How much base



fezzy

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Dec 3, 2007
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I have about 9 weeks worth of base in my legs now. Have been doing 450-600 TSS since Thanksgiving, steady L3, L4, SST work. My Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday is indoors and usually goes 2x20 L4, 1x45 L3 and some weights followed by 2x20 SST, Saturday and Sunday are (weather permitting) outside in the L3 range usually getting in about 250-300 TSS points over the weekend. The FTP has risen steadily from a detrained 210 or so to about 250 new.

Its my first year of training, and I plan to do about 20-25 races this year. The schedule starts in March. I had planned on doing my base/FTP work up until then, and possible though March, with the obvious exception of the early tune up races. Dont think I will be able to avoid L5/6 efforts in the early season crits. I don't really have any real A races, though there is a large race at the end of May that I would like to be ready for as Im sure the field will be stronger. I also will be upgrading to Cat 4 at some point in April, so while it would be nice to do well as a cat 5, any upgrade points can't be had until later in the season.

Back to the point of the post, at what point should I switch gears and put in some higher level work? Thanks
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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fezzy said:
... at what point should I switch gears and put in some higher level work?...
We've got to make this a sticky post. Not knocking your question, especially since the search function has been down for a while(it's working again), but this question gets asked time and again and the answer is always the same.....It depends.

There's no one size fits all answer as to when to transition to higher end work or what your weekly training mix should look like when you make that transition. Nor how your training should evolve and change during the season. It depends on your goals, your previous training, the nature of the races you'll be entering, when you want to peak, if you're targeting multiple peaks, the results of your early season racing, how well you recover from high end work, your available training and recovery time, your overall lifestyle, your personal strengths and weaknesses, etc. Coaches earn their keep by developing training plans tailored to their clients specific needs and there's no simple answer to your questions.

Here's some general guidelines:
  • High end work(L5 and above) should build on a solid aerobic base. Have you brought your FTP up high enough to meet the long term average power needs of your races? This sums it up nicely:
    Bill Black said:
    ... I stress that folks should be able to race with the peloton at L3 and then have the "rope" to go into L4 and higher only to attack, respond to attacks and to finish. In order to do that one must spend the greatest percentage of one's training time building a solid and high FTP.
    IOW, you want your FTP high enough that you aren't pushed right up against it all the time during your races. If you struggle with the average power in your early races and can't hang with the peloton on long steady climbs or while pacing the flats then high end efforts won't get you there. If you can comfortably hang with the peloton during steady pacing but can't respond to surges, short fast climbs, jumps out of crit corners, etc then high end work can help but too many new racers get dropped during steady pack riding and hope that a few short fast intervals will get them up that 20 minute climb or allow them to hang tough during steady fast riding on the flats.
  • L5 work (VO2 Max) allows you to raise your aerobic ceiling, comes into play for 3 to 8 minute all out efforts and can be improved substantially in 6 to 8 weeks of focused efforts. Will your upcoming races have make or break hills that take less than 8 minutes to climb? Has your FTP progress plateau'd or has your 20 minute power started closing in on your best 5 minute power? Is your 5 minute power on Coggan's power profile a lot lower than your FTP? These are good reasons to introduce L5 work and if you've already built a strong aerobic core (high FTP, CTL) then 6 to 8 weeks of this before important events can top off your aerobic fitness nicely.
  • L6 work(Anaerobic Tolerance) can help you hold position in the final minutes of a race as you approach a fast field sprint. Can help you dig deep for very short make or break efforts and can make the difference between a field finish and a podium placing. But if you're not already making it to the finish with the peloton it very likely won't get you there. It's also one of the faster systems to train so even a few weeks of dedicated L6 work can help a lot. It's really hard to do extended L6 sessions so your overall training load(TSS, CTL) will almost certainly drop if you start L6 work and don't balance it with some longer SST/Tempo/L2 rides. Get into a steady CTL downslope, especially if coupled with high end work and you'll very likey induce a performance peak. Best to time this peak to correspond to an important event. Some folks do a bit of L6 year round on the "use it or lose it" philosophy, but you might want to hold off on a dedicated L6 day in your weekly schedule until you're very close to important events for the reasons listed above.
  • L7(neuromuscular work) Short, pure sprint workouts don't take that much out of you from a recovery standpoint and can be done year round. I don't since they're no fun on the indoor trainer, but it's a good idea to keep your sprint technique tuned up. I'll start these as soon as I get outside but they won't be long workouts and won't involve really long sprints so that I recover well and don't sacrifice too much training load too soon. Most lower category races end in a sprint although many beginning racers complain about their poor sprint when it's really poor final lap positioning and lack of anaerobic tolerance to stay up front prior to the sprint thats holding them back.
  • Work to the needs of your events. If you're going to do a lot of crits then you want to be able to repeatedly jump out of corners and recover. Microintervals like Bill's Hour of Power can help you there while still providing good FTP and base building. If you're specializing in time trials then you don't need much if any work above L5. If you are targeting road races with long sustained climbs that will split the field then again an FTP focus is going to be more important than your one minute power.
  • Work on your weaknesses. Do some power profiling and figure out where you're weak compared to your racing goals. Train your weaknesses, race your strengths.
You'll probably get different answers from different folks, but there just isn't a simple answer to the question of when to start higher end work.

