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I think I'm starting to understand junk miles . . .(29 posts)

I think I'm starting to understand junk miles . . .bill
Feb 5, 2003 1:46 PM
This issue gets rehashed, messed up, and realigned so frequently on this board that I thought that I kind of understood it, but only kind of. I think I'm finally getting it, with many and great thanks to the magnificent LFR, may the strawberry on her bum light the way for millions of grateful fans.
I kind of got how it doesn't help your top end not to ride at your toppest end for brief periods, overstressing being the path to adaptation. But this thing about "the dead zone;" I just wasn't really buying it.
This season, I'm trying to train with a little more discipline, so, while I can't get outdoors too much, I've been doing my rollers in the basement three of four times/week, with a group ride on Sundays.
Well, my Sunday ride got kind of intense this week, and I took Monday off. I then rode the rollers on Tuesday pretty much in the dead zone, which, I reasoned, probably wouldn't be bad at this time of year, since I was doing so little high intensity and I only have time for so much volume. I then rode the rollers this a.m. trying to do a little cadence work.
Well, I'm wiped.
So, just as LFR (and others, but for some reason it's so easy to take from her) has been saying, the dead zone is not harmful as such, and for people to talk about it as if it is harmful is misleading and confusing. It's not really harmful, it just doesn't get you much -- if you continue to do it, you will be able to do nothing else, because you're too wiped to work harder or longer; you may get a little faster in the dead zone of effort, eventually, but you won't get a LOT faster, and you won't have the energy to really overstress for real adaptation or gain real endurance, because you won't be able to manage the saddle time for but so long in said dead zone.
Now, if you're solely a time trialer or even a moderate century rider, ride in the dead zone forever. You'll get good at riding in the dead zone. You just will never really get great at hills or sprints or accelerations.
Do I have that right?
Whoa there, roller boy!hrv
Feb 5, 2003 2:23 PM
(warning: following opinion expressed by someone with less than 2 years of riding/racing; like LFR said, you get what you pay for!)

Yeah zone 3 is hard, heck, upper zone 2 for long periods is hard. But not hard enough? My belief is it depends. Someone like me in their first few years of riding can't just go from zone 1 and 2 (aerobic rides) straight to zone 4/5 (LT, anaerobic) stuff without the zone 3 (tempo) stuff in between. Not me at least. True, if that's the hardest you ride then you'll not get much faster.

So, ride lots and ride fast/hard, and rest. You'll only get as fast as you ride. But for those 'still green' like me, time spent focusing on tempo is a necessary bridge to the higher intensity stuff (I'm sure I read that on this board last year).

Last year I skipped the tempo sessions (except, of course, most group rides end up being mostly tempo rides) and went straight to high-intensity. Big mistake, and to be honest, don't know if I ever fully
recovered. This year I'm gradually building to the hard stuff
and I can tell a world of difference. Yes, my fitness improved over a year but now I almost never am tired from riding/training.

As I understand this stuff, your difficulty with intensitybill
Feb 5, 2003 3:00 PM
wasn't so much that you hadn't spent enough time on tempo riding but because you (a) spent too little time on your aerobic system and (b) spent too much time on anaerobic. If you spend lots of long hours on aerobic, then that's what you'll be able to do -- lots of aerobic hours. If you mix in high intensity, then you'll get stronger at way-stressed aerobic and anaerobic. You need both, cycling is basically an aerobic sport. The tweener situation, a little bit aerobic and a little bit anaerobic, isn't allowing you enough saddle time at aerobic, because you're whupped, and isn't allowing you enough high intensity, which will make you stronger and faster than mere aerobic effort, because you're whupped. It also isn't recovery, because you're whupping yourself. So, you stay in a constant state of whupped.
If your schedule is such that all you're getting enough rest to go long one session and really, really, hard the next, I don't think that the session you spend at tempo is harmful or anything, it's just not a session where you are going long or hard. It just makes you feel whupped, and lengthens the time until when is the next time you could go long or hard.
No question about it.hrv
Feb 5, 2003 3:30 PM
I had way too little base when I started hammering. Didn't need to have an ex. physiology PhD to predict what was going to happen to me.

