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Convince me that I'm doing the right thing.(39 posts)

Convince me that I'm doing the right thing.Len J
Jan 2, 2002 9:32 AM
OK, Here is my problem.
I have never trained using a formal training plan. This year I decided that I would like to see how much difference it makes. So I bought Freil's book and proceeded to follow it in creating a plan. No problem so far.

In reading his book he makes a great case for a very large endurance base, created by doing 8 to 12 weeks of primarily aerobic miles (At 82 to 88% of LT). He is very convincing that the larger the base, the higher the peak. (the better you can get at your peak performance). In theory, this makes a lot of sense.

Now my problem. I have been doing these E2/Aerobic rides for 2 weeks and it just doesn't feel like they are doing anything. I feel like I can ride in this zone forever. It just doesn't feel like I'm doing anything. I've rechecked my LT using both a TT & the time above LT tests, so I'm comfortable that my LT is correct. What am I missing. Coming from the training school that says "if it doesn't hurt, its not helping", I need to be convinced that I should have faith in this training. How will I know if it's helping? When will I know?

Other facts:
46 years old
6'0" 157 lbs.
Don't race/ long rides are my strength.
Riding off and on for 25 years/ consistantly for last 3 years.
5,000 miles in 2001 including 500 over 6 days in Alaska, 10 Centuries. Didn't get off my butt and ride until March 2001 due to weather. I hate the trainer & never liked riding in cold. This year I've been proud of myself, I've not missed a planned session & am riding both inside & out.

Please Convince me I'm doing the right thing. I would hate to waste the miles if they won't get me stronger.

re: Convince me that I'm doing the right thing.Tig
Jan 2, 2002 10:00 AM
From what I've read, as long as your AT value is correct and you feel you are going too slow and mild, you are doing it exactly right! You may have already read this article from the past great triathlete, Mark Allen, but here it is if you haven't:
I can relate to Allen's running training.Len J
Jan 2, 2002 10:45 AM
For many years (Late 70's)I ran competitivly, and Like Allen learned that if it didn't hurt you were probably doggin' it. If he improved like he says he did (from 8:15 to 5:20 all at aerobic levels) then I'm all for it.

I guess at this point I just have to have faith. Like Doug (below) I worry about losing my fitness edge in the meantime.

Thanks for the article.

re: Convince me that I'm doing the right thing.NYCyclist
Jan 2, 2002 10:19 AM

You are doing the right thing, IMO. Remember that you are now utilizing a training PLAN, and the base-building workouts that you are performing now have a specific PURPOSE. The purpose of the base-building phase of any training plan is to encourage your body to undergo physiologic changes in response to the "stress" of frequent aerobic workouts.

Please excuse the short answers as I am pressed for time, but some of the changes include:

1. You are toughening your bum, getting used to being in the saddle for extended periods of time.

2. You are "teaching" you body to utilize fat as a fuel source. Your body will adapt to the "stress" of aerobic workouts by increasing capillary density in your adipose tissue. In the future, your body will be more efficient at tapping into its fat stores.

3. Your body is increasing the mitochondrial density in its cell's to operate efficiently at aerobic intensity. The mitochondria is the "powerhouse of the cell", producing ATP. More mitochondria = more ATP production = more energy, loosely speaking.

What you are doing now helps and yes, it does not hurt. It's not supposed to. You can't "hurt" all year long and expect to participate in any sport for long... you'll get tired and injured. Don't worry, you'll hurt enough later in Freil's (or anyone else's) plan.

I ran into the same problem when I followed a structured training plan for my first Ironman triathlon. I found myself having to walk on some of my long-run days when my HR increased out of my aerobic zone.. I felt ridiculous, but kept on reminding myself that if I expected to reap the benefits of my training plan, I had to do this NOW to put myself in a position to succeed LATER. So I sucked it up, walked when I had to, and my plan came together in the end. Stick with it.

Good luck!
So your telling me to have faith............Len J
Jan 2, 2002 10:47 AM
this is easier said than done. I guess that the only way I'll know is to follow it through.

Thanks for the testimonial, it helps to know that it has helped someone else.

YUP! (nm)NYCyclist
Jan 2, 2002 1:38 PM
same concern hereDog
Jan 2, 2002 10:25 AM
After the 508 this year, I hired an ultra distance coach, someone recognized as one of the best coaches for long distance.

Since October, my workouts have been limited to about 85% of LT, except for monthly uphill timetrials to re-evaluate LT.

It feels painfully slow. I set an upper hr alarm, and it goes off on every hill. With my LT at 168, max of 187, I'm usually climbing around 155-160, but he's limited me to 140 bpm flats and 148 hills. I feel likely I'm getting grossly out of shape, and it was me worried, too.

