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As a cat 3, I would train fairly erratically, with no specific intervals, and my time per week would vary anywhere between 6 hours and 12 hours. Anyway, I don't have a whole lot of time for training, but I have come up with a plan that perscribes ~14 hrs per week with structured intervals and rest days, and have just recently started following it.
Building a following a training plan has brought up a few questions:
1. Does it matter what the spacing between intervals are? The reason I ask is because there are a lot of VERY steep and short climbs which are basically unavoidable where I live/ride. Most of them take 4-6 minutes to finish, which are perfect for interval training. However, to keep my rides more interesting, I prefer to hit 3-4 climbs in a ride as opposed to doing straight up hill repeats. Is there any detriment to my training by allowing extra rest between intervals (20min-1hr as opposed to 5-10min as prescribed by most training plans)?
2. All the time I hear people talking about "peaking" for the big race. I can't help but scoff at them unless they are elite athletes because IMO you are not peaking unless you are actually at the physical limit of performance a.k.a. a professional rider. So when I hear Cat 2-4 folks talking about peaking I feel like they are limiting themselves to a certain level of fitness instead of continuously improving. That being said, I do understand that periodization is important to training and that small "mini-peaks" will be achieved during a season for important races. I guess this isn't a question as much as an observation, but I'm still curious to hear other people's opinions.
2) The peaking thing isn't BS. It's mostly about getting your power as high as possible and then tapering so that you're fresh for a high priority race (positive TSB.) On the wattage group there were a lot of anecdotal reports that people set PR's when their TSB is in the +10 to +20 range. Increasing power generally involves having a negative TSB most of the time so that sort of training isn't compatible with being in peak form and freshness on race day unless you taper. You could just train more steady/hard all year but many riders find it hard to do that year round both physically/mentally and due to their local weather conditions.
Anybody else have any thoughts on interval spacing? Has any research been done on this subject to provide evidence that doing intervals back to back is more beneficial? Or is it another "this is the way it's done so that's the way we do it" thing?
Having said that, my own research has turned up a range of recommendations. Joe Friel and many other more traditional endurance racing coaches often reccomend a 1:2 work:rest interval. The idea here is that by ensuring a reasonable amount of rest, you prevent the intensity from dropping too much on the later intervals preserving the "quality" of the workout. I have seen Friel Q&As and when asked about lowering the length of the rest intervals he said something to the effect of that it would increase the intensity/stress of the workout, and he compared its effect to doing longer work intervals, or doing higher intensity work intervals, or doing more work intervals. The frustrating thing though, is that I have not seen him, or anyone else, come up with any data comparing those various intensity modulators directly. By extension, increasing the length of your rest intervals to 1:4-1:12 as you are inquiring about, would do the opposite, so to get the same aggregate training stress, you would, at the very least, want to increase the length, intensity, or number of intervals you do. The thing is, "aggregate training stress" is a very imprecise measure, and as far as I know, even if you lower the stress by increasing the rest, but increase it through more intensity or longer intervals, there is no data on if you will come out in the same place in terms of fitness.
On the flip side, there are the Tabata style HIIT advocates who suggest super short rest times. For example, a classic Tabata workout is 30sec of 100% max work, with 10sec rest, so a 3:1 work:rest ratio, repeated for a total workout length of around 4 minutes. The idea behind this is that the rest periods are short enough to prevent anywhere close to full recovery between work intervals, which increases the stress hugely, but are long enough to allow you to still go hard(er) during the work intervals, preventing it from becoming simply one 4 minute steady state effort.
My personal suggestions, at least until better data comes along, are as follows. If you believe in the principal of training specificity (that your training efforts should mirror your racing efforts, in order to force the most relevant adaptations to racing), then think about how your race efforts tend to flow. If your races are hard 5 min hills, followed by a 2.5min descent, and then hard on the flat, then your idea of extended rest intervals may be suboptimal, and instead you should do those TT style intervals on the flats between hills too. This will also be more efficient in terms of total time (which you do state is limited) in that you can get an equal amount of training stress packed into a much shorter time period.
Gotta run, but regarding peaking, remember that if you chart fitness and fatigue, they tend to move inversely. The more training you do in a block of time, the fitter you get, but the more fatigued you get too. If you chart them, you will find that a short taper of a week or so will allow fatigue to reduce while preserving most of your fitness. When the two lines cross, THAT is your peak, even if your total theoretical fitness is slightly lower than at the beginning of the taper.
I suppose I was thinking about peaking wrong in that people don't necessarily mean that to peak is to be the fastest they can possibly be, but to reach a higher level of fitness without fatigue.
As long as you are really pushing them through to the end of each interval, and doing a lot of reps, I would guess that you are sufficiently challenging yourself to force an adaptation. It would be if you were slacking on the efforts or doing an insufficient number of them that the shorter rest intervals would perhaps be a good intensity technique to spur mitochondrial adaptation.
Regarding peaking, I realized that I said that fitness and fatigue move inversely, but then in my example I described them both increasing. I was in a rush and kind of mixed 2 ways of looking at it.
What I should have said was either of the following...
Fitness and restedness move inversely and when they cross on the chart is your "peak"
Or since fatigue and restedness are flip sides of the same coin, another way of saying it would be...
Fitness and fatigue move together on the chart and, through a taper in training volume, you can get fatigue levels to drop before fitness is greatly affected. This window with maintained fitness but reduced fatigue is your peak.
But it sounded like you already got my meaning, so sorry to beat a dead topic here!
And you are correct, a "peak" is relative to your current level of fitness, not your theoretical max potential...which I am sure most of us are no where near!
http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2014/07/hi ... ation.html
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