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First year training question.

Chris.DChris.D Posts: 12
I've read several posts in old threads advising newer cyclists (first year) to basically "just ride lots" and not worry about intervals or more structured training. My questions:

Why should intervals/more structured training be avoided during the first year or so, unless I misunderstood?

Are there major physiological changes that take years to develop, besides additional aerobic endurance?

I noticed Friel considers under 3 years cycling as "beginner", is he referencing physiological changes that take 3 years to develop?

I've been road cycling since around Nov 2016, started off gently but have been ramping up intensity significantly this year, including significant interval work, long rides and lots of climbing hoping to improve as fast as possible.

Since people rarely state their goals, mine is to complete the 2018 Death Ride in California.

Posts

  • its my belief that it takes time to build a good aerobic base of fitness, and your body needs time to be able to cope with training loads. also your body will need time to develop comfort and a relaxed efficient style. this takes significant time. just be patient.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,258
    By the looks of it, the death ride is basically an endurance challenge, so I'm not sure how useful intervals will be in any case, especially at this stage. I would suggest you need to focus on being comfortable on the bike for several hours at a time, and also be comfortable on the types of climb which require long steady efforts. There are a few threads on here which discuss training for Euro events like the etape, or maratona , might be worth having a look for those.
  • Chris.DChris.D Posts: 12
    My thinking behind the (mainly threshold) intervals was that if I increase my power and endurance at threshold, endurance efforts below this will be easier. My plan is to do longer (6-8+ hour) rides with sustained climbs once the weather cools down. It's simply too hot where I am now (100 degrees F avg recently) to attempt these rides now, so have been doing intense 40 mile rides with climbs and threshold efforts 3-4x/wk in hopes of gaining some endurance efficiently.

    I'm going to search those threads now, thanks.
  • Chris.D wrote:
    My thinking behind the (mainly threshold) intervals was that if I increase my power and endurance at threshold, endurance efforts below this will be easier. My plan is to do longer (6-8+ hour) rides with sustained climbs once the weather cools down. It's simply too hot where I am now (100 degrees F avg recently) to attempt these rides now, so have been doing intense 40 mile rides with climbs and threshold efforts 3-4x/wk in hopes of gaining some endurance efficiently.

    I'm going to search those threads now, thanks.

    6-8 hour rides?, 3-4 x/wk of threshold efforts? what do you mean exactly? intense 40 miles doing what? why do you think this help? how does fit into your goal? regardless of whether you've got a threshold of 150 watts or 300 watts doesn't matter. its not a+b= fitness. some things to consider:
    what does your event require
    when is it
    where are you now
    whats going to make your goal difficult to achieve
    work on a plan from event day back till now
    does your family/ work/ life affect the plan
    what types of training do you need
    hows your diet and health
    etc......
  • Get a book, pick a plan.

    Training with power, Time Crunched Cyclist, etc........most list plans per event type and experience level.

    Start there. Don't pay attention to the "just ride" junk. People ride for years at a "moderate" pace but that's all they can do. To be fast, you have to train.

    Intervals can help with endurance events also. Especially if you're short on time in training. The books cover the topic.
  • Chris.DChris.D Posts: 12
    regardless of whether you've got a threshold of 150 watts or 300 watts doesn't matter.
    etc......

    What I was trying to say was that if I have to sustain 150 watts to climb 5 long hills at say 5mph, I will be much fresher if my threshold power is 300 watts as opposed to 150. I believe at some point climbing hill after hill at threshold over many miles is not sustainable, and you'd be cooked.



    Anyway, my primary interest relates to interval training as a more efficient method of gaining aerobic fitness in the first year of cycling as opposed to just getting miles in. The questions in my OP were related to whether intervals (tempo, sweetspot, threshold) are a good way of rapidly increasing aerobic endurance for a beginner.

    My understanding is that aerobic fitness is the number one priority in endurance cycling, and am just trying to increase my aerobic fitness as quickly/efficiently as possible. The more aerobic endurance I am able to develop this year, the better off I will be for my goal next year. Make sense?

    Edit to add: Regarding training books/articles, the more I read the more confused I am... Zone 2 base miles are good/waste of time, mitochondria and capillarization are/are not developed in lower intensities, Friel/Carmichael are right/wrong, intervals help endurance/don't help endurance, the list goes on...
  • You wouldn't necessarily undertake intervals to improve aerobic endurance as an interval would be completed at or above anaerobic threshold which would by definition be training your anaerobic capacity.

    It's the tricky thing with a lot of books/generic training plans, they assume a certain level of fitness on the part of the rider, so if you had been riding for years and had a well developed aerobic capacity then you would likely see decent fitness gains from intervals but for a beginner it is different as your body has not undergone years of physiological adaptations (hence why people like Joe Friel advise against it for beginners). The general exception is people crossing over from other sports who are new to cycling but not endurance type activity who may be able to progress their training more rapidly.
  • Chris.DChris.D Posts: 12
    You wouldn't necessarily undertake intervals to improve aerobic endurance as an interval would be completed at or above anaerobic threshold which would by definition be training your anaerobic capacity.

    See I am confused I guess. :? I thought sweetspot and threshold intervals were primarily aerobic and that intervals above ones Vo2max were targeted more toward anaerobic capacity.
    ...so if you had been riding for years and had a well developed aerobic capacity then you would likely see decent fitness gains from intervals but for a beginner it is different as your body has not undergone years of physiological adaptations (hence why people like Joe Friel advise against it for beginners).