Good luck,
Dave
 

Chipotle

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Sep 8, 2005
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fezzy said:
... My Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday is indoors and usually goes 2x20 L4, 1x45 L3 and some weights followed by 2x20 SST, ....

Do you do all of that work each day three days in a row? Man, I must be slackin'
 

fezzy

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Dec 3, 2007
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No, to be clear. Tuesday is 2 x 20 at L4. Wednesday is 1 x 45 at L3 plus about 30 minutes of weights, and Thursday is 2 x 20 or 2 x 30 SST. Even at that, Thursday pretty much sucks.
 

jerry dool

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I've started into the cycling sport and don't understand some of your short forms; like L3, L4,ftp,tss.could you explain these for me. thanks.
 

pelotoncamden

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Dec 4, 2006
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daveryanwyoming said:
  • Has your FTP progress plateau'd or has your 20 minute power started closing in on your best 5 minute power? Is your 5 minute power on Coggan's power profile a lot lower than your FTP? These are good reasons to introduce L5 work and if you've already built a strong aerobic core (high FTP, CTL) then 6 to 8 weeks of this before important events can top off your aerobic fitness nicely.
Dave, can you expand on the point above regarding 20 minute power closing in on best 5 minute power? What's the relationship? Are you saying that 20 min power should come close to 5 min power? If one has a high 5 minute power or higher than 20 minute power, what does this mean?

Thanks in advance for your time.
Scott
 

daveryanwyoming

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pelotoncamden said:
... Are you saying that 20 min power should come close to 5 min power? ...
Scott,
No, I'm refering to VO2 Max as the "aerobic ceiling" or the limit of your aerobic performance. If your power for 20 minute or other long interval efforts or for that matter an accurate measure of your FTP starts closing in on your 5 minute power then you either haven't tried for high 5 minute power numbers or your FTP is a high percentage of your VO2 max power. IOW, you're closing in on your aerobic ceiling. If that's the case then raising that ceiling is the only way to see continued improvement. Of course it's just as likely that you've been focusing on longer efforts and haven't tested or tried to put out a big 5 minute effort recently. In which case a few dedicated L5 sessions will probably show a jump in 5 minute power when you make those efforts.

FWIW I see periodic jumps in my 5 minute power even when I primarily focus on longer efforts in training. IOW, a "push up" approach to raising FTP also tends to raise 5 minute power. Not surprising if you buy into the Monod CP model for power and the contribution of both AWC and CP for power at different durations. Raise your CP(metabolic power) and your sustainable power for durations from 2 to 90 minutes or more should increase along with it.

Anyway, whether you look at it as raising your aerobic ceiling or look at it as a power profile that's several rows lower in 5 minute than FTP some L5 work can help. Again it assumes the sustainable aerobic fitness(FTP) is high enough to at least hang with the pack. If not keep working on that.

-Dave
 

Steve_B

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Dec 31, 2006
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daveryanwyoming said:
We've got to make this a sticky post.
Nice Dave. As Rick Murphy said about one of your other posts, "one for the binder". :)

What about thinking in terms of CTL too? Obviously there is no one-size-fits-all solution to minimum CTL but there's probably a minimum to be effective in racing and when you are reasonably "developed". I just don't know what that minimum is.
 

pelotoncamden

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Dec 4, 2006
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Thanks Dave. A few more questions for you. I haven't focused at all on 5 minute efforts and a power test back on 12/14 showed that I produced 347W for 5 minutes and 292W for 20 minutes. Looking at my power profile, my highest peak at any time during the year tends to be in the 5 minute column. Based on what you said and my numbers above, would I benefit more, meaning would by FTP increase at a higher rate with the pull-up effect of L5 training? Is it better to have a lower % of FTP as part of V02 max as I assume is my case? At the end of the day, does a high 5 minute power equate to a higher FTP potential?
 

