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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I plan to focus on endurance races this season, call it 50 miles on average (3-4 hrs). Should I keep VO2 max. interval work in my training schedule? On one hand, even in these endurance events, I'm sure there will be times when I am anaerobic and could benefit from VO2 max. work. However the rule of specificity would say that my training should be closer to what the races are - so hard MTB rides (3-4 hours) with some sweet spot and threshold work. Any advice?
 

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Specificity applies in the sense of: is what you are doing of benefit to the planned activity in a manner that will not detract from said activity?

The answer is a resounding YES.

There are a whole host of reasons why VO2max work is essential for any endurance athlete. To exclude it will limit gains.
 

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Have you done a power profile? I have, and VO2max is my strongest "power category" (out of FTP, VO2max, AC, and sprint). Therefore, I just do VO2max, one workout, every two-three weeks. I need more development in FTP and AC, so I spend my interval time there.
 

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3-4 hours races aren't too different to your regular xc race. The start is essential and this is where you really need your VO2max intervals. Funnily, often your after-30 min rank is similar to your finish-rank. I think there is even a term for it. However, mix in some "VO2-max intervals-followed by a 20-30 min threshold ride" sessions. This should help you catching a quick group during the start period.
 

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One way to look at it is whether you intend to ride for 3-4 hours or race for 3-4 hours.

If you're doing a 50 mile race with other people it's likely that at some point in those races you're going to be riding in a group rather than alone. If you're riding in a group then you're not necessarily going to be able to set your own pace or "diesel" along at threshold. Even offroad drafting has a big enough effect that it's worth working in a paceline with other riders on any easier sections (fire road etc).

In that situation you need to have a decent turn of pace available to respond to any accelerations if the other riders try to drop you, along with having the ability to put in a dig yourself if an opportunity appears.:)

Something I try and do is to build interval sessions into longer steady rides, so that you get used to the idea of doing repeated hard efforts after riding for several hours.

Eg: 5 minute intervals every 10 minutes for a 3 or 4 hour ride

15 minute warmup, 5 minute interval as hard as you can, 10 minutes riding at endurance pace, 5 minute interval as hard as you can, 10 minutes riding at endurance pace, 5 minute interval as hard as you can, 10 minutes riding at endurance pace and so on, repeated throughout the entire ride. No quitting till the end.

In total you're doing 15 plus 5 minute intervals. The trick is to concentrate on just the upcoming interval each time, rather than thinking ahead.

Another one that I find hard but useful is doing a mixture of durations.

Eg: Coggan intervals for first hour (1x20 minute interval, 2x5 minute intervals, 4x30 second sprints).

http://forums.mtbr.com/xc-racing-tr...trainer-873535-post10654293.html#post10654293

That would count as a workout in itself but you then follow it up with two hours endurance pace with some hills and then do 2x20minute intervals in the final hour with a big sprint to finish. It almost finished me off last Thursday.:lol:
 

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Another one that I find hard but useful is doing a mixture of durations.

Eg: Coggan intervals for first hour (1x20 minute interval, 2x5 minute intervals, 4x30 second sprints).

Training for the whole next season...on a trainer?!?!?

That would count as a workout in itself but you then follow it up with two hours endurance pace with some hills and then do 2x20minute intervals in the final hour with a big sprint to finish. It almost finished me off last Thursday.:lol:
Dude.....that is sick. No doubt training like this will produce results....sheesh!

Of course, rest ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Have you done a power profile? I have, and VO2max is my strongest "power category" (out of FTP, VO2max, AC, and sprint). Therefore, I just do VO2max, one workout, every two-three weeks. I need more development in FTP and AC, so I spend my interval time there.
No, not really. I have been training with power for a bit now, but as for formal testing, I have only done a few FTP tests. However your right, I should indeed do some others so I have a more complete picture of my power curve. From what I can gather so far, I have a pretty flat profile. I expect to be below where I want to be/should be regarding the shorter efforts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Eg: 5 minute intervals every 10 minutes for a 3 or 4 hour ride

15 minute warmup, 5 minute interval as hard as you can, 10 minutes riding at endurance pace, 5 minute interval as hard as you can, 10 minutes riding at endurance pace, 5 minute interval as hard as you can, 10 minutes riding at endurance pace and so on, repeated throughout the entire ride. No quitting till the end.
Good stuff thanks. Regarding the workout above, I like the idea but my question is if the training effect is the same, better, or worse compared to doing a more traditional interval workout. For example 5 minute VO2max. intervals with 3-5 minutes of very easy spinning in between. Whenever I have inquired about the training effect on any topic in the past, the answer I usually get back is 'whatever option is more difficult = the better training effect' (makes sense right). In this case, I would think 10 minutes of endurance riding in between intervals would make the workout slightly easier than interval after interval with only a few minutes of rest, even if the rest is only zone 1 spinning. Maybe I'm splitting hairs here...
 

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I think the key there again comes back to specificity. You're certainly going to hit a wall if you plan on doing really long interval sessions with little rest in between. The work WR304 mentioned would probably simulate something that might actually happen in the race, at least in essence. For a race that long you simply can't pin the throttle for the entire duration, so that would "teach" your body to function in spurts for the duration of the event.
 

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'whatever option is the most difficult' is about the dumbest thing I've heard since some time.

With longer rests inbetween your efforts, you allow for more anaerobic recharging and therefore an increased anaerobic contribution to the following effort.
 

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5X3' with 3' RIB is pretty standard VO2max workout. then follow up with endurance riding.

I've also done pyramid format, that way the rest varies. 4-3-2-1-1-2-3-4. Or 1-2-3-4-4-3-2-1. with equal time rest after each. Targeting VO2max power. Then follow up with endurance riding.
 

