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Any diff. between base mileage and junk mile?(30 posts)

Any diff. between base mileage and junk mile?chriscpa
Jan 28, 2003 6:04 PM
I always hear the need to get some base mileage during Winter before doing some real training in Spring. I wonder if there is any diff between base milage and JUNK mile.

Now I am biking around 70% of max heart rate for 20 mile each day. I am planning to do this until I get to 1000 mile mark. Is this a good idea?
I've never heard the term "junk mile", what is it ? nmScot_Gore
Jan 28, 2003 7:46 PM
I've never heard the term "junk mile", what is it ? nmpa rider
Jan 29, 2003 4:16 AM
It's a term that riders use when they are just putting in miles. Example; headwind so strong your average s@cks.

Some riders live by how far they went at what average. I have a few friends who call a fifty mile ride a "junk miles" because there average was in 14's for the day.

I call riding around town to do an errand or test riding a bike "junk miles". My meaning is that the miles aren't fast enough to be a training caliber.

I count all miles because your riding a bike and the total is the amount you rode for the year no matter what type of ride.

I've never heard the term "junk mile", what is it ? nmhrv
Jan 29, 2003 10:27 AM
I used to detest the phrase 'junk miles'. I mean, it's all good, right? And any time on the bike beats time in the office, under fluorescent lighting, staring at cyberspace, right?

Still don't use the term 'junk' but if any of my miles can be judged of lesser quality then it would have to be going riding when I'm beat dead tired, and my body rebels with each pedal stroke. This year I'm starting to gauge the quality of my rest periods instead of just riding and it's paying off, big time.

Last year I did high intensity all winter and even got to a point where I was beating cat 3 guys on group rides. At least until they were done with base training. Talk about turning the screws, like LFR says below. They got so much faster than me, so quick, it was scary. They knew the secret of base training, and I didn't. Now I do.

One man's junk ride is another man's epic.

maybe think of the term "junk miles" this way...lonefrontranger
Jan 29, 2003 10:50 AM
I confess, I'm not a huge fan of the term myself. I also hate the term "overtrained", and prefer using "overtired" as I feel it's more appropriate for most athletes.

Some of my most epic and memorable rides fall into the category of junk miles; rides where I got lost, hurt, bonked, or just sucked into a big writhing mass of testosterone (mmmmm, testosterone!).

Instead, think of junk miles as the training equivalent of a bowl of ice cream or a warm gooey Krispy Kreme. A little bit every so often certainly won't harm you if you're conscientious about your program otherwise, and it makes your life richer for the experience. Just don't base your entire diet on junk and you're fine.

The key to training is psychologically it has to remain fun and motivating, else why do it.
re: Any diff. between base mileage and junk mile?S-U-B
Jan 28, 2003 8:16 PM
It's best to train based on your lactate threshold than your max heart rate. To figure out your lactate threshold you need to do a 3 mile TT on a flat road and go 110 percent. take your average heart rate and divide by 1.04. Then put heart rate limit at 95 percent of your threshold. there are other ways to find your threshold by doing longer TT like 10 or 40k but 3 miles is plenty and will get you close enough. Junk Miles from what I understand are the miles where your riding to hard to fully recover for your next ride and causes fatigue, but not hard enough to actually make improvements. Your better off going long and slow, or short and All out(intervals) for the most part. That in between area is considered junk miles.

Jan 28, 2003 8:40 PM
Of course the obvious question here is, what specifically are you training for?

Simply put, base mileage is mileage with a purpose, junk mileage is not. Junk miles are usually more fun and motivating (i.e. that Saturday hammerfest ride with the shop guys), but if you are training for something specific, you might want to add specificity to your training (yeah, brilliant clarity there, Jordan...). To wit:

As defined by the Joe Friel method, base mileage is generally comprised of primarily Zone 1-2 efforts. During base period, your training volume (mileage) is also very high. My current volume is something like 12-14 hours per week on the bike plus 4-5 hours in the gym. I happen to have no social life and no kids, don't live where it's been 10 degrees and snowing for the past 2 months, and I have a boss who lets me take 1.5 - 2 hour lunch rides during weekdays (assuming I come in at 7 and stay until 6), for all of which I am eternally grateful.