    This is exactly what I was wondering about, thanks. I have noticed that several training plans seem to assume a certain level of fitness. Do you know what the specific physiological adaptations that happen over the first 2-3 years are? Just curious to learn more about them.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    Ride lots. Interval training may help a bit but you do need a good a base to make the most of intervals. It take years to build that base. that does not mean avoid intervals for the next 5 years but you will find a interval session fatigues you more now than it will in two years time when your aerobic fittness has improved. aerobic fittness will be improved by training at or below (mostly below) FTP. longer intervals will do this. short 30 sec to 1 minute intervals above FTP the one that make you gasp and hurt dont help aerobic fittness.

    Intervals the improve your lactate threshold will also help your aerobic fittness work too. 5 minute intervals at 70 to 80% of FTP are doable (how many you can mange will depend on your fittness levels) but will improve aerobic fittness, FTP and lactate threshold over time. Other type of riding that helps this is "sweetspot" but this can be very fatigue inducing and under overs where you ride a bit above the pace you can sustain for 5 minutes then drop below for 5 minutes then up the pace again then repeat for 30 minutes. by the end of it you will be aching in a good way.

    Essentially you are training for long TT's. which are done at the fasted pace you can sustain for that distance. this is aerobic power and all of the above will improve that.

    The death ride is 129 mile ride with a fair bit of climbing so is perfectly doable but is going to require more than just being aerobically fit. A rider with a FTP of 320W but has trained soley for 1 hr circuit races may run into problems on the death ride. The one thing you need to do is build your bodies ability to burn fats. That does not come from interval training but will come from riding long distances. This will be more important than interval training for you. riding lots however does mean intervals. If you ride lumpy routes then each hill becomes an interval all you have to do is pace it right at around 70% to 100% of FTP. 5 hills if 5 minutes longs is a damm good workout. they dont need to evenly spaced but can be if you do hill reps. Not every ride though should involve intervals though as you need recovery time. All riding is help. Some people talk about junk miles, there is no such thing. all riding is good, it will help aerobic fittness to some extent and is better than driving. If you can commute by bike regularly that is the best thing you can do. Many long distance TT riders commute by bike every day and it not just because they love riding there bike (they do) it is the aerobic and recovery time benefits it brings.

    So dont over think this. the basics are simple they involve riding (hills or into the wind) and not overdoing it. leave recovery time and that will become shorter the more you ride. It takes time though, you have a year though.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • Chris.DChris.D Posts: 12
    The one thing you need to do is build your bodies ability to burn fats. That does not come from interval training but will come from riding long distances. This will be more important than interval training for you.

    Good stuff, thank you.

    One question regarding the above quote. I though I remember reading an old post where Alex Simmons (I think?) wrote something to the effect that you train your body to burn more fat on rides by increasing FTP, which will cause more of your overall ride time to be spent at levels of effort that rely more on fats than glycogen.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    uhmm? Lower intensity i.e endurance rides burn fats more than a shorter higher intenstiy ride would. so a 1.5 hr to 2 hr high intensity ride will be mostly gylogen fuelled if your stores are full. A 5 hour ride at lower intensity will burn a greater proportion of fats. So longer rides will help you develop your fat burning. I remember a few years ago always hitting the wall at around 80 miles ~5 hrs even if I had eaten. I have over come that thankfully. So alex is not wrong but what he is describing is making say a 17 to 18 mph ride fat burning where as for the untrained that pace maybe eyeballs out and be fuelled by glycogen until that runs out. However a longer ride at the right intensity will be fat burning in time with other training the pace that intensity allows will improve. As you get fitter that will mean a faster mostly fat burning ride.

    I know what effort is fat burning for me now have done lots of long rides and this year some 12hr and a 24hr TT. That effort 5 years ago would have been a eyeballs out club run effort where I would have blown and frequently did. So FTP has gone up and fat burning ability has too.

    Your cycling diet needs to be one of regular longer rides and higher intensity shorter rides with recovery time or active recovery rides in between (commuting is good for this), to be quick over longer distances if that is your goal. If you want to be quick in a 10 mile Tt or a 1 hr race then your training mix will be quite different. So I dont think alex simmons is wrong we are saying the same thing but putting it in a different way.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,258
    uhmm? Lower intensity i.e endurance rides burn fats more than a shorter higher intenstiy ride would.

    Calories used equates to time + intensity. 'Fat' doesn't really come into it. It's quite possible for a shorter ride at a high intensity to be equally as demanding on energy stores as a longer, lower intensity ride.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    I meant a longer ride at lower intensity than a shorter ride at higher intensity so we are thinking the same thing. I agree with statement that a road race could be as demanding on energy as a much longer ride.

    You always burn a mix of fats and glycogen. What that mix is depends on the intensity of the effort, how much gylcogen you have, your diet, how well adapted you are at burning fats.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • See I am confused I guess. :? I thought sweetspot and threshold intervals were primarily aerobic and that intervals above ones Vo2max were targeted more toward anaerobic capacity.

    To be fair it is maybe a matter of what you class as an interval. I would class an interval as something around 105-120% of FTP. Sweet spot can border aerobic/anaerobic but I would tend to do this as a longer high intensity ride of around 60-90mins and wouldn't see it as an interval but as an aerobic training session that is targeting a different fitness goal to an anaerobic interval session. Other people may see it differently though.
    Do you know what the specific physiological adaptations that happen over the first 2-3 years are? Just curious to learn more about them.

    I would not in any way class myself as an expert and most of the general principles I have picked up from undertaking testing and coaching over the years. As I understand it, it is essentially things such as increased stroke volume, increased blood plasma, increased size and volume of mitochondria in muscle fibres and a whole load of other metabolic processes that basically improve the muscles and the CV systems ability to work at higher intensity for longer periods. As mentioned the important thing to note is that these changes take a significant period of time in most people. Really your body is pretty good at telling you when you are able to work harder and longer (i.e. the changes are taking place) and it will become apparent in the way you feel when riding.
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