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Base miles.(38 posts)

Base miles.Kristin
Apr 21, 2003 7:36 AM
Okay, lets just ignore my post below--which is already following several rabbit trails--and talk about base miles for a while. Can you answer these questions as if you are advising (hypothetically) a person who is starting with little or no aerobic fitness.

1. Base miles are low heart rate rides, correct? (LSD, Zone 1/2)

2. What if you can't keep your HR low and don't know what the heck your zones are anyway? Do you just forget the word base, and ride until your heart rate is more consistent and slower?

3. When are are building a base aerobic capacity, how do you know when you've "arrived", so to speak?

4. How do you determine when its time to begin doing intervals, take the LT test and do higher zone workouts? (Lets pretend, for a moment, that intervals aren't just for racers.)

5. When typing a word in quotes such as "arrived," do you place the comma before the end quote or after?

one answermohair_chair
Apr 21, 2003 7:45 AM
Punctuation goes inside the quotes.
Except in England. nmOldEdScott
Apr 21, 2003 7:53 AM
What?!? Don't confuse the issue!Kristin
Apr 21, 2003 8:05 AM
Didn't this rule change sometime in the 80's? (And why is it, do you think, that we change the rules so frequently?) I learned it one way, then they changed it and I never quite got the grasp of it again. But now, as long as I don't travel to England, I have it sorted out. (Who is "they" anyway. Is there some secret society that writes all the rules for grammar?)
Blame it on the APmohair_chair
Apr 21, 2003 8:14 AM
AP being Associated Press. Years ago (several decades, really) they published a style guide so that all their articles would be consistent. It's fascinating stuff in a way. When to capitalize titles, where they go, punctuation in quotes, etc. Lots and lots of seemingly trivial stuff that doesn't seem so trivial if you write a lot. I did an Amazon search for the AP Stylebook and found "The Associated Press Guide to Punctuation" for $7.95. Pick one up.
Nope, it's always been "Neatly tucked in in America, hanging outOldEdScott
Apr 21, 2003 8:17 AM
messily in England." The opposite of what you'd expect.

'They' is 'we.' Grammar is actually a convention. Literate readers and writers agree to certain rules, and (mostly) follow them, for clarity's sake. Then some joker comes along and writes them down. But they existed in practice before they were ever codified in textbook.

Except in France.
Apr 21, 2003 7:52 AM
Basically, base miles are aerobic. If you can talk or breathe only through your nose, you are probably aerobic. If it hurts or you are huffing and puffing, you are not aerobic.

I think you end the base miles period based upon your timing for an event. Otherwise, 1,000 miles.

I don't do "base miles" any more. I ride long, slow rides, and long fast rides, etc., all the time. The only difference is that in certain times of the year, I'll focus more on speed than others, with a particular goal in mind. Probably not the Lance Armstrong success plan, but sort of works for me.

I'm puzzled about my HRKristin
Apr 21, 2003 8:19 AM
As you say, as long as I'm able to talk and not breathing heavily than I'm probably aerobic. At a HR of 155 I can sing the national anthem. After 160 is when I start to feel a pysical change and my breathing increases. At 170 I have difficultly speaking. But if I guesstimate that 155 is 70% of my LT then that would place my LT at 220 which can't be right. What am I misunderstanding here?
not sureDougSloan
Apr 21, 2003 8:28 AM
I don't think the calcs work backwards that way. LT is where you (at least "I") have difficulty breathing, but I can sustain it for an hour. "70% of LT" could mean vastly different things for different people. At 70% of LT for me when in good shape, I could probably sleep on the bike (I think I have).

Do you know your max?

Even in base period, my coach had me do a timetrial once a month to estimate LT. There are some published guidelines for this. Roughly, it's the average heartrate you can sustain for an hour, maybe less time if you are out of shape.

If you have difficulty speaking around 170, then that is probably close to your LT.

