Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ride to Glycogen Depletion

While most of my colleagues top off their glycogen reserves during lunch, I periodically attempt to fully deplete mine. Hard to do on a lunch break, but it can be done. Takes upwards of two hours of mad pace riding chocked full of intervals.

Tuesdays are usually my most intense days even though I'm not usually recovered from weekend activities. Last week I did a 40 miler, hitting a couple 600 footers along the way at all-out VOmax intensity. A few riders may be familiar with Pead and Purgatory Hills. Yesterday I throttled things back just a notch, hitting four shorter hills in a 31 mile loop. These were the double Pine Hills, Tyng Hill and Ponemah Hill. Durations range from 3-4 minutes at above 5.5W/kg intensities. With Newton's Revenge coming up Saturday morning, I don't want to embarrass myself by imploding half way up from major midweek training load.

Looking over my Excel training log for the first six months of the year, I see a trend continues. In my log, I note rides as being either trail or road. My 2009 average speed for all riding is around 15mph. This wouldn't be bad if half my miles were off-road. But this is not the case this year. My road-only average speed is 17.8mph. It is ironic that the slower the speed I train at, the stronger I get. You do not have to average 26mph on your Wednesday night worlds ride to get fast. In fact, many riders will derive junk training value from such rides. To get fast, you need focused bouts of intensity. This is best done alone. Only caveat is you need the mental fortitude to push yourself into extremely unpleasant realms with no one to shame you into going harder.

Several years ago I logged over 10,000 miles of riding. It was one of my worse seasons. Lots of junk miles were involved, very little focused intensity. But my average speed was something like 20mph. These days I ignore average speed of lunch training rides. The commuters and recreational riders at work love talking about these figures of merit. But they are the bane of quality training. Rather, I head out at reasonable pace to warm up, hit a hill interval, then rest until the next interval. This means doing minimal work, just enough to re-process the lactic acid that was built up from the prior interval. Soft pedalling down the back side of a hill is allowed during these workouts. Interestingly, on a couple of the less steep climbs I'm pretty sure I average a faster speed going up than I do for the overall ride. If I were to focus on the ride's average speed, I would go hard to the first interval hill, not be able to hit it as hard as I should, then maintain power down the back side right up to the next interval. This completely diminishes the value of the intervals. For the Training Peaks users out there, a good interval training session should show huge disparity between average and normalized power.

I typically do not allow for full recovery between intervals. Hilly road races rarely afford this luxury. Thus the suffer factor goes way up by the third, fourth or fifth interval. Plan is to do them until power drops dramatically, or in other words, bodily failure. Mission is then complete and it's time to head back in.

Weather looks good for Mt Washington on Saturday - narrow temperature range from upper 40's to low 50's, 30% chance for rain, and not too windy at 30mph. This summer, or lack thereof, will continue to play into my favor by staying cool. I need not worry about overheating. Getting cold will not be an issue either. Looks like more riders are jumping into Newton's Revenge. Maintaining my slim points lead is not going to be easy.


rick is! said...

I think that if you go into a fast group ride with the right training mentality that you can get a better interval workout. At least I do because the fun factor is much higher and I seem to be able to squeeze out a few more (or longer) efforts than on my own.

Hill Junkie said...

Most riders I know are that way. They find deeper motivation when riding with group. It's called social facilitation. There is one group ride I jump in once and a while, the Wednesday night Exeter Cycles ride. When you got guys like Robbie and Ted King in there, the whole ride becomes hold on and pray. The motivation is to not get dropped. The Exeter rides are essentially Pro/1/2 races. Group composition and ride type matter a lot. Definitely fun, if you don't get dropped. My lunch group rides on the other hand are best reserved for social recovery or non-interval days.

Rob said...

Great post Doug, yes it’s all about focused intensity. In general would you say your typical (or ideal) training week looks like? Say you’re in a build phase with races a few weeks out. It looks like Mondays are usually off, Tuesdays are the most intense days (shorter hill repeats), Wed?

Hill Junkie said...

Rob - If Sat and Sun are hard days, I'll go easy Mon and Tues. Typically though, Sunday's are more fun days with reduced focus on intensity, say a three hour MTB ride with friends. Then super easy on Monday, 40-50min of light spinning just enough to stretch the hamstrings afterwardsf. Tues is intervals. Ride goes 22-40 miles, typically around 30 miles. Distance, avg speed and time are irrelavant. Duration and intensity of intervals is everything. I'll do 4-6 intervals, ranging from 3-6 minutes. Occassionally, I'll hit hills that may go 7-9 minutes.

Then Wednesday because LT day. I'll go 60-90 minutes at steady pace near LT. This can be on MTB or road. Quite often I like taking my hardtail for 60+ minute fling through Mine Falls park in Nashua. 5mi pavement there, 3mi back, but a solid 8 miles of dirt in between. Here try to go out just hard enough that I can no longer hold the pace as I roll back into the parking lot. Wicked fun actually.

Thurs I'll be wicked trashed. 40min uber easy spin is in order. Ditto on Fri. While I ride every day, at least a few hours of riding per week are at near zero intensity. A test I use for recovery days is if I can't breath through my nose the WHOLE time, I'm going too hard. This includes going up hills, especially. Other riders, both competitive and recreational riders that may join me, can get impatient with my recovery pace. Complete rest days are fairly rare. I just make sure I go so easy on the bike on my "rest" days that no stress is induced.

Saturday is race day or big hill intervals on 5hr ride in mountains. My build phase really doesn't look much different than my peak or race phase. I do less big mountain rides during busy race periods simply because I can't do both on the same day.

In nutshell, VOmax ints Tuesday, LT int Wednesday, race or endurance/LT hills on Saturday. Carefree fun ride Sunday. Rest is recovery days.

Rob said...

Very good info. Do you take any "rest" weeks or do you just take it easy an extra day when really spent.

Hill Junkie said...

I rarely, if ever, take a week I call a rest week. If I feel overly spent, I will take an extra day or two off from intensity. I may taper down for 5 or 6 days going into an A-priority event, but I'll still do a little intensity work during that period. I really don't follow Friel's periodization structure, except at the daily level I have a cycle. No rest month, no rest weeks, just listen to my body when it needs a little more recovery.