Friday, July 25, 2008

Serious Geek Stuff

Some of my blog entries are designed more to entertain rather than make a point and if you prefer those – you probably won’t like this :)

This is the 3rd entry in what is probably starting to resemble a bad mini “series” which started with monkeys, talked about suffering and has ended up here…HBO probably is not going to pick this one up :)

Two topics left…this one:

The use of interval training for improved Teleoanticipation.

For anyone who trains with me or VMS – you have probably tried one of the workouts “Hard in the Hills”. It is a series of treadmill intervals sessions that build on each other and culminate in a 27 minute straight set that after warm up (10 minutes at 1%) is 3 minutes at 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%, 6% and then back down 5%, 4%, 3%, 2% - cool down.

This workout is an original but it is inspired by an interval set from my 1st coach Ted Koutouziis. The reason it is a last workout in the series is that you keep doing the 1st, 2nd, 3rd until you get through those and then you do this one. Of course there are muscular improvements and stride adaptions that come from running at higher grades but I think the real benefit from this training is that it is designed to “increase your toughness factor” and reset the bar of “what you KNOW you are capable of doing.”

It is not a fast workout; you actually pick a “slower” speed than you would normally run (say an endurance pace) and then you don’t change your speed at all throughout the workout. Don’t be fooled, it is still VERY hard. The 3 minute intervals are short enough to let you focus on the block. By the time you get to 4% you should be really feeling it. After a 5% and 6%, the descending part is what I like the most…it is amazing how much easier it feels to run at 5% or 4% after you have been running at 6%. You actually look forward to the 4% instead of dreading it.

The 1st time I did this it was an 8 or 9 out of 10 PE but then it gets easier – almost every time. I am sure I triggered some adaptive physiological response or technique compensation for the intervals but more over, I knew that it is doable and that I “can” do it.

You should not try this workout until you have done the 1st 3 building blocks (see notes at the bottom for first 3 workout descriptions). Also, this is NOT an everyday workout but instead it is a “break through” workout - this means rest before and after.

The HR chart shows what it looks like for me for one of the build up workouts…


Anyway - I wanted to come up with the same type of thing for the bike on the trainer.

Aptly named “Bring me the Bucket I, II, III” actually they are named:

Trainer Painer I-IV…

The idea came from Scott Patton and a spin class he taught at Brooks. I really liked his class as he was always doing something different that I never tried before. This one was a moderately hard interval set with standing recovery instead of seated recovery. Then the next set was the same interval (lower PE) but without recovery but instead standing increased intensity. (see notes at the bottom for actual workout description)

Applying this to a cycling trainer and using a power meter makes this workout REALLY accurate.

I tried this workout 3 times in a row over the course of 10 days.

I popped / bonked / cracked / cried Mommy – whatever term you want to use on the 1st shot at it.

The 2nd time I reset my goal to just not quitting before I reached where I had on the 1st attempt.

On my 3rd try – I made it through the 3 sets.


Point is – I didn’t expect to make it the 1st time and that probably allowed me to quit. The 3rd time – I expected to finish and I did. I had reset the PE of what was next – I recalibrated the toughness of the workout.

We use very similar intervals with the shaved legged tough guys and they are called HIT’s – High Intensity Training developed by Michael J. Ross, M.D.

No one, not even Hurtus completed the 3 sets of intervals on the 1st try. For most of the guys, it takes two weeks to get through 2 of the 3 sets and if you make it through all 3 sets – MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT!!!

What do these do…the intervals are various length and work different systems. This is the training adaption which is real.

More importantly, in my opinion – they teach the mind what is possible.

These are measurable, repeatable and you can’t fake it.

Either the numbers are good and the intervals completed at the right wattage and duration or they are not.

I have had a lot of conversations when people who pimp other sports and they say they had a good “game”…maybe they had 2 HR’s or 3 great catches or a stolen base – maybe it was 3 interceptions or 40 points in the last quarter and I agree that all of those are noteworthy.

But in terms of measureable, definable exacting performance – in my opinion you need duration, a distance and an intensity to create a standard by which to compare.

