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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:01 pm 
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SLCBrandon wrote:
So for me, as a guy with a 315w FTP, training at ~280w in 2 X 20's, 4 X 15's etc is wasted/junk miles?

That seems to be the spot I've identified as a very solid pace in a lot of RR's, circuit races and crits I've raced. I feel MUCH more comfortable at that pace as a result of training that zone and so far, at least in very fast group rides with 1/2's, I hang much better then when I'd be shot out the back quickly.


I wouldn't say its wasted, but why not perform work truly at threshold. That's 88% and technically you should be able to hold it quite long without much trouble. Most 1/2 crits are around a .9IF. I've seen lots of road race files with a .9IF for well over an hour, like you said. How is doing 20min intervals then even close to race specific when the power output is something you should be able to hold for the entire race? If someone can hold that for 90min, your intervals are only 1/4 as long as the max duration so quite obviously at a low power output for the given interval duration.

Sometimes intervals such as that are good sub threshold work early in the winter as part of a progression, but personally if I were trying to improve my threshold I'd bump up the wattage on those or do them for a longer duration. I've definitely done them on a trainer, but usually with some other component. 4x15 at that percentage would result in you maybe hitting 3-3.5mmol of lactate 10-12min in, so you're spending really little time at a high lactate level. Its quite different when you do them at 100% of FTP and with shorter intervals, operating at 100%-105% is a lot more effective. If I were doing intervals at 85%-90% I'd make them at least 30min long and often include surges or some kind of stochastic component.

I did spend a season doing a lot of SST work in that range, but found that 2x30s and 3x20s were basically the only sessions that seemed to have a high enough duration to really translate into anything substantial. Maybe you're different, who knows. I also don't know your weight or what kind of courses you ride on, so perhaps those are useful variables in the answer to your sort of question. Other important variables would be your training volume, frequency of intervals, training history, CP/MMP curve, etc. If you're riding 20hrs a week and doing those during 3 sessions then maybe that makes sense for this time of year. Or maybe your CP5 is very close to your CP20 (but then why would you not try to raise your CP5 instead) and the sessions might be harder physiologically than they are for most people.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:06 pm 
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Tinea Pedis wrote:
Bgoetz wrote:
So what you are saying is that the training programs of the pros are not that great and they are able to muddle through on superior genetics and natural talent :roll:

I can confirm I know of a Pro who has a Tour de France stage win who that describes perfectly.

And he is not alone.


I've met a few successful pros who essentially still adhere to the "Ride lots, over lots of things" principle and have zero clue as to anything that is probably discussed in this thread or on this board. Hell, I remember Horner saying that until 3 years ago when his team bought him an SRM he just rode a lot and occasionally used a stopwatch up climbs to test how fast he was.

A friend of mine got to spend some time with a World Tour team at their training camp last year as part of a sponsor promotion. He described their camp (in season pre-race camp) as 4-5hr rides at Z1/Z2 with sporadic attacks up climbs. Every 2hrs or so they would take a coffee break. The "intensive" days were the ones where they didn't take coffee breaks and rode 5km/h faster with more frequent rotations in a paceline. A few riders would occasionally do their own thing, but the majority of the team considered this training and quite a few of the riders still adhere to the methodology supposedly eschewed by Freddie Rodriguez earlier in this thread- ride every day, easy, and race to get some intensity.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:36 pm 
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KWalker wrote:
For your average Joe SST is a much lower percent of vo2 max and, at the low end, won't have the same effect as it might for a pro or someone such as yourself. When I hear of dudes with 300 watt thresholds sitting there doing work at 255-260w I just don't get it especially since most cat 2 or 3 road races have NPs that are much higher than this (especially on selective courses). If your FTP is 400, like it is for a pro, then intervals at 90% of FTP are still 360W, which is well over the NP of the race duration (albeit probably close to it for certain periods of time). Moreover, many of these riders practice steady state SST work often indoors and don't simulate the same surges or NM patterns experienced in a race. To me, this is where the real "no man's land" comes from- lots of mediocre, unspecific work that is draining, but not even close to race pace or a high percentage of their vo2 max.



