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Weekly training miles for competitive Cat 5 racing ?(19 posts)

Weekly training miles for competitive Cat 5 racing ?HouseMoney
Dec 10, 2003 1:46 PM
I know it's quality over quantity, but I recently read the following on Arnie Baker's website:

"How many miles do you need to train?" Most road riders who race train at least 100 miles weekly. The norm for competitive riders in Categories 3, 4, and 5 is 150-250 miles a week.

Is this a good ballpark figure? Just curious as I'd like to gauge where I am and where I need to be to be somewhat competitive, or at least not get smoked on a regular basis (no delusions of grandeur here). If there is no "correct" answer, that's fine, too.
From my experience...biknben
Dec 10, 2003 2:02 PM
There's nothing wrong with Arnie's statement but that is still a huge range. There's a big difference between 150 and 250 miles.

I'm competative in the 4's which, honestly, isn't much different than the 5's. If you scroll down to a previous thread about Polar HRMs, you'll find a graph of my weekly hours. My avg. this year is over 10 hours/week but the winter throws that off a bit. For 9 months of the year I avg. around 12-14 hours/week and that equates to about 200-220 miles.

As you said, it is more about what you do with the miles than how many you do.
re: depends..cyclopathic
Dec 10, 2003 2:20 PM
on how fit you are and your goals. Generally Cat 5 races are short, and around here there're very few road races, mostly crits. To "not get smoked" in those you need to mostly do high intensity workouts, and would be hard to put alot of miles. Do 1/2hr warm up, intervals, 15min cool down and you're done under 1.5hr. 20-30mi 3-5 times a week.

If you need to burn fat, build endurance (which isn't required for short Cat 5 races), you'd need to get a lot of LDS, 100-150mi rides. Doing those will result in completely different picture.

Miles don't tell the whole story..
150-200 sounds rightbimini
Dec 10, 2003 2:29 PM
Most of the Cat 3-5 races are 1 to 1.5 hours in length so long term endurance is not the issue and there is not the need for the 5+ hour mega training. Training should be a little longer but at a slightly lower intensity than the race or races you are training for.

Other that TT, Cat 3-5 racing is about spurts of maxing out and with a little luck the pace slowing down so you can recover before you run out of steam. So intervals, either hill or sprints are helpful. Do 2-3 interval rides a week (about an hour) with recovery days or rides in between.
re: Weekly training miles for competitive Cat 5 racing ?aaroncvc
Dec 10, 2003 2:29 PM
the difference in requisite fitness levels for cat 3 and cat 5 racing is pretty big. in the 5's and 4's, there tends to be more of an accordian thing going on. assuming you live in an area dominated by criteriums, you probably won't be racing more than 25 miles a race as a cat 5. on the other hand, you'll need the ability to sprint out of every corner, doing between 100-400 of those little sprint intervals every race.

there's no reason to develop that kind of anaerobic ability in december, which requires mostly intervals tailored to help you with that specific kind of intensity. in the meantime (december, early january) you should probably do a good 50 mile ride a week, and just try to sneak in some other slow workouts. as the season approaches you can layer intensity on top of that, and reduce your weekly mileage. that's where the interval training comes in, and if you can work them into your schedule, training races and hard-group rides do a good job of developing race-specific fitness.

i'm not a coach, just trying to think about how i trained before i was racing as a five... and what the people "coaching" me said. then again, i broke my wrist just before new years, wasn't riding till mid-february, and no intensity till the beginning of march... but i came out of that as a 5 who was top 10'ing everything...

as a 4 i think you need to worry a little more about endurance, probably need to be able to maintain a slightly harder tempo for a longer period of time. the reason isn't neccesarily a change in fitness, as you'll probably be racing against the same people you were racing against as a 5... but 5's have a much lower field limit (half of a 4 or a 4/5 race), and there's less of a mix of ability... so there's more strong guys around at the end, more attacks, and usually a longer, more wound-up sprint.

then the 3's (i'm 4, sending in my upgrade early next year), in the 3/4 races i have done, have required a bit more endurance, again, tempo workouts were pretty beneficial... so to race as a competitive three this next year i'm trying to do about 20-25 hours a week, which is quite a bit for the level i'm going to be racing at. i include things like commuting and work related miles into this number...

