Negative sprints/interval training



Okay, rookie mistake! I started off yesterday ready to go hard and fast. Needless to say, I died pretty quick. I won't say how quick, because it was too embarassing. I still made my distance and my average was okay. But, the last 6 miles were eeked out. I tried to look this up with the search function and it didn't find anything.

So, I have decided to start training with what I heard someone refer to as "negative sprints or intervals". From what I understand, I set a light pace for myself for a given set of miles to start, then set an increased for pace for a certain distance after that, and so on. The idea being that you end up with a faster pace than what you began with. (minus the cool down, of course) This should help me train for consistency from the beginning.

Does anyone have any suggestions or comments on this type of training? I mean, if you were to split this up for me for one ride and you knew that I wanted to have an overall average of say 17 mph for a 15 mile ride, how would you split it up? I know I should probably ask an online coach this. But, any feedback is greatly appreciated. Just throwing it out there to see if I get any bites.
Hi Persistence,

I haven't heard of "negative sprints" but from your brief description it sounds like quite a hectic interval program. We used to use a similar type program for ice hockey skating training and it went something like this . . .
We would start the first lap at a slow to moderate pace, being timed. Every lap we would do thereafter would have to be quicker than the last lap. (So if you did the 1st lap in 30secs, you would try to do the next at 31 for example). Of course if you pushed too hard, you would increase the increment by a larger margin which you had to improve on, on the following lap. We had to do 10 laps before resting. As I recall, we also had a minimum time to start from.

This would only be do-able in cycling if you have access to a track or a shortish circuit you can measure yourself again. Trust me, this is TOUGH. You end up going full tilt at about 7 laps and it's hell from there.

I've read some of your other postings and I've noticed your as keen as mustard to ride hard. Don't fall into the same trap as I did of trying to go too fast too soon. You can't get around having to get those miles in your legs first. Then hit the intervals.

Hope this helps, even though I haven't answered your question.
I've read some of your other postings and I've noticed your as keen as mustard to ride hard.  Don't fall into the same trap as I did of trying to go too fast too soon.  You can't get around having to get those miles in your legs first.  Then hit the intervals.

I'm with LR on this one. Go too hard too soon and you will end up a frustrated cyclist. Build your fitness and strength up gradually. Keep away from the 'right here - right now' approach.
Negative splits are techniques used by runners and similar endurance sports. By starting off slowly and finishing quickly the runner will always have some juice left for the finish. Its also much easier to judge the amount of effort required to win a race or to pace yourself during the effort. Cycling is different!

In mass start races starting off slowly may get you dropped and by going fast at the end you will have people hanging on your wheel! You need to be more reactive.

In time trials the maximum pace that you can sustain would be around your lactate threshold, so aiming to start slower than this would waste time and finishing faster than lactate threshold pace would be impossible (as you get fatigued and have to slow down). Its far better to warm up properly and race as hard as you can for the duration (i.e. at lactate threshold).

In training, it might be useful. You could ride a number of intervals say 4 or 5 gradualy increasing the intensity until your heart rate max's or you fatigue after 3 to 4 minutes (followed by a 5 minute rest). An effort like this would allow you to both stress your aerobic system and anaerobic system significantly. However, you might get a better training effect by targeting aerobic and anaerobic energy systems in seperate sessions.

Runners also do positive splits where they start faster and finish slower. Many runners are able to open a gap early on and then hold onto the gap until the finish, while the others using a negaive split chase!
I think we are on the same page and just don't know it... :)

What I was referring to was a training tactic to KEEP me from going to hard too fast.

For instance, I have a habit of starting hard and dying quickly, right? So, to curve that, I force myself to start slower. Say I am going to just do 15 miles today. So, instead of flying out of the gate at 23 mph and ending up at 12, I force myself to start slower and stay there for a certain length of time or distance before I can increase my speed.

So, if I went out today, I would (for example) start at maybe 14 or 15 mph. Then, force myself to stay there for the first 3 to 5 miles. Then, for the next 3 to 5, I would kick up to 17 or 18. Then, at the final stretch, end up at top speed. Wouldn't this force me to stay calm out of the gate and not dye so quickly? Eventually, I would stop doing this and go for complete consistency.

