I'm going to start sending some training tips on a regular basis, ideally at least once a week. These may include effective intervals, articles pertinent to training whether for riding or strength training or anything relative to endurance athletes, comments and questions I receive from clients or other coaches (I have some great discussions with my coach), and anything else that I think may be beneficial. I'll include the date in the subject line along with the topic. If you have a comment that may benefit the group, reply all. If you'd rather discuss one on one, just email me directly. If you see the email and really aren't interested, just delete.
My first tip would be intervals for those who really dislike riding inside but still want to stay in shape when we're in the cold and gloom of winter. I like to think that most of us can ride at least 45-60 minutes inside. I once read about a triathlete from Minnesota who was riding at least one indoor century per week over the winter and a German rider who would ride for hours just staring at the wall in his basement. He thought it was both physically and mentally an advantage once the season started. These will seem reasonable by comparison. Here are some short but very effective options. All assume a 10-15 minute warmup. I'll include my watts per kg just for reference.
15 seconds on/off for 5 minutes: The 'on' should be all out, the 'off' can be super easy. Two sets with 5 minutes between are fine. Another option would be to only drop the power on the 'off' to about 60% of the 'on'. My best 5 minute average power ever was using this 15 second on/off and just not dropping off to much on the 'off' portions. Going a solid 5 minutes and getting the same average power is doable but inside it seems to take forever. Or at least one good Allman Brothers song. My 15 seconds on is usually 6.7 watts/kg. The 5 minute average was 5.6 watts/kg.
4x1 minute build: These four minutes are consecutive and power or perceived effort should start at a high endurance or tempo pace and jump to a steady state pace, then time trial then off the charts for the final minute. Ride easy 5 minutes, and repeat a couple more times. If using power, I like to keep jumping 10% or so each minute. I start at 4 watts/kg and end around 5.3.
3 minute time trial efforts: Even if you don't time trial, this is effective in building your functional or one hour power. Plus it never hurts to have that ability to pull out a really strong 1-3 minute effort in a race. If you don't know your time trial pace, just ride as hard as you can for three minutes at a pace that you can sustain for the number of efforts you're going to do. I'd would shoot for 3-5 with 3 minutes between. For the time trial specialists out there, I use my 5k power goal on these. Watts per kg is around 5 to 5.6, just depending on how many efforts and the time between.
If you're riding with a power meter and not sure of your training zones, email me and I'll send your the protocol for that test along with the wattage zone calculator.
Peter A. Wimberg
Thank you for sharing you knowledge! For the most part, I’m with Mark. I can’t fathom sitting on a trainer for a century ride, guess I’m weak. You bring up splittting the ride into thirds, I was wondering how having a gap and spreading the ride out over a longer period of time impacts the benefit? Goal of a century would be to increase aerobic fitness by increasing the volume. Would a gap between segments reduce the benefit?
Also, I’m wondering what your thoughts are about using ERG either for Zwift for free riding and or using it for interval training? I see a lot of mixed thoughts on the use as it really hold you to both the target and the rest power, however it’s an all or nothing target with ERG.
Great questions. Re the split century indoor ride, I primarily would do that to alleviate the tedium of actually going at it for 100 miles or 5 hours or so in one hit. I've done 50 non-stop inside but it does become tortuous at some point. I'm pretty comfortable with 30-35 mile efforts in one shot.
Are these as beneficial as an outdoor century? I'd say close. The one advantage of the indoor ride is that there are no stop signs or lights. It's non-stop pedaling. I once rode from Ripley back to my house on a century ride without ever unclipping but I still could coast and do a few track stands at the lights. And the view really helps. I cut myself some slack inside.
Another way to approach the split century is to ride a little higher power than you would outside. The breaks, like the shorter breaks between regular intervals, is an opportunity for recovery and then an opportunity for a bigger effort. That last 30-35 miles inside later in the day can be tough if you push 10% above your typical outdoor power.
And, don't sell yourself short by saying not being able to do this means your weak! Not at all. We all have different tolerances. I look at Todd Williams riding his 250 to 400 mile non-stop rides and know that I don't have the physical or mental aptitude. His 55 hours at Paris Brest Paris is incomprehensible for me. I rode 225 in a day from here to Jellico, TN, once. And I emphasize the 'once'. I do a lot of rides up to 30 miles for training but any available Saturday I do 100. It's just what I enjoy.
Have to say that I've never used Zwift or other indoor app's nor have I ever used Strava. That being said they all have their place and can provide great training benefits. I do think we need flexibility with the target power. We all have good and bad days or days that are part of a block of training that may allow for reduced power at the same target HR. I'll use one of my email blasts to talk about training zones.
All of my indoor training is on the Stages SC3. Its compatible with most apps. The team discount at Montgomery was appreciated on this purchase. Its the best indoor bike I've ever owned.
An indoor century seems a bit extreme, but I could see something of use with it. However, most of my events are much shorter in duration, 5k and 10k and so on. Would long duration endurance rides be beneficial for such shorter events?
Those long rides would have little benefit to maximizing your performance in those events. The beauty of those short time trials, which are also my favorite events, is that you can train at that distant as an interval in itself. When I see efforts on my schedule that are in that 5-8 minute range or 12-16 minutes, I really go after them. Or, we use shorter efforts that I would ride above the 5k or 10k pace where the total time in the shorter intervals greatly exceeds the actual race time. I know I'm building and ideally expanding my power range for those races either way.
I really never have liked 40k time trials. Too long. Kind of boring. I once had a coach who, knowing this and my love of the century ride, had me time trial from mile 70-95 and then cool down for 5 miles. Needless to say that while this may have helped with the 40k power it didn't make me like it any more. And it ruined a good century ride.
Peter A. Wimberg