I'm puzzled about my HRMR_GRUMPY
Apr 21, 2003 8:34 AM
I think that you are mixing up LT and Max. My guess is that 170 is very close to your LT. I would also guess that your max HR is around 185-190. If you can still speak in sentences at 170, you must still be in Zone 4. At LT, I find that I can only speak in "cave man" sentences. Above LT, your into Zone 5B. When you hold that for a few minutes, you see a bright light and hear from your ancestors.
... 'see a bright light and hear from your ancestors.' LOL! nmOldEdScott
Apr 21, 2003 8:36 AM
Old school vs. New schoolMR_GRUMPY
Apr 21, 2003 8:02 AM
Old school had you ride at least 1000 miles in the small ring (42 X 17) in order to protect your knees. You would also wear wool knickers until the temperature got above 72.
In modern terms, your HR should stay under 130. If it goes above that,------slow down......
New school says that you should just ride hard enough, so that your legs are just a little sore the next day. If your knees hurt alot, back off.
You can do intervals from day one, as long as you don't hurt your knees. After warming up for 20 minutes, kick up you pace, so that your HR goes up to the mid 150's. Hold it for a minute or two and then back way off. If you didn't puke, ride another 10 minutes and do it again.
You've "arrived", when you can go hard for two minutes, rest for one minute, then repeat-repeat-repeat.
wow.... one thing at a timefunknuggets
Apr 21, 2003 8:02 AM
1. According to Friel, yes.
2. The question is, what is low? You can do a couple of things, you could try and test to see what your Max HR, or you could use one of several "thumbnail" equations which will get you in the ballpark. These are the easiest, but far from the most reliable. The standard is 220 minus your age. However, most decent cyclists can bump this up a bit. Read around, you will find various methods as to how to determine your Max HR. Once you have your Max, you will be able to set your "zones." (note the period inside the quotes).

3 and 4. Now, according to Friel, you need to set an hourly goal... so say you want to do 45 consecutive weeks, and have specific mileage goals... lets say 5000 miles. So, you divide 5000 by 45, to come up with 111.11 miles per week. Now, lets say you can average 15 miles per hour normal riding... so this is going to break down to about 7.41 hours per week. He has several phases, including Base 1,2 and 3. You divide spread out the base segments so it meets your goal. So, assume you do 3 weeks of each, for a total of 9 weeks, you would be right at 999.99 miles going into your Base R&R which is rest before you jump into Build Phase 1, where you start to see more interval work.

5. See previous post.
As far as base miles, the first thing you need to doOldEdScott
Apr 21, 2003 8:12 AM
is get a new LBS to work on your bike. Then we need to fit you. Base miles mean nothing without proper FIT. How tall are you? Tell us all about yourself and your bike. We can HELP. We're EXPERTS. We'll FIT you to a fare-the-well.


My advice would be, over the next three weeks or so, ride a couple of hundred miles in an easy gear comfortably, i.e. don't push it. Don't worry about tracking your heart rate. If you're totally de-trained, it's probably gonna pound pretty good anyway. Don't concern yourself with it.

But those 200 miles will do a world of good for you. The biggest, most noticeable improvement is always at the beginning. Consider those 200 miles 'early base.'

Then ease into HR monitoring over the next 300 miles or so. Again, don't obsess over it. Just be aware, and try to stay in the ballpark of 'aerobic' or 'easy.' Consider this 'middle base.'

Then, just for grins and to make sure your body is ready for real stress, do another 500 miles at a little more intensity, paying a little more attention to HR and 'zones' and whatnot, but still avoiding going anaerobic and still not obsessing. Just ride a little harder. During 'late base' you'll be tempted to jump to the next level RIGHT NOW, because you're still noticing quick improvement. But hold off. Get a thousand miles in.

A thousand miles is a good base. You should be able to do something harder and more structured (intervals say) after you have your thousand in. It's really pretty simple. People clutter it up with esoteric teminology (zones and LT and VT and 'build' and a bunch of pseudo-scientific jargon)but it boils down to: Ease into it, build up gradually, and ride a thousand or so easy/steady miles before you get too ferocious about it.

As far as 'when you've arrived' -- I doubt anyone ever feels they've arrived. But I think you'll be safe in assuming you're OK to proceed to harder things if you lay in this kind of base.

Now, about FIT ...
Thank you for a bit of common sense (nm)TREKY
Apr 21, 2003 8:28 AM
Excellent response. Much thanks to everyone. nmKristin
Apr 21, 2003 8:37 AM
Much wisdom in what you say, Old Ed. Amen!Dale Brigham
Apr 21, 2003 9:13 AM
"Esoteric teminology (zones and LT and VT and 'build' and a bunch of pseudo-scientific jargon)," indeed! As a licensed coach (USAC, Elite level), former physiology researcher, and 30+ year competitive cyclist, I agree wholeheartedly. I often wish heart rate monitors, power meters, and the whole bunch of gadgets that seem to separate cyclists from understanding their bodies (or selves, if we cut through the mind-body dichotomy) would just go away, at least for most cyclists.

