The foundations for successful riding
I have just joined my local club as a raw newbie with an entry level bike. I am particularly interested in time trials so want to bias my training to that end. I am time poor so can only dedicate about 3 or 4 hours a week gym and riding time.
*dodgy knees - cant stand up and sprint as this will inflame them and I will be limping the next day
-but I can sit and push for an hour or 2 and this is actually beneficial for my knees which is great
*Reasonably healthy conventional diet, minimal alcohol ie a few standard drinks a week.
*moderate fitness from some social mountain biking, stationary gym biking and more recently a few rides with the club
*Time available for training; roughly 2hrs per week at gym and 2 hrs per week riding
*Dont have power meter - but can use the 'calorie' meter on the gym bike as a unit of power ( ie cal per minute) for training and tracking purposes
*have HR and Cadence on bike computer - like to use HR to help gauge sustainable effort
*Have access to a 45 min spin class at a local gym
*Did the club TT last weekend and did an average speed of 33kph over 18km, ave HR 170ish (32.5 minutes)
*Max HR 190; high effort cruise around 170bpm
I am looking for any tips on how to optimise my training to improve performance over about 30 minutes at this stage.
Look fwd to your suggestions
Last edited by linds on Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
Im a bit perplexed as to why you want to focus on TTs and what the problem with your knees is. Anyway, some quick thoughts:
Don't worry about power meters or calorie counters. Just ride your bike. 2 hours on the road isn't very much and you wont see much improvement if you don't do more, but anyway ... Im assuming you do 2x 1hour road rides in the week. Well on your road rides just ride fairly easy for most of the time and put in some short 5k TT efforts, maybe 2 per ride. Its a mistake to ride your bike hard every time you get on it. If your spin / ergo / trainer sessions are hard then make the road ride easy. Or vice versa.
Is your maximum HR something you guessed, or did you find it by smashing yourself up a hill or at the end of a race. If you did 220 minus your age then its wrong. If its a real number, then you can roughly sustain 92% of your max for the TT effort over 30 mins. That's about 172-175 beats I think. You can go above that for short periods too. Just a rough guide. Most people TT too conservatively. My son TT's at 98-100% of his real max and can do that for 30 mins, but he is young. You can do more than 170 bpm and sustain it.
Really... he holds 98% or more of his max hr for 30minutes... I wouldn't have thought that was possible
Hi DD thks for your reply.
I had a lot of trouble with dislocating my kneecaps when younger and the damage done seems to have caused a mild arthritis in the last few years-and this is exacerbated by high pressure exercise like squats and bike sprinting. My focus on TT is simply because I enjoy it it more than group riding - I have always enjoyed pitting myself against myself over other sporting pursuits. My max HR figure is just what I have seen in extreme high effort situations over the last 6 months...It may not be the correct figure but cant see how it could be much different.
So your advice is to limit high effort riding and to spend more time riding at an easy pace - what is 'easy'- do you mean a social pace where I could be having a chat at the same time..or harder than that but not full effort?
You HR, speed figures look similar to mine last time I did a club TT (I much prefer road racing), you are a bit bigger and a couple of years younger, I ride more.
I got more gains by getting as aero as I can on my standard roadie with no fancy gear whilst training for this years TT. I also made the mistake last time of riding the entire course at about 170bpm and when I finished realised I could have gone a lot harder and quicker. I don't look at the HR much,if at all now, until after the ride just listen to the legs.
Yeah I know, it doesn't seem right, but the garmin doesn't lie, and he has done it in the last 4 or 5 TTs. After the race he collapses on the ground and is grey for about 10 mins but then he comes back to life. Ive told him to back it off a bit but he just laughs. He really knows how to suffer which is a good quality.
Surely if you've only got 3-4 hours per week of training you should be doing those sessions pretty hard? I don't really get doing easy/recovery rides if you are training so little.
Likely the OP would be having a day off between rides anyway.
Well linds, people will disagree with me, but I am convinced that riding hard every training ride is not beneficial. Especially if your knees are not great.
So a weekly training program would look something like this . SUN Race day (Max effort), MON Day off (rest), TUES longish easy ride (chat), WED Hard track session behind moto (2hrs), THURS easy ride, FRI Brisk hilly ride (moderately fast), SAT easy ride.
I know you don't have the time for something like that but the point is that you can see that variety is important. variety of pace and effort, length of ride, terrain. Almost half the days are easy. If you race on the weekend then its okay to have a mid-week race or a hard session of some sort. But no more than 2 a week. Riding easy puts money in the bank, racing takes it out. You cant keep taking money out every day without becoming bankrupt.