I read somewhere (friel's book or maybe browsing through the carmichael book) that you shouldn't focus on what kind of miles you're doing, but what kind of time you're putting in, and how much intensity... that equates to some number of miles which is supposedly a worthless number.

beyond fitness, you'll need to work on tactics and abilities. group rides/training races really help develop that, but you should go out of your way to find some proper instruction on cornering. how to counter-steer(properly), how to corner in conditions that lack traction, etcetera. i've never seen a book go beyond the basics of explaining race-specific bike handling... though one thing i did find helpfull was a few paragraphs in the book "twist of the wrist", by i think keith code. it's written for motorcycle road racing, but there are some sections applicable to bicycle road racing... it explains why we weight our outside foot when counter-steering, why you need to keep your head level, why to keep your arms loose, etcetera.
Also depends on phase of seasonal training cycletreebound
Dec 10, 2003 2:42 PM
That mileage may be high or low, depending on if it's an overall average, or during a taper before a big race, or early in the season. There is no absolute mileage to maintain throughout the season. I know of one local cyclist who races in the Cat2-3 range and some weeks he cranks out over 400 miles, before a big race well under 200.
Consider counting your hours, look for a programSpunout
Dec 10, 2003 2:58 PM
I used Friel's training bible last year, in my first year (back) racing. I ended the season on the podium, and finished in the peleton in a few open class races.

Maximum 10 hours per week, 5 hours minimum on a rest week for Cat 5. Counting miles doesn't work when your rides might be alone in the mountains, or a 40km/h group ride for three hours.

Correct on quality, I couldn't believe how much I wasn't training, especially in peak periods. But it worked very well, I will be coached personally through a similar periodized program this year.
opinions on mileageyeah right
Dec 10, 2003 3:11 PM
My number one things is this:

Don't train above your body's ability to recover with respect to volume. Those who start racing without having years of cycling or other endurance oriented athletics backgrounds have a great tendancy to overtrain. I've seen teammates start off great but only a month into the season start to fade so badly that it's not even funny. I train less than most, but end up doing better than a lot. Quality is important, but don't over do it on the volume.
re: Weekly training miles for competitive Cat 5 racing ?russw19
Dec 10, 2003 3:15 PM
I never raced as a Cat 5.. the catagory wasn't around yet by the time I was a 3. I started back when 4 was the lowest catagory. But I have raced "Citizen" races and they are about the same as the 5 races.

Here's what I would suggest you try to concentrate on. Depending on where you live and when the season starts, 2 months before your racing season begins, start to put in base miles. Long slow distance rides. Try to be on the bike 2 hours a day 3 days a week. It will really do more for your early season fitness than being on the bike 1 hour a day 6 days a week. Don't take your speedometer with you... just take your watch. Ride an out and back course... go out for 1 hour, turn back... ride easy and don't worry how fast you are going. Just ride and work on your form... spin the pedals, concentrate on your line.. things like that. It will get you into the base shape you need to later develop power and peak during your season. It will also prepare you for the mental aspect of a race. When you ride, try to tune out as much of the environment as you safely can. Try to just think about being smooth and having good form. Be smooth and steady. Just don't get hit by a car because you were ignoring them.

Start that about 2 months before you start racing... for me in Florida, that would be starting now... but up in the Northeast... maybe in late Feb. Once you are about 2 weeks out from your first race, try to do a 1 hour time trial a week and get into some fast group rides (at least an hour long... more is better.) That way you are working on your speed. The time trial is timed..not distance, so don't take a speedometer again... just ride at like 80 to 90% of your max for an hour. Go out 30 min.. come in 30 min. That way you are ready for the constant breaks and chasing of Cat 4 and 5 races. Most of those races if you have a good fast field (which actually do exist in Cat 4 races) are about an hour of maximum effort. Not too much waiting around to race like 2 and 3 races, but that's because the races aren't long enough. So be prepared to exert yourslef for an hour. Do group rides so that you learn how to draft well. Drafting is an art... if you are good at it you can ride anywhere from 5 to 10 miles an hour faster than you can alone. A Cat 4 or 5 race on the flats may hit 28 to 30 mph in the pack... that's fast, but if you know how to draft, it won't be too fast to hold. And if it seems fast, sit in... don't pull or waste energy.