The factors that constitute training stress (or "load") are complex and varied. Reducing them all to heart rate (one measure of internal load) or power output (one measure of external load) is simplistic at best, and misleading at the worst. These can be useful indicators to help guage stress on the system, but to rely on them to the exclusion of other inputs, including ventilation rate ("how hard am I breathing?"), localized muscular fatigue, and general fatigue level, is to be blinded to the most important information you can have.

In other words, learn to be an intuitive cyclist. Don't be a slave to the numbers. Last I looked, there are no digital systems in the human body (only digits, but that's another matter).

How good can you get without heart rate monitors and power meters? Only as good as Eddy Merckx.

Now, if I can only get my hands on a real-time display, miniturized, subcutaneously-implanted, wireless output, blood lactate monitor, then I'd be in business!

Sorry about the rant. I'll get back on my meds. And take a nice nap. Shhh, quiet, voices in my head, quiet.

Thanks, Coach. But I believe you and IOldEdScott
Apr 21, 2003 9:35 AM
both come from an era pre-HRM, when you HAD to listen to your body (literally: remember counting pulse on your neck for 6 seconds, then multiplying by 10?) The Young People these days seem to need doo-dads.

Partly, I blame Lance, and indirectly Chris C. I love Lance, I'm a HUGE fan, but there's something a little creepy about the high-tech way he trains under Chris' tutelage. It's all boiled down to numbers and read-outs and inputs and outputs. I like things a little more ... human. But the Lance/Chris approach has had a major impact. Maybe it's for the better technically. But it's certainly not as soulful.

Remember how Eddy M. used to train? He'd ride across Belgium during the day, then load his bike and his tired ass on the train and sleep all the way home. Then he'd ride his his bike across Belgium again.

Hell of a way to become the greatest bike rider who ever lived. Lot more inspiring than being hooked up to a computer in a lab.
Hmmm. In your opinion, are HRM's useful?Kristin
Apr 21, 2003 9:54 AM
After reading your post I'm thinking to myself, "Hey, mabey I'll return my $70 HRM and use the cash to go on vacation." But are you saying here that gadgets are bad, or just that they aren't "all that?" Great post, by the way.
Sure they're 'useful,' but they're just a tool.OldEdScott
Apr 21, 2003 10:09 AM
One piece of information among many.

Unless you're just into heavy analysis, they're no more than indicators. They may or may not be helpful. They're certainly not the end all/be alls that some cyclists (and cycling coaches) make them.

Here's the best reason to use one: To help you get to the point where you don't NEED one. I used one for about a year, and basically what it did was cement in my mind what certain heart rates 'felt' like. By the end of that year, I knew within a beat or two what my HR was without even looking at the monitor. Kind of like the cadence meter I used to use: Its greatest worth was teaching me what various cadences felt like so I didn't need the meter any more.

Again, it's useful to know HR, cadence, power output (I suppose), all those things, but my whole day doesn't depend on it. My whole day DOES depend on how I feel on the bike, and what my body's actually doing. I'm better off paying attention to it than to a computer screen.

As Dale says, there's a lot more to cycling than HR. The trap of HRM training is, you tend to lose sight of that.
Amen, Brother Ed! (BTW, my wife often calls me a 'useful tool') nmDale Brigham
Apr 21, 2003 10:22 AM
Alas, my wife rarely does! nmOldEdScott
Apr 21, 2003 10:32 AM
Its funnyKristin
Apr 21, 2003 10:51 AM
Dale's post brought back fond memories. When I came to this board, and came to the decision to purchase a road bike, I began to believe that cycling was this highly technical sport. This board and other riders worked on my brain like TV ads. Freds, posuers, racers, heart rate, lactate threshold, ATB, gears, stems, fit, tires, wheels, titanium, carbon, steel, al... I got all caught up in personifying whatever it was that made a roadie. I think I lost my soul somewhere along the way.

