Adding intensity, duration, specificity and recovery
This week, we look at ways to change up your training regime to make gains without getting too fancy and technical.
Specifically, creating growth by putting yourself in some uncomfortable training situations. We’ll find creative ways to build strength, speed and stamina without needing a spare 20 hours a week to do so.
Although there there is one caveat this week… I make no apology in stating a simple fact, that to successfully achieve your best long ride on event day, you will do yourself a huge favour by including two to three significantly longer rides.
A quick recap
The concept is with this 12 week delivery that you can go back at any time and revisit, you can start anytime and quickly integrate the previous weeks to get you up to speed. The design is also to help ‘layer’ the requirements to change the way you train and think about the various elements that mesh together to create you becoming a more well rounded cyclist with a very strong foundation. An approach that can last you for the rest of your life not just this event.
Week 5, let’s begin
When you train you’re investing:
In return you hope to gain:
Simply put, there is a price to be paid to produce gains. If you don’t invest the time, energy, emotion or required finance you will limit your results. But that being said, investing more is not necessarily the only way to produce the results – you will most likely run the well dry if you try to, leading to mental and physical burn out.
So the real question is:
How do you get more out of your time and energy resources without overdoing it in your emotional and financial reserves?
Four training principles to aid in progression
These principles are like a method in a recipe. You have the same ingredients, but you might change it up to make a different consistency or flavour or slow cook as opposed to roast, or boil instead of steam. You end up with a product at the end that is a result of your methodology.
1. Increasing duration
Too often when we start out on a fitness regime or a big goal, we want to be at the finish line straight away. If we increase duration too quickly it will risk injury and increased fatigue. This leads to more days off the bike and less time training – affecting our confidence and overall progression.
If you’re training for a 100km ride you’ll want to start out with a 25km ride. This allows you to assess what gets sore and any bike fit issues that can cause a niggle (even on a short ride).
We also start the process of allowing our brain and body to progressively adapt to the new regime. It’s an opportunity to fine tune our pedaling technique, test out different fuel and hydration solutions and we can get back home, recover, and live to train another day.
By making smaller increases, we allow a safe and progressive adaptation to occur and before we know it we are succeeding at a 100km ride with all our foundations set out properly.
Steps to increasing duration incrementally
Start out small – develop a pattern of success allowing yourself to achieve the workouts
Add time in chunks of 5 -10 mins of 3-5 km each week per session.
Increasing duration can also mean reducing your recovery between an effort. Eg: 3 x 5 min 90% efforts with 4 min recovery. You may decide to reduce your recovery component to 3 mins and add 4 x 5 min efforts, meaning you have also increased intensity as well.
- Spend more time in zone 2, this is the pace just a smidgen above your “all day pace”. This helps build all your neuromuscular adaptation without load, creating your base but also allowing you to nudge outside your comfort zone safely.
Ensure you are doing one long ride on the weekend. If your long ride is 40km the first week, make it 45km the next and 50km the week after that. As you get longer, you can break it up into 2 x 25 km rides with a coffee stop in the middle.
2. Increasing intensity
Not every ride needs to be a test of your speed and power. However, if you are time poor, learning how to safely use intensity to progress can assist you with your gains just as well as riding longer distances. Ensure that you listen to your body and bring in a bit more rest or recovery so you can keep on training.
Increasing the difficulty of your sessions has some setbacks. Let’s talk about those first.
When you set yourself a challenging workout, you will need to bring with you an enthusiastic and willing mindset. It’s important to have a body that can handle the challenge by being well rested and injury free while also choosing a time and location where you know you can achieve it.
Your mental attitude is essential with tough sessions – know when you work best so you can set yourself up for success. Not all high intensity sessions have to be 100% achieved, sometimes you need to find out what can be improved on.
There are times where I have set a session of 10 x 1km hill repeats at max effort, only to find myself 5 reps through creating a story to myself that only doing 5 is a win today. While my toughen up self argues back that “another 5 won’t kill you”. If you cannot reach your goal on the day, just do the max effort that you can achieve. It does not have to be a PB, just give it what you have got. I may have failed to go max but I did not fail in giving it my my effort.
Increasing intensity safely just like duration, needs to be done incrementally. Mix up your reps, duration, effort level, power, HR, time and recovery.
3. Practicing specificity
In any event you are ‘training’ for, it is wise to put yourself in the conditions as best you can for the event. Not every ride needs to be 100 km long but the elements of your ride should be well practiced.
In this example (a 100km ride), the following questions need to be addressed:
- What time do you want to achieve? This will lead to what speed you need to be able to ride in training.
- How will you fuel yourself on the ride? Practice hydration and nutrition in every training ride you do.
- What is the terrain of your ride? This will enable to you integrate specific training into your regime.
- What skills do you lack to achieve your goal? Eating and drinking on the go – don’t leave this until your key event and find out you lack confidence to eat and drink in bunches or with other riders around you.
- How long is the event? Have you ridden 100km before and do you have time to build your distance safely to do so?
- Is your bike set up for your event day? What and how will you carry, should be used on every training ride so it is normal practice.
- Clothing? What kit will you wear and have you ridden in it to ensure you can reach pockets, have a comfortable chamois etc…?
4. Recovery and progression
This training element is the glue that will stick all of your hard work together. The greatest adaptation will occur when you give your mind and body time to rest and grow.
- Provide stress
- Mind and Body learns to adapt
- Response is fatigue
- To return to step 1 there must be recovery
What does recovery look like?
- A day off training
- A light day of training – eg: easy ride or other cross training activity
- AM Training and PM training – splitting your training up in the day to get the required load but giving 8-10 hrs recovery in between
- 2 hard days in a row, 1 easy or total day off
- 1 hard day, 1 easy day
- So long as there is ample time for your BODY and your MIND to take a chill pill and reap the rewards from your hard work.
My favourite forms of recovery are:
- Coffee ride with friends 25 kmph cruise
- Walking my dog and ‘smelling the roses’ for 5 km along the beach
- Going to bed early and getting a good sleep
- Napping – I have the ability to have a midday nap and often have 30 mins to an hour maybe 2 times a week.
- A total day off anything if I need it, no work, no emails, no riding, no expectations. It’s a big fat SWITCH off Reset day.
“You won’t always be the best. You won’t always be at your best. However, you can always do your best.” Jess Douglas