Like this guy, we're going to go deep into le pain cave
To quote one of my favorite movies:
If you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further.
By reaching this point, we’ve accrued an aerobic base, set a baseline by testing, built strength with slow-cadence riding, and worked on pedaling skills with single-leg riding and spin-ups. These are hugely important and will allow us to now move on to bigger (and better) things.
Given that the length of most collegiate races are pretty short, it’s absolutely crucial to develop “top-end” fitness. Because we have a solid background with endurance training and tempo work, we can move into the LT and even VO2 arenas.
Our training program, visualized.
Here’s what this means: workouts are going to become shorter but also higher intensity. Hopefully you’ve found that the long work periods of the slow-cadence work has gradually become more doable. Riding at slow cadence is tres difficile, but will make the next step incremental rather than a big jump.
That being said, we’re not totally giving up on tempo. Here’s one of my favorite graphs when it comes to training and accumulation of fitness:
Hitting the sweet spot
The main idea is this: in terms of making the largest gains possible, it’s best to do a lot of medium hard riding as opposed to a little bit of really hard riding. However, because we do want to eke out every single watt, we will need to dabble in the “red zone” of the graph, where the gains are great, but so is the level of fatigue experienced by the body.
In sum: we’ll keep up with the tempo, because that’s where the “low hanging fruit” is, but because we want to be ballers and win races, we need the diminishing marginal returns of VO2 training as well. Here’s what this looks like as a weekly schedule. As always, this schedule is subject to your academic/social/personal obligations. Definitely move stuff around to make it work for you.
A basic reminder about how to think about the various intensity levels:
Recovery: VERY, VERY EASY.
Aerobic: Easy. Should be sustainable for multiple hours without too much effort.
Tempo: What you could sustain for 1-2 hours. A tad slower than the pace of an all-out effort up Greylock.
LT: What you could sustain for ~30 minutes. About the pace for an all-out effort up Petersburg.
VO2: What you could sustain for 5-10 minutes. Think time trial pace.
Monday: Recovery day. I’d recommend spinning easy if you have time.
Tuesday: Tempo work. 6×10 at tempo (HR around 80-90% of max) with 5 minutes easy in between each set. Ride at a cadence around 90. Okay to get out of the saddle every now and then. Remember that cadence is NOWHERE NEAR ALL OUT. This should not be a super hard day. Remember the graph! You’re not doing your body any favors by going too hard today and then being unable to do Wednesday’s workout.
Wednesday: 1&1’s! One of my favorite workouts. Do a long warmup with a few short, hard efforts. Then do 6 sets of:
1 minute on at VO2 (HR at about 90-95% of max. This is not an all out sprint, but definitely hard.
1 minute rest (keep spinning!)
After 20 minutes at aerobic pace, repeat the 6 sets.
Thursday: Another recovery day. Be ready for a tough weekend!
Friday: Repeat Tuesday.
Saturday: Race sim. This is a bit of a wildcard, best done outside, preferably riding with others around your fitness level. The idea here is to incorporate aerobic, tempo, LT, and even VO2 work into one ride. Think of this as a “hard group ride”. If you need a bit more structure, think about doing the following:
- Aerobic warmup
- 10 minutes at tempo, 5 minutes rest
- 5 minutes at LT, 5 minutes rest
- 2 minutes at VO2, 5 minutes rest
- 5 minutes at LT, 5 minutes rest
- 10 minutes at tempo, 5 minutes rest.
- Aerobic cooldownt
In order to do this workout and not kill yourself, it’s CRUCIAL to do your tempo at an appropriate level (i.e. not too hard) so that you can do your VO2 quite hard.
Sunday: Long aerobic ride. We aren’t forfeiting our aerobic strength! Try to get in a long, easy ride once a week. HR/wattage should be around 65-70% of max (i.e. this should not be a difficult day).
Questions? I’m here for you.