Training With Zero Metrics

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

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RyanH
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by RyanH

I ride about 10 to 12 hours a week, weigh around 71kg and have a similar power profile to the OP. My last year my power profile has increased 5 to 10% for my entire profile 5 min and above (under 5 minutes is down). This was also the first year I didn't train. I just went out and rode, and depending on how I felt that day I'd ride hard or easy.

Training right is complicated.

P.s. For those curious, I know how to get my sub 5 min profile up but that'd require doing intervals and I disdain those.

by Weenie


scapie
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by scapie

TheRich wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:23 am
Why would you think it's strange that workouts are discussed? Because you get results without them? This is a cycling forum, cycling workouts are discussed here just like running, swimming or weightlifting workouts are discussed on their forums.

If you're riding 15-18 hours on top of a full time job, it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that others are obsessed. I'm retired, working (very little) as a bike tour guide and I MAY do a 15 hour week a few times a year. Not everyone has a decade of 750hr/year base and genetic advantages so forgive us for trying to find a more time efficient approach.
i don't think its strange workouts are discussed. i have never said that i did. infact i started my own thread detailing exactly how i setup my own workouts with the view to discuss as they seem to be a bit different from what has been recently posted. i've said this several times now.

i have never said anyone/everyone else was obsessed. thats great you are retired, what does that have to do with training with no metrics? i don't care if you 'may' do a 15hr week a few times a year and are a bike tour guide, cool, but not relevant.

iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

The biggest problem with training with no metrics is if you don't have the right guidance, you basically follow what the people around you do, and while there are averages, people's physiology can be drastically different. What works for one person won't necessarily work for another.

Natural talent plays a huge part in this. Some people are just born with more muscle fibers, stronger hearts, more lung capacity, naturally more mitochondria. Much better response to training and much faster recovery and adaptation. The naturally talented can essentially do a really poor training regimen and still achieve great success, despite their poor training. Others have to work really really hard for a long time just to become reasonably good, but they would still get blown apart by a naturally talented person with just average training. I've worked with high schoolers who smoke cigarettes and skip training but destroy everyone in races, as well as kids who do everything they're told and they just can't keep up when it counts. It's a harsh reality, but that's just the way it is. We hope that the talented kids don't waste their gifts, but they often get cocky because no matter what they do, it just works for them, so they fail to reach their potential.

In terms of an "average" person training, a big problem is they either train too hard, or not hard enough.

In the first case, they see these really fast guys and try to emulate their training, justifying it with "no pain no gain." Well guess what, the really fast guys can get away with it because of natural talent. You try the same training with your weaker joints, weaker muscles, weaker everything, and you end up injured or overtrained.

In the other case, they just get into a monotony of 30-50 miles per ride, maybe 3 or 4 times a week, and repeat ad naseum. They don't add variety, they don't add additional stimulus. And as they get fitter, the time in zone needs to increase, but they maintain the same speed for the same distance and guess what? You actually lose fitness because your time in zone actually decreases. And so they get slower and slower.

If you are smart and knowledgeable, or you are lucky enough to have someone guide you, then these "average" people don't necessarily need metrics. But if this doesn't apply to you, you need something to set a baseline and something to measure your increase in fitness so you can adjust your intensity and training stimulus accordingly without ending up injured or overtrained.
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TheRich
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by TheRich

scapie wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 9:06 am
TheRich wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:23 am
Why would you think it's strange that workouts are discussed? Because you get results without them? This is a cycling forum, cycling workouts are discussed here just like running, swimming or weightlifting workouts are discussed on their forums.

If you're riding 15-18 hours on top of a full time job, it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that others are obsessed. I'm retired, working (very little) as a bike tour guide and I MAY do a 15 hour week a few times a year. Not everyone has a decade of 750hr/year base and genetic advantages so forgive us for trying to find a more time efficient approach.
i don't think its strange workouts are discussed. i have never said that i did. infact i started my own thread detailing exactly how i setup my own workouts with the view to discuss as they seem to be a bit different from what has been recently posted. i've said this several times now.

i have never said anyone/everyone else was obsessed. thats great you are retired, what does that have to do with training with no metrics? i don't care if you 'may' do a 15hr week a few times a year and are a bike tour guide, cool, but not relevant.
I mentioned what I did to illustrate just how much you ride. You ride a quarter of your non-working awake time.