This year I'm using the Friel plan, well, because it's a plan and makes sense: build up your intensity. The prescribed workouts for where I'm at now are done in zone 3.

Feb 5, 2003 3:31 PM
No question about it.
Sorry for the double post ; disregard (nm)hrv
Feb 5, 2003 3:32 PM
Physiology behind itPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Feb 5, 2003 3:08 PM
Your right. Once you get into the sub-anerobic/anerobic system it doesn't do very much. Even if your a time trialer or a century rider it won't do much. The whole idea of LSD is to create an adaptation in your body. The major adaptation is capilirization in your legs. Basically all the big word means is over time blood vessels will slowly grow throught your muscles. This in turn brings more oxygen in the muscle so when you do intensity the lactic acid is broken down into non-painful stuff faster which creates a huge base to build upon.

This said you can't rely solely on LSD but the bigger the base the better a foundation you have to build everything else up and you can't build the very top end if you don't have the middle end.

So basically if you only do LFR and think its making you faster you probably haven't been educated enough to know the concepts behind it. Although its probly good for stress relief.

I've heard this, but this is kind of where I lose the theory --bill
Feb 5, 2003 3:33 PM
if I'm breathing hard, and I am breathing hard in the dead zone, how is it that I'm not training my aerobic system? This is where the rationale loses me.
bill, I think this "dead zone" business is somewhat sillyDougSloan
Feb 5, 2003 3:42 PM
If you are a dedicated racer, being coached to the nth degree, and every single workout counts, then the "dead zone" riding might keep you from maximizing your results. You are not resting or training hard, which are the two things you usually should be doing.

For everyone else, the "dead zone" can be darn good training. Let's say you can do a century in 5 hours with perfect training, but 5 1/2 hours sort of having fun, hacking around, and riding "dead zone" alot. Who cares? How many of us here are on or even attempting to be on that controlled of training plans?

Anyway, "dead zone" riding is far better than just plugging along below dead zone, assuming you aren't needing to recover from some killer interval workout.

Then again, I could be wrong.

Feb 5, 2003 3:53 PM
For the fast recreational rider, it seems to me the 'dead zone' is a terrific place to train, since that's where we'll be on most group rides and centuries.

Like 'junk miles,' the dead zone concept may apply to elite riders but has no particular meaning for 99 percent of us.
This is where your wrongPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Feb 5, 2003 4:00 PM
>For the fast recreational rider, it seems to me the 'dead >zone' is a terrific place to train, since that's where >we'll be on most group rides and centuries.
From my knowledge and understanding this is completely wrong. Its like saying you aren't allowed to do any cross training or weights since all you do is want to ride in a group fast. And although you may eventually see gains riding in that group the fastest way is to do some top and low end stuff. So build a base through some LSD and do intervals where you hit max heart rate.

>Like 'junk miles,' the dead zone concept may apply to >elite riders but has no particular meaning for 99 percent >of us.
It applies to everyone. The thing is how fast you want to see gains or if you want to see gains at all.

This is where your wrong <repost that is bigger>PODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Feb 5, 2003 4:01 PM
-For the fast recreational rider, it seems to me the 'dead
-zone' is a terrific place to train, since that's where
-we'll be on most group rides and centuries.
From my knowledge and understanding this is completely wrong. Its like saying you aren't allowed to do any cross training or weights since all you do is want to ride in a group fast. And although you may eventually see gains riding in that group the fastest way is to do some top and low end stuff. So build a base through some LSD and do intervals where you hit max heart rate.

-Like 'junk miles,' the dead zone concept may apply to
-elite riders but has no particular meaning for 99 percent
-of us.
It applies to everyone. The thing is how fast you want to see gains or if you want to see gains at all.

I don't think he's wrongDougSloan
Feb 5, 2003 4:17 PM
Here's the point of even talking about dead zone.

Say yesterday I did 10x5 minute intervals above LT and 20 minutes of temp. Today, I should likely need to stay at 60% and do a recovery ride. Riding in the dead zone would inhibit recovery.

