's Forum Archives - Racing

Archive Home >> Racing(1 2 3 )

Another Interval Thread (long post)(10 posts)

Another Interval Thread (long post)lonefrontranger
Jun 6, 2001 11:41 PM
I've finally admitted defeat and realized I have to train in a structured fashion after 10 years of "racing into shape". After getting blown off the back by sheer lack of speed & recovery in a couple of crits that should have suited me to a T (flat, technical, rainy) I've decided I need some structure. With my work and racing schedule being what it is, this adds up to sprints (1 hour + warmup/cooldown) on Tuesdays and hill work (90 minutes to 2 hours) Wednesdays.

Did I mention I really hate interval training?

The sprints are done on a quiet farm road with a ~2% uphill grade that steepens just a hair at the end. My boyfriend measured it, and it's an even 250 meters from a set of mailboxes to a county maintenance sign, which are the markers we use. I do 5x high gear from a near-standing start (power sprint) and 5x with a flying start, speedwork. Getting to the sign kicks my butt, sometimes I have to give up and sit down about 10 metres out. HR tops around 190-195 30 seconds or so following sprint. I recover until HR comes back to ~130 (won't go below 120 on the bike). This workout totally kills me during, and immediately after the workout, and sometimes lunch is threatening to make an unscheduled reapperance, but by the time we're halfway home, I'm usually feeling pretty cocky - am I not going hard enough?

The hillwork is on a .5K climb that steepens sharply in the final 300 meters. So far I'm only managing 2 sets of 3, working more on form and tempo, particularly when I have to shift and get out of the saddle on the steeper bits. We do a lot of rolling around looking at houses for sale, etc... between reps and sets. This is not all-out tongue on the toptube kind of stuff (since I'm doing sprints the night before), but I feel really drained after this workout. I climb about like the cast iron sprinter I am, so be it.

Thursdays are a LSD / recovery day, Fridays off, Saturday / Sunday crit. I commute to work 16 miles RT about 2-3 days per week.

What else should I be doing, or is my schedule completely out of whack? I'm looking for any and all input from those experienced with race specific training.
Read this articleFoster
Jun 7, 2001 9:51 AM
I found this great article on sprinting. I've used it with great results. Remember to get a good recovery (recovery drink and plenty of rest) after an intense workout like sprints. Check it out at

Also, you could try changing your training around so that you have a Sprint workout on tuesdays, easy climb on wednesdays and Interval training on thursdays. I have found that for me I can do Intervals better on a trainer as it's a very controlled environment. Or, if you can find a training crit on thursdays that would be just as good.
Thanks, great articlelonefrontranger
Jun 7, 2001 10:29 AM
The "spinups" are just what I'm looking for to develop the killer snap that's missing right now. I get yo-yo'd OTB because I can't follow the attacks as fast as they're handed out.

Good advice, unfortunately our local training crit is Tuesday nights with no women's race, so it ends up being the wrong type of training (flat-out ITT once I get dropped).

Intervals on Thursdays = cruise / LT intervals? What do you use/recommend?

Again, thanks for the commentary and help.
I don't understand your reasoning...Kyle
Jun 7, 2001 10:29 AM
You're a naturally strong sprinter who gets dropped relatively early in the race and your solution is to work on sprints? If you're half a mile back when the leaders are going for the finish line, what good is a stellar sprint?

Always focus on the weakest link in your chain.

Oh, and why schedule two intensity days in a row?

Good luck
Recovery factorlonefrontranger
Jun 7, 2001 11:44 AM
Thanks for the input.

You are right about working the weakest link, but the sprintwork has been added because I'm not recovering sufficiently after the efforts. I can follow the first 4 or 5 attacks, but my snap is lacking and subsequent accelerations will break the string on the yo-yo. I'm not getting shelled early on, but I am frustrated that the past several races have seen me to be the final rider shucked by the leaders (Women's 4 fields shatter pretty bad). Then I'm stuck in no-man's land for the final 15 minutes, struggling to hold off chasers just to maintain my dignity.

I'm not a pure sprinter, more of a "mash" sprinter with good cornering skills. Were I on a women's team, I'd probably be the penultimate leadout wheel for their designated sprinter. When I was on form in technical crits, I was often able to attack into the final corner and form a gap that took me to the line, but if I had klingons on my wheel, I had my work cut out not to get nipped.

The hillwork is an effort to build power / output on longer efforts, similar to an LT workout. These are not full-out hill sprints, but 90 seconds to 2 minutes near or at LT. I absolutely hate going to the gym, so according to some theories I've read, this sort of hill-work will help replace the lifting.

This has all come about with a move this year to the cycling epicenter of Boulder, Colorado, and the subsequent vast increase in quality / size of women's fields. In Ohio, I didn't have these issues and I could often dictate the outcome in a 6 or 8-corner crit on pure skills alone.

Constructive thoughts on schedule change would be appreciated.
I think I've got it now...Kyle
Jun 7, 2001 4:46 PM
Because of wide disparities in the women's field (and perhaps a lack of cohesiveness by the weaker riders) breaks tend to get away. Because of that you have to stay in the front one to be in contention for the sprint. You are able to hold onto the leaders until close to the end and then get dropped 'cause you are worn out from the constant jumps to cover the breaks. Whew.

My definition of a sprint is a thirty second elbow-knocking anerobic effort going the line. Recovery is irrelevent (you just need enough to climb the podium stairs) and things like lactate tolerance and muscle recruitment patterns rule. This does not appear to be your problem.

What you need is more of an ability to maintain power output to stay with the leaders, meaning you need to use less of your sustainable capacity to hold on and so that you feel reasonably fresh when you get close to the finish.