Now, at the same time he has me on a weight and stretching program, so I'm building strength and flexibility, too. I suppose that offsets a little.

He has me set to peak in October of next year, when typically I try to be in top shape by May, and keep it for the summer. I suppose that makes a difference.

I usually look at training as a year round continuous build from year to year. Letting myself slide over the winter was never an option, but now it seems I'm doing it intentionally. I don't really get it.

But, I think the idea is to build fat burning and endurance now, and to raise LT and power later. I sure hope it works. I really doubt this method of training, but I'm willing to give it a shot. Many knowledgeable coaches swear by it.

Your last sentance......Len J
Jan 2, 2002 10:53 AM
sums up why I started this in the first place. Many knowledgable coaches & atheletes swear by it. It also makes sense intellectually. My problem is that I think going faster & hurting gave me immediate feedback that I had worked hard. Right now I don't have any feedback, all the perported gains are in the future. As I said above, I guess I just have to have faith.

Glad I'm not the only one with these concerns. I look forward to comparing gains with you mid-summer to see if it was really worth it.

The other problem I have is a fear. At 46, I know that getting back into shape will take more effort than it did when I was younger. I hope that aerobic fitness will make the other easier. we'll see.

out of shape at 46,guido
Jan 2, 2002 12:03 PM
Don't worry about long term fitness. You're probably as fit as a much younger man, and can therefore come back nearly as fast. Most pros, if I'm reading correctly, lay off over the winter, put in base miles so the body can regenerate, then come back stronger than before. The key is this aerobic training being talked about, getting the aerobic system NYCyclist explains, "fit" to handle the high intensity efforts to come in the Spring.

Great time to work on your spin, and increase your leg speed!
The toughest thing to avoid...Lone Gunman
Jan 2, 2002 3:39 PM
is feeling great and getting out on the road and trying to see the results too early; going too hard early in the season and then petering out by June to a very average rider. This is what I did last season. I did not get faster or slower, I got in a rut and rode too much at the same speed. By October I was still a stronger rider than I was the previous year but I was expecting more improvement. I didn't follow through with the plan, it is a must to improve.
Keep us posted. I'm on the same mission. Good luck nmBrian C.
Jan 2, 2002 10:51 AM
re: Convince me that I'm doing the right thing.harlett
Jan 2, 2002 11:24 AM
I have looked at base training as developing an aerobic base, at a lower intensity, in preparation for the higher intensity workouts that will focus on developing power later on-- your ability to develop power is only as good as the underlying acerbic system foundation-- i know that carmichael looks at base endurance training as a time to build up aerobic and force systems with strength training and extensive, but not high intensity, aerobic work-- waiting until your season riding starts to start doing harder, steady state efforts and anaerobic work--
some of the keys to the sharpening phase of marathon training, i was taught to do, were runs at an easy pace to encourage fat metabolism and long enough to fatigue the primary endurance muscle fibers and bring into play the convertible fibers which are not normally used-- some of the same principles that are in base endurance cycling training--
all miles are good ones len-- keep the faith and that great attitude!

life is a verb and an opportunity to freely choose......
Unfortunatly, my marathon training......Len J
Jan 2, 2002 12:58 PM
involved long hard runs first thing in the morning & last thing at night with interval training after school. The good news was that this 20+ mile/day, 6 day/week effort allowed me to break 2:30 as a High school sophmore, the bad news was that this amount of effort resulted in me beating up my hips & knees so bad that I had to quit running shortly after starting college. I've often wondered how good I could have been with today's advances in training and shoe technology. I probably could have been as good or better with less effort, and probably would have had a longer running career, but then I might not have discovered cycling (which is where I put all the energy once I couldn't run anymore).


life is good, if you let yourself see it
You are probably not doing much...Bruno
Jan 2, 2002 12:15 PM
if you are not doing weight training as well. If you combine your E2 rides with intensive weight training it will make sense. Your legs will be so tired from the weights that you will feel you are doing work even at E2.
Are you saying that if I'm not doing weight training...........Len J
Jan 2, 2002 12:49 PM
I'm not getting the benefit of all of these aerobic miles.....or are you saying that if I want to feel like I'm working then I should suppliment with weights?

I have tried to research the benefits of weight training and have concluded that it's benefits to cycling are questionable (due to specificity). I know that many people feel otherwise (including Freil), but it seems there are as many knowledgable people who don't think so as do. I am hoping that more time on the bike (at the proper effort levels) can have the same impact. Hence the reason I phrased the question the way I did.