On the other hand, say I did 2 hours at 10 beats below threshold yesterday. I don't need to rest today, but then since I'm not a racer, I'm not going to do hard intervals, either. Since I'm not going to do intervals, dead zone riding is probably the best thing I could be doing today.

This is an abbreviated description, but I don't think it's wrong for the types of riders we are talking about.

BTW, for ultra marathon racing, most of my time was spent in the so-called dead zone, right in between fully aerobic and partially anaerobic. That's my race pace for 500 miles! You don't think I need to ever train there?

Feb 5, 2003 4:36 PM
You raise a good point for the riders we're talking about. But for the record 10 beats below LT is still fairly intense. My coach told me to take anything up to almost 20 beats below LT out of my program. So there will be cumulative fatigue from it but thats on top of 3-4 weight workouts... cross training... all of that stuff.

And ultra marathon racing of course you have to train in the dead zone but you also have to do a lot of LSD and high end stuff. Its finding the right balance to make a perfectly shaped pyramid and the more research is done the better the ways are of doing it.

Feb 5, 2003 4:42 PM
Different disciplines and different individuals can require vastly different training programs. If you, a young sprinter, and I, a middle-aged ultra/road racer, were training the same, one of us is probably very wrong.

Point been madePODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Feb 5, 2003 5:02 PM
Basically the point I think can come out of this is each individual needs to train differently. As a middle aged ultra/road racer you probably have a phenomenal base. As a sprinter I have no base whatsover naturally and I haven't had very much time to develop it.

But with each person to get maximum gains you can't just train in one zone. You have to figure out what are your strengths and weaknesses and shape a pyramid out of that.

Well, exactly.OldEdScott
Feb 6, 2003 5:21 AM
That's my point. Never suggested anyone train exclusively in the so-called dead zone. Obviously, everyone needs LSD base, and everyone would benefit from top-end stuff. But it's nutty, it seems to me, to talk of avoiding a so-called dead zone where terrible things happen to your training when that's exactly the zone we'll be spending a lot of time in on group rides and long rides.

I'm also middle aged, by the way. Maybe my perspective would be different if I were a young pup. (Ooops, sorry Woof, didn't mean to make a dog reference you'd take as condesecnding!)
If you actually read my posts...lonefrontranger
Feb 6, 2003 9:11 AM
You would see I don't actually say DON'T EVER ride Z3. A lot of my posts aren't even targeted towards recreational / century riders because they're not the ones asking these questions. The rec riders (and Doug) just tend to jump onto the discussion and say "that doesn't work for me, I like to get my money's worth on the days I ride". Fine, go do that all you want if that's what you enjoy. These questions apperently aren't getting posted to Racing because that board tends to be a bit dead this time of year; so kindly forgive us for using the General board to talk training :-)

The main issue with Z3 or the "dead zone" is that if you are trying to improve your performance by focused training, then too much time in this zone will undermine that, and most competitive cyclists, when left alone, naturally tend to hang out there a lot because it feels hard enough to be doing something, but not hard enough to really burn (cycling coaches even have a name for these people: "group ride junkies").

If what you do is ride centuries, group rides, and enjoy that, go for it. If you do a couple races a year to have fun, get exercise, finish with the field and enjoy that, that's fine too.

The original "dead zone" topic wasn't asked by a recreational rider. It came from bill when he hit plateau in his training and was looking for guidance in improving. This was some time ago, and the topic has come up ever since: bill "WHAT'S WITH THE TRICK CANDLE SYNDROME???" 7/2/01 2:17pm

We now return you to your regularly scheduled "What's the best bike I can buy for $1500" discussion...
I agreeDougSloan
Feb 6, 2003 9:22 AM
I didn't intend to dispute anything you said.

My point was more directed to those not racing, or who do ultra events. I didn't want people to get the idea the "dead zone" was absolutely prohibited, and that you get nothing out of it. While it may not be ideal under a planned, periodized training program, it is still riding that can make you faster.

