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In every other phase of training, I've got some metric- faster times on my FTP climbs, ability to do more reps etc. But what yardstick can I use during base? How do I know my base training leaves me in better shape after 8-10 weeks, or that my base training this year has been more beneficial than last year? I'm looking for non-subjective methods, ideally.
 

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What I've done a lot in the past is to do a short 10 mile time trail on the road at the end of each rest week (I do 3 base weeks followed by a reduced volume rest week throughout base), holding my HR right around or a bit below LT. During base, I see shortening times for each of these, and that says my base endurance is improving. Even though endurance at LT and endurance at the lower levels of intensity you're at during base are a bit different, I think they're related enough to use as a measure.
 

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If base is progressing as expected you ability to work on an aerobic level should improve during the period. So take a field test at the start (I'm using the Friel method) and take it again in 4-6 weeks. Your threshold heart rate probably won't change much (especially if you've been training and racing for a long time) but the speed/distance you cover for a time (30 minutes 20 of which are tracked with Friel) should improve.
 

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Henchman said:
In every other phase of training, I've got some metric- faster times on my FTP climbs, ability to do more reps etc. But what yardstick can I use during base? How do I know my base training leaves me in better shape after 8-10 weeks, or that my base training this year has been more beneficial than last year? I'm looking for non-subjective methods, ideally.
field test can be really questionable. wind, humidity, tire pressure, having a good day/bad day...

I think something like a blood tactate test on a regular basis. some coaches use them a lot. read more here.

http://www.rhinofitness.ca/articles/article_lactate_testing.html
 

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I remember that Friel shows an "aerobic time trial" at the end of his base 1 period.

If you're doing a lot of Zone 2 base work, with minimal threshold improvers (tempo, sweet spot, zone 4, over-unders, etc.), then a threshold test may not be worthwhile......since it is not measuring what you are trying to improve at the moment.

The aerobic time trial Friel prescribes is just that.......the average power (or best distance) you put out at an aerobic HR (82-88% of LTHR).
 

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Unless you're new to power training and in need of wattage numbers to calibrate zones; it may not be beneficial to "test" at this time period. You might actually test down on your numbers from previously. Trust that putting in the time and work is going to pay off. Once you start your training cycles with intensity and getting closer to racing and in need of using those numbers to instill in your training, then it becomes beneficial to test.

Until that time, rack up the TSS/CTL!
 

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sprocketjockey9 said:
it may not be beneficial to "test" at this time period. You might actually test down on your numbers from previously. !
This is a great point for all of us to keep in mind. I know I always want to do better, but who cares if I ride a little faster in January then I did in late November? June through August is when it matters. A second here or there on a FT (assuming you take one) this time of the year can be huge. Given that the only time I've gone anerobic since early October was running there is going to be a lot of lost high end fitness and therefore a good chance of lower numbers.

Thanks for the reminder.
 

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i think you got it all wrong.


base is not about a testable measure. it is the foundation that you put all that future hard work on. if anything we most likely lose some high end fitness as we relax, repair and put on less intensity miles.
its the reset button for the next year.



building slowly(baby steps) your weekly milage should increase to a 2-5 hour ride depending on your race length. endurence guys are going farther of course.


i resist the urge to race, ride with "ego groups" and keep the intervals to a set lower limit.


testing only to see if you can do two 20 min. TT back to back at LT, with roughly the same HR or watts whatever measure you are using. once you can do that your base is complete, time to move on. most people make the mistake of rushing this important part of the year and pay for it later.
 

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I normally don't use a HR strap (just power), but towards the end of last years foundation period, I put on the HR strap and did a 2hr interval at 70% of FTP. HR for the 1st hour was 131, HR for the 2nd hour was 133, WKO+ calculated my Pw:HR at .58%. Not much HR drift, but I definitely put in the time and energy to build a good base.. so I wasn't surprised with the result. I'll probably try it again this year mid January, just to compare. This year I am riding my Endurance miles at a bit less intensity, so we'll see how that effects endurance performance.
 

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Just remember, that although it is good to keep intensity low in the winter to give your mind and body a break, you have to keep some sort of intensity. I made the mistake of skipping any speed work last winter and the result was great endurance but I had lost the power at threshold I had before. It took me a good few races to get things back to a decent level. Also, if you are short on time, sweet spot type stuff is where it is at. I see winter as more of a maintain, build and recover period - not to drop fitness.
 

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smithy said:
Just remember, that although it is good to keep intensity low in the winter to give your mind and body a break, you have to keep some sort of intensity. .
I'm trying this, this season as well. Last night did a limited amount of threshold work, wow, did that hurt.

Just doing one day a week of that, and started with 21 minutes of total work (3X7).

It seem to me it's a good thing, since it reminds your body how to work at that level, physically and mentally. Definitely different from the tempo work I've been doing.

Plus the percentage of this work is so small compared to the rest, and can't see how it would be damaging.
 

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This is a very interesting thread. It has made me think about exactly what I am trying to accomplish in "base" period and how to test/know whether I've accomplished it. Thanks for all the comments.

