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Base Training(10 posts)

Base TrainingRockyMountainRacer
Mar 21, 2002 3:54 PM
Ok, this might not be the best time to start this discussion since everyone is probably just about to start racing and doing lots of intervals (my first race is Saturday woohoo!) But I must admit that I still don't fully understand this base mileage stuff. Yes this is only my second year racing, so I am definitely speaking from inexperience. Now I don't question the wisdom of putting in a ton of miles in the off-season at relatively low intensity--I did it (though they weren't all low-intensity), and I feel good about it--I agree that it makes no sense to be doing structured intervals in November. Putting in all those long miles is suppossed to give you a huge aerobic base to build on--but why do those rides have to be so structured? Cruising along for four hours while staring at the heart monitor to make sure I don't go above 155 bpm the whole time doesn't sound like fun. If I want to sprint up a hill in the off-season, why can't I do that? If I want to chase somebody down, why can't I do that? It just seems that a lot of people advocate "absolutely no instensity" in the off-season, but it seems to me that it is not smart to let all your top-end speed go away. I mean, racing is about going fast, right? Why do my legs suddenly need months of "base training" to get used to hard efforts again if I've been racing all summer long? After last summers race season, I used all my fitness to go on a ton of epic mountain and road rides with friends and alone, and I went as hard as I felt like it whenever I felt like it. After a season of structured workouts, I just wanted to have fun. Should I change things after this season if I really want to improve faster?
Base is base (All of our bases are us?)Kerry
Mar 21, 2002 5:12 PM
Base mileage is just that - the base on which you build the rest of your season. I've never seen anyone reasonable place an absolute prohibition against ever getting above your target HR. However, there is a tendency among racers to cross the line (more intensity must be better!) and so they don't get the base they need. Plus they are just that much closer to overtraining when the really hard stuff starts. The reason you need to shift to base after the intensity of racing is that you want to build a new starting point, and you don't do that by doing high intensity workouts. The duration and distance you do in your base period is individual, but you should accept that the experienced people in the field (Friel, Charmichael, etc.) do actually know what they are talking about. Base mileage is building your aerobic system, which is required for everything else.
Kerry (All of our bases are us?) MAME ? n/tmpm32
Mar 22, 2002 9:26 AM
Opinions differ - a littleMcAndrus
Mar 22, 2002 6:54 AM
The consensus is the winter is for long-slow-distance. Like you, I hate staring at the HRM and trying to keep the bpm down. But having spoken with local racer boys and reading Friel, Carmichael, and Burke, I accept the conventional wisdom as valid.

However - there is one guy who disagrees a little bit. is the website of Coach Carl. If you haven't checked it out yet it might be worth a look.

While he agrees that base miles are good, he also advises variety. If I remember correctly, he says that there should always be some kind of speed work going on to 1) keep the rider interested and 2) to remind the legs what speed feels like.
Opinions differ - a littleRockyMountainRacer
Mar 22, 2002 7:49 AM
I have read Coach Carl's site, and I really like what he has to say. He is an old-school bad-ass! I am actually using his basic ideas right now (combining my endurance with my intervals on Tuesdays and Thursdays to get more rest) and it is working really well for me. We'll see just how well as the season goes along.

Anyway, back to my base argument: I am not advocating doing any structured work in the off-season at all. Like you, I have been convinced of the dogma that you put in a lot of endurance miles in the off-season by the experienced people I know and from reading Friel, and I plan on putting in even more after this season. But the way I see it, you should have fun with these rides, with the only real constraint on them being that they should be really long. Most of the racers I talk to say you should keep your heart rate below a certain level the whole time, and I just don't see how that helps you more. It seems to me that it would actually contribute more to mental burnout in the on-season if all your base mileage is so structured. What do other people think?
Opinions differ - a littlemixinbeatz
Mar 22, 2002 9:26 AM
Base miles let to mental burnout for me. The hardest part was staring at the HR monitor while thinking I had to be on the bike another 15 hours in the rain this week, while getting passed by guys on the trail with aero bars on their mt bikes. Base miles may be good for you, but I go crazy doing 15 mph on 6 hour rides. Realizing that it was doing more harm than good for me. I took long moderately paced rides and made sure I was not going too hard. I find it much more pleasant to listen to my body than trying to keep the heartrate below a certain point.
Opinions differ - a little, Not.allervite
Mar 26, 2002 2:11 PM
You guys are being misinformed. I have never heard a reputable coach say that your HR must stay below X all winter. That is insane. What they do say is, "No intensity work until such an such a date. That means, no structured training.

Guys like Zabel do base to recover from the racing season, guys like us usually do base to prepare for the racing season.

If you are riding your bike at least 6 hours a week and you re not tired, you'll be fine. If you are doing semi hard rides all the time and are feeling tired and needing a lot of sleep, you will get an ass kickin once the racing season starts.

Also, you are not just building an aerobic base, you are building endurance, and you cannot do that with short intense rides.
I must be a lazy fatass =)BigLeadOutGuy
Mar 23, 2002 10:52 AM
I love doing base miles....they are so relaxed and easy...and you dont have to feel bad for not sweating out your blood on those rides cause they are supposed to be that way =)
If your training as hard as you should be on your difficult days...youll look foward to the base days, But I do agree that even in the off season you should have at least one high paced day a week...just to keep everything balanced.
You have to try it for yourself.Pack Meat
Mar 25, 2002 7:09 AM
I don't know if most people do base miles correctly or enough. From experience I have found that miles=form=higher placings=upgrade. There are about 5 guys in my club that do huge base miles in the off season. I'm talking about 15 to 20 hours a week. By the time spring rolls around most people have to go anaerobic just keeping up with them even though these guys are working within their aerobic capacity.It's frustrating when you have your tongue rapped around your front wheel and they are chatting comfortably about the finer points of integrated head sets. The larger the base the higher the peak.
Well put! Exactly(nm)allervite
Mar 26, 2002 2:28 PM