We have a vast spectrum of riders here, and actually very few race.

Wasn't disputing you at all.OldEdScott
Feb 6, 2003 11:27 AM
I knew what you were talking about. I was actually responding to Nick. Sometimes these threads get tangled.
lol.nmWoof the dog
Feb 8, 2003 9:49 AM
Feb 6, 2003 3:39 AM
Yes, you are right thaz should have different training, but thez have to use the same trainig elements but in different proportion. Deadyone trainig is junk. And I know what I say - I'm quite new in cycling but I was a professional rowing coacher for a while (and quite succesful, BTW).
And general trainig principles are the same.

You may use top part of deadzone for "long" intervals (10-20min loads with 5-10 min breaks ). Bun no constant load in this zone! It would do you no harm, but you may spend your time and efforts in much more useful way.
One of my coaches told me just thatPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Feb 5, 2003 3:55 PM
I'm well coached and I have a fixed goal. Your right a lot of riders ride to ride and train to ride not race. So for these people it doesn't matter. But if you are racing and do want to make times then you do have to train smart.

My coach told me to stop riding in my sub-anaerobic system because all it was doing was tiring me out once I got into my important training that began the last couple months. Its good to be in it a bit to develop the lactic buffering (getting rid of lactic acid) but for me now I'm into the key part of my training in the weight room and the "dead zone" will affect that.

agree for most peopleColnagoFE
Feb 6, 2003 7:59 AM
most people don't even know what their true AT/LT or MHR really is--they just use Karvonen and/or 220-age and then get all religious about heart rate or AT training. If you're gonna be anal enough to train according to HR or AT levels then at least know what those are as close as possible before starting your program. You might not be riding in your dead zone after could just be dogging it and wasting your time riding too slow. MHR is genetically determined and if you keep in shape there is no reason you need to lose a full beat each year you are alive. I'm 38 and my MHR (determined through a submax test) is about 200. If I was using 220-age I'd be way off.
My idea behind itPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Feb 5, 2003 3:57 PM
From what I understand the capilirization just doesn't occur when large quantities of lactic acid are being produced. No matter what you do at least some will be produced but its so little that the body easilly flushes it out. Now when you get into the "dead zone" you begin producing lactic acid which for whatever reason decreases the capilirization that can occur. I'm not sure why though.

another explanation I've heard is that the capillaries explodebill
Feb 6, 2003 7:07 AM
under extreme loads. I don't believe, however, that either theory ever has been substantiated.
I'm middle-aged (44) trying to hang with guys half my age with no wife, kids, or, in some cases, much of a job. So I have to think about how I spend my time, and I don't have time for training that doesn't give me bang for buck. When I am riding only a couple of times in a week, I think that the dead zone probably gives me tremendous bang for the buck -- substituting a little bit of intensity for more time in the saddle. When I'm riding 4 or 5 times a week, as I'm trying to do now, even if a lot of it is in my basement, I can't afford dead zone time -- I'd be too tired to go hard or long every day, and my ligaments and stuff are in this constant state of sorta sore.
That's what I think this is about really -- being too tired to do focussed training when the real benefits come from focussed training. With focussed training, the highs are higher, the lows are longer and probably almost as beneficial, and you can live to train another day.
Capillarization and exercise intensityDale Brigham
Feb 6, 2003 7:38 AM
The "company line" that endurance sport coaches (me included) have preached for decades is that large volumes of lower-intensity exercise ("LSD" training) induces the greatest increases in capillary and mitochondrial density (i.e., amount of capillaries and mitioochondra per volume of muscle tissue) in working muscle.

Unfortunately, it looks like a beautiful hypothesis is about to get it's butt kicked by an ugly fact. In an article by exercise physiologists Hans Hoppeler and Michael Vogt at the University of Bern (J. of Experimental Biology 204: 3133-3139, 2001), the authors summarized their research and the research of other investigators on the effects of exercise intensity and altitude on capillary and mitochondrial density (among other muscle exercise indices). In brief, they found that higher exercise intensity (near anaerobic threshold, AT) elicits greater increases in capillary and mitochondrial density than does lower intensity (25% below AT) exercise, at both sea level and high altitude (12,600 ft.).

