Phil wrote:
I am a TR customer currently on Base 1 and will proceed with Base 2 accordingly. My A races next year will be flat, hot and windy, Eagleman 70.3 (6/9) and Philippines 70.3 (8/4). What race specific TR workouts should I go with and when would it be best get on race specific training format? Would 2×20 and 3×20 combo be ok?

Chad replied:
Progressing from the first Base plan to the second Base plan is a good way to start both in terms of acclimating to the stress of structured interval training as well as pinpointing any potential limiters. Clearly, your concern is primarily sustainable power, and there are a number of ways to raise it, but if you decide to branch into any other types of bike racing later on then you might find some of the workouts which include VO2max, anaerobic or sprint efforts useful in that context.

When it comes to improvements in sustainable power though, I look mostly at three aspects of training: 1 – aerobic base, 2 – power at LT, or as we call it, FTP, and 3 – power at VO2max.

1 – Without a solid aerobic base, you can bet that you won’t have the necessary endurance to ride for 100+ miles let alone ride reasonably fast, whatever that might mean for you and your level of experience. For this reason, we’ll soon be releasing an alternate, lower-intensity Base Training plan that veers toward more traditional long-slow-distance riding than the time-limited plans we offer at the moment.

Until then, keep on plugging away at the Intermediate Base plans though because there’s more than one way to build aerobic base than logging slow steady mileage, and those existing plans can only benefit your fitness especially if you can insert easy mileage (Free 60, Free 90, for example, spent at 50-70% of your FTP) on your non-interval days.

2 – Most obviously, improvements in sustainable power are highly desired by IM competitors and multisport athletes in general, and Sweet Spot and Threshold intervals that increase in duration and or decrease in recovery between intervals are a straightforward way to go. Workouts like Lamarck, Darwin, Galena & Donner are just a few examples, but see to it that you are reassessing your fitness at regular points along your training plan – every 4-6 weeks – in order to keep each workout’s aim true.

Additionally, I’m a big believer in elevating the demand of Threshold workouts by inserting segments of suprathreshold effort into your intervals in the form of over-unders (OU’s). Forcing your body to tolerate high levels of lactate (under-segment), dumping excess lactate on the muscles (over-segment), and then requiring your muscles to process this excess while still working very near your FTP (under-segment), sends a very clear message to your muscles, heart, lungs, and nervous system. Following adequate recovery, these messages bring about the adaptation we all seek when we push ourselves during workouts like Sill, McAdie,& Bear Creek just to name a few of the OU workouts you’ll encounter during your Build training.

3 – Finally, even riders who don’t utilize high-effort aerobic capacity (VO2max) efforts during their events can benefit from suffering through some VO2max intervals during their training, especially if their schedules allow very little training time. Working at high percentages of your power at VO2max (an upcoming blog post of its own), at power outputs well above FTP stimulates a cascade of beneficial training adaptations that affect not only your high-end power but also your sustainable power! Workouts like Givens, Matthes, & Abbot may all be part of the Low-Volume plans we offer, but they’re excellent additions or substitutions within any of our existing plans as long as you don’t overdo it. Even within a Base 1 plan, I encourage riders to mix things up once in a while by doing some of these short, intense, VO2max efforts in order to challenge/improve their aerobic capacities, perhaps adding something like Spencer once every couple of weeks.

Finally, as far as timing these plans in order to arrive at your peak fitness just prior to your IM’s, based on your June & August race dates, count back far enough to allow you to complete both Base plans and at least one Build plan prior to your first event, take some time off or at least reduce your intensity drastically for a couple weeks, and then start back in on the second Build plan or any of the upcoming Peak plans that we’ll be rolling out later in the year.

Best of luck, Phil! Let us know how your training and your IM’s go!

-Chad T



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Chad Timmerman

Chad Timmerman is the Head Coach and Co-Founder of TrainerRoad — cycling’s most effective training system. He has nearly 10 years of coaching experience as a Level I USA certified Cycling and Triathlon coach. When he’s not developing structured training plans for TrainerRoad, you can catch him sharing his coaching advice on the Ask a Cycling Coach podcast. To get Chad’s best cycling knowledge delivered to your inbox, sign up for his free 6-part email course Train Smart, Get Fast.

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