Time-based cycling training

After two weeks of training in Florida, it was nice to be back by the mountains.

On Saturday morning, a small group of friends joined Karel and I for a long ride, which included almost 90 minutes of intervals on a rolling hill loop near Caesar's head mountain.

Warm-up: ~45 minutes (ride to the start of the loop), constant rollers and a few short steep climbs
MS: 6 x 10 minutes at Z3 mid to upper (odd: heavy gear, slower than normal cadence. Even: high cadence, higher than normal cadence) w/ 4 min EZ in between.

Compared to the ride I did the previous Saturday in Florida (picture below) which included a short warm-up on flat roads, a 40-min TT effort on flat roads (drafting behind our friend Shawn and two other strong girls), a group ride (with about 30 riders) on flat roads, followed by a solo steady effort on flat roads (while the rain was falling) and then a cool-down in the pouring rain with puddles all over the ground (on flat roads), this is evidence that the miles just go by a lot slower here in Greenville as we live near the mountains and we ride near (and on) the mountains. 

And I'm ok with that.

At Trimarni, we are time-based, quality training coaches.
99% of our workouts for our athletes are based on time and not by miles/distance covered.

We realize that all races/events are based on distance (and not by who can cover the most distance in a certain amount of time) but we are more focused on what's going on within those miles (process driven) than the total distance covered (outcome focused).

It's very common for athletes to obsess about miles covered, often forcing athletes to cover more distance than they can tolerate due to poor form and fatigue which accumulates over time.

As you can see from my two rides (just 1 week apart), it sure does look like I am a slower athlete here in Greenville. 
But slow is all relative.
(And in all honesty, the route that we rode on Saturday was a fairly "fast" ride. Karel did his own intervals and averaged around 19mph! We typically average around 16.5-17mph when we ride outside and average around 1000 feet each hour. I also didn't show or tell you what my speed was during my main set so once again, it's all about what's happening within the workout not just the outcome).

For my first 2-3 years of endurance training, I was very obsessed with metrics. 
I didn't like the idea of stopping a run at 6.8  miles so I ran until it reached 7 miles. Same went for cycling. I would think, "why finish a ride at 37 miles when you can ride 3 more miles to get to 40."
40 miles sounds so much better than 37, right?
For swim workouts, I would often swim 100-400 more yards just to finish a workout at 3500 instead of 3100.
Or, I would often find myself counting my total weekly miles as if I had this magic number that I needed to reach to validate my fitness improvements or readiness to race.
As you can see from my ride on Saturay, I rode 59.58 miles. Not 60 miles.
I'm pretty sure I will still be prepared for Rev3 Knoxville in 7 weeks even though I didn't hit 60 miles.

Now, I can't even tell you how many miles I run as I rarely look at my watch (or the treadmill) for total distance covered.
When I swim or bike (and run), I stop when my workout when the main set is over and I cool down - that's when I am done.

Although my fitness, skills and endurance has improved considerably over the past 6+ years since I learned how to train smarter as an endurance triathlete, the terrain in Greenville has provided me with a completely new training stress which I absolutely love.
With this training stress comes a different mindset when it comes to bike and run training.

I invite you to consider time-based workouts instead of constantly chasing the miles when you run and bike.

Now you may be thinking that time-based training is not the way to go as your workouts need to be specific to your upcoming distance.

Well, this is a very old-school way of thinking (ex. that you must get in a 100 mile ride or 20 mile run in order to train for an Ironman) and we know that periodization and specificity within workouts can prepare an athlete for the upcoming demands of training.
Furthermore, if a proper warm-up, good economy, great skills, smart execution, great fueling/hydrating and excellent recovery habits are not enforced, the workout stress is not well-tolerated (and consistent training may be difficult to achieve).

Let's consider four types of athletes training for a half ironman distance triathlon.
Athlete A has a 60 mile ride on his schedule. He is a newer athlete and chooses to ride with a group for his long ride every Saturday. He accumulates 60 miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes.
Athlete B has a 60 mile ride on his schedule. He is a newer athlete and rides alone on flat terrain and it takes him 3 hours and 50 minutes to accumulate 60 miles. But on this day, it's not windy. When it's windy, it takes him 4 hours to accumulate 60 miles.
Athlete C has a 60 mile ride on his schedule. He is a newer athlete and rides alone on hilly terrain. It takes him 5 hours to accumulate 60 miles.
Athlete D has a 60 mile ride on his schedule. He is an advanced athlete and rides alone on hilly terrain. It takes him 4 hours to accumulate 60 miles.
Athlete E has a 60 mile ride on his schedule. He is an advanced athlete and rides alone on flat terrain. It takes hims 3 hours and 25 minutes to accumulate 60 miles.

Who's the fitter athlete? 
Who's the stronger athlete?
Which athlete will be most prepared for race day? 

Hopefully, you struggled to select the correct answer because so many factors come into play when it comes to preparing the body and mind for an upcoming race, especially as it relates to cycling.

In my next blog I will discuss a few helpful tips for getting the most out of your cycling training as you prepare for your upcoming endurance event. 

If you are interested in training with us in Greenville to improve your cycling skills, explore our amazing bike-friendly roads and to enjoy our beautiful mountain views, contact us on our website to inquire about one-on-one training and your own personal private "training camp" experience in Greenville. We offer a variety of private camps from 1-3 days, covering all three disciplines - swim, bike and run. We can make your personalized camp as specific as you need based on your individual strengths and weaknesses.