So, it wouldn't be so much to start at a "minimum" speed, so much as to set a "maximum". And, it wouldn't be so much to force myself to increase that time after so many laps, but to ensure that I don't go over board and dye out early.

Does that make sense? It would be more of a regulatory measure to prepare for long distances. Not a performance measurement to force myself to improve on.
Ah now I get it...

Sounds like a good plan. But why don't you do a good warm up instead of riding slower at the start? Then you could try and hold the desired average for the race, followed by an effort at the end.

You could also try using a heart rate monitor to control your effort.

What do you think?
Yeah, I have one that my friend lent me. But, quite honestly, I don't know jack **** about what measurements to look for. Lactate threshold, what? Vo2 Max, what? The last time I calculated my target heart rate, I was 10 and I had to because it was an assignment in Physical Education. And, I can't begin to remember what that formula was. Also, I tried running with the thing. And, it seemed that it would jump all over the place....a split second at 149, then 198, back to 160, and so on. I don't know if I just wasn't close enough to it or what. <shaking head>

All I do know is that I have a fairly high resting heart rate. It tends to hover around 78. Although, I went to the grocery store yesterday and used their little blood pressure machine, and it said my resting heart rate was 68...go figure! That was a first and I am sure ...a fluke.

If you feel like enlightening me in how to best utilize my heart rate monitor as a performance measurement, I am all ears...if you are all patience. :) Personally, I have tried reading some websites on it and I felt a little lost. So many things. And, everyone swears by a different one.
I used the MHR calculation from one of the other posts. I used the formula 217 - (.85*Age) and came up with 197 (minus 5 for bike - 192). Now, does the .85 in the formula mean at a 85% effort level? At what range do I know that I am working aerobically vs. anaerobically? I feel pretty stupid asking this. But, it has been so long since I looked at any of this stuff.
Persistence, use the formula if you do not know your Max HR. I have found that during a race I've had my max HR nearest to my medical measured HR.

Using your calculated max HR you can calculate the HR to do your workout in. I had the same problem as you with going out to fast and then slowing down. The best to do is to do a lot of slow, easy rides. Start doing your intervals (I split aerobic and anaerobic) only after about 3 weeks and the rest after about 5 weeks.
. . . and when you do intervals, try and do them with someone who is of a similar strength or stronger than you so that you can do "races" against each other. This makes you more focussed as you are competing in a sense against each other, and this gets you motivated, and you're less likely to choose the bail option because there is some pride to lose.

There's no better training motivator than your ego ;D ;D ;D
Any formula that you use to get your max heart rate is going to be +/- 10 beats per minute out, because every body is different! Take your max heart rate as the highest heart rate that you are able to acheive on a bike, be it in training, in a race or in a ramp test. If you don't have an idea about your maximum heart rate, go out with someone a bit stronger and over a flat 5 miles get faster and faster when you can't go any faster, sprint! This replicates the protocols used in labs on the road and should (if you try hard enough) let you acheive your max heart rate. When you acheive higher heart rates in a race, you know your original heart rate was too low!

You can go to a lab to find out what your heart rate at lactate threshold is and use this heart rate to train and race at.


You can think about your breathing, when you gradualy increase intensity over a period of time your breathing becomes more powerful, deep and rapid. This happens right up until your ventilatory threshold when it becomes irratic, difficult, a lot lot faster and as if your having a panic attack! Sometimes lactate threhold and ventilatory threshold occur at the same intensity (however sometimes diet, etc. can dissociate the two thresholds). So try starting gradualy until your breathing changes from controled to irractic, hold the pace just below this point for a few minutes, record the heart rate. Use this heart rate as a starting point for races. If it ends up to easy, use a higher heart rate in further races. If its to high then lower the heart rate by a beat or two.


Try some 4 x 6 minute efforts (with 1 minute rest between each one) as hard as you can. The heart rate you hold in this will be slightly above the heart rate you'd want to use in short (30 min) TT races.

Try these to find your max and some sort of racing threshold heart rate.

Resting heart rate is also personal, so don't worry too much if that is high (60 to 80 is considered normal for the general population). It will go down as you train up!