Dale's post reminded me of the way I rode before I knew what any of those things were. Before I ever heard a cyclist give his opinion of another cylist. I had bought a hybrid--because, at the time, I didn't believe a bike should cost more than $400. And I discovered I love riding. I rode 2 Saturdays in a row, and after that 3-5 times a week. I never wondered what my heart rate was. I didn't know what LT meant. On weeknights I would ride before dinner, returning before sunset. On Sundays I'd test my limits by going farther than I had the week before. Growth came naturally. As my weekly milage increased, so did my numb hands. My first upgrad: bar ends. By June I began to notice that I was waisting some energy keeping my feet steady on my pedals. I added toe clips so I could pedal more efficiently. In July I realized that I was a little skittish when others got close, so I found some bump and dodge practice drills online. By September I was noticing how much my sneakered foot flexed with each pedal stroke. I though a pair of stiffer shoes would help me pedal yet more efficiently. I had no idea where I would find something like this, but thankfully someone else had already thought of this. It didn't take long to discover cycling shoes, and I bought a pair of Look touring shoes.

Now, if I had continued down that road, I'm sure the day would have arrived when I began to wonder about how heart rate and muscle fatigue impacted my efficiency. I was probably progressing at a perfect pace back then. Sometimes I look back over these last 2 years of comparing, fretting and measuring, and wonder if I wasn't closer to right the first time. (But its hard to admit that to myself now, after having spent so much money, time and effort.)
Enlightenment comes.........Len J
Apr 21, 2003 11:02 AM
to each in their own way.

Your post is a good reminder to all of us. I learned it the hard way when I was forced off the bike for three months after my accident. I remembered how free I felt when I was riding, how that moment felt in every ride when the bike seemed to disappear from undeer me. I too learned that all the paraphanalia were just tools that allowed me to learn and interpret what my body was telling me (As Ed Put so eloquently). The step back was actually 2 steps forward (in a weird kind of way) because it brought back the joy of cycling.

I'm no where near as strong as I was before my accident......but I'm a damn sight happier riding. I couldn't have learned this any other way........nor I suspect, could you.

Good for you for recognizing it.

Nothing to fret over.OldEdScott
Apr 21, 2003 11:03 AM
We can all look back at our beginnings in the sport (or even our middles) and marvel at how we ever got where we are today. I can't begin to tell you how many bonehead false starts and dead-end roads I went down before I became the supremely competent, confident and broken-down codger/cyclerI am today!

You learned a lot in those two frustrating years. Sometimes learning what NOT to do is the best lesson of all.

Hell, it's just bike riding.
"Bump and Dodge" drills?Iamhoosier
Apr 21, 2003 11:40 AM
Can you please enlighten me on this? Another thing I have in common with you. One difference though, I am a stick shift, the part about pregnancy and hormone changes really did not help me a lot! ;-)
Here's a couple sources. Anyone else have handling drills?Kristin
Apr 21, 2003 12:17 PM
They are also called bike handling drills. Here are some sources:

The one I remembered from before and still practice--as you can do it alone is a dodge drill.
*Place an object like a cone in your path (like a cone), about 1/8th mile away.
*Ride directly at the object
*When you reach the object, instead of steering around it, instead attempt to move the bike out around it while keeping your body over the object.

I'm explaining this terribly. I'm still learning it. Perhaps someone else can explain it better than I am. Also, could you guys post some drills that can be done alone? LFR?
Thanks!! nmIamhoosier
Apr 21, 2003 12:29 PM
I'm pretty much of an amature, but here is what I do....joekm
Apr 21, 2003 10:30 AM
Lately, I'm at a point where I only use the heart rate monitor when I'm on the rollers or to get a resting heart rate before getting on the rollers. I don't like the distraction when I'm in a group ride and I occasionally get wierd data when I'm around powerlines anyways (HR will show something like 214 bpm while coasting down a hill).

I did discover that going by percieved effort was reading a bit higher heart stress level than I had thought. Then again, I've not had a professional do a heart stress test so, who knows, maybe my estimated max HR of 185 is low. I've certainly exceeded that number on the rollers on more than one occasion.

I think the HR monitor has value. If nothing else, it can act as a "safety valve" to keep you from over-training or, even worse, over-stressing yourself. OTOH - I'm inclined to agree with the earlier post that learning to listen you your body probably has more value. Even so, a HR monitor can act as a "cross-check" while you are learning to to that.

Anyway, just my 2 cents.