So it's not complicated, be blessed with good genetics, spend a decade riding 750+ hours/year....why worry about the small details? Not everyone has the time or the motivation to do that, so they want to train a little more effectively and efficiently.

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by AJS914

Polarized training detailed in that other topic has totally transformed my fitness and training. I had spent the previous six months on a plateau, constantly tired, and not being able to achieve higher volume or fitness levels.

I discovered Dr. Stephen Seiler's work a few months before that topic was started but I'm willing to shout the praises of the polarized approach because I see it working so well.

When you look at pros on Strava you can see that they also use a polarized approach. They do lots and lots of Z1/Z2 intensity - 80 to 125 miles at a time, day in day out.

The intersting thing is that you can do that without metrics. Riding easy is easy as long as you can restrain yourself. You just have to know to do that. And then you can do one or two sessions a week with intensity. It would also be really easy to Seiler's 4, 8, or 16 minute intervals at an RPE of 8 to 10.

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TonyM
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by TonyM

A good metric if you really want to increase your performances is......racing... :mrgreen:

tarmackev
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by tarmackev

I train very similar to the OP, by feel.
Honestly I struggle mentally to stick to power, HR and specific programmes. I've tried it and It doesnt motivate me.
I've been cycling on the road since 91 and I have a good selection of local club rides that have grand tour stage winners, national champions and domestic pro's and when I'm fit I can hang on, training on these chain gangs is like a fast race and it deffintely improves my fitness.

One thing ive noticed over the last 5 years is new cyclists who come to the sport and train strictly by power and the vast majority become incredibly fast.

I think my inability to train to metrics comes from riding bikes in the early 90's and just cruising with friends enjoying it. Some rides would be 14mph. There was zero structure and we had fun on the journey.
It feels like Strava, Power etc has brought a new type of cyclist in, somebody for who it's all about the sport and this isnt me.
At 6ft tall and 80kg and around 300watts my max for an hour I fall in to the what I would call fast club rider cateogory, get me on a climb and I'm dropped. On the flat I can hand on okay. I can push virtually the same watts for a couple of hours, I have a good 10 second kick based on upper body strength and this stops me getting dropped.
Anything 60 seconds + on an incline and I'm slipping back.

I'm aware that this could be rectified with specific training but I dont go down that road, In some ways I'd hate to take it too seriously and still be average, in the back of my mind I like to think I have a little natural ability, If I train to metrics and barely improve It would be a real morale killer. I guess it's just insecurity.

It is hard to see a sport I was once considered okay at, that I won races in have a an influx of cyclists younger and older than me who are better then me. I guess thats why I mostly ride alone now.

Personally I'm not a metrics guy but from experience I've seen an incredible amount of cyclists become very fast from training strictly to the numbers. People from 15 to 50 years old. dont 5 to 10 hours a week

I think the OP has started a very cool thread here.

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by iheartbianchi

tarmackev wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:58 pm
I train very similar to the OP, by feel.
Honestly I struggle mentally to stick to power, HR and specific programmes. I've tried it and It doesnt motivate me.
I've been cycling on the road since 91 and I have a good selection of local club rides that have grand tour stage winners, national champions and domestic pro's and when I'm fit I can hang on, training on these chain gangs is like a fast race and it deffintely improves my fitness.

One thing ive noticed over the last 5 years is new cyclists who come to the sport and train strictly by power and the vast majority become incredibly fast.

I think my inability to train to metrics comes from riding bikes in the early 90's and just cruising with friends enjoying it. Some rides would be 14mph. There was zero structure and we had fun on the journey.
It feels like Strava, Power etc has brought a new type of cyclist in, somebody for who it's all about the sport and this isnt me.
At 6ft tall and 80kg and around 300watts my max for an hour I fall in to the what I would call fast club rider cateogory, get me on a climb and I'm dropped. On the flat I can hand on okay. I can push virtually the same watts for a couple of hours, I have a good 10 second kick based on upper body strength and this stops me getting dropped.
Anything 60 seconds + on an incline and I'm slipping back.

I'm aware that this could be rectified with specific training but I dont go down that road, In some ways I'd hate to take it too seriously and still be average, in the back of my mind I like to think I have a little natural ability, If I train to metrics and barely improve It would be a real morale killer. I guess it's just insecurity.

It is hard to see a sport I was once considered okay at, that I won races in have a an influx of cyclists younger and older than me who are better then me. I guess thats why I mostly ride alone now.

