Interval Sets--how long?
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  1. #1
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    Interval Sets--how long?

    I've finally hit the point where I feel like I've achieved a decent "base" condition. The weather's finally cooperated on Sundays, so my long ride's up to 50 miles (with an ultimate goal of a century in the fall sometime), and I'd like to work it so that I start to see improvements in speed. What's a good starter set? And should I do these alone or try to do them in a group?

    (I'm leery of groups because I'm the new guy, and don't want to cause other folks to hit the deck, much less hit the deck myself. In a 50 mile loop with about 1400 feet of climbing, my AVS is about 16 miles per hour. I love the solo ride, but when I get behind someone that's movin' it sure does take a load off...).

  2. #2
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    Don't do intervals in a group. How many base miles or hours would you guess you have since your last big break from riding?

  3. #3
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    Do a group ride. It's basically doing a bunch of intervals. Your average speed will pick up a lot.

    Not to mention you'll learn how to handle your bike. Most guys are pretty nice, so if you ask them for some tips to ride smooth in a group, they would be more than happy to help.

  4. #4
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    In a long ride, intervals are your best friend when riding in a group. Due to my odd work hours, I tend to do mostly solo riding. When I get with a group ride, it's fun to see how much faster I can be.

    Your intervals will kinda vary depending on the group. Figure on the front for about 30 seconds and your time resting will depend on the number of riders. I once had a group ride where we maintained about a 15 or so chain. It was fast and it was easy!!

    Ultimately you'll need to tailor your intervals to how the group is riding. If they're better riders than you, you may need to go in the red for your pulls up front. If you can't hold on while resting, you might want to see if there's a slower group where you can fall back. If you're stronger, then go easy on your pulls. A general rule of thumb is to check your gearing and cadence when you're behind the leader. When you get to the front, stay in the same gear and cadence if you can. The work should be just a little harder. When you're back in the draft, the same gearing and cadence should be the same, but much easier to maintain.

    In my case, I can do alright with local cat 4/5 guys. Cat 3 usually require max effort from me as a Cat 5 myself. Since I'm an ultralight, I gotta watch myself when in the hills with the group. I can usually match Cat 3 riders fairly easily, but I gotta slow myself down with cat 4/5 riders. You don't want to jump off the front because you and the rider behind you are both doing a lot of work.

    In terms of training for the intervals, I'd suggest getting a trainer and some of the Real Rides DVDs. I do those a lot in the winter or on rainy/work days where I can't get out.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbiker3111
    Don't do intervals in a group. How many base miles or hours would you guess you have since your last big break from riding?
    Roughly 1500. (I started commuting by bike in October). Right now, I ride between 90-100 M-F, plus the long on the w/ends. Rode 300 miles in May; due to ride the same in June but only over the last 2 weeks--the weather really did suck for the first two.

    I'm a big believer in suffering alone so that when you're in a group, it's easier. But I am getting pretty psyched to try one. Thanks for the encouragement.

  6. #6
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    Speed work

    Quote Originally Posted by hrumpole
    I've finally hit the point where I feel like I've achieved a decent "base" condition. The weather's finally cooperated on Sundays, so my long ride's up to 50 miles (with an ultimate goal of a century in the fall sometime), and I'd like to work it so that I start to see improvements in speed. What's a good starter set? And should I do these alone or try to do them in a group?

    (I'm leery of groups because I'm the new guy, and don't want to cause other folks to hit the deck, much less hit the deck myself. In a 50 mile loop with about 1400 feet of climbing, my AVS is about 16 miles per hour. I love the solo ride, but when I get behind someone that's movin' it sure does take a load off...).
    If your goal is to increase your speed, you don't need to worry about short intervals. Something in the 2, 5, 10, and 20 minute range is what you want. The 2 minute version is to help you hold speed when you're leading a group. The 5 and 10 minute intervals will help you on climbs. The 20 minute intervals are the key to average speed increases.

    The shorter the interval, the more you do in a set. For the 2 minute intervals, do 5 in a row, and maybe two sets (three sets when you get strong). At least a day and preferably two of recovery before doing more intervals. For the 20 minute intervals, you won't be able to do more than two in one ride. Fully recover between intervals by spinning easy.

  7. #7
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    How much rest between each one? And I suppose the point is to be able to barely finish/be ready to hurl when done?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by hrumpole
    How much rest between each one? And I suppose the point is to be able to barely finish/be ready to hurl when done?

    Usually for the 2 minute ones, I rest for two minutes. But anything longer than that, I rest half of the interval time (5 minute interval-2.5 rest, etc) but longer breaks may give you more quality intervals. It's up to you.

    This can be a very helpful thread on intervals if someone more experienced can jump in and elaborate more
    .

  9. #9
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    Ok, I'll wade in, and I hope I can be helpfull, but this is my understanding.

    The problem is, that there are many ways to complete intervals. You can play with the duration of each interval, the number of intervals in a set, the number of sets, the duration of recovery between intervals and the the duration of recovery between sets.

    There are the classic intervals to start off with. 2 X 20 minutes with 5-10 minutes recovery. There are the 6 X 5 minute intervals with 5 minute recovery. The shorter intervals 30 secs to 3 minutes, can be done with longer recoveries, as others stated, to ensure quality and repeatability. There may be times when you desire incomplete recovery to simulate racing demands.

    It may be, that you have to build up to the prescibed number of intervals, or use a longer recovery, or a shorter interval, when first attempting a kind of interval. That's natural. Training requires progress. This is where self coaching can get tricky. Too much too soon, can easily lead to staleness. Build on what you've already done.

    If you want some suggested interval protocols, I'm sure you can find them.

    I rarely do intervals on group rides because I have no control over what others do and I can't do what I had planned. I do enjoy group rides however, and use them for other reasons than working on specific timed intervals or energy systems. It's more like a fartlek (speedplay)ride. Hopefully it will stimulate adaptations to allow me to rid efaster in races. Sometimes doing intervals during the week can make group rides a grind on weekend. That's OK as long as I know I won't be able to perform at my best.



    Quote Originally Posted by simplyhankk
    Usually for the 2 minute ones, I rest for two minutes. But anything longer than that, I rest half of the interval time (5 minute interval-2.5 rest, etc) but longer breaks may give you more quality intervals. It's up to you.

    This can be a very helpful thread on intervals if someone more experienced can jump in and elaborate more
    Last edited by Dream Plus; 07-01-2009 at 04:38 AM.

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