Monday, 30 November 2009

Turbo Sessions

Session 1: 30-minute time trial (50 mins total)

Not so much a training session as a test. Perform it every month or so to see how your training is progressing. Warm up for 10 minutes, starting on the small chainring, largest rear sprocket (lowest gear) and medium resistance.

After every two minutes knock your gear up one sprocket aiming to maintain a cadence of 80-100rpm. After 10 minutes shift to the big ring (keep a medium resistance and you should be in the middle of the rear block) and ride as hard as you can for 30 minutes.

Cool down for 10 minutes, reversing the warm-up routine. Record the distance you achieved in the 30 minutes and try to beat it next time.

Session 2: Threshold booster (41-65 mins total)

3-6 x 5 mins with 3 mins recovery

This session is designed to raise your lactate threshold and your ability to perform at or near it. Warm up for 10 minutes in the same way as for Session 1. Shift to the big chainring and work hard for five minutes (aiming for a heart rate 15-25 beats below your maximum).

At the end of the five minutes drop to the small chainring, drop the resistance and spin easily for three minutes. Repeat this work/recovery cycle for three to six reps depending on ability. Cool down as in Session 1.

Session 3: Power blast (37-57 mins total)

5-10 x 1 min with 3 mins recovery

The Power blast will boost your explosive strength and power, allowing you to blast up short climbs or win the sprints to town signs. Warm up for 10 minutes in the same way as for Session 1.

Shift to the big ring and your smallest sprocket. Sprint flat out for one minute (try not to rock the bars too much – your frame might not like it!), initially building momentum out of the saddle before sitting down and carrying the speed through.

At the end of the minute spin really easily in a low gear against low resistance for three minutes. Repeat this work/recovery cycle for five to 10 reps depending on ability. Cool down as in Session 1.

Session 4: One-legged wonder (40 mins)

5 x 1 min left leg, 5 x 1 min right leg

This is more of a technique than a fitness session, although it will help to even out any imbalances between your legs. Warm up for 10 minutes in the same way as for Session 1.

Stay in the same gear/resistance as at the end of the warm-up, but cycle one-legged for the next 10 minutes, alternating one minute left and one minute right. Concentrate on maintaining a high (80-100rpm) cadence and on a smooth, fluid technique.

Next, shift into the big ring and ride moderately hard with both legs for 10 minutes, keeping up the same cadence and the same feel of fluidity. Cool down as in Session 1.

Session 5: Stairway to heaven (42 mins)

3 x 6 minutes of ascending difficulty with 2 mins recovery

One for building hill strength and mental toughness. Warm up for 10 minutes in the same way as for Session 1. Shift to the big ring but select a moderate sprocket, like 22. Resistance should be at about a third of your turbo's maximum. Ride moderately hard.

After three minutes, shift up two gears and try to maintain the same cadence for a further two minutes. Finally, shift up another two gears and ride hard for a minute out of the saddle.

Drop to the small chainring, drop the resistance and recover with easy spinning for two minutes. Shift back to the big ring but this time perform the '3 mins, 2 mins, 1 min' sequence with two more clicks of resistance.

Recover for two minutes again and then work through the '3-2-1' once more, again cranking it up by two clicks. Cool down as in Session 1. Be warned, though, this is a toughie.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Skiing the Mallory/Porter route on the Midi. Graded 5:4. ie 50deg but death if you fall. The Fly Paper would be a 4:6 at 46deg at the low end of off piste extreme.

Training Advice for Young Athletes

Advice on ATHR training for young athletes from Joe Friel.

Anaerobic Endurance. This is the training ability that has the greatest risk-reward associated with it. Doing workouts in this category have been shown to greatly improve aerobic capacity (VO2max), lactate/anaerobic threshold, and economy. And those are the big 3 when it comes to fitness. Lots of reward. But also lots of risk. Injury, illness, and burnout can all result from a steady diet of anaerobic endurance (AE) training. This is the most challenging workout the athlete can do, and since most serious athletes are of the "never enough" mindset, they often take this to the extreme.

So the bottom line is that it is highly unusual for me to have novice athletes do AE workouts. In fact, I can't recall having any do it, but it may have happened a long time ago. If so, someone would bring it to my attention, I'm sure. I seldom have experienced triathletes do AE training also. And then primarily those who are seeking to compete at the highest level at the shorter distances. I have on a few occasions had pro long-course triathletes do shortened versions of AE workouts to bump up their fitness in the late Base period. But this is rare.

