Monday, March 1, 2010

March Madness

It's March...and for me..springtime can't come quick enough. For a lot of sports fans, March is "March Madness" month..time for the NCAA College Basketball Championships. For me, "March Madness" is not only watching hoops on TV but also "crunch-time"...a time to start ramping up the intensity of cycling workouts.

If you started your Annual Training Plan (ATP) in December of 2009, March of 2010 is the month to be working on your Anaerobic Endurance (AE), Muscular Endurance (ME) and Power. If you're an athlete I coach, you'll notice that the majority of your March workouts are at the L4 (Threshold) Level. That is NOT to say, you won't see the long Tempo/Endurance workouts scheduled or the L5 (VO2max) workouts. It's just that you'll see more L4 workouts than normal. And, not only will you see more L4 workouts, you'll notice that the duration of the L4 workouts will have increased....both interval duration and set duration. Don't be surprised if you see a 3x20 @L4 March is also the month I start introducing Micro Intervals (MI) into the ATP.

Speaking of MIs, here is a great power tip from my friend Hunter Allen:


Micro-intervals (MI's) are short, on-off bursts which allow one to intermittently work at a power output which is much higher than could be performed continuously. MI's are performed in an "on & off" manner over a longer, continuous duration, although other variations exist. The high power output during the "on" part of the intervals then accumulates into a significant amount of total, high-power stimulus to one's body.

Micro-intervals are intervals done at 150% of your threshold power for the 'ON' period, which only lasts 15 seconds. The 'OFF' period is also 15 seconds and done at 50% of your threshold power. I recommend these to be done in blocks of 10 minutes each, in order to keep focused and also allow for multiple blocks.

This workout directly addresses your neuromuscular power, or the ability to contract and relax your muscles quickly. This is an essential component of cycling in which short sprints out of corners in criteriums, quick speed changes in the peloton and hard uphill bursts are the norm. Since you are riding at 150% and 50% of your threshold power for each block, your average watts for the entire block should equal 100% of your threshold power.

One of the nice side benefits of this workout is that not only do you stress the neuromuscular system, but you also stress the Lactate threshold system, giving you the benefit of improving your overall fitness, without too much work at threshold power. (If you spend too much time at threshold power in the winter, you might risk becoming a 'January Star'.)

For those of you that started your ATP later in the season...PLEASE DO NOT start any of the more intense L4 or L5 workouts now. I know you probably want to jump right into the aforementioned workouts but DON'T. You're only asking for a setback of one type or another- TRUST ME. Stick with your plan...that is..continue working on your Force, Endurance and Speed Workouts. These workouts are all necessary for you to achieve your 2010 goals. It's like money in the bank.

Power ON! Coach Rob

1 comment:

Jim said...

3x20 @ L4 .. yeesh .. and I thought 2x20 @ L4 was a tough workout.