So, while I certainly recommend to the athletes I coach that Zone 2 (LSD) make up the great majority of their training on the bike, I can't honestly tell them that it causes the greatest increase in cappilaries and mitochondria in their muscles. On the other hand, I can tell them that training at Zone 2 intensity level 1) allows for large volumes of training to be performed without causing as much acute and chronic fatigue as exercise at higher intensity, 2) facilitates gradual muscular and central (cardiovascular) adaptations that makes higher intensity training more productive, and 3) aids the adaptation of the accessory muscles (back, arms, etc.) that stabilize and support the body on the bike.

I think the most succinct advice I've heard about training intensity came from Dr. Massimo Testa, team Mapei's former sports doc and Dr. Eric Heiden's boss at U. Cal. Davis' Sports Medicine clinic. Dr. Testa said (I'm paraphrasing), "Lactic acid is like medicine: a little is good, but too much is poison." I take that to mean most of the training should be well below AT, but a little bit should be near, at, or above AT.

Yeah! What I said! Better said by Dale, of course, along withbill
Feb 6, 2003 7:58 AM
facts rather than "I think I heard somewhere," but what do want for nothing?
Rubber biscuits?
Thanks, Dale. Nice to have someone along who actually knows something.
bill you are dead right, but hrv is dead right, too...lonefrontranger
Feb 6, 2003 8:39 AM
I know this gets confusing, but unfortunately training isn't a black-and-white world.

bill, you are correct in that your Tuesday tempo roller session fried you for doing a good cadence session. It's possible you just had a bad day on Wednesday; it happens, but I suspect Tuesday was too much. You are also correct in the analysis that the effort was a little too hard to recover adequately from for Wednesday's intensity. Practical application just taught you about the pitfalls of Z3 sessions. Use them sparingly. As hrv pointed out, they can be a tool, but not a means to an end. The main problem with Z3 is that it is so easy to hang out there that most of us if left alone would do nothing else, hence the quick path to mediocrity. The Cat III guys I coached who were frustrated field finishers were also career Z3 riders (group ride junkies). Once I broke that habit, they flourished, and one even won a hilly state road champs and upgraded - this was the one who swore he sucked at climbing.

hrv has discovered the key to success at training: you gotta do what's right for you. His body needs additional adaptation time above base. The key to doing this is proper REST, and he seems to be on track with that. It's also entirely possible that in successive years as a competitive racer, his "deep" cumulative base will build, and/or he will be able to put more aerobic base miles in to compensate, and he will find he needs Z3 adaptation less (as I've done).

Now, bill didn't do anything REALLY wrong, he perhaps didn't do things in the proper sequence. I'd have done the cadence work on Tuesday, followed by tempo if you need that (as hrv does). Here's a sample of what a training week could look like during this time of year; I've used this formula with several students and they were successful with it. Periodise by adding efforts, lengthening / shortening durations, etc. I have not noted gym stuff on this, as lifting is up to the individual and often starting to phase out this time of the year.

Monday: off If you had a hard Sunday, I strongly recommend a very short, very easy recovery ride of ~30 minutes, like take-the-kids-to-the-park easy or sit on the rollers and spin a very light gear. Do a leg massage afterwards; this will flush out all the crap that builds up after a hard day.
Tuesday: sprint or form drills ~ 1 hour
Wednesday: Zone 2 with LT x 5min or tempo ride ~ 1:30 - 2:00
Thursday: recovery ride at or below Z2 1 hour - 90 min This is the day you can ditch if you feel like it - also, if you enjoy doing other aerobic stuff this is when you'd do it (run, blade, row, etc.).
Friday: 45-60 minutes Z1-2 with a couple spinups
Saturday: Group ride / hill session ~2 hours with some hard efforts.
Sunday: Long slow distance; at least 2.5-3 hours

Saturday/Sunday are interchangeable, but general wisdom is to do your hardest intensity day first, followed by endurance day.