daveryanwyoming

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Steve_B said:
...What about thinking in terms of CTL too?...
Actually, I was thinking about CTL as part of the original question "when to transition to higher end work" It's spending away CTL and the performance peak that can induce that makes me want to stay on a build until the high end work has the most benefit. The other part is to think about propping up CTL with some longer lower end work as you transition to high end work as suggested above. But I agree CTL plays into this discussion in a big picture view.
... Obviously there is no one-size-fits-all solution to minimum CTL but there's probably a minimum to be effective in racing and when you are reasonably "developed". I just don't know what that minimum is.
Yeah, neither do I. All I can do is look back at my logs from last year and see how I raced stage races and longer events on differing CTL values. From that and limited by available training and recovery time I've set some CTL targets for this year. Part of it is wanting to have enough excess CTL prior to harder, more important races so that I can spend some in tapers.

I suspect there are some minimums based on the nature of your races, but I know I've raced well in events that produced TSS values several times my CTL at the time. It took a while to recover from them, but long one day events are possible that greatly exceed your current CTL. Still I'd hate to enter a weekend or longer stage race with a CTL of 40 :)

A point I picked up on last season is the idea that full tapers probably only apply to riders with CTL levels of 100 or more and folks in the 80 or lower range shouldn't spend too much in tapers. That's what got me on a track of mini-tapers last season where I'd only spend a bit of CTL for a bit of increased freshness largely because my CTL only broke the 100 mark for a short time last season. IOW, I didn't have much excess CTL headroom and wanted to preserve what I'd earned. I'm targeting 110 by late spring racing so my pre race strategies may change a bit this season. We'll see.

-Dave
 

daveryanwyoming

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pelotoncamden said:
...Is it better to have a lower % of FTP as part of V02 max as I assume is my case? At the end of the day, does a high 5 minute power equate to a higher FTP potential?
It's best to have an extemely high FTP, an insanely high 5 minute power, tons of power for a minute and a blazingly fast sprint. :)

AFAIC the ratios are more interesting in an academic sense. Having the power you need to do well in your target events is the important part. The power profiles can help you identify your personal strengths and weaknesses as can a careful look at your race schedule with some understanding of how the different courses are likely to play out. The only time I'd care about FTP/5 minute power ratios is if the two seem to be converging implying that I'm approaching my current limits and need to raise the ceiling.

I'm sure the ex-physiologists will have a better take on this, but I'm more concerned with what I can and can't do than how the ratios look on paper.

-Dave
 

Steve_B

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Dec 31, 2006
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daveryanwyoming said:
A point I picked up on last season is the idea that full tapers probably only apply to riders with CTL levels of 100 or more and folks in the 80 or lower range shouldn't spend too much in tapers.
I was going to suggest 60-70 is probably the point where ther isn't much point to tapering but, in any case, it's around there somewhere.


daveryanwyoming said:
That's what got me on a track of mini-tapers last season where I'd only spend a bit of CTL for a bit of increased freshness largely because my CTL only broke the 100 mark for a short time last season. IOW, I didn't have much excess CTL headroom and wanted to preserve what I'd earned. I'm targeting 110 by late spring racing so my pre race strategies may change a bit this season. We'll see.
In the latter half of last season, I was probably too paranoid and was doing doing mini-tapers of a few days before a race of almost any value. I had a very high CTL and I was kind of mentally tired of training anyway so it was no big deal to "spend" it.

I really think for me there is very little difference in performance between CTL of 90 and of 100, other than at 100, I'm more likely to burn out later. ;) I do acknowledge that there is something different about crossing the 90 threshold though and my body reacts differently. I'm generally riding pretty well by that point.
 

acoggan

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fezzy said:
Back to the point of the post, at what point should I switch gears and put in some higher level work?

When your power:heart rate ratio changes by <5% during long, steady efforts at around "AeT"? ;) :D :p
 

fezzy

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Dec 3, 2007
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Probably a stupid question, but what's Aet? I don't recall seeing that term.
 

daveryanwyoming

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fezzy said:
Probably a stupid question, but what's Aet? I don't recall seeing that term.
You'll have to ask Joe Friel. Andy's pullin' your leg don't go there :)

You're a cruel man Dr. Coggan....funny, but cruel :D