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??

pretty much what I said... 10 minutes rests sounds a bit high. a 1:1 ratio or shorter seems more appropriate.
There were no 10 min rests. I sort of struggle to align this abstract with your initial statement. But never mind, it has been a short night.
 

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you are confused. I said longer rests would allow for a greater anaerobic contribution to the next effort (s). I never said a greater anaerobic contribution was a good or a bad thing or if we actually want it or not. It depends on the training goal.

Get some sleep my friend ;)
 

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Good stuff thanks. Regarding the workout above, I like the idea but my question is if the training effect is the same, better, or worse compared to doing a more traditional interval workout. For example 5 minute VO2max. intervals with 3-5 minutes of very easy spinning in between. Whenever I have inquired about the training effect on any topic in the past, the answer I usually get back is 'whatever option is more difficult = the better training effect' (makes sense right). In this case, I would think 10 minutes of endurance riding in between intervals would make the workout slightly easier than interval after interval with only a few minutes of rest, even if the rest is only zone 1 spinning. Maybe I'm splitting hairs here...
(Coggan zones)
http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/power-training-levels


Where a traditional interval session is intense but short doing intervals spread throughout an endurance ride is more of a slow burner that grinds you down towards the end. They're both hard but in their own ways. The main reason for doing a 10 minute level 2 period between each interval is to keep the amount of level 5 to a vaguely manageable level. 1:1 between 5 minute intervals and level 2 periods for a four hour ride would ramp the difficulty up massively!

If you're doing a four hour (240 minute) ride, beginning with a 15 minute (level 2) warmup and then 5 minute intervals (level 5) with 10 minutes endurance pace (level 2) in between for the entire ride that breaks down to 75 minutes level 5 and 165 minutes level 2. That's a lot of level 5 work. A 10 minute period between each five minute interval gives you a chance to get deeper into the four hours before the fatigue really starts to build up. That's your normal level 2 endurance pace too, not easy level 1 recovery spinning.

The idea behind doing something like this is that you're doing an endurance ride interspersed with frequently lifting the pace. The 5 minute intervals are equally spaced throughout the ride, so that you're doing hard efforts in hour 1, hour 2, hour 3 and hour 4, and you're doing them in points you wouldn't normally. If you do a standard interval session and then tag on a few hours of endurance work afterwards (something I do regularly as well) you're getting a short sharp first hour but it doesn't really get you ready for continuing to deliver hard efforts in hours 2, 3 or 4. If anything that format (intervals first then several hours of endurance work) reinforces the idea that after the first hour you're going to have to ease off, which isn't the case. It's all about being prepared in advance for whatever may happen, so that you're not intimidated by the prospect of going outside your comfort zone at any point in the race.

Intervals throughout an endurance ride also has an important psychological benefit. When you're riding alongside another rider several hours in, they're hurting, you're hurting but you know (because you've done it already ! ) that you're capable of doing 15 hard 5 minute bursts and they're going to crack first.:)
 

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(Coggan zones)
Power Training Levels | TrainingPeaks


It's all about being prepared in advance for whatever may happen, so that you're not intimidated by the prospect of going outside your comfort zone at any point in the race.
This reminds me of workouts that Scott Mercier and Nicky Wangsguard (ex roadie pros) told us about. They said on their teams they would do long endurance rides (up to 3-4 hours) and at the end of that, meet the motorcyle for 1 solid hour of hard motor pacing. (Ouch!!).

Scott said he prided himself on being the last one not dropped by motorcyle (going 35 mph!!).

But they talked about same effect: adapting to big power outputs at the end of long races.

One of my teammates and I will do a long 3-4 Sunday road group ride and after it's over, go climb our local monster hill that's a half hour climb averaging 10% grade. I was so cooked that I almost fell over a few times on the 14% sections. But I imagine this has a similar effect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
(Coggan zones)
Power Training Levels | TrainingPeaks


Where a traditional interval session is intense but short doing intervals spread throughout an endurance ride is more of a slow burner that grinds you down towards the end. They're both hard but in their own ways. The main reason for doing a 10 minute level 2 period between each interval is to keep the amount of level 5 to a vaguely manageable level. 1:1 between 5 minute intervals and level 2 periods for a four hour ride would ramp the difficulty up massively!

If you're doing a four hour (240 minute) ride, beginning with a 15 minute (level 2) warmup and then 5 minute intervals (level 5) with 10 minutes endurance pace (level 2) in between for the entire ride that breaks down to 75 minutes level 5 and 165 minutes level 2. That's a lot of level 5 work. A 10 minute period between each five minute interval gives you a chance to get deeper into the four hours before the fatigue really starts to build up. That's your normal level 2 endurance pace too, not easy level 1 recovery spinning.

The idea behind doing something like this is that you're doing an endurance ride interspersed with frequently lifting the pace. The 5 minute intervals are equally spaced throughout the ride, so that you're doing hard efforts in hour 1, hour 2, hour 3 and hour 4, and you're doing them in points you wouldn't normally. If you do a standard interval session and then tag on a few hours of endurance work afterwards (something I do regularly as well) you're getting a short sharp first hour but it doesn't really get you ready for continuing to deliver hard efforts in hours 2, 3 or 4. If anything that format (intervals first then several hours of endurance work) reinforces the idea that after the first hour you're going to have to ease off, which isn't the case. It's all about being prepared in advance for whatever may happen, so that you're not intimidated by the prospect of going outside your comfort zone at any point in the race.

Intervals throughout an endurance ride also has an important psychological benefit. When you're riding alongside another rider several hours in, they're hurting, you're hurting but you know (because you've done it already ! ) that you're capable of doing 15 hard 5 minute bursts and they're going to crack first.:)
Very good explanation, thank you!
 
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