The last thing you need to do for Cat 5 racing is learn to jump. Not neccessarily learning to sprint... just jump (for now.) People in Cat 4 and 5 races rarely know how to really sprint. They start way too early because they don't know how to jump and they are usually too impatient to wait for the last 300 meters. If someone in your field tries to go from 1000 meters out (and someone always will) just get their wheel and hold it until 200 meters.. then jump like a mofo.. if you can get around them, you got a shot at the win. So do short (300 meters) sprint work in your training. Work on jumping as hard as you can and accelerating for 10 to 15 seconds. That's what the bulk of your races will come down to.

During the season, you should be able to get away with as low as 100 miles a week and as high as 200, but I really wouldn't go higher than 200 if you have a race that week. If you race back to back weeks, my schedule would look like this... Sunday, race. Monday, off or very light spin ride for 45 mins to an hour. Tuesday, light spin if you took monday off, otherwise rest. Wednesday, 30 to 40 miles and moderate level (fast group ride is best here). Thursday, short hard day. 1 hour max. Friday slow spin if racing on sunday.. off if racing saturday, but go for a long walk instead. If you don't race on saturday.. spend it prepping mentally for the race on sunday. Shave, get a massage if you can, start to pre-hydrate and build up your carbs for the next days energy. Most importantly, spend it with
recreational vs. racerDougSloan
Dec 10, 2003 3:27 PM
The biggest difference between serious recreational riders and racers is intensity, not necessarily mileage. There have been times when I was riding up to 500 miles per week, but was focusing on endurance events. I still had a very difficult time hanging with the 4/5's on the hills, because there is not need or desire to go anaerobic in a double century or longer. If you haven't raced or training with racers, you'll be shocked and awed at the speed they climb. It's likely faster than anything you've ever experienced, even if you have routinely whipped all your buddies up hills in centuries. (Don't intend to patronize or miss the mark here, but I assume you're asking because you have not raced...)

I'd recommend about 10 hours per week, average, but there must be fair amount of intensity compared to what you may be used to, unless you're a natural and it comes easy. If had to choose between 100 miles with appropriate racing intensity or 200 miles at a recreational pace, do the former.

Rest, recovery rides, and low intensity endurance rides are still important, but you cannot hang without some frequent high intensity. Carmichael has written that "most riders go too hard on the easy days, and too easy on the hard days." Also, he's recommended that your hardest intensity should not be experienced in a race; train harder than you intend to race. This is very, very difficult to acheive in practice.

So, yes, be conscious of volume, but if you are not getting your intensity up to where you can timetrial around 24-25 mph or climb with the group, you'll be dropped.

Doug
recreational vs. racerhrdcorebikerboy
Dec 10, 2003 3:45 PM
Doug,

Define intensity here....for what duration of time would you need to hold the 24-25 mph??
some anecdotal infoDougSloan
Dec 10, 2003 3:59 PM
Well, when I was *really* racing, in a stage race, I'd time trial 10 miles at 25 mph and finish around 10th out of 50 or more. However, if there were many or long hills, I'd frequently get dropped. I'm more of a time trialer than climber, obviously. If you were under 23 mph for 10 miles, you weren't even in the game. This is assuming "normal" conditions, not high altitude, not windy, and not much climbing.

So, I'd at least want to be able to hold 25 mph for several miles, no drafting, and be able to sit in a draft at around 28-30 mph almost indefinitely.

Climbing tends to be the critical factor, though, but it's hard to quantify that. You'd probably need to put out around 300 watts for 20 minutes or so, if you are average weight.

For flatter races, you can get away with a lot less power. If all you want to do is sit in and finish a flatter race with few jumps or sharp corners, you can probably get away with drafting the group going about 25-28 mph typically. This is still quite a bit faster than your average recreational group ride.

Doug
here's some representative dataDougSloan
Dec 10, 2003 4:15 PM
Here are the results in raw time and mph of a training 10 mile timetrial last summer. This was on mostly flat, but a few hills, with about 6 turns, and some strong headwind at the end. You can see the relative speed differences for the various level racers as well as some recreational riders, Team In Training folks, who joined us. At this stage of my training, or lack thereof, I'd have a really hard time staying with a group ride with those finishing faster than I did. I think this is fairly representative data.

