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  1. #1
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    How do you account for unscripted riding sessions?

    Hi all,

    I'm giving some thought to my training schedule for the year. Most training plans are pretty formal with well scripted workouts, like a 60 min ride with 3x9 over/unders. I'm a scientist and that sort of thing appeals to me but I'm not a robot, or even a super serious racer. I'm having trouble adapting such plans to my preferred riding.

    For example, my club has a weekly race series on Thursday evenings. It varies from crits to road races to TTs but they're usually 35-65 minutes at heart rates at LT or a little over. How would I integrate those?

    Or what if I want to go ride my MTB for fun for 90 minutes? Intensity varies greatly on the hilly MTB rides around my neck of the woods. How would that count towards my plan?

    This will just be my second year of serious riding so I'm still trying to work these kinds of things out. I'm hoping some of you have run into this and can provide some advice.

    T.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas10 View Post
    Hi all,

    I'm giving some thought to my training schedule for the year. Most training plans are pretty formal with well scripted workouts, like a 60 min ride with 3x9 over/unders. I'm a scientist and that sort of thing appeals to me but I'm not a robot, or even a super serious racer. I'm having trouble adapting such plans to my preferred riding.

    For example, my club has a weekly race series on Thursday evenings. It varies from crits to road races to TTs but they're usually 35-65 minutes at heart rates at LT or a little over. How would I integrate those?

    Or what if I want to go ride my MTB for fun for 90 minutes? Intensity varies greatly on the hilly MTB rides around my neck of the woods. How would that count towards my plan?

    This will just be my second year of serious riding so I'm still trying to work these kinds of things out. I'm hoping some of you have run into this and can provide some advice.

    T.
    When you ride in a group it can be near impossible to complete your intervals and it's extremely annoying to ride in a group when others are doing preplanned 30second all out sprints for example. So, either do your workout before or after and enjoy the group ride for what it is. Be social and let go with the plan for a moment. You'll find the mental aspect of this sport is as important as the physical. Don't forget to have fun once on a while.

  3. #3
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    While the unscripted rides don't target a specific energy system like intervals but can still focus a bit on energy systems in even a group ride depending on the pace the group is riding, the terrain and your relative capability. Stay at the back and ride out of the pace line, then back in the draft as needed for your over under as an example - take long pulls, hammer hills in a hilly terrain etc. There are a couple of riders in our group that do the long pulls and it doesn't cause any problems - they are strong riders relative to the rest of the group though. I wouldn't do it if I was one of the weaker riders then end up falling off the back afterwards and hold up the group waiting on me.
    Moderation is boring - do epic s##t

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  4. #4
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    I'm a scientist as well. Your post makes me laugh a bit.
    Think about what you just asked.
    You want to know 'how to script' your 'unscripted' rides.
    Can't make this up. The variation of 'unscripted rides' is what makes it impossible to integrate into scripted rides to shape an overall training routine to improve your fitness.

    Now you could have asked, how many hours should I sleep every night?...or what balance of carbs to protein should I consume each day. Would eating pizza and drinking 2 glasses of beer set me back? Or...if I am asked to walk a city block on foot to meet somebody, will this compete with my training regiment on the bike?

    My advice...and I am kidding you a bit...you need a life coach...lol. You are toward the robot end of the spectrum. ;) Your biggest competition will be AI. ;)

  5. #5
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    You can still script them, but just not with the accuracy you would have for your other data. Don't think 3 decimal places accuracy, think fuzzy set math. Think what those other types of rides are most like, not what they are not exactly like.

    Mostly, you want to avoid interfering with your structured training as much as possible. A race pace day should not follow another hard day. An MTB ride should not be before a hard day (assuming you ride ST with some technical/vertical bits). Beyond that, you can estimate the type of training and use that to mix things up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas10 View Post

    For example, my club has a weekly race series on Thursday evenings. It varies from crits to road races to TTs but they're usually 35-65 minutes at heart rates at LT or a little over. How would I integrate those?

    Or what if I want to go ride my MTB for fun for 90 minutes? Intensity varies greatly on the hilly MTB rides...
    You answered your question to the first example, which I bolded. You know the numbers, close enough to know what to do the next day. Race pace days are not so much training days as a chance to evaluate the effectiveness of your training over time. Put an easy/recovery day before the race pace day.