So you take the principle and apply it to your situation. If its just one ride a week then some weeks make it a hard one and others an easy one. Or break the ride down, 15k easy, 5k hard, 10k easy, 5k hard, 10k easy = 45km. By easy I mean just slightly faster than coffee shop social ride pace.
Some good spin efforts on the stationary bike are great for improving Time Trialling too. Remember to have a good 'easy' warm up before smashing it, and then a good warm down.
As far as sprinting goes, you can sprint in the seat. This is what track riders do. I could hit 65kph in a road sprint without getting out of the seat. Its very effective and you can practise spinning good rpms on the gym bike. Short bursts only.
Also think about clip on bars for racing (not training) as the aero advantages are massive. And listen to your body, if you are tired then train easy and if you are feeling fresh and strong then don't hold yourself back.
A very common fallacy. " I don't have much time so I have to make the most of every ride and go hard every time"
I don't buy it.
I know a few guys that do this, they train at 33 kph every time, and then when its the TT race, guess what, they do 33kph for the race. That's what they've taught their body to do.
I would suggest that to TT at 40+ kph requires a different outlook.
I would have thought some interval training would be the go, maybe something like this. Do some reading on high intensity interval training, maybe pick up a copy of The Time-Crunched Cyclist. With so few hours available to train you have to use them effectively if you want to get faster.
I would also make sure I had a nice aerodynamic position set up properly on the bike.
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Yes a 40+ km/h TT needs more hours and with more hours comes the hard and easy sessions, with only 4 hours a week I would be doing hour sessions separated by a day off most the time and I would be doing every session hard, mixing up the intervals but still doing hard sessions. With 4 hours a week you dont have time for easy paced rides.
Realistically on 4 hours a week there is only a certain level that you will get to eventually if you want to get better you need to put more time into it.
Understanding how hard is hard is often a cause of confusion, and one of the trickier things for a rider new to training (as opposed to exercising) to get their head around.
If you can sing, it's too easy and is what we call active recovery. Generally you don't need a lot of that.
If you are working but could maintain a continuous conversation, that's about right for easier ride days.
When you are riding at an effort level where continuous conversation would be a bit more difficult, somewhat halted but not impossible, then that's a solid effort level to be used wisely. There is much value to be gained from efforts at this level, but as DD says, it's part of a bigger picture and you don't do all your riding like this.
Above that are a few levels where you won't be talking all that much if you can at all (e.g. TT effort pace and above). You can talk at TT pace, but not much. Above that, no more than a blurted word or two, and probably an expletive.
There are many ways to provide guidance on intensity, including inter alia: power output, heart rate, perceived exertion, O2 utilisation, blood lactate levels, breathing rate and speed.
Perceived exertion is pretty good, free, but does take a little bit of tuning. One of the better known scales of PE is the Borg scale (you will be assimilated) of which there are two, one that provide ratings from 6 to 20, another from 1 to 10. The scale from 1 to 10 is used in this table which provides guidance on various levels of intensity. While it is primarily about use of power for this purpose, the principles are the same no matter what you use to guide effort level.
http://home.trainingpeaks.com/articles/ ... oggan.aspx
As you can see, there are a number of views. I think that when you only have a few hours per week, riding them hard has some merit, but it's not something I would necessarily recommend for a rider in your situation, for a number of reasons. Moving from exercising to training takes time and a different mental approach.
For an experienced racer who is truly time constrained to a handful of hours per week, then a greater variety of hard rides makes more sense (there are many different ways to have a hard session).
Main thing is to ride regularly, include variety, do some harder efforts that are near race pace (how much and for how long depends on many things) and keep it fun.
Ultimately, to improve beyond a certain level, it will require a greater volume of work than can be achieved with a handful of hours each week.
The first thing I'd do in the gym would be simulate your TT to work out how much sustainable effort you can put in for 30 minutes. Warmup for 5 minutes, then do about 1-2 minutes fairly hard effort, then 2 more minutes relaxed effort, you should be well warmed up before starting. Then simulate the 30 minutes TT, note down the resistance settings too. The first 5 minutes you should try to hold back a little, then every 5 minutes listen to your body, and adjust up or down depending on how you feel. You should try to maintain the same km/h once you find a good rate you can maintain. Remember your mind will probably understimate how much you can hold, so try to push it a little higher than your mind wants to. If you fail to get through the full 30 minutes, you went too hard, but if you find yourself with heaps of energy in the last 5 minutes, you need to push harder next time around. Just warm down after this. This alone would be decent TT training I'm sure, as it will give you a reference for how hard you can push yourself over 30 minutes, and that should gain you a lot of time.
