From a post by Rich on Slowtwitch. The discussion included some questions about our bike training at Endurance Nation so Rich decided to provide a summary of how we do business on the bike.
Since Endurance Nation was mentioned in the thread I want to clarify a few things:
For the first 16wks of our season (our Out-Season, your Off-Season), we are 100% focused on lifting FTP. Interval sets, zero concerns for volume, about 4hrs total cycling volume per week. Average FTP gains last year, teamwide, were 15%. We are gathering the data from this year. Several members have posted 24%+ gains this week
In General Prep (about 8wks for us), volume increases because it can (you’re outside) but we stick to about 2.5-3hrs max on the weekends. This is the volume that is repeatable week after week for our athletes given work, family, etc. Still focused on FTP but we add 80-85% time. Additional volume comes from a warmup but we still prescribe nothing below 80% (other than a warmup).
Race Prep the volume increases but tops out at 4.5hrs for Saturday, about 3hrs on Sunday. 1 x interval session during the week with zero volume goals. Main Set only. On these long rides we do prescribe 70-75% riding, to build race-specific fitness. More specifically, they lock themselves in the aerobars and wrap their heads around nutrition, the art of riding steady, and the pacing discipline we expect of them on race day, etc. But, again, the FTP and 80-85% work continues.
They perform 2 x race reahearsal rides before the race. These are the only sessions that they ride over 4.5hrs. These are by far their easiest rides with us.
In general, our focus throughout the season is:
Lifting FTP. Best time for us to do this is on the Out-Season, when they don’t also have to go far, but we maintain this focus, in some measure, throughtout the season. That said, we believe the value of going far (for much of the year) is significantly over-rated. The last three years we have done a cycling camp for the Tour of California. About 350 miles last year, close to 400 this year. About 2/3 of our participants are east coasters, dropping into this camp after no more than 4hrs/wk of cycling. From 4hrs on a trainer, all FTP-focused, to 20-25hrs outside on challenging terrains…no problems.
Optimizing (usually by maximizing) their TSS/hr of training time by having them do alot of 80-85%/sweetspot training. Low risk method to significantly boost the TSS of each session.
We reserve the race specific intensity for much closer to the race and don’t have any “magical adaptations” thoughts about it. You’re strong, time to get comfortable at your race watts in your race position, learn what works for you nutritionally, and get your mind right about how we want you to pace the race.