Sunday, October 25, 2009

Re-Evaluating "Base"

There are few things in cycling which people get more passionate about than how to perform base training. I've only been cycling for a little while, but I swam for 18 years before that. That background helped to form my opinion. In the fall--at the start of the season--we really put in lots of volume, and much of that volume was done at a tempo/threshold type of effort. We never showed up at the pool and cruised around at a HR of 110 BPM. might know where I am headed...

Why do so many people insist upon cruising around at absurdly slow speeds in order to establish their "base"? Doesn't this just de-train people and lead them towards becoming out of shape? What is the purpose? How does it develop tools which will be used on race day? What foundation is it establishing?

I believe "base training" in cycling has its origins in what some professional racers do for a period of time during the off-season. If you race 9 months per year, say 100-200 times, your body is going to need some time to just cruise along nice and easy before you get back into the swing of things. If you did the "Race to the Sun" and you also peaked for the UCI World Champs, then you probably raced something absurd like 10,000 km. You need to cruise around nice and easy for a while.

Since most of us are still looking to improve from one season to the next, it seems we should focus on continuing to make improvements/gains. That doesn't mean we need to kill ourselves with race intervals each workout, but it is imperative to still go at least moderately hard. I rode 100 miles once--just to say I did it--but I don't feel the need to do it again.

I think the real reason most people do these coffee rides in the winter is they are afraid to truly work on their base, their foundation. The foundation of our sport is our tempo and threshold fitness. 28 hour training weeks won't do it. Tons of threshold/tempo work will take your base fitness to the next level. Its amazing how well you can fine-tune a strong base fitness.

Want to be ready to crush it come spring? Work on your FTP. Many people don't do 2x20s, at least not regularly. They are essential, and they are hard if one is not used to performing them.

I built fitness this year with 2x20s. I love em. I need a mental break from structured 2x20s all the time; however, I still want to further fine tune my base for next year. Base training for me (at least on weekends) means 90-150 minute intervals at high tempo to low-threshold range in WKO+. 120 minutes at 300+ watts is certainly better in terms of base training than just cruising along at 200 for 4-5 hours. During the week, and on crummy weather days, its still 20s on the rollers or fun at Hains.

I guess being new to the sport means I don't accept the norm as gospel truth. Maybe I will fall apart on my bike at 2:01 into Jeff Cup, but I sure wouldn't want to try to get in the break after cuising around at 200 watts for miles on end with weight lifting holding me up.

What does base mean to you? If you lift weights in the fall/winter, how often do you perform 2x20:00? If you didn't lift, could you get an extra tempo workout in each week? What do you during your base?

Up next...quantifying your base/foundation...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

20K in 25:05

Closed out my season with a low-key 20K TT back in San Diego. I grew up out there, and it was great to see my parents. They haven't been able to see me compete in anything in quite some time, so I think they really had fun watching.

I won the Cat 1/2/3 race going away, which is great. I ended up officially in 25:10; however, my computer said 25:05, so that is what I'm going with. The starter got distracted prior to my countdown, and he sent me off late. It didn't matter though, and I certainly wasn't going to be "that guy" who disputes 5 irrelevant seconds.

I hit the taper perfectly. I felt really fresh; however, I almost ruined the whole thing in the first 5 minutes, when I came out of the gate way too hard. I ride with power, so I knew it was too much, but I really couldn't back off. First 5 minutes were 387 watts, the next 15 were only 350, then the final 5 were 368. Overall was 360 for 25:05. I think one of the best preparation training sessions for going out too hard in the TT was a Tuesday noon ride a few weeks ago with Chuck Hutch, thanks Chuck!

Position is really good right now, CDA is approximately .217, and that is without ever going to the tunnel. Although I do lose 25-30 watts from my road position. I need to work on flexibility, I think. I trained smart this year: 8 hours per week average for the last 6 months. Pete Cannell coached me last year, and I basically followed/executed his training methodology this season on my own, thanks Pete! He really knows his stuff.

If I didn't mess up the pacing, I think I could have gone sub-25, which would have been sweet.

I'm thinking big for next year. Not taking 5 months off the bike like I did from Nov '08 through March '09. I might start with VOS Stage Race out in AZ. Its a time based GC, so that is good for me.

Its getting chilly outside, so its time to bring it back indoors. Lots of emotion rollers training with workouts of 45-75 minutes.