Personally I'm not a metrics guy but from experience I've seen an incredible amount of cyclists become very fast from training strictly to the numbers. People from 15 to 50 years old. dont 5 to 10 hours a week

I think the OP has started a very cool thread here.
That's an interesting point that you raise. I've been cycling and used to compete at a very high level in the 90s/early 00s, and am still involved with the sport. I haven't noticed any significant increase in speeds at the professional level, and I think most of those increases can be attributed to better gear and aerodynamics more than anything else.

Whether the average recreational cyclist has gotten faster, well I think that's a mixed bag. For the vast majority who trained without power meters or HRMs, I think they're more or less the same, or even slower given the tendency to sell "beginner bikes" with smaller gears so they don't really develop their leg strength. But for those who want to get faster, the science has really improved for the top-end, which has trickled down to the average rider. Whether we are talking about FTP-based, HRM-based, polarized training models, "sweet spot" and what have you, a structured training program that used to be the exclusive realm of the local pros and those lucky enough to join a good team is now easily accessible for anybody. I remember the common logic among the typical club riders in the 90s was, "if you want to get faster, just ride more and ride harder." So you had a lot of riders ineffectively doing a lot of Zone 3 junk miles that weren't easy enough or hard enough, and just stagnating and no longer improving.
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by AJS914

Sounds like my training in the 90s! I don't think anyone said ride harder though. We rode with no structure and then raced. I think people thought that riding more volume (like pros) would help but we were already riding 100-150 miles per week, working full time jobs and thus maxed out.

Back then, I also thought that it took a super human pro to be able to ride 250 miles week in / week out. I didn't know that most of those miles were very slow at low HRs. I'm pretty sure I read about LSD in magazine articles back then but I never understood the why behind it. I think that mostly LSD was framed as a fat burning ride for recreational cyclists wanting to lose weight as opposed to intervals for racers. My thought was that I didn't need to lose fat so LSD would be a fast of my limited time. I needed to get faster. Had I known that 4+ hour rides would take your aerobic capacity to new heights I would have been on that every Saturday.

It's amazing how much freely available knowledge is out there now though it does seem like many concepts (polarization, sweet spot, ftp, sst) are still shrouded in a bit of mystery.

Most guys in my club today still ride like those 90s guys. They do those medium hard middle zone rides and grind themselves into fatigue but never get any faster.

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by TheRich

tarmackev wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:58 pm
I'm aware that this could be rectified with specific training but I dont go down that road, In some ways I'd hate to take it too seriously and still be average, in the back of my mind I like to think I have a little natural ability, If I train to metrics and barely improve It would be a real morale killer. I guess it's just insecurity.
It's not an all or nothing proposition.
tarmackev wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:58 pm
Personally I'm not a metrics guy but from experience I've seen an incredible amount of cyclists become very fast from training strictly to the numbers. People from 15 to 50 years old. dont 5 to 10 hours a week
The results don't lie.

I'd be willing to bet that a portion of the decline in road racing is because people want to do well, but they don't want to work as hard at it...and they defintely don't want to show up for a result they can't brag about. Better to hammer the noobs on club rides and concentrate on Strava results.

The "mullet race," business up front, party in the back, is totally acceptable in gravel events though.

tarmackev
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by tarmackev

:D I'd be more inclined to train with HR at the moment.
If I'm climbing a hill regardless of speed if my HR is 185 I'm pushing and I feel fit.
If I'm climbing by power and I can only hit it a low power figure it demoralises me, I cant help but compare my numbers to others and feel shit. With HR I never compare.
Mental and physical weakness.

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by iheartbianchi

tarmackev wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:44 pm
:D I'd be more inclined to train with HR at the moment.
If I'm climbing a hill regardless of speed if my HR is 185 I'm pushing and I feel fit.
If I'm climbing by power and I can only hit it a low power figure it demoralises me, I cant help but compare my numbers to others and feel shit. With HR I never compare.
Mental and physical weakness.
For this very reason, unless you're feeling good and gunning for a PR, I think power meters should be banned on climbs :) If you're going up your regular hill climb on a normal training day, and you are a bit fatigued, well you know what power you need to hit to reach a certain time on that climb. But your legs are sore, you're tired, and you are struggling to maintain your "typical" power (say 200 watts instead of your usual 225 watts). What happens? You get demoralized, maybe depressed, maybe you start questioning your training or why you are even on the bike. Maybe you push even harder just to hit your "usual" 225 watts. BAM overtraining. I think you all know what I mean and we've all been there :)

