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Specific Training vs Interval Training

Sam KennedySam Kennedy Posts: 32
I'm currently training for a 10 mile time trial at the end of July. I've read the CTB and about periodisation, and understand that training should become more like the target event. Right now I'm doing several shorter intervals at threshold, but my plan is to decrease the number of intervals and increase the duration to around what I'd expect to do in a 10.

I've also read about the benefit of doing high intensity intervals above threshold, my question is that while intervals are beneficial, they don't really reflect the requirements to ride a short time trial, so should they be a part of my plan? I'm doing some VO2 efforts once a week, just on the hills, it's not very structured so I'm unsure of whether they should be a more structured part of my plan?


  • andyebandyeb Posts: 407
    The problem with actually doing time trials as your training for time trials is that it puts you squarely in training "no mans land", where you aren't going easy enough to get the volume in, but not so hard that you significantly stress your anaerobic system. As your body can only cope with so much training load without becoming fatigued or over trained, it doesn't represent the best possible use of your training time.

    Instead, the key to a quicker 10TT time is raising your anaerobic threshold. There are two key ways to do this:

    - a larger volume of tempo or sweet-spot work just below threshold; this is the kind of pace you might tackle a hard 30 or 40 mile ride at; hard but sustainable for over an hour. You can view this work as "pushing your threshold up".

    - a smaller volume of above-threshold work in the form of intervals. Typical interval durations are 30s/1m/5m/10m/20m. You can view this work as "pulling your threshold up"

    You can combine both in a single workout - google "over under intervals" for more info.

    Doing the workouts on a turbo or rollers gives you repeatability and hence allows you to target incremental improvements and track your progress without outside factors like weather affecting results.

    Finally, make sure you do the bulk of your training in your time-trialling position, whether that's on the drops, tri bars etc. And make sure you taper in the week before your event, so you come to it as fresh as possible.
  • Specificity is about doing training that develops the specific attributes required to improve performance for your chosen goals events. They can be physiological, physical, bio-mechanical, technical, tactical, strategic etc.

    Whilst doing training that replicates racing is one way, that is a fairly limited approach, and hence specific training for a TT can encompass a wide range of training activities. For example, the primary physiological determinant of success in short TTs is your aerobic cycling fitness, and there are many many ways to go about improving that. Nevertheless, replicating race like effort at times in your training diet is still a pretty good approach. The trick is knowing how much is enough.

    What is best/optimal for you is pretty individual and impossible to answer in a general sense. There are however some fundamental principles that apply to everyone seeking to improve performance.

    At end of the day, if the training you are doing is improving your performance, then you have your answer. The question then becomes, could an alternative training strategy have had a different level of impact?
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