For cycling TT’s or Tri’s all courses are different and conditions change but the thing I like about “our” sport is that it is measurable – year to year, race to race – am I getting better or worse – the clock lets me know.

The closer we get in training to increasing our level that we “know” we can tolerate – the higher the mind allows us to calibrate the race pace, race duration and tolerance for discomfort (err – bring me the bucket) we can endure.

AND…the better chance we will perform to that standard.

Enough opinion and boring info - next time I will go back to making fun of Hercules philosophy that squats can cure everything and the Sinker’s fascination with lack of floatation :)




Treadmill workouts:

Same for all –

Purpose: This is a treadmill workout designed to work on your leg strength and toughness factor.

Have fluids available and gels if needed.

Heart rate should not go above zone 4.

Warm-up well. 10 minutes zone 1,2 at 1% elevation at your marathon or long run goal pace.

Hard in the Hills #1:

Then do 5 minutes at your zone 3 pace with a grade of 2%, the recover at 1% grade at the same pace.
Then 5 minutes at 3% then 5 minutes at 1%.
Then 5 minutes at 4% then 5 minutes at 1%.

Your HR may build to the Zone 4 level during the last hill interval - if you hold the same running pace.

Cool down at 1% grade.

Hard in the Hills #2

After warm up do a set of 5 x 5 minutes with 5 minute recovery. Each 5 minutes increase elevation by 1% starting at 2% -

Example - go 2% for 5 minutes then recover at 1% for 5 minutes then 3% for 5 minutes etc..

Hold the same pace throughout the work - If the intensity is to high - back off the pace but leave the % incline.

Cool down.

Hard in the Hills #3:

After warm up do a set of 5 x 5 minutes with 5 minute recovery. Each minute of the set increase elevation by 1% starting at 2% -

Example - go 2% for 1 minute then 3% for 1 minute, 4% for 1 minute, 5% for 1 minute, 6% for 1 minute then recover for 5 minute at 1% - repeat after recovery.

Hold the same pace throughout the work - If the intensity is too high - back off the pace but leave the % incline.

Cool down.

Hard in the Hills #4:

After warmup - set the pace at marathon pace or long run pace.

Then do a pyramid set of 3 minutes each for from 2%,3%, 4%, 5%, 6% and back down trying to hold each % for 3 minutes each.

This a 27 minute set and there is no planned recovery in the set.

If the intensity is too high - back off the pace but leave the % incline.

Cool down.

Cycling Workout

Trainer Painer III

Goal: Break up the boredom of a trainer ride
Heart Rate: up to zone 4
Power: 90% FT and 100% FT for "on" intervals, soft pedal for "off"
Volume: 1-1.5 hours
Warm up done as:
10 minutes increasing from PE of 1 to PE of 9 each minute...
(if you are doing this on the trainer or exercise bike - increase resistance of switch gears to add effort - keep cadence constant)

Then 2 minutes easy spin
Then 6 x 30/30 with the 30 on being at a PE of 8-9 and the recovery as a PE of 3-4
(for the trainer use a big ring/15 for the on's and small ring and 15 for the off's)

Then 2 minutes easy spin

Main set done 3 times with different "recovery"

Use a PE of 6,7,8,9 for each (17,16,15 or 14 for rear on trainer or a constant power 90% FT)

4 minutes on and 1 minute off done as easy pedaling
3 minutes on and 1 minute off done as easy pedaling
2 minutes on and 1 minute off done as easy pedaling
1 minutes on and 1 minute off done as easy pedaling

Take two minutes easy spinning.

Repeat the above with the ON intervals done standing at a low cadence (PE7 or 90%FT) and the 1 minute off done at the ”on” intensity level (PE9 or 100% FT) so it is NOT a recover but instead a seated TT effort at a hard level - this is VERY hard then go directly to the next standing interval.

Take two minutes easy spinning.

Repeat the 1st set with the ON intervals done SEATED or STANDING at a normal cadence and the 1 minute off done easy.

Warm down.

Before > Preride meal, 500ml carbohydrate electrolyte beverage
During > 600-1200ml carbohydrate electrolyte beverage as needed
After > 3:1 ratio carbohydrate to protein IMMEDIATELY after and again at 1 hour after ride

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