For most, base mileage indicates staying at or below 65% of max HR. During my base period (currently now), I kick in a few very short form sprints or a hill effort or two, but most of the time I spend noodling around at what other riders dismiss as scary slow. My average speed on any given 4.5 - 5 hour Saturday / Sunday LSD ride never goes above 15mph. Riding this slow is HARD, lemme tell you. It makes your butt ache and can be incredibly boring if you let it, but I have discovered it makes for fun training partners; read on:

The odd part about riding winter base miles for me is that all the local amateur racers (the Cat 3/4/5 guys) I see in area group rides can't stand this pace, hence I tend to avoid their rides at this time of year as they take me out of zone. However (and this is the interesting part) the Cat I and pro guys I know who generally train solo will gladly ride with me at this pace (or even slower) all day long during their base periods. Makes one wonder, it does. They go a heckuvalot faster than I do once they start turning the screws, so IMO riding this slow isn't hurting them a bit.

So what does all this snail's-pace coffee klatch accomplish? Aerobic endurance to burn, baby, along with a huge base upon which to build a subsequently stratospheric peak later in the season. At 70% of MHR you are kicking over into Zone 3, otherwise known as "the dead zone". Your average fast recreational rider or fast-rec-rider-turned-racer just LOVES to hang out here because it is just hard enough that one feels like one is accomplishing something, without actually being uncomfortable. If you race and group ride, you will typically spend a lot of time in the pack in Zone 3. However, as a general rule you should avoid Z3 in specific training, simply because doing a lot of it merely leaves you in a perpetual state of half-baked. The reasons for this are that it is basically in the aerobic/anaerobic crossover zone, thus it's not training either system well, plus it's not near hard enough to train your top-end, and then again, it's not easy enough to allow adequate recovery.

The very worst thing (I've been a coach, BTW) I see many cyclists do is use Z3 as their "recovery" zone between intervals. This does double damage. It means they are a) not totally recovering, and consequently not training their systems to efficiently and fully recover between reps/sets, and b) are then unable to make a full-on effort during the active phase of the interval, meaning they are training their systems to a 75-80% effort, not a 100% effort. This is a very common habit and a surefire path to training plateau, mediocrity and the "narrow power band" syndrome I've heard so many cyclists claim as their limiter.

I tend to gauge my training on time and effort, not mileage. Hills, wind and cold are a fact of life in the Front Range in January, so a 4.5 hour
I nominate this reply for...empacher6seat
Jan 28, 2003 10:16 PM
"most informative and newbie friendly post of the year" award, if there is such thing. Despite this topic being answered a few times on this board, it's great to see someone experienced still break it down into understandable terms and try to help out those who are just getting into the swing of cycling.

Great reply, LFR, I was wondering about this question myself. It's nice to know I'm not the only one going dead slow in the off season, despite the fact that I probably couldn't go much faster if I tried :).
I'll 2nd that.jesse1
Jan 29, 2003 3:05 AM
LFR's post has reinforced what I've been hearing/reading, but goes beyond that to bring it all to a personal level.
Not too technical and with some good examples thrown in. Thanks!
Yeah, I'll 3rd that...jtferraro
Jan 29, 2003 7:15 AM
It is so great that people on this board are willing to write a book long response! Thanks, LFR!

Did you expect anything less? Also, ? for LFRhrv
Jan 29, 2003 8:07 AM
She gets my vote for most informative,helpful poster in this, racing, 'cross, etc. forums. Pony up and get her some RBR shwag?

Now, about zone 3 : For me , I need to ride in zone 3 for awhile after my zone 1 and 2 stuff to prepare my body for the higher intensity 4,5 stuff later. I might be up to 90 minutes in zone3 at the end of my training block before switching to higher zones. In other words, I'm most happy if I can gradually build to the hard stuff. Good or bad idea? This is only my second year of training for road racing so I'm open to suggestions!

answers (sort of)lonefrontranger
Jan 29, 2003 9:15 AM
Many folks need to add the median stuff to their build phase to prep for the real high intensity stuff, so if it's necessary and working well for you, do it. This is why I keep one group ride per week in my agenda during race season, unless I'm starting to get that overcooked feeling. As most coaches would tell you, just listen to your body. Even at the intensity I'm doing now, during my "hard week" last week, I started experiencing that "wake-up-like-a-light-switch" deal at 2AM, then not being able to get back to sleep. This is a sure sign for me that I'm falling over the edge into becoming overtired. I bagged my ride the next day in each case, and now I'm fine. The program is going quite well so far and I've got energy to burn on the bike.