Training should never be about individual training sessions or Strava rides, but that seems to be the trend for most casual riders these days who are targetting PRs every ride. You know when pros typically hunt for PRs? At the end of a season following months of consistent and structured training!
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by TheRich

tarmackev wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:44 pm
:D I'd be more inclined to train with HR at the moment.
If I'm climbing a hill regardless of speed if my HR is 185 I'm pushing and I feel fit.
If I'm climbing by power and I can only hit it a low power figure it demoralises me, I cant help but compare my numbers to others and feel shit. With HR I never compare.
Mental and physical weakness.
Are you unable to change expectations based on how you feel?

I find power to be far better for pacing because of the instant feedback that HR is unable to provide.

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by iheartbianchi

TheRich wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 5:08 am

Are you unable to change expectations based on how you feel?

I find power to be far better for pacing because of the instant feedback that HR is unable to provide.
I find this to be such a common statement but is incredibly misleading.

Heart rate lag is extremely overrated, and I think this point is emphasized by people who have very limited experience using HR monitors in the first place (I'll explain why below), and is often repeated on websites touting power meter-based training programs. But it's funny, people make this claim about heart rate lag, but I have actually never seen anyone who makes this claim actually quantify the lag. Either they don't know or didn't bother to check and are just repeating what they heard (lazy or negligent), or they don't want to tell you to mislead you into thinking HR monitors aren't as good (fraudulent). I suspect the latter in most cases.

Assuming you are properly warmed up, this "lag" is only a matter of a few seconds at most. A healthy adult's heart rate increases at about 6-8bpm, or 60-80 beats in 10 seconds. If you work backwards, yeah, you get a sense of how short this lag is. Going from a pedestrian 120bpm to 170bpm will take you less than 10 seconds. If you are at 130 or 140, well we are talking about only a few seconds before you are at or near your threshold pace. In exceptional cases, your heart rate can increase by a factor of 10 or more beats within a single beat, but these are statistical anomalies so I won't count those. But if you are looking to pace yourself on a climb, or do any kind of "hard" effort that takes longer than a minute, lag is a non-issue.

The only time heart rate lag becomes an issue is when you are doing sprints or really short intervals, but even then you shouldn't be looking at either your heart rate monitor or your power meter as these are typically all-out (or close) efforts.

But if you trained consistently with a heart rate monitor, you would know all this. You would know that you go from 130bpm to 160+ very very quickly when you hit a 10% climb. You would know that lag isn't an issue at all.

"But what about those short accelerations during a climb or in a paceline?" - is anybody actually staring at their power meter when they accelerate to guage how hard they should pull? I would hope you are letting your body do the talking and that you are listening to how your body is reacting to that acceleration.

Now let's talk serious. There is a disadvantage to heart rate monitors, and that's during the post-workout assessment for short intervals or sprint sessions. Due to the lag, you get a false and lower average HR reading. So what we do to resolve this issue (assuming we don't have access to power meters - we do by the way) is to exclude the beginning portion of each rep/exercise. It's simple, but a hassle to do everytime for every rep. With a power meter, you can get a consistent reading for the whole interval to assess where you were at that point in time. Not a big deal either way, but more convenient.
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by AeroObsessive

iheartbianchi wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 8:41 am
I find this to be such a common statement but is incredibly misleading.

Heart rate lag is extremely overrated, and I think this point is emphasized by people who have very limited experience using HR monitors in the first place (I'll explain why below), and is often repeated on websites touting power meter-based training programs. But it's funny, people make this claim about heart rate lag, but I have actually never seen anyone who makes this claim actually quantify the lag. Either they don't know or didn't bother to check and are just repeating what they heard (lazy or negligent), or they don't want to tell you to mislead you into thinking HR monitors aren't as good (fraudulent). I suspect the latter in most cases....

Easy to demonstrate in any recording of power and HR where power increases rapidly. The lag is exactly as you describe, a few seconds behind the power increase. Nothing mor,e nothing less. And conversely can remain elevated when no power is being produced.

People's lack of understanding about a tool is not the fault of the tool, rather that of the person who either can't or won't understand its purpose.

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