Dale, i had to use twice to read your postJS Haiku Shop
Apr 21, 2003 11:02 AM

just kidding. only once.

see you saturday.
If HR is not doable, keep it in 39X19 and spin! nmSpunout
Apr 21, 2003 10:24 AM
You're joking right??Kristin
Apr 21, 2003 11:10 AM
5% + 39x19 = Mash
0% + 39x19 = Coast

Very little spinning in 39x19
Thanks Kristin for asking these questions!Iamhoosier
Apr 21, 2003 8:32 AM
You have the knack for asking the exact questions that I find hard to articulate. I am in about the same "place" that you seem to be. I have only been riding about 3 years, 1,200/yr., not a lot in the winter. My new road bike should be built up this week(currently on hybrid). I too struggle with my heart rate. My problem is that it is hard to ride around here without hitting some hills and there goes my heart--haven't puked yet but close. My goal is to do a MS 150 and a century, probably next year.

Many thanks to you Kristin and to all who respond. You are helping not only her!!
Heart Rate Zones...biknben
Apr 21, 2003 8:43 AM
Go here to get some help with heart rate zones:

If you don't know you're resting heart rate, read this forum for about 15 minutes, check your heart rate, and subtract 5 beats. Or you could check it tomorrow morning "Before" getting out of bed. If you don't know your max heart rate you can subtract your age from 220 to get a VERY rough estimate. You could also do a hard effort on the bike. The heart rate you see as you pass out is one beat over your max. :-)
My experience......Len J
Apr 21, 2003 9:29 AM
for what it's worth.

1.) Yes

2.) Yes & no. You can test your LT (as someone else mentoioned) with a TT. It sounds like yours is between 170 & 175. Freil would say that Zone 2 tops out at 88% of your LT, zone one at 82%. I ride 85 % to 90 % of my base miles in this zone (say 125 to 150 or so for you). The hard part is to not worry about speed. There are times (when I am going into the wind) when I am doing under 12 MPH to keep my heart rate down. What I try to do is to keep lengthening the time I ride each week in Zone 2. I might start the year with a 2 hour ride & then every weekend I up it by about 15 or 20 minutes. Do this & your aerobic system will get better & better (especially if you keep your cadence up).

3.) I try to aim for about 60 hours (which is more or less 1000 miles).

4.) Listen to your body. You can keep working on your base while uping the intensity (just don't overdo it). about 25 or 30 hours into my base, I start doing strength intervals. (the biggest gear I can turn at 55 RPM for 15 minutes on 15 minutes off while keeping my heart rate in Zone 2). These pay off when I up the intensity. It's like weightlifting on the bike. Just listen to your knees.

5.) Yes.

Good Luck

Two more things...Jon Billheimer
Apr 21, 2003 12:19 PM
I NEVER have my speed function on. That way I never try to one-up myself from previous rides. Second, I gauge whether I'm ready for more intense training (intervals, hill repeats, etc.) by how I'm recovering. If I try to take the intensity up a notch and it knocks me for a loop for a couple of days I know that I'm overreaching a bit too much. As Dwayne Barry noted the most important thing is to learn how to ride by feel and stay tuned in to your body...THEN correlate that with whatever your HRM is telling you.
Two answersCHRoadie
Apr 21, 2003 12:15 PM
3) In cycling, you never really know when you've arrived. There aren't any lightbulbs that will go on over your head. It will always hurt, but hopefully after you've been riding for a while you'll be going faster.

5) Technically, punctuation goes inside the quotes, although I flaunt that rule frequently as it doesn't make any sense to me. :-)
Base mileage for beginnerskywalker
Apr 21, 2003 5:25 PM
is different from base mileage for a highly trained cyclist. Beginners, I believe, need more mileage, up to 2000 miles. Mix it up, but keep it on the light and easy side.

You "arrive" when doing more feels good. This means that you have to push the envelope every once in a while---and back off if it leaves you pounded.

Be careful with zone systems, or any systems for that matter. Heart rate limits for a particular zone are hard to define accurately (because of individual variation, cardio-vascular drift, what not), so use them only as a rough guide. Zones based on max hr are particularly bad, since they tend to make an assumption about where your LT lies , and that assumption is often wrong. If your true LT is below 80-85%, you'll end up overtraining; if it is above 80-85%, you will not progress. LT-based zone system avoid this particular problem, but it still makes guesses about the depth of your tempo, endurance, and recovery zones. So treat zones as suggestions, and then do what your body tells you to do.

And I cannot resist quoting my rowing coach: The most important measure of the heart cannot be taken with a heart rate monitor.