Junk Miles?

Hi everybody, I average about 175 miles a week across the year with 200+ mile weeks in the summer. This will include 20 mile commutes to home from my partners house a midweek ride usually varies between 30 and 50 miles sometimes a Saturday ride about 20 mile plus and then my main ride on a Sunday which varies from about 72 miles in the winter to a 100+ in the summer.

My question therefor is should I continue with all the junk/base miles in the week or would I get more benefit by stopping doing that and replacing it with a structured training regimen such as doing HIIT twice a week and some off the bike strength training in between and do my usual long ride on a Sunday? what do you think?

I would be very grateful for any insight into this.

Comments

  • cruff
    cruff Posts: 1,518
    Depending on what you want to achieve, there's either no such thing as 'junk miles', or yes - you should replace them with something structured.

    If you're just riding for pleasure or to improve generally then just riding will help you get 'stronger' in so much as you'll be improving your aerobic base. That'll help you ride further or for longer.

    If you have serious improvement in mind then you'll get more bang for your buck from doing this:

    Take a week to test and establish your zones (power and/or hr) - FTP, Ramp, 5 minute and 1 minute power

    Then do two HIIT sessions a week, one FTP or over-under session and two base rides at the weekend, with one short zero intensity recovery ride and one day off. Escalate the intensity/distance by 10% in week 2 and another 10% in week 3, then in week 4 do half the volume and intensity of week 2. Repeat the cycle for the next two months. Test at the end - you should have improved.
    Fat chopper. Some racing. Some testing. Some crashing.
    Specialising in Git Daaahns and Cafs. Norvern Munkey/Transplanted Laaandoner.
  • joeyhalloran
    joeyhalloran Posts: 1,073
    Certainly if you want to improve your cycling ability you need to add in some structured training but it doesn't mean stop what you are currently doing.

    I do a similar sort of volume as (usually) I have a 20 mile commute to work. I take this pretty easy and just see at as base level activity and add structure on top. Normally 2 x turbo sessions in the week alongside 1x strength session and then either a long group ride or another longer structure interval session at the weekend. They key for me is to keep the commutes easy to leave me fresh enough to really hit the numbers for the structured sessions.
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,244
    As above... it depends what you want to achieve. I used to do a lot of slower miles (15-16 mph) and it was useful for very long Audax events... now that events are off I do shorter, more structured training rides (19-20 mph). Of course power goes up, I am leaner, meaner and faster, but can I do 200-300 km? I don't know... right now I don't feel like
    left the forum March 2023
  • I’m in a similar boat of needing base miles. This year so far my training has been short intense efforts, typically 40km with 1,000 m of climbing with cat 3 and 4 hills. I’m looking forward to cafes reopening so I can enjoy much longer rides with flatter sections between the hills. I’m hoping my improved FTP and hill times will be of benefit for longer rides, or will I get burned out after 2 or 3 hours?
    I want to climb hills so badly;
    and I climb hills so badly
  • webboo
    webboo Posts: 6,087
    I tend to do a couple of hour long sessions that include some intervals, then a couple of 100k plus rides. When I haven’t been able to do the long rides, I don’t find that getting back up to that distance requires more than 3 or 4 build up rides. Even when I’m using the turbo instead of riding outside.
  • aberdeen_lune
    aberdeen_lune Posts: 547
    All good advice above. Yes it’s not junk miles but obviously not the right training if you are going to race crits for example. Suggest you just vary it a bit. Long ride should be at base pace, midweek you could do one tempo , one VO2 Max efforts session like hill efforts 3-4 minutes and/or one over unders session. Anything else would be recovery at very easy pace.

    My Garmin tells me when my training has been unproductive. I have the 830. So for ages it told me unproductive majority of my training was base. I was in fact detraining. This was after an enforced 8 weeks on the turbo focusing on threshold stuff and VO2 max. Recently I have changed things about. Midweek focus on the shorter rides, around 2 hrs, I do tempo or VO2 efforts. Only at the weekend do I concentrate on base/ hours in the saddle. So Garmin is happier with me now but warns my training load is high so I may burn out. Whatever you do build in enough recovery, that’s when you improve.
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,244
    Neuromuscular or nothing... :)
    left the forum March 2023
  • N0bodyOfTheGoat
    N0bodyOfTheGoat Posts: 5,845

    Neuromuscular or nothing... :)

    Genuine question ugo, not taking the pee, have you made progress towards a 500W 1min effort since buying the power meter? Vaguely recall you regarding it as mission impossible, in 2018 iirc.
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
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  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,244

    Neuromuscular or nothing... :)

    Genuine question ugo, not taking the pee, have you made progress towards a 500W 1min effort since buying the power meter? Vaguely recall you regarding it as mission impossible, in 2018 iirc.
    Let me have a look at my fancy power curve...

