Recommendations on Intervals Needed

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by teetopkram, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. teetopkram

    teetopkram New Member

    Jan 27, 2006
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    Hello to all -

    I am a Cat 5, 39 year old road racer just getting back into racing after a 1.5 year layoff while rehabbing my knee. I had been suffering from patella tendonitis, chondromalacia, and/or patello-femoral syndrome (different diagnoses depending on the doctor and PTist I have seen). After working with my third physical therapist since April, over the past 2-3 months the pain has gotten much better, the leg much stronger, etc. Throughout the 1.5 years I have continued to ride the bike, but with low intensity, fairly short distance (e.g., 60-70% MHR, 20-25 miles each ride).

    So, over the past couple of months I have been increasing mileage and intensity slightly on my road bike, and have done 6 races in the past 3 weeks (4 crits and 2 RR). I have finished each race with the pack, even attacking a few times here and there just for fun. The knee is holding up fine... a little more sore, but manageable. today my PTist pretty much indicated that I would likely always deal with a little pain here and there as I increased intensity, given that I am almost 40 (what a drag it is growing old).

    My diagnosis of my racing is that I lack another gear compared to my fellow racers, such that when I attack I may get 20-30 yards, but then die, OR during the last couple of laps it takes everything of me just to keep up...I can't even begin to think about sprinting. I seem to be gasping when others are riding comfortably..I have just enough to finish with the pack, but nothing more.

    so, based on this, I am diagnosing that I probably need to focus on increasing my aerobic threshold and ability. I am thinking that 12-16 weeks doing 2*20 and 3*10 intervals at about 80-85% MHR would do the trick. I would only do these a couple days per week, given my knees. I am thinking that increasing my AT would make it easier on me to keep up with the others, and probably leave a little in the gas tank for the final couple of laps. I don't think I'm ready to do sprint training or 3 min anaerobic intervals yet, due to both not wanting to strain my knee and because what use is sprinting when I am out of breath just trying to keep up.

    My goals with this training would be, once the new cycling season starts in February here in Florida, to be able to stay with the pack with ease, and be able to attack and stay away (at least physically, let's not talk tactics!!). that's my best chance to win since I can't sprint for ****.

    So, do you think this plan sounds OK, or would you recommend another type of moderately stressful interval? I use a HR monitor, can't afford power meters.

    I am sorry for the long post, but I thought it might be helpful to give some of my history. thanks for the advice.


  2. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

    Nov 14, 2003
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    It sounds like you aren't far from the right track. A few comments.

    1. Build your training stress gradually. Intensity builds training stress substantially faster than no intensity for the same length ride. If you are not training with power this means listen to your body and don't overdo it.

    2. 'Sustainable aerobic intensities' - there is a moderately broad range of sustainable aerobic intensities that build threshold power, from a hard endurance ride up to all out threshold work. The trade-off is between length and intensity. Eg, if you did 3 X 10 minutes all out in a 90 minute session you would get more benefit per minute of the interval but less overall benefit than doing 80 minutes at a hard tempo. It is worthwhile mixing up your interval lengths and intensities to avoid going stale and getting bored, and because all sustained aerobic efforts are basically good training and beneficial. FWIW, I think 10 minutes is on the very short side for someone wanting to raise threshold.

    3. My sprint is **** too but I've still got podiums in sprints. You can too! Ride smart in races and when your knee is better train your sprint a little. You might be surprised at the strides you take. Don't count yourself out saying 'I'm not a sprinter'. That way, you've lost before you start. Give everything a go.

    I would recommend gradually building up the amount of work you are doing at sustained and intense aerobic levels... and doing it with intervals greater than or equal to 20 minutes in length and tempo work greater than or equal to 60-80 minutes. Don't strain too hard and try to keep every interval at world record pace. Just ride into it smoothly and try to push at the end when it's getting harder to maintain your speed.
  3. lanierb

    lanierb New Member

    Aug 12, 2004
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    Has anyone looked at your bike fit? I would think that some adjustments might help, particularly to things like cleat position, seat height and fore-aft position, etc.

    As for your question, I second starting with longer (>=20) intervals and working those for a good while before doing anything shorter.
  4. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

    Mar 12, 2006
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    Perhaps I'd start tempo intervals at 30-45 minutes and build up from there to 60-90 min.

    To attack and get away, you need to be able to make a race winning break, which will require a hard effort of 1 - 5 minutes, often settling down to threshold levels after the initial break (depending on the nature of break - solo or group). You may need to do this several times for one to stick.

    Those 1-5 min break efforts typically require you to dig into you anaerobic reserves for a while and to build these capacities requires training at higher intensities. So if you are not confident of knee holding up during such efforts and don't train them (I'd be surprised if it couldn't given you have raced already), then you are unlikely to win a race with that tactic.