Saturday, 28 May 2011

To push it harder, or to get more comfortable with the current training volume/intensity??

I was having a chat with one of my friends the other day (who likes to go under the name of Devonshire Pig Farmer), and was talking with him about my plans for tomorrow's ride.  Last week I did a loop including the 3 passes of Furka-Grimsel-Susten, a combined vertical climb of 3,600 odd metres.  Whilst I completed it, I was struggling up the final pass (Susten) and stopped several times to take a short break.  I was telling Devonshire Pig Farmer that I might go even further this weekend, maybe including another pass (so 4 passes in total), and he was saying that I should first do last weeks route again and try not to stop so much on the final climb.

This is always an interesting question - when to increase the training volume and when to stay at the current training volume until your body is fully adapted before moving on.  I love pushing my limits so I am always inclined to increase the length and vertical distance covered with each ride I do.  Like this my body can never feel it is prepared enough and has to constantly adapt to keep up.  The downside is that I am much more likely to get injured this way.

The mental aspect is quite an important one for me though.  Doing the same ride several times in a row is for me a little boring.  I know I can do the Furka-Grimsel-Susten route, so why not test myself and see if I can do for example the Gotthard-Furka-Grimsel-Susten route.  That would be an additional 1,000 vertical metres so it would be a tough ride with a total vertical climb of around 4,500m.  If I do this without getting injured, I will at least know I will be able to cope with La Marmotte in July.  Then I will even be able to think about not just completing La Marmotte again like the other 2 times, but actually improving my time.  The last 2 times it really was about completing it, as I hadn't done enough training to consider racing it.  I would love to cut an hour of my PB from 2009, and bring it down to under 9 hours.  If the training continues like this, that may well be possible, as in 2009 the biggest rides I did in training were 2,500 vertical metres.


  1. OIY! Only you have ever called me that!

    I have been mixing it up one of my recent rides was 62km with just 400m ascent but average speed above 30kph.

    Regarding whether to step up the distance again despite finding the last distance hard - its useful to ask yourself "will I be fitter in two weeks time from doing the longer one, compared to doing the same again more comfortably and quicker?, or even compared to doing a shorter one at a faster pace?".

    One approach might be to do 2000m ascent 100km rides really ramping up the average speed and sustained climbing speed, and just add a very small number of longer 150km and 200km rides to make sure you have the stamina. That way you are not training to plod round you are training your climbing speed.

    After all the power you can sustain for a 10 mile TT is a good indicator of the power output you can sustain over any other longer distance.

  2. Ah, I see you have been doing hill repeats!

  3. Yeah I know what you mean Petey. You need a mix of speedwork and endurance training as if you only ever train long and slow then in the event you will be slow. The same principle applies to running. A lot of the more advanced marathon programs seem to suggest injecting some pace into your long runs in the last few km for instance, just so that your body doesn't get completely accustomed to slow running. At the same time you don't want to do every training session at a full on pace as this is tough on your body and doesn't get it used to burning predominantly fat. I haven't been doing much speedwork recently but I am thinking to do a couple of gym sessions per week with some squats, combined with maybe a once a week short fast cycle ride.