    My best 1 minute is 446 Watt, my best 500 W is only 18 seconds, but that might be because I haven't got a hill which is long enough and short enough at the same time... I am sure I can do 25-30 seconds at 500 W, given the right bump.

    That's quite some progress, as when I got the PM, I was dubious I could even do 1 minute at 400 W and now it appears I can do almost 2 minutes at 400 W... I've also lost 5 kg over past couple of months, so all those watts are worth a lot more.

    It's all very good progress really and I've "smashed" all my PB on all the local climbs
    left the forum March 2023
  • N0bodyOfTheGoat
    N0bodyOfTheGoat Posts: 5,845

    Neuromuscular or nothing... :)

    Genuine question ugo, not taking the pee, have you made progress towards a 500W 1min effort since buying the power meter? Vaguely recall you regarding it as mission impossible, in 2018 iirc.
    Let me have a look at my fancy power curve...

    My best 1 minute is 446 Watt, my best 500 W is only 18 seconds, but that might be because I haven't got a hill which is long enough and short enough at the same time... I am sure I can do 25-30 seconds at 500 W, given the right bump.

    That's quite some progress, as when I got the PM, I was dubious I could even do 1 minute at 400 W and now it appears I can do almost 2 minutes at 400 W... I've also lost 5 kg over past couple of months, so all those watts are worth a lot more.

    It's all very good progress really and I've "smashed" all my PB on all the local climbs
    Good stuff, especially on the 400W duration, these sort of ~2min efforts seem far easier to attempt on the turbo than on real local hills... Especially when they leave you with dead legs and gasping breath, at least you have home comforts close to hand rather than being stuck in the middle of nowhere!
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,244



    Good stuff, especially on the 400W duration, these sort of ~2min efforts seem far easier to attempt on the turbo than on real local hills... Especially when they leave you with dead legs and gasping breath, at least you have home comforts close to hand rather than being stuck in the middle of nowhere!

    Yep... and don't forget the headwind on the way home!

    https://www.strava.com/activities/3487246590

    left the forum March 2023
  • Thanks for the valuable information everybody I will take it all on-board.
  • zest28
    zest28 Posts: 403
    There are some pro’s in my local area and if I look at how they train, they do alot of big rides (160km with 1500m of climbing) per week. They also hold most of the KOM’s here which they have set during there big rides.

    So I would say “junk miles” is better than structured training if you want to be really good.



  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    zest28 said:

    There are some pro’s in my local area and if I look at how they train, they do alot of big rides (160km with 1500m of climbing) per week. They also hold most of the KOM’s here which they have set during there big rides.

    So I would say “junk miles” is better than structured training if you want to be really good.

    High mileage does not necessarily mean 'junk' though. High volume is what most of the pro/elite teams do - and if you do enough of it, it can be a very effective way of training. But that doesn't mean it's all they do.

  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,244
    I guess it depends what the aim is... if you want to race time trials, circuits or short crits, then you can do most of the work on a home trainer. PRO need to race for 5 or even 7 hours, maybe day to day, and that's something you can't prepare on a trainer, you need to go out and put the hours in the saddle.

    Even just to condition your skin and avoid having a saddle sore when it matters
    left the forum March 2023
  • bobmcstuff
    bobmcstuff Posts: 11,196
    edited June 2020

    zest28 said:

    There are some pro’s in my local area and if I look at how they train, they do alot of big rides (160km with 1500m of climbing) per week. They also hold most of the KOM’s here which they have set during there big rides.

    So I would say “junk miles” is better than structured training if you want to be really good.

    High mileage does not necessarily mean 'junk' though. High volume is what most of the pro/elite teams do - and if you do enough of it, it can be a very effective way of training. But that doesn't mean it's all they do.

    Yeah, just because they do a lot of long rides does not mean they are unstructured.