Your sustainable capacity can be represented as your VO2max x your Lactate Threshold (represented as a % of VO2max.) Improvement in these two components will allow you to smoothly respond to mid race attacks without resorting to constant near-max efforts. 'I can follow the first 4 or 5 attacks, but my snap is lacking and subsequent accelerations will break the string on the yo-yo.' That's an endurance problem--not a sprint problem.

The current wild guess is that VO2 can be best improved by 4 min intervals at 90-100% of max HR. Horrible, yes. But effective (and good for your ability to suffer.)

Lactate threshold is another matter. Some say it responds to the same things as VO2, some say LSD training is most effective. Some say sacrificing a chicken at midnight. IMHO your main problem is that you are really ignoring aerobic base conditioning that would benefit your LT. This may be even more serious than normal in that natural sprinters tend to struggle with low LTs (lots of speedy but innefficient fast twitch fibers.)

In my mind, you should race one day a week and work your way up to, say 6 or 7 4 minute all out intervals on another day. The structure of Foster's program looked pretty reasonable. The rest of your training days should be be comprised of 2 hr aerobic (solid pace, slightly out of breath) rides. Plenty of rest as needed.

I don't know what your early season mileage is, but next spring I'd really be working on the aerobic base miles early season. Also, since you're in Boulder now, hit the ski swap and pick up a set of cheap skate skis (get decent boots, though.) Spend the winter working on your ski technique by doing long, moderate efforts.

Good luck.
Wow... that was incredible!lonefrontranger
Jun 8, 2001 2:11 PM

EXACTAMUNDO! You just quantified in two sentences what I've been trying to explain to my boyfriend for six years. Maybe this is why he (and my male coaches) have given me good, but sometimes a bit lacking, training advice.

On the 4 min intervals, what should target recovery period or HR between repeats / sets be? I can probably manage the suffer factor since I was a decent time trialist (0:59:21 PR 40K) prior to shifting my focus to crit racing.

Thanks ever so very much. Probably a good idea for me to do the VO2 intervals on the trainer so I don't T-bone any cars or cows while I'm in a state of anaerobic stupidity. Will work on the ski thing - I have snowshoes, was considering XC skis, may try the skates. I usually trail run 30-40 minutes a day 2-3x per week in late July to prep for 'cross season, so instead of quitting in December, I'll just keep at it next year. I hate running almost (but not quite) as much as the gym, sigh.

If you're ever out this way e-mail us and we'll hook you up with some nice riding and/or a place to stay.

Cheers, Beth
I get that all the time...Kyle
Jun 8, 2001 2:46 PM

I usually just spin really slowly for about 4 minutes or until I can get psyched again--no good science on this that I know of. I agree that the trainer is probably best, but it always kills my motivation. I use a MTB and the local cat track up the ski hill for these usually. Something about being outside...

Check out and read the article Understanding Intervals. Good background here, though you have to remember that everyone responds differently so pay attention to how you feel.

On another note, that seems like a really fast TT. I mean, I don't know anything about CAT 4 women's race times, but geez, now you've got me scared of them. Is it possible that you have what it takes to stay with the leaders and that you're somehow convincing yourself you don't? I (being primarily an MTBer, I admit) tend to get nervous in fast group road rides and am constantly worrying about going off the back. This makes me ride in a way that wastes a lot of energy and and sometimes becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Something to think about. Of course, in this part of the country, you also have to contend with the Expert MTB racers who don't road race enough to move up but are serious machines.

Good luck and if I ever get down south we'll hook up for a ride...
ITT timeslonefrontranger
Jun 8, 2001 10:02 PM
That PR was a pretty special circumstance, but back in the day I was also super-focused on ITT in general and winning the District in specific, which I did. The course was near Bowling Green, OH (laser flat), by some miracle there was no wind (foggy morning), and my itty bitty teammate loaned me his Batman bike (Hooker lopro). Incidentally, I've found it very handy to have teammates who ride the same size & pedal system you do. The Hooker loan was partial payback for me giving up my bike to him the month before in a hellish cold rainy hilly RR cause his rear mech. exploded, luckily for him just as the breakaway he was in caught me at the base of the main climb. I was pretty bored already with the freezing, soaking and getting dropped bits, since all the $ in my field had gone up the road - IMO the world's greatest excuse to bag it in favor of a warm sag van, a small cut of the cash from his win, and a team dinner party on the way home.

Re: Cat IV women. Well, it runs the gamut from old lazy gals like me to the newbees who show up with antlers on their bikes. We get Expert / Elite MTB racers in our fields too, plus the standard compliment of triathatrons who are scary in the field, but strong enough to stomp OTF to where it doesn't matter. The last season I was in OH, our local offical told me "either move like you've been threatening to, or you're gonna get upgraded". Sure, I want to do 1/2/3 races out here with Clara Hughes, Jeannie Longo and Alison Dunlap (not!). I may be a wily Master with 10 years' experience, but I'm still just a weekend hack with a few spare tons of desk job hanging off my butt (working on that).
I don't understand your reasoning...Foster
Jun 7, 2001 11:48 AM
My original post probably wasn't very clear. Kyle is right, if you are OTB then your sprint doesn't matter. Good sprint or not, the article I referenced was meant to point out that the sprint efforts don't need to be so long (8-15 seconds versus 30 seconds) just intense.

I think everyone hates intervals, but they're essential. You should do interval training on thursdays. I know there are many different theories on interval training. It sounds like you may need to focus on that. For the complete week, I've used the following:

Sunday-Race or race like effort
Monday-rest or spin-emphasis on recovery from sunday
Tuesday-Sprint workout-refine your spin, get your snap or both
Wednesday-Easy climb or spin
Thursday-Training crit or Intervals
Saturday-Easy to moderate effort ride

As Kyle said, 'work on your leakest link'