say 5% instead of 10%. Had you been more fit you could have gone up further in mileage but eventually you'd still get to a point where increases just can't be sustained at the same rate.

    2) Stay at 55ish miles for a few weeks until you feel you are ready to continue and finish strong and not too fatigued.

    3) And this is probably what I would do... unload your miles and drop back down to maybe around 40ish and from there start building back up again. The second time you peak, so to speak, it will be at a higher mileage - or should be in theory provided youre getting adequate rest and nutrition.

    I like the third approach because it adds some periodicity to your introductory base phase. Up 2 steps, back 1, up 2 steps, back 1. Eventually you will be at all the miles you would care to ride and will be stronger doing them as you've given your body a chance to rest and catch up with the training. Just going back to doing 40 miles you should feel great. No need to do them faster just because you're doing fewer. This is just to build up the miles.

    If you try this approach, I'd bet dollars to donuts that the next time you hit 65 miles it'll be a breeze! ;) Hope this helps.
     
  13. netscriber

    netscriber New Member

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    Greatly appreciated!! All this information combined with the existing plan and knowledge should be more than enough for a while for me! Feels nice to hear that this is not an issue and is common.
    I think I am going to stick to option 2, not because I disagree with 1 or 3 but because it will keep me motivated. Reducing milage is kinda de-motivating for me, just a personal thing. I already have EXTREME difficulty riding slow. I feel like pounding and sprinting ALL THE TIME :D.
    What I will do is try and reduce my time on 55 miles while staying in Z2 withing 139 BPM. And then move to 65 miles after I get the average up to maybe 17mph while statying in Z2. :)

    Will keep you guys updated.
     
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