Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Planning Intervals

I've been riding the flats hard (not quite flat, and a few sharp turns, but close) for time to try to get an idea where my lactate threshold is and how long I can hang there. I'm trying to establish a baseline so I know how long my intervals should be, and at what HR I need to exert myself for the intervals to be effective.

The reason intervals work is because they allow you to exceed your steady-state effort level, and then recover so you can repeat the process. These excursions through your LT overload your cardio, but not so much that you can't recover. As you become better conditioned the HR will stay the same, but you'll be going faster, so it's best to plan intervals by time, not distance. This can be a problem unless you have a lot of flat real estate to work with. Hills, for example, don't allow themselves to be shortened and lengthened. They also make it nearly impossible to recover as you can't coast, or at least not at low levels of exertion.

Miles and miles of short rollers are excellent. You exert yourself hard for a relatively long period going up the roller, trading off sitting and standing, or some dynamic optimal mix of the two, and then recover for the much shorter time interval speeding down the back side. It's also easy to track your progress as you can just measure your total time over a long course of rollers. This is my favorite way of doing intervals, but my favorite set of rollers is 20 miles from here.

My choice of flats for this timing was William Pond Park to the Guy West Bridge at CSUS - or as you can see - something pretty close to the bridge. I got distracted by a guy pulling a nifty trailer and wanted to talk to him about it. He was riding with his son in it wearing his iPod, so it was a lot of frustrating waiting for no conversation. (not very safe for the son either) I was able to mathematically remove the sag at the end though, and got 21.1 mph. (there's a map of the ARPT linked in the left margin if you're from out of town) Glances at the Garmin had my HR pegged between 147-152.

I'm going to use 21 as my baseline, and keep the fast interval under 10 minutes. I think 2 minutes should be enough recovery, but it might work best to take a minute off the fast and give it to the recovery on each interval. I'm not sure my Garmin will do this, but it's pretty versatile, so think it will. That would give me something like 10/2, 9/3, 8/4, 7/5, 6/6 for an hour's workout. As you can see from the sprint to 25+ before pulling the plug, I still had quite a bit left after 10 minutes, but I'll be pretty wrecked after an hour of this.

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