So what's really left to do then for the ton of guys like me who can do 8hrs a week on average maximum (including warm-ups and cooldowns) throughout the year (max 10-12 on the peak of the season, including local amateur races)? Basically threshold or higher intervals of various lengths mixed with z1-z2 stuff for recovery? Because 8hrs seems to be heavily limited against even 13hrs, not to speek about 20+.

Unless going up to tempo or higher levels, I could do 1.5-2 hour rides endurance pace each evening (max time I can spare, and not every evening) all week long but haven't observed this bringing any real benefits (which does not seem to be surprising, does it?) Instead, when last season I had plenty of 1-1.5h XC skiing workouts in Jan-Feb, which were clearly done at intensities between SST and threshold, I had my highest ever own-measured both 5min as well as 20min power in early March on the bike without really doing any SST or FTP intervals indoors at all.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:36 pm 
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KWalker wrote:
I wouldn't say its wasted...


Thoughtful response, much appreciated.

I guess my thinking, is/was this; by doing 2 X 20's on the trainer at 88% I'm "loaded" at that percentage for a constant 20 mins with zero coasting, minor recovery etc. I've never been in a race where I've had to do that. Admittedly I've never been in a solo break but I've had to bridge gaps but no longer than say 8mins (those obviously aren't at 88%).

Sustaining this effort on the trainer, then a 5 min recovery, followed by another 20 seems like a reasonable workout to be able to hang with the front pack on a longer RR before the attacks fly. Also, I AM using the 4 X 15's and 2 X 20's to bridge from base to race form as my season starts late Feb with a 3 day stage race and another one 3 weeks later.

I'm also, just now, starting threshold and vo2 work. For the record, I'm 80kg and 6'1.5" and much more of a "sprinter", you could say, with peak sprint wattage spikes to over 1700w, 5 sec max at 1680w, 1 min @ 760w, 5 @ 427w, 20 @ 330, 1hr @ 313.......to give you an idea of my profile.

(FWIW, those numbers are all at 6500ft + alt)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:43 pm 
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If you read some of the studies posted above quite a few of them lead to significant performance improvements on low hours/week using a polarized approach.

I've had an 8hr/week winter before and I did roughly what you asked about. I performed the normal threshold interval protocols (2x20, 4x10, 1x60) as I felt I could execute with HIGH quality (meaning no fade, no aborted efforts and I could hold the power). Alternated those days with easy days of fasted Z1 and Z2 sessions. I lived in an area that was constantly bombarded with snow and when I had extra time I would do a long SST interval with surges in it. That worked for quite a while, but closer to races/outdoors I changed those sessions into over/unders with the overs in Z5 and once every 6-10 days I would do a very tough session of 8x3 at my 5min MMP with short rests. I can't say if this would work for you, but it fit into the polarized model fairly well and all the sessions were of high quality. I know that you don't feel like you're doing much on that few of hours, but if you do it right it can actually be quite effective. That winter my threshold went from 270 to 320.

The following year I had to take a few weeks off of riding for a work trip in a country with little infrastructure and when I came back work was hell for a few months. Same hourly restrictions. I tried the SST all the time approach. My first FTP test was a meager 300w and after 12 weeks of that approach it was a whopping 315. I also oddly felt drained even on such low hours and felt a more polarized approach was far more effective. I raced and rode far weaker that Spring and by May I was back to 320. I've raised my FTP since then, but through riding a hell of a lot more and being a lot smarter, but YMMV.

A teammate of mine that is a master's racer with 4 kids sticks to this schedule most of winter and rides pretty strong in local 1/2/3 crits by summer:
Day 1: Microbursts or some L7 work done with a z1 or z2 ride.
Day 2: Hard day at threshold (opened up from the day before).
Day 3: Sometimes might do the session at tempo, but most often at Z2.
Day 4: (usually Friday) another threshold session. If closer to races this session is an easier, longer SST day and Day 2 is a Z5 day.
Day 5: (usually Saturday) hits a fast local group ride and rides near the front, hard.
Day 6: depends on his children's commitments, but often has to take the day off. If he doesn't he rides some z2 miles.
Day 7: Repeats the schedule.

