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Chris Carmichael's Time Crunched Cyclist training plan

andyboy66andyboy66 Posts: 5
edited September 2012 in Training, fitness and health
Hi
Does anyone have any experience in using the Time Crunched Cyclist Training plans in the book by Chris Carmichael?

I don't understand the code he uses for his "Over / Under" power intervals.

The workout is written as:
60 to 90 min. EM with 3 x 8 min OU (3U, 10) (6 min RBI)

Which in english is 60 to 90 mins workout duration. Endurance Miles Pace (which for me is at a heart rate below 157) with 3 x Over / Under power intervals lasting 8 mins recovering 6 minutes between intervals. The Over Under bit means raise intensity alternating between max effort (the "over" bit) and Climbing Repeat intensity (heart rate of 163/167 for me - the "under" part).

The bit I don't get is the " (3U, 10) " part. What does this mean? - I assume its the time to spend at the "over" and "under" intensities - but what are the 3 and 10? - can't be minutes as the interval lasts 8 mins in total.

I know I have to ride 3 x 8 min intervals and vary the effort from 163/167 then up to >172 but not sure how long for each.

Can anyone shed any light on this?

Andy
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Posts

  • johncpjohncp Posts: 302
    Two things - over/under sessions are SS(steady state) alternating with CR (climbing repeat). I think if you did it as you say you'd have a very hard time! The notation is easy, but you've misread a letter as a number, its not 10 its 1o ie 3mins under (SS pace) 1 minute over (CR pace). Page 123 , wk 3 Thursday session spells it out in full.

    So the session you quote is:

    8 mins, first three at SS(under) pace, next one minute at CR(over) pace and repeat until 8 mins is up so just two repeats then 6 mins rest between intervals
    Hope that helps - how's it going otherwise, I'm just about to start week three of new competitor program, so just getting into the more unpleasant power type intervals :shock:
    If you haven't got a headwind you're not trying hard enough
  • Aha - the penny drops. That makes complete sense now, thank you so much.

    I'm getting on well with it so far, I've seen a noticable increase in performance week on week and there's enough rest in there to make me not too tired to do the next hard session.

    The appeal for me is fewer hours to get reasonable fitness - with a new baby last year my priorities and spare time have changed and my cycling suffered as a result. I just don't have the hours I used to to put in endless early season Base miles.

    Thanks again for spotting this.

    Andy
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    I'm still wading through the waffly, introductory chapters! Between reads I'm doing a 12 mile loop with 4 hills in it. I suspect I'm putting off starting for real.
  • Chris JamesChris James Posts: 1,040
    keef66 wrote:
    I'm still wading through the waffly, introductory chapters! Between reads I'm doing a 12 mile loop with 4 hills in it. I suspect I'm putting off starting for real.

    Judging by the quote in the first post here then I don't blame you!
  • johncpjohncp Posts: 302
    keef66 wrote:
    I'm still wading through the waffly, introductory chapters! Between reads I'm doing a 12 mile loop with 4 hills in it. I suspect I'm putting off starting for real.

    Judging by the quote in the first post here then I don't blame you!

    Once you get past the BS that most US texts seem to require, the sessions are very straightforward and the programs fairly easy to understand once you get your head around the notation (as the original question). I'm using the program to get early season fitness quickly on the turbo while we are still stuck with dark nights and cold/icy weekends. Once weather/light improves will try to do some of the power and threshold sessions as part of a road ride.
    If you haven't got a headwind you're not trying hard enough
  • I'm doing the experiened century program, just finished week 3. So glad of the rest week. have to say I'm enjoying it and feeling stronger but it is bl**dy hard work
  • skinseyskinsey Posts: 105
    I'm just finishing week 2 of the TCTP. Doing it to get ready for 1st sportive at end of March. I'm afraid my brain goes so mushy during the harder sessions I have to write out the cumulative times on a piece of paper so I know from the time elapsed readout on the turbo exactly where I'm up to. Sad, but at least it shows I'm working.
  • whats the overall opinion guys, is it worth purchasing?
  • It's a decent read; however, I don't think the approach is quite as revolutionary as he seems to claim. Essentially, he says if you want to peak for a particular event/period of time then in the 7-8 weeks prior to this date introduce high intensity intervals into your training that induce VO2Max. OK, it's a bit more sophisticated than that, but not much. The training plans he outlines seem pretty sensible, but I'm not sure that they alone justify the purchase of the book. You could get pretty much the same information through a selective reading of some of the better informed comments on this forum.
  • AndsAnds Posts: 1,437
    I bought it for Mr Ands for Xmas. He already had another book by Chris Carmichael, which was the Lance Armstrong Performace Program. I'm not sure what I expected from the Time Crunched book but I almost sent it back to Amazon as it was so similar to the other book. The only difference is that the trianing program is based on 6hrs a week as opposed to the other book which was based on 12+hrs a week I suppose in that respect, it serves its purpose in that the training programs are different but the other 90% of the book is more or less the same! (And my personal opinion is that the TCTP is full of waffle as the author is trying to pad out a new book that is essentially very similar to the one he wrote before.)