    Hilly MTB, depends. If the hills are short enough, interval day. If you just chill and have fun on relatively easy trails you know well, recovery day (bike) plus some upper body work. If you have a short loop, you can structure it based on that loop. IOW, you can impose structure on an MTB ride by choosing the route and pace. Personally, I think it is a bad idea to do this, and it is better to just use MTB as a break in your training. Have some pure fun. Let the other 6 days a week be the structure.

    If you lay out your weekly training schedule (and longer terms goals), I am sure some here would offer you advice on how to work other types of rides into that in the best way possible.
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  6. #6
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    Thank you all for the feedback. QQQ your insight was particularly helpful. I don't have my training schedule down yet but a typical week in the spring for me might look like this:

    M: strength train
    T: 60-90 min hr ride with 3 x 10 min just below LT
    W: strength train
    Th: 60-90 min ride with 10 x 2 min intervals at max
    F: strength train
    S: 2-3 hour fast group ride
    S: 1 hr easy ride or Off

    I suppose if friends invited me on a MTB ride for that Thursday, I'd have 3 options.
    1. Say no and go do my scheduled training.
    2. Blow off the workout, go ride with them and just have fun, not worrying about it.
    3. Go with them but try to adapt the ride so I sort of get 10 2-min hard efforts in.

    Of of course all of these have their pros and cons, which is why I am struggling with this. I guess it's a matter of personal philosophy and priorities but I'm new at this and I'm sure many others out there have wrestled with this kind of thing. The above advice has definitely helped but I'm open to more!

    Thomas

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas10 View Post
    Thank you all for the feedback. QQQ your insight was particularly helpful. I don't have my training schedule down yet but a typical week in the spring for me might look like this:

    M: strength train
    T: 60-90 min hr ride with 3 x 10 min just below LT
    W: strength train
    Th: 60-90 min ride with 10 x 2 min intervals at max
    F: strength train
    S: 2-3 hour fast group ride
    S: 1 hr easy ride or Off

    I suppose if friends invited me on a MTB ride for that Thursday, I'd have 3 options.
    1. Say no and go do my scheduled training.
    2. Blow off the workout, go ride with them and just have fun, not worrying about it.
    3. Go with them but try to adapt the ride so I sort of get 10 2-min hard efforts in.

    Of of course all of these have their pros and cons, which is why I am struggling with this. I guess it's a matter of personal philosophy and priorities but I'm new at this and I'm sure many others out there have wrestled with this kind of thing. The above advice has definitely helped but I'm open to more!

    Thomas
    Before anyone could offer sound advice about your question(s), you would need to provide your goals for the upcoming season. There are two (general) ways to approach this depending on your said goals. If you have very specific goals for peaking at certain races (I'm not even sure if you want to race this year), I would recommend sticking to a fairly regimented plan (which can include 1 "fun" unscripted ride per week). If you don't really have specific goals for the year, or you don't plan on peaking for any races (or even big rides), I wouldn't worry too much about doing as many unscripted rides as you want.

  8. #8
    your god hates me
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    My wife works with a cycling coach who gets her to adhere to a pretty disciplined training schedule, but (at least as I understand it) she's always encouraged to substitute a scripted training ride with a group ride at least once a week...the theory being, not only is riding with a group an important skill to train for, but, more importantly, nearly every Club ride will inevitably devolve into an interval workout!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jspharmd View Post
    Before anyone could offer sound advice about your question(s), you would need to provide your goals for the upcoming season. There are two (general) ways to approach this depending on your said goals. If you have very specific goals for peaking at certain races (I'm not even sure if you want to race this year), I would recommend sticking to a fairly regimented plan (which can include 1 "fun" unscripted ride per week). If you don't really have specific goals for the year, or you don't plan on peaking for any races (or even big rides), I wouldn't worry too much about doing as many unscripted rides as you want.
    My idea of structured is to actually ride someplace different. Rest of the time its riding around somewhat aimlessly.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jspharmd View Post
    Before anyone could offer sound advice about your question(s), you would need to provide your goals for the upcoming season. There are two (general) ways to approach this depending on your said goals. If you have very specific goals for peaking at certain races (I'm not even sure if you want to race this year), I would recommend sticking to a fairly regimented plan (which can include 1 "fun" unscripted ride per week). If you don't really have specific goals for the year, or you don't plan on peaking for any races (or even big rides), I wouldn't worry too much about doing as many unscripted rides as you want.
    yeah I was gonna ask OP if he plans to peak for the race season. If OP doesn't plan to peak, then he doesn't need to be so structured, because he is training for fun, not for peaking. And if OP isn't racing but doing this mainly for exercise and personal growth kinda thing, then there's no need to peak either because peaking only last a short period of time but requires too much outta your life IMO.