Its basically Charles Howe's program, with some tweaks.

There are tons of ways you could manage it, but the key is to guess and test with yourself. I think its hard to say what the best bag for you would be, but the Z3 or higher all the time to me just sacrifices quality to feel like you're really doin work. If you look at the above example there is 1 NM day, 1 hard threshold day, 1 really hard group ride, and some z2 work as he can. Like DeVinci said it will take time to figure it out for yourself, but even on lower hours I'd prefer to hit some quality work rather than make up for lost ground. I'd try out the different approaches over time and see how you hold up.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:53 pm 
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Thoughtful response, much appreciated.

I guess my thinking, is/was this; by doing 2 X 20's on the trainer at 88% I'm "loaded" at that percentage for a constant 20 mins with zero coasting, minor recovery etc. I've never been in a race where I've had to do that. Admittedly I've never been in a solo break but I've had to bridge gaps but no longer than say 8mins (those obviously aren't at 88%).

Sustaining this effort on the trainer, then a 5 min recovery, followed by another 20 seems like a reasonable workout to be able to hang with the front pack on a longer RR before the attacks fly. Also, I AM using the 4 X 15's and 2 X 20's to bridge from base to race form as my season starts late Feb with a 3 day stage race and another one 3 weeks later.

I'm also, just now, starting threshold and vo2 work. For the record, I'm 80kg and 6'1.5" and much more of a "sprinter", you could say, with peak sprint wattage spikes to over 1700w, 5 sec max at 1680w, 1 min @ 760w, 5 @ 427w, 20 @ 330, 1hr @ 313.......to give you an idea of my profile.

(FWIW, those numbers are all at 6500ft + alt)[/quote]

I see your logic, but by doing 2x20 at your FTP you're loaded for an even higher percentage of vo2 max with no coasting. It seems like you're kind of admitting that they're not race power specific. I'm surprised that a 260w effort is enough to hang at the front of a longer 1/2 RR- where do you live? Another coach and I wanted to see what the average weight adjusted power was required to finish near the front of a local cat 2 or cat 3 race and using 4 seasons of race data from 10 riders of all different weights and abilities we found that the NP was 288. Strikes me odd that it would be that low at that level. I'm not sure I know a single rider locally (whose power I could verify or has shown me their files) that races at that level that can't sustain a 5 w/kg 20min.

The 1min is a good number, but adjusted for weight I would do a lot more to bring the rest of your curve up. Your high NM power and low (in comparison) CP20 and CP60 suggest to me a lack of aerobic development. People mistake this as "I'm a sprinter" (I did in the past), but in reality is usually "I haven't developed my aerobic engine enough and I'm a bit bigger than average for a cyclist". Nothing is wrong with being built bigger, but at least in flat/rolling races the engine would be a huge asset. In the above compilation that we did we also looked specifically at files from riders that were in the pack vs. those that were in the winning break. We didn't have a single file where a rider had less than 320NP for the first 20min of a break (with spikes) and in the cat 2 races the NP for the first 20 was often around 330-350. The peloton, in comparison (when we had the data from a rider near the front), rolled at around 300-310w NP for a bit to chase, but once they settled in went back down to around 280-290. Racing could be far different where you live, but your 20min power likely wouldn't be enough in a break if you really attacked hard or had to bridge. If I were you I'd do my sessions at a higher percentage of threshold, rested, and really focus on bringing those CP numbers up. If I did SST work and my CP60 was 313, I'd aim to do longer intervals at 280-290 for 60 min and shorter intervals at around 305-310. 427 is a good CP5, but still considering the weight its about the CP5 of a local cat 1 or 2 rider that weighs about 145-155 so even on a short climb you'd be struggling a lot. It suggests a good starting point- imagine being able to diesel around at 440 or 450 for 5min. On a flat course you'd make a lot of cat 3s and cat 2s struggle to hang on. Lots of cats to skin and skin at different times, but I just can't see how 2x20 at that low of a percentage at your age and racing category is a formidable use of limited time.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 5:04 pm 
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Makes sense, thanks. And I'm NOT a 1/2, I'm a wet behind the ears 4. I just ride with a lot of 1/2's on their semi hard days to gauge where I am.

