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Intervals. . .(5 posts)

Intervals. . .Corey VR6
Sep 5, 2002 3:29 PM
So I started doing intervals about three weeks ago. I do them one day a week in the middle of a 2 hour ride. I go as hard as I can for 3 minutes, then I rest for three minutes. Ive been doing three sets of these. I have been riding for years, but have never really done them before. I have a few questions about this:

1. I get lots of phlegm while Im doing this, is that normal?

2. Is it better to keep my heart rate around 88-90% of max or just push as hard as I can?

3. Why am I doing this to myself? What is the argument for these crazy things?

Thanks and thanks for all the stuff I've learned from this site over the past year!
re: Intervals. . .DougSloan
Sep 5, 2002 3:44 PM
1. I get lots of phlegm while Im doing this, is that normal?

Yes; drink plenty of water and farmer blow often.

2. Is it better to keep my heart rate around 88-90% of max or just push as hard as I can?

Depends on what you want out of it. "As hard as you can" could mean several things, as hard for 3 minutes, or sprinting until you slow the whole way. I'd pick a HR goal and shoot to hit that about 30 seconds into the interval and maintain it.

3. Why am I doing this to myself?

To get faster.

What is the argument for (against) these crazy things?

(for) Probably gives you more improvement than anything else you can do. Could mix in hill repeats or fast group rides with lots of jumps to acheive the same thing, but maybe more enjoyably.

(against) You start asking questions like #3. Burnout. Also, risk of injury and likely drop on weekly mileage. You can't have everything.

re: Intervals. . .theBreeze
Sep 5, 2002 4:01 PM
OK. The what and the why. Intervals have different definitions depending on who you talk to. To paraphrase Arnie Baker in "Smart Cycling"; cyclists and cycling coaches often use the word interval to describe specific training at intensities below those found in sprints and above a 10 mile time trial. Exercise physiologists use interval to denote any workout involving exercise for timed periods of varying intensity. Dr. Baker uses intervals to describe workouts below sprint intensity.

The purpose of interval traning is to improve acceleration, high-speed endurance and the ability to respond to changes in pace. They are necessary for race training, because these are exactly the skills needed for racing. They also help anaerobic power and capacity. Sometimes they are called lactate threshold training. If you are not racing, you don't have to do them; but if you do you may find yourself keeping up with the group ride better and your paceline riding improving.

Whether you give a 100% effort or 90% effort depends on interval duration. A 100% effort generally applies to work intervals of 30 seconds or less with a recovery interval of 2-3 times the work interval. (15 sec @ 100%, 30-45 second recovery) These are what most would call "sprints." A typical sprint workout would include maybe 15-20 of these.

A person could not maintain a true 100% effort for 2-3 minutes. Longer work intervals should be done at the 88-90% of max, with 1-2 times recovery. An example would be 2 min at 90% with a 5 min recovery, done 4-10 times in a workout.

Then there are hill intervals. Find a half mile to 1 mile hill. Ride up it at the highest pace you can sustain. Coast down and make your recovery at least equal to the time it took to climb. (Rinse and repeat as the bottle says.) Try to make your time for each climb equal.

It is recommended to limit interval training to twice a week.
Yes, phlegm is normal. Gives you a chance to work on your spitting and snot rockets!
Re: Intervals...biknben
Sep 5, 2002 5:19 PM
I got much more strutched this year with my training. I used to be a "Go hard or go home" type rider. This year I made some changes which included doing intervals.

1. I suspect phlegm is normal. My mouth actually gets dry and tacky. Take a drink before the interval and as soon as you can afterwards.

2. Don't limit yourself to the same interval over and over. Consider changing the workout each week or as you get bored. If you're really struggling to justify the hard workout it may be time to try a different one.

3. There's no better way to get faster than by doing hard workouts. Convince your body to go beyond what it is used to and you'll see increased fitness.

Earlier this year when I was digging around to find examples of workouts I found had a lot to offer. I'm now reading Joe Friel's book and it's all beginning to make sense.
re: Intervals. . .McAndrus
Sep 6, 2002 4:36 AM
1 - Don't know about phlegm as it doesn't happen to me.
2 - There are several kinds of intervals (read Cyclist's Training Bible or other references). I'm fond of speed-endurance intervals and hill intervals. When doing the SE types, I go for six minutes with 90% of max hr at the end of the interval, not for the duration of the interval. Then I recover for about six minutes and then go again. I do five intervals in a workout. Hill intervals are similar except that, of course, they're on hills. If you really want to punish yourself try hill sprints intervals. Start an interval on a long climb then get out of the saddle and sprint the last 10% of the climb to the top. Do that five times and you'll know what pain is.
3 - You do this to build power, which you need in either racing or fast group riding.

Two other specific exercises I use are downhill sprints for leg speed and jumps for sprinting power. Downhill sprints are exactly what they sound like and work very well for developing a fast acceleration. Jumps are starting from a low speed in a high gear then standing and coming up to full spin as quickly as possible (say 10 seconds).