I think that your question goes to the heart of the matter, and,bill
Jan 2, 2002 1:03 PM
according to everything I've read, the whole idea behind long slow distance is long slow distance. You don't make it "better" by making the rest of your life harder. You may accomplish some other things, and you may not hurt your long slow distance aerobic base, but you're not making the long slow distance aerobic base deeper.
I think that your question goes to the heart of the matter, and,Jon
Jan 2, 2002 1:38 PM
Ditto, all of the above. If you're not doing any weights, you might do one or possibly two on-the-bike
strength training sessions per week. This would include stuff like muscle tension intervals,
stomps, and/or some long, seated climbing intervals. But stay below LT. Harlett made a good
point about exhausting slow-twitch muscle fibres during long rides so as to start recruiting some
Type IIA oxidative-glycolytic fibres. This can be done by a)maintaining high cadence during your
E2 rides and b)doing back-to-back long rides at high cadence, relatively low heart rates. Jim
Martin is a cyclist/ex-physiologist who advocates doing these kinds of blocks during base
training. The big thing about base is developing peripheral aerobic adaptations so that you'll
have the physical mechanisms in place for lactate clearance when the hard work starts. This
will enable you to cultivate a higher lactate threshold. Keep the faith!
It's hard to keep it lowMcAndrus
Jan 2, 2002 4:00 PM
I've been trying to be a good soldier but my problem seems to be that I can't keep my heart rate low. Living in hilly terrain, I can have a 100 bpm at the bottom of a 1/2 mile hill, then half-way up the hill in my granny gear I'm seeing a 140 bpm heart rate. If I'm trying to keep a bpm below 130, what do I do? Get off and walk?

Oh, and I agree on not doing weight work but I know a lot of people see a benefit. I think the muscle tension climbs are probably better as they mimic the cycling motion.

Also I spoke to a couple of local racers on our Saturday ride and they swear by long slow distance both off season and in season if they have a couple of weeks between races.

But as to my original question. When I hit a hill and my heart rate jumps I try to slow it down but sometimes it just won't. Dang, this training stuff is too much like work. :-)
keeping it lowDog
Jan 2, 2002 5:03 PM
About all you can do is get lower gears; lower gearing will certainly allow you to climb at lower heart rates.

In other words,guido
Jan 2, 2002 10:11 PM
you'll be able to do the same work at lower heartrates, and with strength training in the spring, develope more power.
In other words,guido
Jan 2, 2002 10:36 PM
not yours, Dog, but Jon's! Sorry.

McAndrus and I have the same problem, 140 bpm going up hills. So I cheat a little (in my 42-22!) by cranking it out really slowly and deliberately. Although the heart is going 140 bpm, my legs are still trying to recover between strokes, which keeps the heartrate from creeping up.
I guess I'm looking for absolutionMcAndrus
Jan 3, 2002 5:38 AM
I've been doing that as well, letting my cadence drop to keep my heart rate down.

I guess I'm just looking for absolution. I want somebody to say "it's okay" if I keep my bpm low (say <130) and it occasionally pops up when I have to get over some of the local Alpes. As long as I'm trying .......
I am saying that you should always feel like you are working...Bruno
Jan 2, 2002 5:20 PM
I think the biggest misunderstanding about base training is that it has to be easy. The HR has to be low but the milage has to be increased so that at the end of the ride you feel that you have worked out. If you regularly do 50 miles fast rides, do not expect much benefit if your base training rides are also 50 miles long. They should be much longer.

Another thing, Freil training plan may not work if you only follow half of his advise. I am sure his advice would be different if weight training would not be possible. I think that people that are born with natural good power-to-weight ratio (like climbers) do not need weight training but everybody else benefits from it.
I am saying that you should always feel like you are working...Woof the dog
Jan 2, 2002 10:37 PM
i have heard that weight training helps to develop other muscles that don't get worked out in cycling. It also helps to strengthen your muscles but that doesn't mean you will bulk up. That is why you are trying to do more reps with low weight 'cause if you do high weight that will recruit faster twitch muscles, I think, which is something you are trying to avoid right now. No?

