Now I see why they call Friel's book the training bible...

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by Roadie_scum, Sep 1, 2007.

  1. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

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    Like the bible it's scientifically inaccurate and shouldn't be applied literally.

    I am staying at a friend's place and, with little to read, pulled out his copy of Friel's "Training Bible". I can hardly open a page without finding an inaccurate gem.

    My favourites:

    Goal: Improve climbing
    Benchmark: Squat 320lb by end of base 1

    (Um?)

    Are you getting enough protein? Indicators that you need more protein in your diet include:
    -Frequent colds or sore throats
    -Slow recovery following workouts
    -An irritable demeanor
    -Poor response to training
    -Chronic fatigue
    -Sugar cravings

    (Right symptoms... wrong macronutrient...)

    The mis-application of the term critical power.

    The incorrect parsing of what heart rate, power and lactate are measuring.

    A base of easy miles is necessary before moving on to intensity training.

    "It was not until the the 1960's that the study of exercise as a science became widespread".

    (see http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/pe/exs190web/exs190history.htm)

    I could go on, but I won't...

    I used to think the training bible was a decent starting point. Now I'm forced to conclude that it is more misleading than helpful. It perpetuates widely held myths, it is inaccurate as often as it is accurate, it misapplies concepts, etc. It's not even a good text for a beginner.

    I would recommend a beginning cyclist study Andy and Hunter's book in combination with a good quality guide to training for distance runners (Daniels?) and possibly the training chapter in the Lemond book if they crave a cycling specific text.

    Can someone please write a more complete and accurate book on training principles in cycling? Andy? :)

    I feel like I'm at a point where I have a reasonable understanding, but it's taken me years and I have so much more I'd like to find out. A beginner would struggle so much to get on the right path.

    Has anyone read Tim Noake's Lore of Running? A brilliant book, occasionally biased toward Noake's own theoretical viewpoint, but just what cycling needs. Of course, it is a labour of love to put together something that comprehensive.

    (By the way, don't mean to offend religious types with the analogy I'm drawing - I once had a strong interest in religion and respect people's choices, except fundamentalists.)
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    +1 Roadie_scum. The further I got into power training, the more I learned about metabolic processes and training them, and the more I read about folks like Arthur Lydiard the less value I saw in Friel's work. I'm surprised to see it recommended so often and frequently recommended in conjunction with Andy and Hunters book. Folks say it's a good starting point, but why start on the wrong foot and perpetuate dated methods with little to no scientific basis like rigid preplanned rest weeks, junk mile winters, weight training for roadies, etc.

    I agree, there's a missing manual out there but if you've got to choose a cycling specific book, start with Lemond's and update some of the terminology and concepts as necessary.

    -Dave
     
  3. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    I have in the past recommended Friel's book. What I gained from it were the top line principles of goal setting, planning, assessing self in terms of strengths and weaknesses, regular testing with power to pin point progress/needs (I had access to computrainer before PMs were common) and structuring training so that it was at least specific to the desired goal.

    They're what originally appealed to me and I did better with that approach than just rocking up to my club ride every morning:rolleyes: . I have a 1996 edition.
    I never really focussed too much on the minutae but yeah, with the benefit of hindsight, there are a lot of things that need updating/amending.:)

    Not much money to be made writing in these books. Ask Andy;)
     
  4. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

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    I think that is what frustrates me so much - at the really macro level, the advice is sensible. Yet almost all the detail, while presented as gospel, is misleading at best. It is almost a better book for the expert than the beginner - a somewhat expert reader may be able to parse the good advice from the nonsense and take away some good core messages. The novice is likely to get bogged down with a training plan that is totally sub-optimal in its details.

    True that about the money - note what I said about Tim Noakes book being a 'labour of love'. :)

    And I know what you are saying about planning and goal-setting being better than 'just rocking up' to group rides. Definitely a good take-away.
     