The reason so many coaches caution about riding Z3 is not that you should NEVER EVER ride in it, but because if left alone, most cyclists would never train anywhere else. As I mentioned above, when you are sitting in the field in a group ride or race, you are most likely in Z3 anyway.
that's it, i'm moving to boulder. nmJS Haiku Shop
Jan 29, 2003 5:48 AM
OK, now I'm confused...joekm
Jan 29, 2003 5:56 AM
I'm one of those people that spend a lot of time in zone III. In fact, I've programmed my HR monitor to let me know when I'm in that zone. The reason it that is what the reference that came with my monitor referred to as the "aerobic training zone". Now you are saying that I need to go slower than that.

OK, if that's what I have to do to build endurance then so be it. I'll just need to get a trainer because I'll use too much effort fighting my bike on the rollers at that slow of a speed (and park it in front of my TV I guess since roller time is boring enough...).

I'm also one of those people with two small children and limited time. It's also been too cold to ride here so I've been limited to rollers lately. My training has focused on developing my spin and I've set sort of a "safety valve" at 180 bpm (I'm 38). When I cross 180 bpm, I immediately slow to a loping pace and finish out the mile. Then I get off the bike and wait for my HR to fall below 120 bpm (typically takes about 6 minutes if I've gone at least five miles before shut down although last time it only took 30 seconds).

My goals are to improve my spin and get better at climbing. I don't want to comprimise cardio fitness in the process and I'm limited to rollers for the time being (although I do have access to a treadmill). Do you have any suggestions or could you point me to a good reference?

LFR: Clarification pleaseOldEdScott
Jan 29, 2003 6:21 AM
It's been awhile since I read Friel and the others, but I've been under the impression that 80-85 percent MHR was the dead zone that (some say) you want to avoid. You said 70 percent. Am I misremembering, or has the thinking on this changed, or did you accidentally type the wrong number? I have a hard time seeing why 70 percent would be no-man's-land; 80 percent, I can see the problem.
Jan 29, 2003 9:34 AM
I was quoting those numbers straight from the Friel zone matrix which I had open next to me, as I wanted to be certain. I'm your typical blonde: Teflon brains, nothing sticks to 'em.

The margin between 80-85% is Z4, and 85% is considered 5a or your LT (where you would do cruise / TT intervals).

The problem with using HR for these calculations is that it's so easily influenced by outside factors. On any given day it can vary 5-10 beats, and if you're not adequately hydrated, cardiac drift affects you more the deeper you get into a workout (particularly on the stationary trainer). This is why so many serious hardcore guys are switching to power measurement.

A good rule of thumb is to use your HR as a guideline, but realize it won't be an absolute. This takes practice and experience, but a little experimentation will teach you how to deal with how to meter your efforts on both "high heartrate" days and "low heartrate" days.
Lord a mercy ...OldEdScott
Jan 29, 2003 11:05 AM
I've been doing it wrong for years. So THAT's why I'm such a sh!tty cyclist!
there is no wronglonefrontranger
Jan 29, 2003 12:05 PM
I also agree with your post below in that there are no true "junk" miles. See my response to that above.

Not all of us want or need to train as seriously or are as goal-oriented as all that. Hell, I could race into fitness relatively easily in the Midwest and was an appallingly sloppy trainer as a result. I think almost all my mileage from 1992 through 2000 would probably qualify as "junk" in most folks' book. I got by, and with some notable exceptions, had quite a bit of fun racing.

When I moved to the Front Range, I went from being a decent Open Women's cat racer to having my ass handed to me in Women's 4. That wasn't fun at all, it was merely humiliating. So I grit my teeth and decided that I had to either get my #### together and train effectively, or else racing wasn't going to be a part of my life anymore. I got a lot more focused and started actually doing all the stuff I'd been preaching about to my clients about for so long.

