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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:54 am 
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Do any of the more experience racers here have opinions on Greg Lemond's recommended year-round sprint training days? It seems to run counter to some of what Friel says initially in that work that intense shouldn't be done during base and transition periods. Because of this I was immediately dismissive. However, upon further thought, it seems a goal of Friel's recommendations in these periods is to avoid anaerobic activity. If you follow Lemond's interval workout your intervals are too short for your body to tap the anaerobic systems (which seems to be at 40 seconds or so when it kicks in). Does modern research say it's a bad idea?


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Posted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:54 am 


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:07 am 
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So, by extension, you're saying anything sub 40 seconds is using...aerobic system only*?


*not addressing the fact no system operates in isolation and that the 'base miles' model is the only way to go (in spite of it being shown otherwise)

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:55 am 
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I'm not really saying I know anything, hence my asking :)

I did a lot of base last year and had some good success off of it. I unfortunately didn't really move beyond that in any serious way. This year I am looking to do that. I am very skinny and have no sprint ability whatsoever so it interested me as a way to develop more but I don't want to be doing anything counter-productive...


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 5:07 am 
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No I think he is saying that less than 40-seconds is neuromuscular, which is not really the case either. A effort of less than 40-seconds can be at a anaerobic pace and likely is, I think the confusion is how it actually affects your anaerobic work capacity, which is your ability to repeatedly do/recover from anaerobic efforts. I think most like to target around 1min @ a anaerobic pace to drain most of your AWC, then allow for 5min of recovery for your AWC to recharge and then repeat the effort, this is what I do. A shorter recovery and your AWC can't recharge and you will only be at a anaerobic pace for a portion of the 1min. This effectively trains your short and long term AWC, it gives you the ability to recover from such efforts and repeatedly dish out such efforts during a race (you actually have a second part to the "AWC tank" that takes ~24hrs to recover).

Now as to if they are beneficial enough to do year around, I personally don't think they are. As with VO2 I can build my AWC in a very short period of time. The efforts themselves take a significant amount of mental focus and recovery both inter and intra workout. The workout itself is 1:5 quality work to recovery, outside of the workout they take some recovery, I chalk up some of the highest intensity factors when doing these workouts. So instead of focusing on AWC in the months leading to my key events I expend my energy on more productive FTP focused intervals like 2x20 workouts, with a 10min rest you are getting 2:1 quality work to recovery interworkout. Intraworkout, I can do these efforts @ 90% FTP multiple days in a row before I need to recover, sometimes I could even go more, but choose not to. Your FTP is what every race is really based off of, you can have the greatest sprint in the world or the greatest 1min effort, but if you can't make it to the end of a race it means nothing.

All that said, there are times during my longer aerobic rides where I will maybe pop off a AWC type effort just to kinda keep that system fresh, plus after doing a 600 watt effort, 300 watt efforts just don't seem quite as hard. I typically let the terrain dictate those efforts though, so if I have a quick punchy hill I may go full gas to the top. I also finish my longer rides off with a couple of sprints, just to keep things fresh and get use to sprinting on tired legs. But I will not really get into VO2/AWC type stuff until I get within 8-10 weeks of my key events, then I look at what I am getting out of my races that I am using as training and plan my workouts based on that. IOW, if my training races are crits that consist of lots of AWC and I feel that system is working well, I may choose to focus my shorter intervals on VO2 type efforts. You also have to look at what your key events are and the demands of those events. My first two target events of this season are endurance MTB races, which will not come down to AWC or even VO2 for that matter, so the majority of my AWC/VO2 training will come from training races and naturally during some of my training rides with significant elevation changes.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 5:14 am 
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Focus on building a solid FTP and then use the first portion of the season to figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Use your strengths and improve weaknesses. Be careful about assuming that you are not a good sprinter because of your inability to sprint though, most of a sprint is actually decided in that last 2-5minutes of a race and positioning and balls are as important as your max power. Lots of guys who can't seem to close the deal at the end, think they have a poor sprint, when in reality they are not able to maintain position or pop off a big effort at the end of a race because the 1-2min lead out is killing them. So they go out and do a bunch of sprints, when they would be better served working on their AWC.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 5:58 am 
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I don't know a whole lot of the physiology or anything behind doing it, but I asked a former pro about sprints during base training (specifically about during group rides) and he said that he thought that the sprints that happened on group rides where it ramps up for a few minutes or so and then has a short sprint to a signpost aren't going to hurt you at all and will probably be productive. Also, I know that many elite runners do very short sprints year round, and don't seem to be as worried as cyclists about it affecting their base.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:52 am 
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I think it depends on your experience. If you are a novice rider, then you need to do base training before any sprint training. But if you've been riding for 15 years, then you probably have done more then enough base training...