  5. sidewind

    sidewind New Member

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    What do you mean? I think Friel used the term "Critical Power" as the power one could maintain for 1 min (CP1), 5 min (CP5), etc. The definition of Critical Power for 60 min to be the base for the whole power training came much later, I assume. So, at least Critical Power is one of the things Friel got right.
     
  6. kmavm

    kmavm New Member

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    NOOO!!!! Another victim of Friel-ology, right here in this thread!

    "Critical power" was first used in 1965 by Monod and Scherrer as part of a linear performance prediction model; see or http://www.thebikeage.com/tools.htm, for example. In the "critical power model," the critical power is a power that the athlete could sustain "effectively forever." (It's a model, remember, not a theory; obviously no power over zero is literally sustainable forever.) When used sensibly, CP is not dependent on a time variable; an athlete has only one CP, which Friel would call "CP infinity" or something.
     
  7. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

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    As kmavm points out, the term critical power is a relatively old one from the scientific literature. You are thinking of Functional Threshold Power, which is what Friel would (incorrectly) call CP60. Friel's critical power's are probably more commonly and sensibly referred to as mean maximal power. Kmavm's explanation was slightly technical (and correct). Basically, critical power refers to your sustainable aerobic power. It is slightly below what one could maintain for an hour. The idea is that the total energy you can put out in a given time is equal to your critical power, multiplied by that time, plus a constant for anaerobic capacity.
     
  8. sidewind

    sidewind New Member

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    At least for me the power I can maintain for 1 hour, MMP seems to be ~260 W. But the power I can maintain for 40-60 hours is conciderable less, something like half of 1 h MMP. Certainly, I should first check what Friel really wrote, but I just remember his idea was to define the critical power with the exact durations. Otherwise, such a term doesn't matter anything.
     
  9. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    The point is that Friel took a peer reviewed, published scientific term that's over 50 years old and redefined it. Talk about a great way to add confusion to a subject.

    CP has a well defined meaning, and yes the model breaks down for very long durations but works surprisingly well for the durations of interest to most cyclists. Personally my CP in W/Kg falls out beyond Friel's CP480(8 hours) based on the Monod tests I've done. Could I sustain that effort for 8 hours? Probably not, but I've got recorded ride data that suggests the model's accuracy out to several hours.

    The point is that Friel's redefinition of CP muddies the waters for newcomers to training and the language of exercise physiology. Your posts are evidence of RS's point that his text is better suited to more advanced readers that can sort through some of the misinformation.

    I agree with Alex that there are some gems in the text as well such as prioritizing races, thinking in yearly terms, the need to manage training load and intensity, etc. It's just that the methods he offers are pretty crude compared to the tools out there. For instance, if you can't actually monitor your training load/fatigue, then just plan every X week as a rest week, compare that to the TRIMPs or WKO+ Performance Manager that actually models what you've done and predicts what you're ready for next. One is an open loop approach that's fairly safe because you probably won't over train if you back off every third or fourth week. The other is a closed loop system where you manage load based on your actual accumulated load(CTL) and your recent training history (ATL).

    Beside's CP is only one of RS's examples of confusion and misinformation. His confusion over the role of protein vs. carbohydrates is a classic and frequently repeated error. The idea that squatting 320 pounds or any other arbitrary weight will result in improved climbing performance has been debunked countless times as has the concept of mandatory LSD training during the early winter months.

    I've gotta agree with RS, the book like it's namesake requires a certain amount of faith that isn't supported by scientific study. It also has a devout following that will defend it despite the ever growing body of contrary knowledge.

    -Dave
     
  10. asgelle

    asgelle New Member

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    You're picking nits and loosing sight of the forest for the trees. The Training Bible is meant to present a plan for the self-coached athlete to prepare a training plan including periodization and development of macro- and microcycles. In the context of it's intended purpose, while there may be errors or areas that might be updated (the book was written before power meters were widely used) I would say the book is generally successful. It is not meant to be a text on exercise physiology or nutrition, etc., but to present information to the rider in terms easily understood by the mass audience. It not fair to evaluate a publication for the lay audience by the standards of the expert. From what I see, if everyone followed the plans in the book the vast majority would have a better training plan than they currently do (most riders I know don't follow any formal plan at all) while only a few would have a poorer one.

