Question about Power Intervals

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by Azikara, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. Azikara

    Azikara New Member

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    Folks,

    I'm rather new to this so looking for some insight if you don't mind. I'm at the end of my second season of riding and have been mostly riding with fast-ish groups in Chicago. I want to compete in criteriums next year and I will be doing the Cape Town Argus Cycle Tour in March in South Africa. Also want to do a few TTs. Right now I'm in the third week of training on the Chris Carmichael Time Crunched Cyclist program. Basically it's mostly interval training for about 6 hrs a week. I travel extensively for work and right now have my bike in Mumbai (India) in my hotel room. So this program is perfect for me. Riding on the streets in Mumbai is insane.

    Unfortunately I do not have a power meter yet. Hoping to find one in my Christmas stocking! I'm 39 and my baseline HR for the 8 min TT is 170 BPM. I only twice seen my HR over 180. I think I have a relatively low HR for the power I'm putting out. OK, not the most reliable, but on an indoor hotel bike, I was holding about 250W for the 8 min TT. I felt very tired after this. It was a hard effort.

    The first week is mainly EM (Endurance Miles). I target 146 BPM for this. Then he mixes in SS (Steady State) intervals which I target around 156 BPM. I have found these to be easy. Although the program calls for 8-10 min intervals, I had been able to hold SS for 30-40 mins with relative ease in my second week.

    Then came the Over/Unders (3x3 O/U with 6 min RBS) 2 min U / 1 min O. I targeted 156-160 for U and 162-167 O. I LOVE these intervals. They are hard but I feel capable of doing them. In fact, I look forward to them. I have now added one extra set to my last workout and felt perfectly capable.

    OK, here's my problem: I cannot do the 2 sets of 3x3 min PI (Power Intervals). Chris describes these as being "all out" efforts. To get through the 3 mins feels like 90% to me. That's the only way I can get them done. I cannot go 100%+ for 3 mins I think I can go 100%+ for 45 secs to a minute but have no idea how to go "all out" for 3 mins. My BPM does not go over 170. On two occasions while sprinting in a friendly group race I have seen my BPM over 180 so I know it can go there, I just cannot get it there on the trainer without wanting to puke or get off the bike or die of pain. The program doesn't discuss this as being a challenge. I can do the U/O easily and the SS until I nod off at the wheel but these PIs are killing me!

    What do I do to get conditioned to go "all-out" for 3 mins? Should I start at 3x1 min PIs with 5 RBS and work up from there?

    Lastly, this program does not call for anything less than 3 min PI intervals but everything I read about criteriums and cross says one should do many 20 sec intervals to simulate the demands of racing. I'm guessing I need to add these in at some stage.

    Thoughts?
    Thanks in advance.
    Azzy
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    "All Out" has to be taken in the context of what you're trying to accomplish. No athlete can go "all out" for 3 minutes during VO2 Max work or 30 minutes during Threshold work if you define "all out" as a full sprint or your best 1 minute effort.

    All out for focused interval work basically means a level that's difficult but still allows you to finish both the individual efforts and the overall session. If you blow up after two minutes or can't finish the entire set then you're going too hard. In power terms classic VO2 Max efforts like those you describe are typically performed at 110-120% of your FTP. Heart rate won't work well for intense shorter efforts like VO2 Max because your heart rate just takes too long to respond.

    Without a PM, your best bet is to tune into your perceived effort and if you do these on a trainer or on a consistent course like a steady hill then you can watch speed as a proxy for power. But however you gauge your efforts, you want to hold back just enough to finish each effort and the overall session. It definitely shouldn't feel easy and should take a lot of focus to dig deep and finish VO2 Max efforts but you need to finish.

    Good clues on proper pacing are getting to maximal breathing at roughly 2 to 2.5 minutes into each effort but not much earlier but you definitely want to hit maxed out and ragged breathing during each effort. They're VO2 "Max" efforts after all so you'd better be exchanging "Max" O2 before the end of each interval.

    BTW, this is a great example of the ways that power measurements assist training. HR just can't respond fast enough to gauge VO2 Max efforts and descriptions like "all out" are subject to interpretation. But power targets for each effort like 115% of FTP clearly define the target intensity level.

    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
  3. Azikara

    Azikara New Member

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    Dave,

    Thank you very much for your insight. I did exactly this last night and got through all nine intervals. They were tough and I did have to dig deep but I finished.

    Agree totally on the HR comment for these types of intervals. Hopefully the PM will arrive shortly!

    Thanks
    Azzy
     
  4. ILikeBike

    ILikeBike New Member

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    Hi Azzy,
    I am also doing Carmichael's workouts using a HR monitor. I agree with Dave: a power meter would be WAY better. That said, I can do PIs without power, using HR and perceived effort. I start my PI like I would start a time trial, though usually from 15 mph as opposed to a standing start. I ramp-up the effort in the first minute or so, so that I don't start hyperventilating or build-up too much lactic acid. From then on my PI is all about perceived effort: I go as hard as I think I can go for the duration of the PI, and toward the end I just keep trying to go harder. My HR usually takes over a minute to go from what is usually an initial 110 bpm to my target of 170+. My HR will increase linearly over the last 2 minutes of a 3-min PI, and sometimes I am able to kick it up just a bit more at the very end (perhaps suggesting that I could have been going just a touch harder?). The HRM is only helpful for me to look at my interval workout afterward, to look for consistency in the repetitions as well as for the general "shape" of the peaks.
    I find OU workouts to be very difficult to do properly with only a HRM because your HR's response time--relative to, say, your power output--is so slow. I find it best to use the HRM to get a feel for the perceived effort of the Over and Under portions of the workout and then go by "feel".
     
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