Tuesday, February 2, 2016

High Performance Cycling - Specific Stamina

by Gordo Byrn

The platform on which your race rests is built with long blocks of sustained endurance work.

These workouts are best done:

  • On flat terrain
  • With very even pacing
  • With very few stops

Seek to build your endurance so that you can complete steady cycling volume equal to your total race duration (swim, bike and run). For example, an athlete that takes 5.5 hours for a 70.3 race should build their long ride to 5.5 hours by the end of the base period.

Athletes racing up to 70.3 distance will be able to build their stamina so that they can complete this steady duration benchmark within their longest day of training. Novice athletes, and those racing ironman, will need to achieve the steady duration benchmark over a series of days. IMers can start with 14, then 10, then seven, then four, then two days -- gradually shortening the period inside which they place endurance training equal to their race duration. Most Kona qualifiers and elites will be able to complete endurance training equal to their race duration and I recommend my Core Block protocol rather than riding longer than seven hours.

You will be tempted to “progress” beyond this aspect of your fitness. Remember that, as a foundation, you will never graduate beyond this core attribute of performance. If you lack basic stamina then your capacity to sustain and recover from higher intensity training load will be compromised.

If in doubt -- between base and build -- choose base.

The next aspect of fitness you will create is the ability to recover at average race effort (rather than having to go below race effort). Examples of this type of work are contained in my article for Competitor.com:

Alternate 12 minutes at race-specific intensity with 3 minutes one zone up (if you’re racing ironman, do your 3 minutes at half-ironman race pace).

Olympic-distance athletes can build to 45-minute sets (3× 12/3 continuous), 70.3-distance athletes can build to two 75-minute sets (5× 12/3) and iron-distance athletes can build to two 90-minute sets (6× 12/3).

Most athletes overestimate optimal bike effort, so start a little easier than you think you need to.

For an added benefit, change your cadence in the middle of each 12-minute segment. For example, alternate 92/60/92 RPM for each 4-minute chunk.

Keep it simple and persist.

Gordo is the founder of Endurance Corner. You can find his personal blog at coachgordo.wordpress.com.

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