    Also, remember the context in which it appeared. At the time, most popular training guides were presenting a weekly training plan which was to be followed throughout the year with only very slight modification.
     
  11. NomadVW

    NomadVW New Member

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    The CTB did what I needed it to do when I bought it. It provided a basis for my understanding of cycling periodization and a step up from riding while staring at a HRM knowing absolutely nothing. Nutrition, strength training, all that stuff - didn't really know anything about it or pay any attention to it.

    It took 7-8 months of riding/training with a power meter and a coached plan for me to grasp some of the concepts of training with power and have an idea about nutrition's effects on training with micro-periodization using the PMC, etc...

    The PMC is still too advanced a concept for many folks to pick up on the week after they start using it. The Cyclingpeaks Power 411 is still written in exercise physiology lingo and most riders will stare at the chart with blank thoughts. The CTB presents easy periodization concepts that can be built on. I'd gladly replace it NOW in my library with a single book that presents more simple, credible work on exercise nutrition and training with power and micro/macro periodization. Until then, I find I just have to use the half dozen books and a ton of internet resources to get what I need.
     
  12. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

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    Sure it's not meant to be a text. But exercise physiology and nutrition are key things to have right when you design a training plan. It should therefore simplify and apply principles from those areas, rather than providing advice that flies in the face of them.

    The concept that it needs to be 'updated' is misleading - most of the work that is relied upon to say Friel is incorrect was done before he published. Generally well before. I know from the publication dates on studies, but several people on this forum know because they were giving much better, scientifically based advice before then.

    I would say that it is generally unsuccesful, but that given the dire state of cycling training texts, it is perhaps marginally better than nothing. If we can just get the word out though, the Lemond book is pretty good, as are plenty of running training guides.

    Except I think it is. Friel holds himself out to be an expert yet provides bad advice in a number of cases. Complex issues can be watered down or skimmed over and concepts should be simplified, but bad advice that flies in the face of science is still exactly that.

    Maybe, but if they realised that Friel's book was full of myths, went and bought a book on running training but ignored the bit on weights, they'd be better off again. I'm not arguing against planning training and allowing recovery, but it that's all you get out of the book, it should be a lot shorter than it is.

    That's not ideal either.
     
  13. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

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    1. I'm happy it worked for you.

    2. Sounds like you got lucky and picked the right areas to pay attention to! Plenty of people I know get bogged down in the rubbish.

    Sure.

    Sure.
     
  14. asgelle

    asgelle New Member

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    The perfect is the enemy of the good.
     
  15. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

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    Small pont: I don't think Performance Manager or even TRIMPS is necessary to sensibly train without enforced rest weeks. Enforced rest weeks are like using a heavy, blunt object for a delicate task. With some self-knowledge and good advice, you can get some very good feedback on the need to rest or train based on things like your mood, how you wake up in the morning, how you sleep, your motivation to train, etc. There are a host of other factors one could consider, but I think it is important to acknowledge that sensible volume management is not exclusively the domain of us tech geeks. :)

    (Which is not to say I don't think the tech geek stuff is the best way to go - of course I do - I am a tech geek!)
     
  16. john979

    john979 New Member

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    Perfect summation -- I wish I had thought of it. While someone above makes the point that Friel was primarily interested introducing to the self-coached athlete the concept of periodization and developing a training plan, it is long overdue for a complete overhaul.

    Funny though, dis the training bible to the wrong person and you get a reaction like you dissed the Bible.
     
  17. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    I use both the quantitive (e.g. PMC) and qualitative feedback (e.g. rider's mood, other life stresses) when judging the need for some recovery of my clients.
     
  18. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

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    Yep. That's what I do personally too.
     
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