Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Training for 15 Weeks Away - Bobby Sweeting
It is early February, and we are all hoping for an early Spring! For no other reason, of course, than to be able to ride outside without having to constantly be on the lookout for a menacing patch of ice. No matter where you are located, one thing is for sure, it is time to start working towards your big goal for the season: The Assault on Mt. Mitchell.
Whether or not you have been diligent in your base training over the last 3-4 months, it is now time to transition into the Specialization training phase. That means focusing on specific functional threshold work, both above (VO2 Max) and below (Tempo). All the while you should be thinking specifically about how each workout will help you to reach the top of the mountain faster than your buddy!
A good starting point is to structure each week with approximately four “hard” days and three recovery days. Those can be rest or active recovery, depending on your level of fitness. Now, I know it isn't a ton of fun, but to really push your body to the next level you should include structured interval work on at least two of those hard days. Try VO2 Max work on one day, mixing in a variety of efforts from 1min to 8min in duration. One example could include two sets of [1,3,5,3,1] at maximum intensity. Start by giving yourself full recovery between max efforts, then try to work towards a fixed time in order to really train your anaerobic system to recover quickly. Just be prepared to suffer in this zone, it is by far the most mentally challenging!
Probably the most important zone to work on as you build towards The Assault is zone 4 (typically called your Functional Threshold Zone), and that’s what you should focus on during your second/third interval workout each week. This is the zone where your body begins to produce lactic acid faster than it can flush it. It is the line in the sand that you know you shouldn't cross too many times if you plan on finishing strong. The higher you can lift your functional threshold, the faster your sustained climbing pace will be. To train this zone you should focus on interval work between 8min and 30min in length. Get creative in how you design each workout but don’t exceed 60 total minutes of threshold work in a single ride. And remember to pace yourself!