For the last month and a half or so, I have been very diligently working on my base fitness: 3 days a week running, 3 days a week cycling. Each session has been a half hour, and most have been done on the treadmill or trainer. This has served 2 purposes: I can maintain a specific pace while running, and I can compare my results on the trainer without having to factor outside impacts. My plan is to continue this base-building for the next month or so, until I start my half-marathon training (if I sign up for an end of April 20K, that is). Then my running will morph into the same 3 a week sessions, but they will consist of a speedwork, tempo, and long run rather than a straight tempo.
For the trainer, what I've been doing has been a repetition of a time trial - the same bike, same trainer, different gears (and different movies). From a low of 6.53 miles at the end of November, my distance has increased to 11.34 miles on New Year's Day, almost doubling my distance. This has been mostly due to riding in the big ring as of late, though improved fitness has played its role as well.
Much as I enjoy these time trial efforts, the effect is mostly on my base fitness, which will eventually plateau if I continue this path. What will help improve my cycling-specific fitness and bike strength is intervals. Bicycling Magazine had some nice suggestions I'll be adding soon to my repertoire. Their suggestion is to warm up for 15 minutes, complete the workout, then finish with a 10 minute cooldown:
- Speed Intervals improve power and speed, and help you recover from repeated hard efforts:
- Do four one-minute fast-pedal intervals: Use an easy gear and as high a cadence as possible. Keep your rate of perceived exertion (RPE ) low—5 out of 10. Recover for two minutes between efforts.
- Pedal five minutes easy.
- Do 10 to 12 intervals of 30 seconds on/30 seconds off. The "on" portions are 95 percent effort (RPE 9 to 9.5) at as high a cadence as possible. Stand or sit as needed. For the "off" parts, spin easy.
- Make it harder: Add one on/off interval, up to 20 total.
- Climbing Bursts help you respond to attacks on hills:
- Simulate a hill by raising the bike's front wheel.
- Ride 10 minutes at a pace you can hold for an hour (90 to 100 percent of threshold power or heart rate; RPE 8). Once every two minutes, stand and attack for 12 to 15 pedal strokes—a near all-out effort.
- Spin easy for 10 minutes.
- Repeat (do three fast efforts total).
- Make it harder: Try 2x15 minutes (10 minutes recovery), then 3x12 (six minutes recovery), then 2x20 (10 minutes recovery).
- Ladder Intervals simulate the demands of racing:
- Pedal for four minutes at RPE 8 (90 to 100 percent of threshold power), then three minutes at RPE 9 (100 to 110 percent of threshold), then one minute allout (115 percent of threshold).
- Spin easy for five minutes.
- Pedal one minute all-out, then three minutes at RPE 9, then four minutes at RPE 8.
- Spin easy for 10 minutes.
- Repeat the sequence.
- Make it harder: Add 30 seconds to each rung of the ladder, then a minute.