Thursday, December 2, 2010
Creating a Solid Base
For the most part, November and December is our "Base" training period(s). A period where our goals should be to a) establish/create a BIG base on which to build b) improve our overall fitness and c) fully develop aerobic threshold fitness. For now, I'm just going to talk about a) and b). I'll talk about developing aerobic threshold fitness in a future blog.
So, how do I establish a BIG "Base"? For me, establishing a BIG Base is all about increasing endurance, improving strength, and developing speed in my legs. I increase my endurance with longer rides on the bike and aerobic cross-training- such as Nordic skiing or inline skating. I work on strength with a weight/resistance training program specifically geared towards cyclists as well as performing strength drills on the bike/trainer. Speed skills are developed on the bike- both inside on the trainer and outside on my Tempo Endurance rides. If done correctly (improving endurance & strength as well as developing speed), and with enough volume..you will also be improving your overall fitness.
How do you know if your overall fitness is improving? One way you can tell is to perform a comparison between similar rides and see if your Heart Rate is lower for the same power output. When I say "similar" rides I really mean closer to "identical" rides. Not only the exact same ride profile but the same time of day, same hydration level, same energy level, identical temperature, same stress level, same warmup, etc. What you're trying to do is take out all of the external factors (including environmental) that can affect Heart Rate. I do this comparison test on my Computrainer with an Erg Video file for 25 minutes.
I've attached a graph of my two rides for comparison: one from 11/26 and the other from today 12/2. The yellow lines are from my ride on 11/26 and the red lines are from today's ride. The graph compares Power, Heart Rate and Cadence. You can see on the graph that Power and Cadence are relatively identical. However, my Heart Rate averages almost 10-20 bpm lower on 12/2 than it did on 11/26...at least for the first 20 minutes of the ride. Only after 20 minutes were the Heart Rates similar. To me, that means my fitness is improving (which is a good thing) but my endurance is just not there yet..which can be expected so early in the training season. The endurance will come with time.
As I said earlier, in a future blog I will tell you how to test your aerobic threshold fitness via your power-to-heart rate ratio. According to Joe Friel, author of "The Cyclists Training Bible", when you can do an aerobic threshold ride for 2 hrs. while your heart rate and power remain coupled, you can consider your aerobic threshold fitness full developed and your primary goal of the Base Period will have been accomplished. Don't worry, I'll tell you how to compute your Power-to-Heart Rate ratio and explain what "coupled" means. And, you won't have to ride for 2 hrs. I'll also explain what "cardiac drift" is all about. Until then...
Power ON! Coach Rob
Posted by Rob Muller at 10:44 AM