I def am not the type to think "because I'm big I must be a sprinter". I'd hope a 20+w/kg sprint would be a solid sprint power though. And that's also based off, well, winning a lot of sprints in races against mixed fields that are usually higher categories than me.

Thanks for the reply.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 5:20 pm 
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Thanks KWalker. For me the variation of the training is the most challenge, since so far I've always liked and therefore employed most of the "do one thing for a while, then move to something else more intense" approach - and tempo around 85% seemed to leave some positive impact.

I started from totally zero experience in any endurance sports, in 3 years boosted my FTP by around 15W each year, but never more, and coincidentally, now I'm standing around 270-280. It might be time for some principal changes and perhaps higher boost :D


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 6:14 pm 
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It is all about consistent quality work, with minimal need for recovery within the workout and between workouts. 2x20 @ 90% allow for this and build the adaptations needed to make increases in FTP. I see solid gains every season and my watt/kg @ FTP is certainly above average. I do all of this without writing the mental and physical checks required to "train like I am racing". As the season approaches I evaluate where my systems are, along with my goals and then focus on what I need to. I will enter the season mentally fresh and eager to suffer. Sure my first few races may be suboptimal on the VO2/AWC front, but as the season progresses I quickly become sharp and affective, my FTP typically gets me through the early races and if I make it, I typically find that my higher level of endurance works in my favor at the end.

Looking at my race data the majority of my "make or break" moments in a race are long (10-20min) stretches of FTP at 3+hrs into a race. I have been to the end of long hard 1/2 races in the lead group where we are so screwed up that pedaling at 80% FTP is a chore. As far as cross country MTB races are concerned, I don't have a PM on my MTB, but I can tell you at the Pro/1 level they are fricken lights out the first 10 minutes, as hard as you can pedal. From there it is just survival, primarily dictated by your FTP and to some extent your AWC, depending on the course.

As I progress through my training I will start doing some longer Sunday rides that are somewhat indicative of a race effort, but they will basically be 2-2.5hrs max @ 80-85% bookended by 1hr @ 60-65% warmup/recovery, with maybe a couple hard efforts mixed in if the terrain dictates.

Last season I actually tried somthing a bit different as I wanted to target Battenkill. I went out and did some 4-5hr "kitchen sink" type rides to replicate racing. My thought was since I would not get in but a couple races before Battenkill, I needed to train this way to be ready. I was going out and doing 3+hrs @ 80-85% with VO2/AWC before and after, there were times when I was finishing just screwed out of my gourde, damn near had to call my wife for a ride a couple times. In the end I arrived at Battenkill not ready to race like some of the guys who lived or traveled south to pick up some early season races as nothing really can ever train you to race like a race. On top of this I was half cooked already from all the training, needless to say I had a poor performance. Now I was stuck moving into the season on a sour note and mentally fried. By the time the season really got going I really didn't even want to race, the fact that I kept finding ways to crash didn't help. Finally I managed to reset, take a breather and had a couple decent rides. Some time off in August and a solid block of smart balanced training with a focus on mental and physical recovery put me in pretty darn good form for a big November MTB race. A stacked field and crazy start gave me a mid-pack finish, but I true lay had a great ride.

I guess my whole point is one, I know what not to do EVER again, two this sport has a huge mental aspect that MUST be respected and three take the wrong path and it can ruin your season. There are many reasons there are a limited few that will ever see Pro/1 or even 2 on their license, sure it is just plain hard and does take some level of ability, but I think lots of people burn out before the give themselves a chance to develop.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 6:15 pm 
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kW just out of curiosity lets look at a VO2 effort, 5min intervals 1:1 recovery, cyclists MMP is 400watts for 5min

Workout 1, AP for 5 intervals look like this:
400, 375, 350, 330, 330 (the last two the last 1-2min the cyclist is just crushed and fighting like hell at a sub-FTP pace.

