Joe Friel is author of the successful “Training Bible” series ofbooks, a regular columnist for VeloNews and Inside Triathlonand the founder of www.ultrafit.com.
This marks the start of Friel’s weekly Question-and-Answer column here on VeloNews.com. Friel will answer a selected group of questions each week. Readers can send questions to Friel in care of VeloNews.com at WebLetters@7Dogs.com.Be sure to include “Friel” in the subject line.
Q: I am finding that my biggest weakness is in recovery afterrepetitive hill climbs and being able to respond to attacks before crestingthe hill. Although, I think I am just as strong as many of those ridersthat attack, I just cannot seem to recover as fast as they do and hammer(at 44 I am about 15 to 20 years older than most of them are!). UsuallyI feel real good climbing at their speed, but by half way through the racemy problem of recovery starts. I have visited the doctor regarding my breathing.After blowing into an instrument, I was able to register 550 (!).
The doctor told me that someone in my shape and age should register750. So, I guess that is an indication of smaller lung capacity. I am tryingto train myself to strengthen my weakness. I know I should do more intervals,preferably hill intervals (?). However, do you think I should do hillsat heart rate 4 and 5a, 5b levels and try to recover, or should I do hillintervals keeping it down to 3 to 4 range hoping that my heart rate willeventually be more efficient? – K.M.
A: In the Build period I’d suggest heart rate 5b zone on hillsreps. Even do some hill reps as follows…
#1. 4-5 x 90 seconds, seated on the first 60 seconds buildingto 5b, and then shift up, stand, and attack the last 30 seconds going allout. Take a 3-minute recovery between these.
#2. 6-7 x 2 minutes at 5b. Every 30 seconds (at 30, 60, 90, and120 seconds) stand and attack for 10-pedal revolutions (single leg count).Recover for 4 minutes between these.
These should build your anaerobic/speed endurance and help you dealwith the race situations you’ve described a little better. Although itmay always be more challenging for you when racing against younger riders. — Joe Friel
Q: I am a 31-year-old CAT 5 road racer. How do I know if my basejust is not wide enough for my season? I am having trouble with thesecond half of my races. The first half is going well but inevitably somethinghappens and I come off the back in the second hour. I can get my heartrate down in less than a minute but by then there is little hope of gettingback up in the group. We have been having some intense heat for being soearly in the season, but I think this is only a contributing factor notthe reason. This is my second season and really only my first of intensetraining. I guess I am a little confused and trying not to get frustrated.– P.M.
A: If it’s your second season then not having enough aerobicendurance and strength/force base is a strong possibility. There is nofool-proof way of knowing. The best indication is how you feel near theend of long rides (maintaining speed/power?) and long, steady climbs (fading?).Of course, even if your base fitness is good, having trouble with the latterhalf of races doesn’t tell us anything about base fitness as high anaerobicdemands within the race could cause even those with excellent base to comeoff the back if their anaerobic/speed endurance is lacking. Bottom lineis that I expect you just need more time and consistent training experience.— Joe Friel
Q: I’ve been following the plan in “The Cyclists Training Bible”since January. I lift weights twice a week, but I’m wondering, at thistime of year, if my time would be better spent on the bike. This is myfirst year of racing. I’m 35 and my greatest limiters are muscular enduranceand climbing. I’m big…6’ 4” and 190 pounds. I’ve lost 10 pounds sinceJanuary and I’d like to lose 5 to 10 more.
Right now I lift at home two days a week for about 45 minutes each workout(lunges, squats, leg extensions, some upper body work, etc.) I’ve got thetime to replace those workouts with two 1-hour, 30-minute rides. I’m trainingfor Cat 5 races and I’m on the 350-400 hour year plan. I feel like I’mnot getting enough time on the bike and I also feel a little guilty lifting…whenI could be riding. Any thoughts? — J.M.
A: In the Build period it’s best to cut back on weights fromwhat was done in the Base period. For athletes over 40 I typically havethem continue with one session of “Strength Maintenance” lifting weekly.For those under 30 we typically stop weights altogether. It is an individualcall for those between 30-39. You must first decide what is holding youback (your limiters), as you have already done. If strength is one of thesethen continue lifting once per week. If it is not then I’d suggest stoppingweight training. — Joe Friel
Joe Friel is the author of the “Training Bible” series of books andoffers coaching services and a free, monthly newsletter at www.ultrafit.com.