--------time---mph
Bosch 20:47--28.87 (very good Cat 1)
Brooks 22:03--27.21 (masters champion)
Healey 23:09--25.92
Voth 23:37--25.41
Dearing 23:38--25.39 (good Cat 3)
Cummings23:55--25.09 (good Cat 4)
Sasser 24:04--24.93
Shemake 24:05--24.91
Easter 24:26--24.56 (Cat 4, great climber)
Sloan 25:49--23.24 (me, out of shape and on fixed gear)
Socha 27:09--22.10 (recreational riders below)
Martin 28:00--21.43
Bosch 28:11--21.29
Little 28:47--20.85
Riggio 29:39--20.24
Shuemak 32:42--18.35
Kelarjia33:33--17.88
Ireland 34:18--17.49
Lawler 34:30--17.39
Jayne 34:37--17.33
Vinson 36:34--16.41
As a mountain biker, doing a few road races, Ive found Cat 5 canhuez
Dec 11, 2003 10:55 AM
be just as hard as even a cat 3 or even a 2. For example, at the sea otter I raced the Cat 5 road race. THere were many expert mountain bikers (from my class) and even 3-4 Semi-Pros. Then of course there were the casual cat 5ers as well. There was a huge spectrum of fitness levels. The thing thats different though in cat 5 is that there is not much depth, so there are not as many attacks and not as many strong guys as say in a Cat 3 race. But I can guarantee you that some of the guys were just as strong as any of the Cat 3 riders or even stronger. In this race, one of the Semi-pro mtbers won and the expert mtbers filled in most the rest of the top ten. In a race with climbs, which I mostly choose to race, its all about intensity. If you cant hang on the climbs youre toast. In a crit its a different story, most anyone can hang on. In climbing, there is no hiding bad fitness.

I only do a few road races a year and choose to stay in cat 5 because I dont like or have time to do the huge mileage required for 3.5+ hour cat 3 and above races. Besides, the race is for the most part boring until the end anyway! (go ahead, flame me) And Ive always had a great battle no matter what cat 5 race I do, as long as there are hills. With cat 5 you take out the 3 hours of cruising around and get right to the most important part in less than an hour and a half. I enjoy the shorter more intense riding. This type of riding also requires more rest. So I think you can really lower your time on the bike with real high intensity and still come out with great fitness. I can get by with relatively low hours in the saddle. Just make sure youre pushing hard while on the bike. I can regularly hang with local cat2 guys on our weekly ride thats got a long 20 minute climb on it. Granted if it was a 150 mile race theyd most likely kill me. So, bottom line, for cat 4-5, just train hard, not long. Unless you want to move up.
agree Cat 5 is a mixed bunchcyclopathic
Dec 11, 2003 11:20 AM
there some pretty strong riders who decided to race.. and they had to start with Cat 5. On other hand there're some who should have upgraded long ago, but they're afraid to do races longer then 20mi.

Anecdotal reference on Wintergreen Ascent ITT (Cat 1 climb with some steep grades) Cat 5 winner beat Cat 1 by 2min, here's the results: http://www.wintergreenresort.com/PDFs/wintergreenascentresults.pdf
I did a 63 mile cat 5 race. Pine flat is the name but its farhuez
Dec 11, 2003 11:46 AM
from flat. That was a long time in the saddle for me though. Great course though. Well, atleast the second half. The race just rolled along until of course the 10-15 minute climb near the end.
pine flatDougSloan
Dec 11, 2003 1:46 PM
Pine flat is a breeze until you hit the corral, then false flats for 2 miles and Wildcat mountain totally blows the group apart. I've done it 3x.

In the 4/5's, no one escapes before the big hills.

Doug
pine flathuez
Dec 11, 2003 3:02 PM
If the corral is the part where you climb for 10 or so minutes, thats where our race blew apart. Only 4 of us made it over the top together (I was struggling so bad, one of my most memorable moments of suffering just trying to hold a wheel over the top of that) and we stayed all together until that final little steep finish climb. Fun course. Like I said though, the first 2 hours was BORING! The fun started at the first long climb.
More to it than fitness too...shawndoggy
Dec 10, 2003 3:37 PM
There's lots of strategy involved in road racing. Some will debate whether that's true in the 5s, but believe me, especially in the 5s and especially as a beginner, there's a desire (assuming you've got the fitness to do so) to ride at the front, in the wind, too much. If that's you, you'll soon notice that you haven't seen the guys who win until the last five minutes.

But back to the question. You can be competitive in 5s and 4s at around 10 hours per week for sure. But you do have to do some intensity.

Fast group rides will help you guage your fitness -- if you get dropped you need to do more, if you don't, you'll probably still need to work on strategy.

It's a hoot, though. In my first year racing on the road I had the most fun on a bike since my training wheels came off, despite the fact that I never podiumed.