This weeks workout is a great one for those with races that have a long hill climb in them, or anyone looking to improve their ability to keep pushing hard on tired legs. Many people have a tendency that once they crest the top of a big long hill, they almost stop pedalling and think that now the work is done, and its time to recovery - wrong. When I was a competitive distance runner, I always said the best time to attack is not on the hill, but at the top of the hill for this same reason. Competitors think the work is over, and then boom you drop the hammer and the race is won. How do you do this, like anything: practice. Practice continuing to work hard on tired legs, get used to the feeling of asking your body to keep pushing even though your heart rate is already in the red. It's also a good workout to help boost lactate threshold, and a great opportunity to practice some cadence changes.
So the workout is as follows:
1) Warmup: Progressive 8 minute build from 50-70% FTP.
2) Activation Set: 3x1 minute on, one minute easy (1 minutes hard at 100, 102, 105% FTP, one minute easy recovery at 50%). After the last one you get a extra minute of recovery - so total so far is nice even 15 minutes of warmup.
3) 3x18 minutes with 3 minutes recovery at 50% FTP
The 18 minutes is divided into 3 minute segments as follows:
- 3 minutes pretty easy @ 75% FTP
- 3 minutes @ 85% FTP
- 3 minutes @ 90% FTP
- 3 minutes @ 95% FTP
- 3 minutes @ 100% FTP
- 3 minutes @ 95% FTP
I bolded these last two segments because this is the key section of the workout. The segment at 100% FTP is simulating approaching and reaching the crest of the hill, and then instead of turning off, even though your heart rate is pretty high and your getting pretty fatigued, you keep it going at 95% FTP onto the plateau and wave goodbye to your competitors. You then get three minutes to recover at go at it again, for the 3 intervals.
4) Cooldown: 5 minutes
Total time: 1:20:00
Kj (kcal): approx. 1220
Cresting the top of the hill and continuing to push hard through the decent amount of lactate that has built up is a great skill to practice, but you can also use this workout as a perfect opportunity to practice cadence changes. So for example for each of the 3 minute segments you can decrease you cadence (change to bigger gear), and then at the last section pick the cadence back up. So for example you can start at 90 RPM, then 85, 80, 75, 70, and then back to 90 RPM for final 3 minuter which is a tough transition to practice going from a slow cadence back to faster, but good one to practice. However, I'm not as much of a fan of this pattern because it kind of teaches you to decrease cadence as you increase your power which is the opposite of what is ideal, and also I rather not be progressively losing cadence and just grinding as I near the top of the hill. The cadence pattern I rather you follow is cadence getting progressively faster, so starting at 80, then 85, 90, 95, 100, and then see if you can go 105 on the last. So now your pushing slightly less power than the last 3 minute segment but at faster cadence. But I'll leave the cadence pattern up to you. You can always keep the cadence steady at whatever your normal climbing cadence is, I only mention the cadence modifications because each has benefits and cadence modifications always help to mentally/physically break intervals up. Especially so on an indoor trainer where unless varied on purpose, the cadence can be pretty monotonous, thanks to there being no actual hills or wind to force you into a cadence change.
Other than the tactical benefits and physiological benefits of this workout, it also teaches a good mindset to bring to all workouts and races, and that is to push through the line. Many people doing intervals on the track start easing up a few steps before the finish of say the 400m repeat. Many people in swimming glide a chunk of the way on that last stroke to get to the wall. Push all the way to the line, in fact run-through it. It teaches you to keep fighting all the way until the end, and can actually make or break races - especially age-group races where competitors are in different waves so you don't know where you actually are in the field. You don't want to lose that race by one second to someone in a different wave, because you started to put on the brakes a few steps too soon. Want a great real world example of why it's always best to push all the way to the line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KLy-NnTD2o. Skip to 5:06 in that video, Phelps takes one more stroke cause the work ain't over yet and wins the gold medal while Cavic is gliding his way to silver.
So that's the workout for this week, one more Workout to go in the series. If your interested on TrainerRoad I've Created a Team called "Frank Sorbara - Elite Triathlete" so if your interested in getting the exact Erg file designed for Smart Indoor Trainers you can check them out there. Also if you've "enjoyed" the workouts or doing training tip posts like these let me know.