Somewhere along the way, I discovered a pretty decent stage racer hidden away under all those layers of Ben n' Jerry's, so I decided to see how far I could take it before I got too old and worn out :)
clarificationJon Billheimer
Jan 29, 2003 12:25 PM
Friel sets up his zones as a % of Lactate Threshold, not maximum heart rate. Z3 is about 10 bpm or so below LT. Whether that's 80%, 85% or whatever depends on what your lactate threshold heart rate is as a percentage of max hr. Carmichael estimates Zone 3 as 80 to 83% of max heart rate, but that assumes that LT is around 88 to 90% max hr.

According to Karvonen's heart rate reserve formula, 65 to 70% max hr is the minimum intensity required to produce a training effect, and in most coach's zones would be the top of Z1 or the bottom of Z2.
This is all well and good but it takes too much timeColnagoFE
Jan 29, 2003 7:00 AM
I just don't have time for lots of LSD training or 5 hour rides even most weekends. Heck, I can't even ride every day most of the time. Due to the limited training time, I tend to do more higher intensity stuff when I can and in the meantime lift weights (upper body). My boss DOESN'T give me 2 hours for lunch so I'm lucky to get 1/2 hour or a quick weight workout in on the stationary bike before I have to shower and get back to work. I don't really race much, but like to do the occasional race and maybe a week long tour or so each year so it's important to stay in shape enough to DO 6-7 hour rides on occasion, but it's not my regular fare. I wish I had the time to do it right, but at this point I just don't.
What is LSD training?jtferraro
Jan 29, 2003 7:24 AM
Length, Speed, Distance? Just a guess.


long slow distance (nm)ColnagoFE
Jan 29, 2003 7:26 AM
Sort of-actually "Long Steady Distance"MB1
Jan 29, 2003 7:39 AM
LFR ain't slow right now, she is steady. Likely smart too....
at 15mph she isn't exactly fast either! ;)ColnagoFE
Jan 29, 2003 9:07 AM
kiddin ya...thanks for the correction....
That's cool, you're not training for Nats and a Cat II upgradelonefrontranger
Jan 29, 2003 9:19 AM
I am.

Remember, specificity. If you're only going to be racing lightly, and your races aren't ~3 hours in length (like Open Women / Women 1/2 road races tend to be), then you don't need the volume I'm doing. If your maximum race length is a 45 minute crit, and you plan to do little to no road racing, then you will do fine with 90 minute endurance aerobic sessions.
yup...i'm jealous thoughColnagoFE
Jan 29, 2003 9:47 AM
right now i have so much going on other than cycling i can't seem to fit it all in like i used to. of course if i was going to race on a regular basis i'd have to adjust my training regimen considerably, but i guess my point is that 5+ hour rides are hardly neccesary for most folk who just dabble--even if they occasionally do centuries and the like.
by the way...your advice here has been cross postedColnagoFE
Jan 29, 2003 9:51 AM
someone going by the name "dylan" posted your advice on the board...uncredited...though it does say it came from this board and not from dylan himself. will be interesting to see what the folk there say.
pyramid's and building blockscroll-duraace
Jan 28, 2003 8:50 PM
I think what your looking for is a small amount of help.. I'm not sure if i'm really qualified to do so, but I'll try my darnedest ! haha.... I assume you have already laid down goals that you want to reach ? First off the term base miles are usually refered to preseason miles free from testosterone -( JUNK ? )with the aim of slowly building a certain level of fitness, the intesity that you are doing sounds about right, its okay to go a bit easier if you like. After doing this type of work-out for a couple of months in your case: (20 miles a day = 90 miles per week = 2 1/2 months till you get to 1000 miles) your body should be about ready to start throwing various work-outs at it....tempo, group rides, intervals , etc. and this is when you fitness level really starts to spike and your kickin arse on your club rides.

have fun, sounds like your on the right track.

i would recommend reading a few books devoted to cycling training.
re: Any diff. between base mileage and junk mile?JS Haiku Shop
Jan 29, 2003 5:51 AM
the biggest obstacle for me in scheduling and completing "long" rides is saddle time.

all miles = more saddle time

more saddle time = well adapted sitter

well adjusted sitter = there are no "junk" miles

when my goals change from "long" rides to "fast and long" rides, my algebra might change, too.
No junk milesOldEdScott
Jan 29, 2003 6:23 AM
Every raindrop contributes something to the pool of fitness, Grasshopper.