    That said, I have been reading it heaps myself so I'm glad I didn't send it back, and it has helped me understand how to structure intervals properly.

    Probably worth the tenner for the training programme if, like me perhaps, you haven't tried to follow a structured program before. :)
  • I've just completed week 4 of the new Century Plan.

    I'm very happy with how much my fitness has improved in such a short time. The interval sessions that felt very hard in week 1 are now dispatched comparatively easy.

    The Over Under intervals this week made me dig a bit deeper but the harder effort is balanced by more rest days.

    On the road speed is up for the same effort and there is a tangible increase in power and my ability to hold that power for longer.

    Compared with plans I've used in previous years - i.e ones by Joe Freil (Cyclists Training Bible) I'm suprised how much benefit I've reaped from comparatively few hours. With a very busy home / work schedule this works for me.

    I hope I can keep to the plan for the remaining 7 weeks and if my fitness continues to improve as it has thus far I'll be a very happy bunny.
  • I think it depends on how you want to use the book to get the benefit. It states early on that the program will get you into shape for doing events but not at a level that is sustainable for a long time as you have no long base training in place.

    I have already done my base work and I'm using this as an intensity training block to hopefully increase my power levels. I'm at the end of week 4 and so far I think it's working.
  • doyler78doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    lochindaal wrote:
    I think it depends on how you want to use the book to get the benefit. It states early on that the program will get you into shape for doing events but not at a level that is sustainable for a long time as you have no long base training in place.

    I have already done my base work and I'm using this as an intensity training block to hopefully increase my power levels. I'm at the end of week 4 and so far I think it's working.

    Are you saying that you believe that because you have built a base now as per a normal periodised training plan that come then end of this TCTP that you can rely on that base period training in the same way that you would had you not done the TCTP. IOW you believe that you can somehow shortcut your building of sustainable power (sustainable beyond the limits of this TCTP plan). If you are then I think that is a mistake. I believe if you are going to be using this plan then you would need to be in it until then end of summer this year simply because any transition at the end to support a more normal training regime will require a base and build period again and that will take more of a chunk out of training year than doing the transition phase in the book and then doing the whole thing again.

    I don't think Carmichael intends this programme to be treated as a way to quickly build power without having some payback at the end. The payback is fatigue which can't be quickly recovered from without a period of much less intensity. Yes you can keep a lot of power gains however by the time you can regularise your programme to support your increase in training volume the season will be near over hence why just doing the plan over again would make more sense to me.

    Of course that's one for the coaches just how I read it.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    I have the book, As I started following it I realise I had more time for training than I had anticipated. The book states that there isn't a substitute for getting the hours in however the TCTP works to build you to a very short peak followed by a good period of rest.

    The interval sessions are good and hard though...
  • Think the book is great - perfect for non-professionals, who cannot dedicate more than 12 hours a week to training.

    One might be tempted to just take the training plans from the book without reading the entire book - but to really understand them (and have the knowledge that enables one to ensure they are training at the right intensity and knowing when and why to ease off) then I think you need to really read the book.

    In a way the book does say it is a substitute for getting the hours in, but it clearly states that the peak period won't be as long or as sustained as that achieved through the traditional (long hours, less intense) approach. If you are not "time-crunched" then stick to traditional style training plans - otherwise follow the book's approach.

    One thing I don't understand - and the book doesn't make clear - is if I decide to do two periods of the training plan (i.e. two 11-week plans) then Carmichael says I must "rest for 4-6 weeks in between plans" - but what exactly does Carmichael mean by "rest".
    Do I need to stop completely? Or turn all training rides into EM rides - and if so, how many hours a week (still 6-8 hours a week)?

    If anyone knows for sure what the answer is to this (or have experience of doing several 11-week plans in a year) then please let me know.

    Thanks
    Sat
  • Gav888Gav888 Posts: 946
    It's a decent read; however, I don't think the approach is quite as revolutionary as he seems to claim. Essentially, he says if you want to peak for a particular event/period of time then in the 7-8 weeks prior to this date introduce high intensity intervals into your training that induce VO2Max. OK, it's a bit more sophisticated than that, but not much. The training plans he outlines seem pretty sensible, but I'm not sure that they alone justify the purchase of the book. You could get pretty much the same information through a selective reading of some of the better informed comments on this forum.