    Here's an article about Will Barta: https://www.velonews.com/2019/08/training/progress-from-process-what-it-takes-to-make-it-to-the-worldtour_499217

    He is doing a lot of long rides but that is not the same as junk miles. One thing his coach seems particularly interested in is the "tired 20" i.e., a 20 minute effort after 2500kj of work. To do that, you have to do a moderately long ride... Because in the types of races they do, being able to put power down after 5 or 6 hours in the saddle is really important.

    The idea that they're going out and doing 160km rides every day where they just noodle around with no structure or aims is a bit unrealistic.
  • cruff
    cruff Posts: 1,518
    zest28 said:

    There are some pro’s in my local area and if I look at how they train, they do alot of big rides (160km with 1500m of climbing) per week. They also hold most of the KOM’s here which they have set during there big rides.

    So I would say “junk miles” is better than structured training if you want to be really good.



    OP is unlikely to be a pro... 🙄
    Fat chopper. Some racing. Some testing. Some crashing.
    Specialising in Git Daaahns and Cafs. Norvern Munkey/Transplanted Laaandoner.
  • Junk miles compared to what? Stuffing Doritos in your face on the settee? There is no such thing as junk miles. Period. Could you be doing something more appropriate for what you want to achieve? Possibly. But junk miles do not exist to the amateur cyclist.
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,244
    The theory behind doing long rides in the off season is to condition the body to use more fat as fuel, so that comes race day, the glycogen tank lasts for longer. One of the problems in racing is that you can't digest enough carbs fast enough to keep going at race pace, so those who can use a higher % of fat in their metabolism, can go harder for longer.
    left the forum March 2023
  • MTB_Roadtripper
    MTB_Roadtripper Posts: 61
    edited June 2020
    This has been interesting for me to read. Ive been riding road WAY more since the start of the year and really enjoying it.

    Im in a position now where I can put in a 150 mile/240 km ride in and I enjoy doing so twice a month or so, looking to push that higher as well. 200-300 miles a week in general.

    At the moment I'd like to improve other parts of my riding and get faster but all of the structure that is seemingly required just stresses me out. I think I'll just sprint around when I feel like it and saunter when I don't. My Wahoo has me sprinting for PR's and putting in big efforts where I might not normally.

    Also, I really want to ride every day because im bored stiff if I dont.
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  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,244

    This has been interesting for me to read. Ive been riding road WAY more since the start of the year and really enjoying it.

    Im in a position now where I can put in a 150 mile/240 km ride in and I enjoy doing so twice a month or so, looking to push that higher as well. 200-300 miles a week in general.

    At the moment I'd like to improve other parts of my riding and get faster but all of the structure that is seemingly required just stresses me out. I think I'll just sprint around when I feel like it and saunter when I don't. My Wahoo has me sprinting for PR's and putting in big efforts where I might not normally.

    Also, I really want to ride every day because im bored stiff if I dont.

    The problem with frequent big rides is that you are going to be tired most of the time and it's difficult to do quality training when you are tired, you might even do more damage than good. So, you've got to choose when you want to do big rides and when you want to do training, you can't do both.
    left the forum March 2023
  • bobones
    bobones Posts: 1,215
    All riding contributes to your training load so nothing is truly junk. However, if you go too easy when you're fresh enough to go harder, or go too hard when you need to recover, then these hours spent riding sub-optimally can be viewed as junk to an extent.
  • bobones
    bobones Posts: 1,215

    This has been interesting for me to read. Ive been riding road WAY more since the start of the year and really enjoying it.

    Im in a position now where I can put in a 150 mile/240 km ride in and I enjoy doing so twice a month or so, looking to push that higher as well. 200-300 miles a week in general.

    At the moment I'd like to improve other parts of my riding and get faster but all of the structure that is seemingly required just stresses me out. I think I'll just sprint around when I feel like it and saunter when I don't. My Wahoo has me sprinting for PR's and putting in big efforts where I might not normally.

    Also, I really want to ride every day because im bored stiff if I dont.

    If you've got a power meter then I would suggest you look at Xert. It will open your eyes to a new way of training - easy to understand data, no FTP tests, dynamic training plans that focus on your strengths or weaknesses, set goals and choose an improvement rate that you can realistically achieve. You can "just ride" if that's what you want to do and still get better.