You should note the km/h you are hitting at the resistance setting you are comfortable with on the gym bike. Try to find the resistance formula online, and you should be able to get a power estimate from that km/h. eg, if it's 32km/h, a fairly simple resistance formula might tell you that's equivilent to 260W. That's your maximum power over 30 minutes, take about 5% off that and use that as the FTP.
Then use the resistance formula to work out how many km/h you'd need to get 120% of FTP power and 60%. If you can't find the resistance formula, you'll just have to guess this. If you are holding 32km/h for 30 minutes, perhaps 35km/h might be 120% FTP, but it's hard to say without knowing how that gym bike works.
Once you are comfortable you are doing a good 30 minute TT on the gym bike, start some interval training at the gym.
1st - warmup 10 minutes, then 5x 3:36 (AT) 120% FTP, 7:12 (AT) FTP. So that's 3:36 at a tough pace, your HR should get right up, then 7:12 recovery period to get everything back down. Repeat 5 times for a good workout.
2nd - warmup 10 minutes, then 5x 5:00 (AT) 100% FTP, 1:00 (AT) 40% FTP. This is 5 minutes at roughly your 30 minute effort, followed by 1 minute real easy pedalling, recover a little, back into it, repeat 5 times.
There is also tips for when you race. Like try to hold back a little over the first 5 minutes, easy to burn up your legs by going out too fast. For hills, aim for the sensation of holding back a little going up hills, but go flat out down hills. This will actually flatten out the power, as you'd usually increase your power to get up a hill, but put in less power going down.
Also, if you just want to reduce your time, go more aero. You can buy and learn aero clipon bars fairly cheaply, TT helmet, skin suit, shoe covers, get aero wheels (or cheap and cheerful rear wheel cover for your current rear wheel), TT bike. You might increase your speed 2km/h going more aero.
Spot on Alex. Excellent points.
Harder efforts need to be at or near race pace. That's why riding around at 33kph every day is useless. To TT at 40kph you need to begin with some short efforts at 40.
Too many people ride around in the range 32 - 35kph. Then they race at that pace too. Its a big mistake.
Either ride at 25-30, or at 40-50. That is, either ride relatively easy, or do something specific. I assisted my mate to win the Australian Masters M4 Time Trial with some derny paced efforts at @50kph for a hour each time. In between that, normal rides mixed with some other drills.
If you want to ride fast, then train FAST. 33kph is not fast.
Im not trying to provide specific information, just a principle which you can adapt to your own situation. Alex has summed it up beautifully.
I think you need to explain your point better. Without using kp/h as some kind of meaningful measure.
I ride, therefore I am.
...real cyclists don't have squeaky chains...
Its funny the polar opposites of info out there. A lot of people say ride high/low so either at a really tough pace or easy. But then there are those that swear by sweet spot/tempo riding. In reality, a mix of everything is probably the best and it also depends on the phase of training you are in, your training history and what you are training for. This is just a point for the OP to know that people get results doing all different types of training and I would not say either has been conclusively proven to be more effective then the other. The main thing is to get out there and train and be consistent with it.
I think that reference needs to be relevant to the standard of the rider. For someone who only has time to ride 3-4 hours a week, sustained 40kph may not be a realistic expectation.
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Personally a sub 3hour 100km solo is a pretty solid ride ... I don't ( and probably couldn't ) do it everyday, but then I don't want to either. My 50km per hour 10 minute intervals are few and fair between
IMHO 20km TTs are the best training for 20km TTs
Not to disimilar to you, age, height or weight wise. Been riding for a few years for exercise, start racing almost 12 months ago, started time trialing in November, liked it so much bought myself a TT bike for Christmas, then over the next 10 TT races, shaved almost 2 and half minutes of my time over 16km, usually 10 to 15 seconds a week. Some of it aero gains of the bike and position, some of it learning the right techniques and some just being able to put out consistently more power over the distance.
I have more time to ride than you, as I commute a few times a week and can do 18km at TT pace in that commute without worrying about cars. So I would do two practice TTs a week, one on my TT bike and one on my road bike as well as a real TT. And it paid off for me. Next season, want to take another minute off, it is going to be more work at that pace and above.
And this peoples, is how you should ride a time trial and pursuit always = nothing left in the tank!!!!!!! (not triathlons though)
I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets.
I appreciate all of the thoughtful replies!
There is enough info here for me to work out a plan of attack.
I'll keep track of my TT times in here and discuss my training as I go.
To start with I think I'll do the local TT course as a training run weekly, some similar distance rides with max effort intervals, the club rides weekly when I can, some spin classes and look at improving gear and technique on an incremental basis.
Goal is to drop my time from 32.34 to 30 flat for the 18.2km route.
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