For me, a primary purpose for the base period is mental and physical refreshment--doing rides that aren't hard or stressful to do refreshes me. For this reason, I like to do higher end stuff (threshold and above) during base only if it's in the context of something that seems fun or enjoyable, such as different or new group ride or a cyclocross ride/race or something different (snow ride!). I don't like to do structured intervals until I am excited about doing them--it takes me a couple of months.

On the threshold testing thing during base--that one really made me think. In general, z2/aerobic riding has the same physiological benefits/adaptations as z4/threshold riding, except that the benefits are greater/magnified in z4. Here's a link about that: http://www.cyclingpeakssoftware.com/power411/levels.asp#table2
So, if I'm doing a lot of z2, shouldn't my power at threshold also go up? Maybe your ability to test at threshold is not as good (b/c your not accustomed to doing threshold work), but assuming a test will accurately evidence your ability (despite not having tested at threshold levels for a while) shouldn't your power at threshold go up? In other words, if I'm doing a lot of z2, I should see some increased muscle mitochondrial enzymes (see chart in link)--those new enzymes function just the same when doing threshold work, so why shouldn't I expect my power at threshold to go up?

Anyway, great thread!!
 

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Training at zone 2 will certainly improve your fitness and power output, but it can also make you feel "stale" when you add intensity. At least in my experience. Fine if you have stacks of time on your hands to spin around doing hours of zone 2 all week, but in reality, most of us on here have full time jobs so to get the best bang for your buck, a higher intensity (e.g sweet spot/tempo) for a shorter time is the way to go. Best thing is to go how your mind and body is telling you. If you don't want the mental strain of higher intensity, then train at a lower level for a while until you feel ready for it.
 

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millennium said:
Maybe your ability to test at threshold is not as good (b/c your not accustomed to doing threshold work), but assuming a test will accurately evidence your ability (despite not having tested at threshold levels for a while) shouldn't your power at threshold go up? In other words, if I'm doing a lot of z2, I should see some increased muscle mitochondrial enzymes (see chart in link)--those new enzymes function just the same when doing threshold work, so why shouldn't I expect my power at threshold to go up?
Yes, I think so. Other aspects of fitness may be depressed: VO2max, anaerobic work capacity, lactate tolerance, and plain old ability to suffer, any of which may result in lower performance at threshold. This would be more pronounced for people that use 20 minute TTs as a measure of fitness since that duration is significantly influenced by AWC.
 

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Last year I really didn't do much Winter intensity, but I did do more hours then usual. I also pushed fairly hard on all my rides, rather then settling into a steady diet of Zone 2. By "pushed fairly hard" I was averaging high Zone 2, low Zone 3 (Coggan power zones). So it was hard enough and long enough to build some good CTL, but I definitely had a hard time switching to intensity when the build started. Ugh! But after a few weeks the intensity became more Cozy and overall the year was excellent. In retrospect, I felt like I built too much CTL and was too focused on TSS (volume at high zone 2). I think I invested to much energy into my base.

This year, less volume, plenty of Zone 2, and more Upper Zone 3 (high Tempo), less CTL. The goal is to invest less time, and hope that the additional "high Tempo" work builds a good base. The "high Tempo" is challenging enough to require focus, but not so tuff that it builds a lot of fatigue or makes me not look forward to the workout. And I think it'll be enough intensity to help the transition to harder workouts.
 

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If you are not improving during your base period then you need to change your trainning. The whole idea behind trainning is to improve.

Your threshold should improve through out your base period. The reason you increase intensity as you trainning proceeds to continue improving. When you start your trainning at the beginning of the year it doesn't take much to improve. As your trainning improves you need to add more and more intensity to continue to improve.

This why most racers have removed the easier part of the base period. Many keep a relatively high fitness level through out the year. Doing easy miles causes them to lose fitness, not improve.


How to test? Threshold is a good test. My wife is does a maximal 20 minute effort once a month. So far the last three test her wattage has been, 230, 240, 245.
 

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To reply to the original post, an objective way to measure improvement through base training (ie. aerobic / zone 2 work) is with lactate/power testing. Done at the start of base training and then again at the end of base period, you should see improvement in "aerobic threshold", that is the amount of power you can output before beginning to accumulate any significant lactate.

Note this is clearly different from anaerobic threshold or lactate threshold, which can be defined as the point where you are producing more lactate than the body can buffer.

Aerobic threshold power typically correlates to a blood lactate of about 2 mmol/L, and I think about it as the point where if you go to a higher power, then you start to switch from purely slow twitch muscles (burning fat, not producing lactic acid), to also recruiting fast twitch (producing lactic acid).

It is not so black and white, but hopefully you get the idea.

Assuming that you didn't just come off race season when you do the first test, then your threshold power should also increase between the 2 tests - simply the fact that you can produce XX more watts before producing any lactic acid would therefore push your threshold power up even without any intensity training.

This difference may not necessarily be the case if the first test was done, for example, right after cyclocross season as during the base season you go from a state of having done a lot of intensity training to doing base training and negligible intensity.
 
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