This year has been a learning year in many respects. I’ve learned how to race with a team, learned how to position myself in a big pack leading up to a climb, learned how to race a crit finally, learned how to pee of the bike successfully, learned how to eat vegetables and meat, the list goes on. Actually no it doesn’t, that’s about it. Except for one other thing: I’ve learned that I STILL don’t know what the hell I’m doing when it comes to training. You’d think I’d have learned by now, but no. This winter I did a lot of base miles, but zero intervals. This spring I did a lot of racing, but still zero intervals. It’s summer now, and I’ve realized that I need to do intervals. How have I realized this? Because everyone on my team and everyone I race with has done them throughout the year, except me–and they’re all like, “What? You haven’t done any intervals?? That’s dumb. You thought you’d do a big volume of base in the winter and then race yourself into shape? What, are you a bike racer from the 70’s?”
I thought I’d be doing enough racing to cover my intensity needs. I’ve done a lot more racing this year than any other, but it certainly doesn’t make up for doing intervals, especially in the winter months–since there is no racing. For one thing, racing does not provide the same physiological changes that intervals do. Racing is stressful, mentally and physically. It takes a lot out of you just to travel to and from the race, not to mention the psychological tole the actual race takes on you before, during, and afterwards. I think there’s a lot of fitness to be gained from going to a big NRC stage race, but it’s not like we’re doing those every weekend. And even if we were, I think we’d all be overtrained by now. Basically, racing is a lot to recover from without necessarily the correct amount of intensity and without necessarily being in the correct zones. That’s a bad sentence.
As opposed to racing, intervals are low stress: there’s no travel, no sleeping somewhere other than your own bed, no extra time standing on your feet before and after (like at a race), and they don’t “stress you out” either. Although, maybe just a little.
Anyways, I’ve seen the light. When I first started racing, I did too many intervals. This year I did too few. Now it’s time to find the medium. And what better way to start them out this year than with…BAM!!!!! THE MOST STRENUOUS SET OF INTERVALS POSSIBLE!! 8×1 minute to 1.5 minutes on a steep hill, all out. It sounds less difficult than a similar workout I’ve described on here (Nectar Way), since there are only 8, not 20. But they’re actually much more taxing on the body. Because–these intervals include full rests. Those Nectar Way intervals were a vo2 workout–they were about 45 minutes of slogging up a steep hill without a real break. As a result, the power was pretty weak by the second one. They were damn painful, that’s for sure, but only because your body has zero oxygen and infinite lactic acid. Put that way, they sound pretty bad. And they were. But these new intervals, which I heard about from Quinn (who was told about them from an ex-grand tour rider during the 80’s), are a different kind of suffering.
The goal is to do every single one as hard as you possibly can. AS HARD AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN! Most intervals aren’t quite like that. If you did every 5 minute interval as hard as possible, after the first one the next two or three you do would be pretty pitiful. And you’d have to rest for about half an hour in between. But with 1 minute on, though, this type of effort is just at the point of being possible. So, like I said, 1 minute on, 10-15 minutes off. Repeat 5-7 more times for a total of 6-8 intervals. I was shattered by the third one. My power dropped from 800+ to 700- and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get it back up there. Even at full rest.
Quinn’s theory on why these work so well to get you fit is that they adapt your muscles to being able to store more glycogen, since by the third or fourth one, the glycogen in your legs has been drastically reduced. I thought it took a long time for muscle glycogen to be depleted, but I just read online that during fast-twitch trainings, it can be completely used up in 10 minutes. Yeah, I said trainings with an S. It’s time to either Euro-up or shut-up.
Not only do these efforts deplete glycogen, they also deplete ATP immediately during each effort in the first few seconds. And they’re a huge stress on your muscles as well, unlike v02 or threshold intervals. And as an added bonus they do stress the v02 system, although for only a short amount of time. I don’t know. I kind of just made all this up. Well, whatever they do, they must work because some old pro from the 80’s said they do. And everyone knows the most advanced cycling training philosophies and scientifically-proven workouts were produced during the 80’s.
Galen M. and Mike B., if you read this I’m sure you’ll find my reasoning un-flawed. Galen likes long threshold work, Mike likes hammering for 4 hours up hills. Kennett likes 1 minute intervals. Kennett like eat pizza. Kennett a good boy. Kennett like drarwring dinosoares. Everyone likes what they’re already good at. We’ll see how they work, though Quinn also said the old pro said that it takes a long time for the body to make the adaptions to these kind of intervals, so it might take a while to see if they do work. And by then, it could be something else that’s making me go faster. So I guess we’ll never know. As an example of what I’m talking about, here’s a bunch of things that could have made me go so well during last week’s national road race. I present these different variables as things I normally have not included in any part of my pre-race routine:
-For breakfast I had a steak, egg, and mushrooms. Usually I have no steak.
-I shaved my arms the night before to compensate for the heat
-Lang buzzed my head the morning of the race for the heat as well
-I didn’t wear a sweat head band because I couldn’t find one that morning
-I ate a lot more gels than I usually do, and fewer bars
-I used Race Day Boost for five days leading up to the race
-I used Fruit By The Foot for a week leading up to the race
-I played a lot of violent video games for four days leading up to the race
-I put sunscreen on my forehead that morning, not just on my lower face
-I peed my pants while I was in the breakaway (while I was at the back of course)
-Actually, I’ve done that before so that really isn’t a new variable
-I washed the pee off my legs with some water
-The list goes on.
-Actually, no it doesn’t. That’s about it.