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:53 pm 
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I don't see how year round sprint training could hurt your fitness, depending how you manage it. Some of the classic Friel advices are pure crap IMO.

Check out my blog, the latest article touches this kind of training, year round.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:03 pm 
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Google Tabata. 8 intervals, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, 4 minutes total workout time. Studies show it is very effective at increasing endurance and VO2Max.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:03 pm 
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shjames96 wrote:
Also, I know that many elite runners do very short sprints year round, and don't seem to be as worried as cyclists about it affecting their base.

What he says. Depending on the specific athlete/coach, though, the (sometimes uphill only) sprints are restricted to 8-12s very hard effort, with long-ish (3+min ?) recovery, so they don't interfere too much with other energy systems.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:17 pm 
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Oswald wrote:
I think it depends on your experience. If you are a novice rider, then you need to do base training before any sprint training. But if you've been riding for 15 years, then you probably have done more then enough base training...


That is not true, things don't work that way. Unless you are a track racer or doing 45min crits you are going to find yourself fading at the end of a race if you neglect some form of base in your training. I actually notice this throughout the season, come July/August my endurance starts to fade a bit and then I repeat a block of base type training for my fall build as I approach a couple key MTB races. Admittedly, I do race with a few guys who have been around for a while that maybe don't need to work quite as hard at building base as I do on younger legs, but these guys are exceptions to the norm. Plus they are former euro-pros/national champions who have been to hell and back 5 times over, their untrained talent is still enough to compete just nicely in our regional Pro/1/2 races, so they don't really count.

Most tour professionals who do this for a living actually still prescribe to the old fashion LSD method, where you ride 30hrs a week at a endurance pace for a couple of months to build a solid base. Those of us who actually have a life outside of a bike don't have that time, so a SST plan is the most practical for us to train IMO. There are lots of "working pros" who go through the off-season with a very steady diet of just 2x20s. Based on my experienced you can't short cut the system, tabattas and stuff like that may make you one of the fast guys at Tuesday night worlds, or may make you a decent Cat 4/5, but if you really want to do things right you have to put in the time. These are just my opinions, but I think that most experienced racers would agree with what I have to say.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:40 pm 
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I'm a decent cat 3 fwiw. And by decent I mean I finish all my races in a pack -- when things get real I couldn't affect the race too much (lacked anaerobic endurance and sprint power). I got there off of base alone. I'm 135 lbs at 5'9" and so I lack any sort of explosive ability. I was reading Lemond and he suggested those very short intervals twice a week with long recoveries. I was trying to integrate them with Friel. A basic view of my base 2 block is something like those sprints 2x a week, sst intervals 2x a week (15 minute ones is what I have been doing), a day off the bike entirely, and a day for endurance with speed work thrown in. It seems the sprints could develop muscle in place of weight lifting which isn't practical for me. I, for better or worse, have time for a lot of riding still.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:23 pm 
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Some questions:-

1) What happens, exactly and in detail, when you attempt any hard intervals without months and months of "base"?

2) What, exactly and in detail, is "base"?

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:20 pm 
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Building base is mostly accomplished by doing high volumes at an aerobic/endurance type effort, the key being as much volume as your time allows without the need for significant recovery between workouts. Consistency that a diet of harder efforts may disrupt. The benifit is change in metobolic processing (your body stores and processes glycogen more efficiently, your body learns to process calories while riding, etc.). Additionally, the significant volume of aerobic work makes your aerobic system significantly more efficient (many aspects of your cardio system become better like the stroke rate of your heart).

Some may say you won't be able to complete the efforts as effectively (i.e your general fitness won't allow you to get the same quality workout as if you had done a block or two of base). Others would say you risk injury because your body has not been properly prepared. I personally agree with all of this, but my big thing is that I feel there are much better ways to spend your time training in the off-season. Your AWC and VO2 can be fully developed in a matter of 6-8 weeks, why write these "checks" from your training account before hand when it can be better spend developing your FTP, which takes much more time to develop. Now I am not saying AWC and VO2 won't improve your FTP, I just don't think it is the most effective way to do it.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:37 pm 
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And who says 3-4-5min efforts won't develop your FTP? Who said those kind of efforts only help Vo2max and nothing else? There are tons of ways to build your FTP, it's not only a case of riding 20-30min efforts at FTP or slightly below.

Why would you need to rebuild a base every year? All this sounds kind of old school to me.


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Posted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:37 pm 


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