Implications of longer-than-designed recover between intervals during outside workouts

Doing more and more outside as the weather has improved (although it’s been windy as all get out in my part of WI this past couple of weeks, and even flurries today on Mother’s Day!) and I’m getting a better feel for route interruptions for intersections/stop signs/etc as I’ve done workouts and have paid more attention to time at a given effort between points.

I have found that I sometimes can’t start a subsequent interval at exactly the prescribed time to due traffic. Most often I’m running a little longer (let’s say 3:30 when the rest period is set to be 3:00). I do appreciate that I control the start of the next interval with the lap button on my Garmin, but wondering about the implications of going longer/shorter than prescribed and how much leeway is OK and at what point do I start getting a different impact from my workout that Coach Chad had intended?

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Wondering the same thing myself. Maybe if we tag @chad, he will give us some insight. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

The discussion from the Pod Squad about outdoor workouts this week was pretty good but I don’t remember this part mentioned.

In addition, I have been wondering if coasting instead of pedaling is an issue as well. I find myself heading back downhill after an interval and doing more coasting than pedaling. :man_shrugging:

Any more tags of @chad is like more likes on the podcast, yes? :slight_smile: Maybe if there was a way to tag it about group ramp tests for the TR team it would come to their attention sooner too… :grin:

Interesting observations; I actually thought after typing this that it would make a good podcast discussion topic. I like all the info about outside workouts like this last episode but this is one subtlety that wasn’t covered then.

On the coasting vs pedaling, I am learning to pedal a lot more on downhills and using bigger gears, and also keeping a decent spin going during recovery times, albeit often geared way down to avoid going too hard.

I think time in zone is way more important than the possible downsides of extended recovery. Maybe except some of the workouts with very short recovery between some sets, where the point is to get as close to, say a 2x20 but put a 1 min rest after 10 mins.

Depends on the workout and where you are in it. Would say it doesn’t matter too much for workouts at threshold or below where time in zone is what counts, or for sprint workouts where you want to be fully recovered in order to do maximal efforts. The exception here is if it’s a really short recovery which is there just to give you a moment of respite in the middle of what is basically a continuous block e.g. the 30-60 second breaks in the middle of 30 minute intervals in the minus variants of Wright Peak. The goal of those workouts is to extend the duration at which you can ride close to FTP, so extending the recovery would be like splitting it into 2 x 15 minute intervals when you are supposed to be progressing towards doing a continuous 30 minute interval.

Where it wouldn’t work is in the middle of sets of intervals where the recoveries are deliberately short enough that you’re not supposed to recover. E.g. in VO2 Max workouts like Baird where you have 3 sets of 5 intervals, and the recoveries within the sets are only 1 minute. This is so that you don’t recover much, and therefore your body returns very quickly to a state of maximal oxygen uptake when the next interval starts. Same principle for microburst workouts like Spanish Needle. Prolonging the recovery between sets on these workouts would be fine, but each set of intervals should ideally be completed as designed.

Hey @Hampstenfan. There are definitely some instances where keeping the recovery short has a pretty big impact on the intended outcome, but a 30-second difference added to a 3-minute recovery interval probably isn’t one of them.

What springs to mind is short-shorts where we want breathing & HR to stay elevated, or intervals where the weekly progression clearly reduces those recovery durations from week to week (say from 4 minutes down to 3 minutes down to 2 then 1 with each subsequent week, that kind of deal), and maaaaybe something like a tight link between a set of over-unders that rolls right into a set of VO2max repeats during a race-simulation-workout in a Specialty phase (though even then, you’ll still be carrying a lot of fatigue into those VO2’s, even with an extra minute or two of easy riding).

So don’t sweat narrow little differences in your recovery durations unless the workout (or training phase) really emphasizes the importance of keeping them short.

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Thanks for the confirmation @chad; just finished listening to a recent podcast (can’t recall if 258 or 259) where there was good discussion of compliance with training design and I appreciated the counsel to think about the overall purpose of the workout vs chasing an average power for a specific interval. Really will take to heart the concept of focusing on real-time power throughout the interval. Also hadn’t realized each week had notes about the purpose of the workouts throughout the week. All very helpful stuff.

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