Workout 2: 375,375,365, 360, entirety of all efforts are @ VO2 or above.

So which workout is better?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:53 pm 
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I'd say workout 2, but that's debatable. Working at vo2 max is about the ability to get there and stay there. There are several variables at play, but if the cyclist is able to execute all of the intervals within zone 5 I would prefer that then the peter out method in workout 1. I also wouldn't jump into a 5x5. Workout 2 is how I usually target my 5x5s, but have done 8x3s and shorter duration efforts where I have some decline over the course of the interval session. Workout 2 spends more time at vo2 max and considering it takes a few minutes to get there, its unlikely workout 1 would actually get you there after interval 2. In the past I had very good luck performing my 5x5s at 370w with a 5min MMP of 414, so about 90% of my 5min MMP. I've also had good luck doing 8x3s and 40/20s or 30/30s all at around 390-400w for more repetitions. I think most riders would be better off starting shorter and progressing towards harder focusing on quality time at or above vo2 max. A 3min interval doesn't give you a ton of time above it, but doing 8-10 quality intervals vs 2 or 3 quality 5min intervals is a no brainer in my book. In the former you ~9-10min at vo2 max. In the latter you get a whopping 5-6min.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:50 pm 
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Ok, we agree. But here is my point, workout 2 is better because it is fairly predictable and consistent. So if predictability and consistency are important within a workout why are they less important in a training program? I would argue they are more important. Doing 2x20s at FTP or always training like it is a race is like trying to have consistency doing workout 1, it just is not predictable and likely won't be consistent. IMO, consistency and predictability is key, all other variables outside of training asside I need to have a pretty good idea of how I am going to feel throughout my training program. If I am beating the hell out of myself day in and day out I don't have any idea when I may crack or start a downhill slide. This is not to say that I don't advocate overreaching, but I typically try to do this with a block of really hard racing or training, like a camp and then I plan to allow as much recovery as needed afterwards.

BTW 8 min VO2 are HARD if done properly, if you are staying in VO2 the entire time you are writing a pretty big check with each interval. For this reason I limit these types of efforts, sometimes don't do them at all if my target race is not likely to demand such an effort.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:53 pm 
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8 was the number of reps, not the duration


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:38 am 
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Bgoetz wrote:
Ok, we agree. But here is my point, workout 2 is better because it is fairly predictable and consistent. So if predictability and consistency are important within a workout why are they less important in a training program? I would argue they are more important. Doing 2x20s at FTP or always training like it is a race is like trying to have consistency doing workout 1, it just is not predictable and likely won't be consistent. IMO, consistency and predictability is key, all other variables outside of training asside I need to have a pretty good idea of how I am going to feel throughout my training program. If I am beating the hell out of myself day in and day out I don't have any idea when I may crack or start a downhill slide. This is not to say that I don't advocate overreaching, but I typically try to do this with a block of really hard racing or training, like a camp and then I plan to allow as much recovery as needed afterwards.

BTW 8 min VO2 are HARD if done properly, if you are staying in VO2 the entire time you are writing a pretty big check with each interval. For this reason I limit these types of efforts, sometimes don't do them at all if my target race is not likely to demand such an effort.


Sorry, don't agree with you. If your FTP is set properly a 2x20 should be doable without aborting the session unless you are seriously fatigued or depleted. If you are, get your diet and the rest of your program in line because they should never be an I/O effort like some of the higher levels. With a properly set FTP I have never aborted a single FTP interval and every time I read that people do its obvious that 95% of their 20min test is not their FTP and they should set it lower. 1x60 or 2x30, sure those should be tough, but 20min is 1/3 of the duration you should be able to hold for an hour so it shouldn't be undoable.

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Posted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:38 am 


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:15 am 
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Your FTP is your best 1hr effort on a GOOD day. For many people there is sometimes little difference between FTP and 20min MMP. In a race a FTP effort is a big hit even in 10-20min durations. A steady diet of 2x20 @ FTP (40min of a 1hr workout) is only going to last for so long before you crack physically,mentally, or both.


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