Why avoid fast twitch muscle fiber development?Bruno
Jan 3, 2002 9:38 AM
weight training will mostly develop fast twitch muscle fibers. I believe that up to 40% of your muscles can be fast twitch. It's determined by genetics and there is nothing you can do about that. There are many situations when you will be using fast twitch muscle fibers while cycling. I guess you can avoid using them by spinning a lot. During a crit you will certainly use fast twitch fibers after corners and in sprints and having them well developed is beneficial. In a short step climb you will certainly use them. Now, bulking up is not so easy. Believing that a few months of mostly leg targeted weight training will make you heavy is like when a body builder says that aerobic exercise is bad for them because you eat your own muscles. Yes, you can bulk up too much and yes after a very hard workout you can start using your own muscles as fuel but both are extremes.
Why avoid fast twitch muscle fiber development?Woof the dog
Jan 3, 2002 6:51 PM
so you do agree that if you want to improve your fast twitch you need to do heavy weights (squats) like track riders, but it is something you are trying to avoid in the base period as you are trying to develop capillaries and fat metabolism, not something for a sprint-type situation.

Your message has me wondering: i say one thing you are talking about something different.


Woof, have you been doing your homework?Bruno S
Jan 3, 2002 8:39 PM
Ok, so now we turn to chapter 11 of Friel's book: Case Studies.

Look at all the annual training plans. It is always on the periods Base 1 and Base 2 that the heavy weight training is done. In these Base periods you are also supposed to do long low intensity rides. At this time of the year most people are in these base periods which, in my opinion, will not be benefitial if you are not doing some kind of strength training as well. Strength training can be done on the bike too.

If you don't have Friel's book, most other training books will tell you the samething. If you don't have any training book you should get one.
No, you are absolutely right. never claimed to knw much (nm)Woof the dog
Jan 4, 2002 12:41 AM
regarding weight trainingDuane Gran
Jan 3, 2002 4:55 AM
I am doing weight training now, and back in October I had some serious doubts. After much consulting with other racers and reading articles, I concluded to do the weight training because strength is my primary limitation. I'm already realizing some benefits and am feeling more comfortable in the bigger gears. I think weight training is most beneficial to weak spinners (like myself) or hulking sprinters.
What kind of weight program are you on? (nm)Len J
Jan 3, 2002 4:57 AM
Think about it, what do you have to lose?MB1
Jan 2, 2002 5:06 PM
A plan is only a starting point. Seems to me it has already increased your desire to go hard and fast. Just think how motivated you will be a month or 2 from now.

If after a year without results you will at least know what doesn't work for you. The plan sounds good though. I'll bet you will be one happy camper (or biker) in August.
To All You "Nervous-Base-Nellies" :)-Jon
Jan 3, 2002 9:10 AM
So relax already! Follow a plan for a year. That's only one year out of your life,
for cryin' out loud! If the periodized plan works, great. You've learned something
and gained a benefit. If it doesn't, great. You've learned something. As far as your
heart rate goes, popping it above zone once in awhile on a hill is not the end of the
world. The idea is not to go out and and do "balls-to-the-walls" rides every day
with the guilt-ridden assumption that you're not working hard enough. Remember,
by July the interval training and weekly races will feel plenty hard. So relax and
enjoy for now!
I am sufficiently chastised! ;)Len J
Jan 3, 2002 9:17 AM
Good call, sometimes I just need some reassurance. Sometimes I know its the right thing to do, & sometimes I'm not so sure (usually within an hour).

Thanks all for the reassurance.

Okay, Len...Jon
Jan 3, 2002 9:57 AM
For penance, beat yourself with your D/A chain, then put it on the bike and
go for a ride. If the whipping feels good, then you know you're really in trouble! :-)
Jan 3, 2002 12:01 PM
jon.relaxing and re-reading catch 22 this morning-- this line and your post seem to fit:
"clevinger had a mind, and lieutenant scheisskoph had noticed that people with minds tended to get pretty smart at times" *S*

isn't training really about visualizing and organizing one's ability to accomplish certain goals? aren't mistakes just personal challenges that both teach us something and are always part of the journey? for me training is also about seeking out confidence and integrating it into my life-- whether i think i can or if i think i can't i'm right-- of my college coaches would always say that the only free lunch is found in mousetraps-- she would always be there to remind me that training is about progress and when i thought i wasn't she would guide my diligent free spirit away from the shadows of doubt to the substance of success.
isn't is nice to train and progress together with others like those here on this board!!

life is working like you don't need money, loving like you've never been hurt, and dancing like no ones watching---
"Lead me away from the shadow of doubt.........Len J
Jan 3, 2002 12:20 PM
to the substance of sucess."

I like that, I think I'll steal it :)!


P.s. I'll footnote it "Unpublished paper, harlett."
Nice line.Jon
Jan 3, 2002 1:14 PM
"Whether I think I can or I think I can"t, I'm right." I like that!
no need to stealharlett
Jan 3, 2002 6:41 PM
I willingly give.....besides as voltaire said:

"originality is mostly judicious plagiarism"...............*S*
Thanks. nmLen J
Jan 4, 2002 7:46 AM