November 12, 2012

Endurance Base Training

So the winter is here and if your racing season starts again in or around March next year then you’re probably thinking about doing some base training but what is it and why should you do it?

Base training is basically training aerobically in order to improve your endurance.

How hard should you train to be training at this level.  Well, most of you already do it but you don’t know that you know!  A 4 hour ride has to be predominately aerobic otherwise you’d never make it round!  However we can get more out of our training by establishing exactly what heart rate we should be riding at to be in our aerobic zone.

A lot of so-called “Experts” use % or maximum heart rate (MHR) where MHR is calculated as 220 minus your age.  The problem is that we are all soooo different that our maximums vary significantly from person to person.  We could thrash ourselves to death and see how high we could get our heart rate but it’s a bit hit and miss and could be a tad dangerous.  Even if we knew our MHR you might be aerobic at 60% of your MHR and your mate might be aerobic at 70% of his because we are all soooo different (deja vu?!).

The best way is to train at or up to 20 beats less than your lactate threshold.  Go to to see how to test for this threshold.

Even that is complicated.  How about riding a level where you can just about chat?  Simples

So why all the fuss?  Why should we train in the presence of oxygen anyway?  Surely the harder we ride the fitter we’ll get?

Well, take a look at these reasons and then decide:

1.  Slow twitch muscle fibres become more efficient at using fat as their fuel meaning your body’ll conserve glycogen for when it really needs it.

2.  Your muscle fibres become more able to contract using less oxygen.

3.  You’ll burn more fat in your ride (hooorah!)

4.  You increase the number of capillaries that transport blood (and therefore oxygen) to your muscles.

5.  Blood vessels become larger and more flexible, improving blood flow.

6.  You increase the number of energy improving mitochondria cells in the muscles therefore you will be able to produce more power for the same work rate (you become more economical).

Yes or No, do you think that these benefits are worth having?  Good, now we can crack on….

NB this type of training is anabolic.  High intensity training on the other hand is known as catabolic.  We suggest you keep catabolic training to a minimum during your base training (about 3 months) as high intensity workouts destroy capillaries that you’ve built.  Two years ago one of our team tried 12 weeks where he NEVER let his heart rate go over 20 beats lactate threshold but actually found that a bit too restrictive.  When it was time to go hard again it was too much of a shock on the system (A HUGE shock in fact!).  Don’t be afraid to go hard but try to keep 80-90% of your training aerobic for at least 2 months, ideally 3.

You should do this regularly and you can do it regularly as keeping the body in an aerobic state is not as tiring as giving it a thrashing.

Patience is key by the way as you’re constantly holding back but believe us it’ll be worth it in the long run.

If this is all too serious/sensible/disciplined/boring then at the very least do what the pros having been doing for years and

“Get the miles in this winter”







Cycle Training
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