    OP, what I like to do on group ride is this. If the group ride is a social one, then I do my intervals on the trainer beforehand, then afterward go join the social group ride. If the group ride will be a hard one with attacking points, then go do it and shoot all your bullets out. And you don't have to complete the whole ride either. You CAN peel off early (so you don't carry too much fatigue over to tomorrow's session). While trial and error, you'll soon enough have a good feeling on how to guage your rides/training sessions. Only thru trial and error will you know

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
    yeah I was gonna ask OP if he plans to peak for the race season. If OP doesn't plan to peak, then he doesn't need to be so structured, because he is training for fun, not for peaking. And if OP isn't racing but doing this mainly for exercise and personal growth kinda thing, then there's no need to peak either because peaking only last a short period of time but requires too much outta your life IMO.

    OP, what I like to do on group ride is this. If the group ride is a social one, then I do my intervals on the trainer beforehand, then afterward go join the social group ride. If the group ride will be a hard one with attacking points, then go do it and shoot all your bullets out. And you don't have to complete the whole ride either. You CAN peel off early (so you don't carry too much fatigue over to tomorrow's session). While trial and error, you'll soon enough have a good feeling on how to guage your rides/training sessions. Only thru trial and error will you know
    This is sound advice on how to handle group rides.

  12. #12
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    Hi. Thanks for the advice. I do plan to race this year, hopefully several times. That said I race more for fun and a reason to improve my fitness than, say, winning money or becoming some sort of elite racer. I do not have a single race that I want to peak for.

    T.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas10 View Post
    Thank you all for the feedback. QQQ your insight was particularly helpful. I don't have my training schedule down yet but a typical week in the spring for me might look like this:

    M: strength train
    T: 60-90 min hr ride with 3 x 10 min just below LT
    W: strength train
    Th: 60-90 min ride with 10 x 2 min intervals at max
    F: strength train
    S: 2-3 hour fast group ride
    S: 1 hr easy ride or Off
    That schedule is crazy. You're going hard six days a week. You can't keep that up for long. I'm not sure what the strength training is for, or why you're incorporating that into your training schedule. If your aim is to improve your cycling, I'd replace those with 1-2 hour steady easy days. If your aim is full-body fitness, then you need to cut out at least one, if not two of those hard cycling days if you're adamant about three gym days (assuming you actually get some work done in the gym).

    10x2 min intervals at max is a weird workout that doesn't seem to be too specific to anything. 1) you can't do 2 mins max 10 times. 2) even to do 2 mins max 3-4x would require 10-20 mins of rest as part of a weekly training plan 3) you don't do max intensity intervals every week, or if you do, not for more than a few weeks at a time.

    However, if you were talking 7x3 mins at vo2, or 4x5 mins at vo2, etc., with equal recovery, then that's something to work up towards.

    I'd also incorporate (or alternate) a long workout, 20-60 mins at a stretch of tempo/sweetspot instead of always doing shorter stuff. That'll likely give you the biggest bang for the buck at this point, plus it's repeatable on a bi-weekly (or more) basis. Do that at 85-95% threshold and increase that over time and you will be a much stronger rider.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
    yeah I was gonna ask OP if he plans to peak for the race season. If OP doesn't plan to peak, then he doesn't need to be so structured, because he is training for fun, not for peaking. And if OP isn't racing but doing this mainly for exercise and personal growth kinda thing, then there's no need to peak either because peaking only last a short period of time but requires too much outta your life IMO.
    Peaking doesn't require anything more out of your life than you're already doing with your riding.

    It's simply a way of planning your training so that your fitness builds from a general fitness to specific fitness. Or, in other words, for road or crit racing, it builds from making you strong (more endurance and tempo) to making you fast (short, explosive efforts repeatedly).

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