For experienced road cyclists AE training is critical to success. Road races often come down to 2- to 3-minute episodes that determine the final selection (the break that succeeds). These episodes are played out on climbs and when there are strong cross winds or when a team is clearly superior. Motivation plays a big role in doing such hard workouts. You have to get "up" for the workout well in advance. This is why road cyclists like to do their group rides. These are usually mini-races made up of lots of AE efforts.

So what is an AE workout? There are many, many variations. Here is the most basic:

5 x 3 minutes at CP6 (3 minute recoveries)

What this means is do an interval workout (after warming up) made up of 3-minute intervals done 5 times for a total of 15 minutes of AE effort. Each interval is done at an intensity of CP6 ("critical power/pace" for 6 minutes). CP6 is the highest, average power or pace you can produce in 6 minutes. This is about your VO2max power/pace. After each work interval recover for 3 minutes.

I call these "intervals til you puke." The name comes from my college track days when all my coach knew were these killer workouts. We did this every day, or some variation on it. Five days a week (we took weekends off back then). There was no reasoning behind it then. No measurement of effort (other than the coach reminding us of how miserably slow we were after he timed each interval as he sat in the stands sipping a soda). It was sickening. Literally. Guys used to vomit during the workout. Someone did that every day. Me included. It's no wonder so many of us were injured and fried by the season's end. We just thought we were wimps.

The variations on AE interval workouts include hills and shortened workout intervals with equally short recovery intervals. Research supports work intervals of as short as 10 seconds for this type of training. The key is to design a workout like this so that it takes on the characteristics of what you will experience in the race for which you are training. AE intervals may be mixed with other ability workouts in the Build period (which is when AE training is usually scheduled) to create workouts that closely simulate race conditions. This could be something such as a muscular endurance steady state followed by anaerobic endurance intervals followed by power repetitions. That's pretty much what happens in a road race.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Graham O'Bree Calls it a Day

Obree's home-built bike.: obree's home-built bike.

“Oh well, nobody died,” says the Flying Scotsman Graeme Obree as he reveals how depression and his home-built bike wrecked his latest World Hour record bid.

Obree was intent on reclaiming the title he won twice in the 1990s later this month. But the 44-year-old came unstuck when his psychologist warned his mental health was too fragile. The lanky Obree had self built a typically unique bike. With an enormous 67-tooth chain ring for speed, Reynolds 653 tubing and silver soldering, it was ridden with an extreme flat back style and extended arms.

Obree spent a year and a half training on the bike which worked brilliantly on the road. Despite his age he was clocking some promising times. Obree said: “I was just a smidgen short of the form that I had when I was racing Jason MacIntyre.” Friend MacIntryre was a triple British and Scottish champion time trial cyclist who was killed, while training, in 2008 by a careless driver. Obree says he was regularly beating MacIntyre two years ago.

Some thought Ayrshire-based Obree might just take the World Hour record for the third time. Two years ago Obree was riding sub-20 minute 10-mile time trials in Scotland. But when Obree took to Manchester’s velodrome for a trial run in August it went badly wrong. Watched by former national British cycling coach Doug Daley, Obree’s bike proved useless.

“That whole riding style that I was reliant on to support your arms didn’t work on the bankings. And most of it is banking, let’s face it!” said Obree.

It was the end of the dream for the sponsorless former champ. Obree, who could have asked for help from British Cycling, had done things his own low-tech way. No sports scientists, no coach.

“If I had to go back to scratch and spend five weeks on the track, like Chris [Hoy] did, it would cost a fortune without a sponsor,” he said. “Then I became so depressed that I wasn’t allowed step up for it.” Obree twice attempted suicide in the past and has a history of clinical depression.
“I spent weeks under the duvet,” said the softly spoken rider. “I never had back up plans, I was so sure about the bike. A normal person would just have been bitterly disappointed but it went beyond because of who I am. “I had to find out. I would have regretted it if I didn’t give it my best shot.”

But he says it hasn’t taken away from his achievements. Obree broke the World Hour record in 1994 with 52.713km and held the World Champion Individual Pursuit 4000m title in ’93 and ’95. Speaking before his attempt Obree said: “If you have to win every race then there’s something not right about you. I don’t have any choice – once I started thinking that I could get onto that pace … I had to do it.” Obree is now writing a book: A Survivor’s Guide to Depression, which will be packed with “good, solid advice”.
At least Obree can rest on his laurels, despite never receiving the recognition due to him.

“Muhammad Ali got his jaw broken but he’s still known as the best boxer ever,” he said.