    I spent alot of time research training, progression, periodization etc, basically all aspects of training so I could create my own plan, spent ages putting it all together then I saw this and thought it was basically the same as what I had done :twisted:
    Cycling never gets any easier, you just go faster - Greg LeMond
  • Gav888 wrote:
    It's a decent read; however, I don't think the approach is quite as revolutionary as he seems to claim. Essentially, he says if you want to peak for a particular event/period of time then in the 7-8 weeks prior to this date introduce high intensity intervals into your training that induce VO2Max. OK, it's a bit more sophisticated than that, but not much. The training plans he outlines seem pretty sensible, but I'm not sure that they alone justify the purchase of the book. You could get pretty much the same information through a selective reading of some of the better informed comments on this forum.

    I spent alot of time research training, progression, periodization etc, basically all aspects of training so I could create my own plan, spent ages putting it all together then I saw this and thought it was basically the same as what I had done :twisted:

    My own very humble and probably uninformed opinion is that it's very easy to overcomplicate training, especially for the amateur cyclist. Probably a lot of us simply don't do enough training, don't do it consistently enough, and don't make sure we progress our training load over time (either in terms of intensity and/or volume.) Any other details are just that: details.
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,359
    I still find it hard to relate to anyone who has up to 12 hours a week to ride and considers that to be "time-crunched"
  • Gav888Gav888 Posts: 946
    bompington wrote:
    I still find it hard to relate to anyone who has up to 12 hours a week to ride and considers that to be "time-crunched"

    I usually have 6 - 8 hours a week to train, that is time crunched to me.....
    Cycling never gets any easier, you just go faster - Greg LeMond
  • bompington wrote:
    I still find it hard to relate to anyone who has up to 12 hours a week to ride and considers that to be "time-crunched"

    Carmichael doesn't consider 12 hours a week to be time-crunched either. He clearly states in his "Terms and Conditions" that the classic endurance training method works for athletes who have over 10-12 hours a week.

    I think Carmichael implies that anyone who has 12 hrs or more a week to train should stick to classic training (lower intensity and longer duration) - if they tried to do the TCTP for more than 8 hours a week then there's a good risk of over-training.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    I think he suggests 6 hours a week, which is the reason it appealed to me.

    I've had the book for a year; must get round to giving it a go :oops:
  • satsumo wrote:
    One thing I don't understand - and the book doesn't make clear - is if I decide to do two periods of the training plan (i.e. two 11-week plans) then Carmichael says I must "rest for 4-6 weeks in between plans" - but what exactly does Carmichael mean by "rest".
    Do I need to stop completely? Or turn all training rides into EM rides - and if so, how many hours a week (still 6-8 hours a week)?

    it may be hard to find but it is in the book - he indicates not backing off on the time factor for the recommended month off between cycles, just the intensity. So you still want to stay on the bike 6-8 hours a week but spend the time doing EM and Tempo rides and NOT doing any intervals. The example he also uses is that you should stick to the riding days so that your available blocks of time don't get sucked into other non-bike actvities.

    I personally used the plan last season after a decade off the bike and a start over with the Cat5's. Before the program I was getting dropped on the climbs by my partners and wouldn't even have contemplated racing. By week six I did my first race and pretty much placed in the top 10 or 15 in the remaining races of the season. I'll be doing exactly the same thing this year on my path to the 4's and beyond except this season we do 2 cycles. Next year I'll probably give the experienced competitor a go.
  • doyler78doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    danfoz wrote:
    satsumo wrote:
    One thing I don't understand - and the book doesn't make clear - is if I decide to do two periods of the training plan (i.e. two 11-week plans) then Carmichael says I must "rest for 4-6 weeks in between plans" - but what exactly does Carmichael mean by "rest".
    Do I need to stop completely? Or turn all training rides into EM rides - and if so, how many hours a week (still 6-8 hours a week)?

    it may be hard to find but it is in the book - he indicates not backing off on the time factor for the recommended month off between cycles, just the intensity. So you still want to stay on the bike 6-8 hours a week but spend the time doing EM and Tempo rides and NOT doing any intervals. The example he also uses is that you should stick to the riding days so that your available blocks of time don't get sucked into other non-bike actvities.

    I personally used the plan last season after a decade off the bike and a start over with the Cat5's. Before the program I was getting dropped on the climbs by my partners and wouldn't even have contemplated racing. By week six I did my first race and pretty much placed in the top 10 or 15 in the remaining races of the season. I'll be doing exactly the same thing this year on my path to the 4's and beyond except this season we do 2 cycles. Next year I'll probably give the experienced competitor a go.

    How long was your race season and how much of the season was lost to recovery phases?
  • I've got the book but got bored by the 1st couple of chapters of sentimental nonsense. I'm sticking with the RMF ( Race Myself Fit) training plan as that seems to work for me.

    No point being all 'Mustard' and flying in March then dying a horrible death through burn out come May.
  • Personally I would recommend getting past the introduction chapters - then decide if it's for you.

    If you follow the plan properly (and take note of advice on overtraining - after all, everyone is different, hence the 11-week plan may be too much, or too little, for some people) then you wont burn out.

    danfoz - thanks for the heads-up...I knew I had read it somewhere, but just couldn't find it!! :oops:

    Also, another question for those that have given the plan a go....

    The 11-week plan leads to a peak around week 8 - so if I am aiming to do a ten-day bike ride (1400 miles - London to Barcelona, including Mont Ventoux) should I aim to have the plan hit week 8 just before I begin my epic ride?
    Or should I taper before the trip (which is what I am used to doing, for marathon and ultra-distance running events)? :?:
  • satsumo wrote:
    If you follow the plan properly (and take note of advice on overtraining - after all, everyone is different, hence the 11-week plan may be too much, or too little, for some people) then you won’t burn out.
    Well said, I only did one cycle last season, the 'new' competitor. The first race I entered hit during week 6 during the summer (I didn’t do any spring races) and I rode the fitness all the way to my last race October 3rd, waaay after I ended the 10/11 week program.

    After the program, I was actively riding 4 times a week and still racing, with the occasional Tuesday interval session - these I kept on the shorter side or around 1 minute each ie. 2 sets of 3 PI type intensity, and a longer ride of around 50 miles every 2 or 3 weeks or so. That and weekly racing on Saturdays was enough to hold onto most of the fitness I earned and seemed enough to have serious fun in the 5's. I almost won the last race! If one continues riding, the fitness one earns isn't suddenly lost a few weeks after finishing the program and I didn’t feel burned out in the slightest. Granted I’m 43 and these days always err on the side of caution when training hard.

    The training is intense though, I needed to take naps often, you need at least 8 hours of sleep a night, and many days I had a slightly high temperature and elevated pulse. I could see the risk of burnout if common sense isn't employed.

    I am planning my cycle around NYC’s spring series with the first race starting at the end of week 3 and the last race hitting week 10. Will then upgrade to the 4’s, continue riding 4 times a week including Saturday races for a month (without worrying about results) and then begin a new cycle for a strong finish to the season. Carmichael indicates a number of his successful athletes do this.

    For your trip, planning around week 8 seems fine – you’d probably do just as well planning it around week 7 or even 6 but I would certainly consider taking it easy a few days before your trip so you are nice and refreshed and don’t feel tired. Good luck!
  • kingrollokingrollo Posts: 3,147
    Ive ordered this ....do I need a HRM .....Or can I go on perceived effort.....thought long and hard about £10 for the back......really don't want to buy a hrm unless essential - had 2 before - both broke !
  • kingrollo wrote:
    Ive ordered this ....do I need a HRM .....Or can I go on perceived effort.....thought long and hard about £10 for the back......really don't want to buy a hrm unless essential - had 2 before - both broke !

    If you have been riding and done intervals before you may be able to go without the HRM and just on RPE. Otherwise go with the HR, some of the workouts are specific to a few % points so unless you know what just under your LT "feels like", you may be short changing it. That said, intervals were around long before HR monitors. In the old days the coach would yell from the back of the scooter or out the car window "ok GO GO GO" and then "OK Relax guys".

    If I must confess, I did the cycle last year with great results using RPE, but because I have been riding a very long time (my first race was back in 1982). The big problem is that on EM days you might actually go a bit too hard, and then on hard days not go hard enough. Also without the experience, the Over/Unders will be tricky. You will no doubt still see great results if you stick to the plan using RPE. This coming season I am definitley using the HR, and if I can save a few $$ would like to use power next year instead.

    At the very least you will need a timepiece that is directly infront of yer face- attached to your stem or something. You will not be able to look at your wrist repeatedly on the harder efforrts to make sure you timed it right!
  • G-WizG-Wiz Posts: 261
    I bought it and found it a lot easier to follow than something like Joe Friels book that still leaves a lot of work to construct a programme.

    I've started building some of the interval sessions in to regular training and aiming to do the thing properly as the days get longer (main goal is July). I'm feeling stronger but the sessions are hard. First time on a bike I've felt like I'm getting fit to ride rather than just riding to get fit.
  • G-WizG-Wiz Posts: 261
    I bought it and found it a lot easier to follow than something like Joe Friels book that still leaves a lot of work to construct a programme.

    I've started building some of the interval sessions in to regular training and aiming to do the thing properly as the days get longer (main goal is July). I'm feeling stronger but the sessions are hard. First time on a bike I've felt like I'm getting fit to ride rather than just riding to get fit.
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