Interesting comment in the Forward podcast

Lance Armstrong was interviewing Ryan Hall, the fastest male US marathoner, they were talking about their hardest ever workouts…Lance said they spent very little time training over threshold…he referenced that the theory was that if you trained at or just below threshold your threshold would increase but if you trained above threshold your threshold would decrease. I understand the first part and it explains why sweetspot base is so effective. The second part I would agree with but makes me think they must have been following a polarized approach.

It could also be the type of rider Armstrong was. GC contenders don’t need a lot of top end power as they would just keep the pace high and choke the race out? He was a TT ace, wasn’t he? Steady state won him the races. That and the EPO.

But he had some explosive power on climbs…EPO aside, because it was a level playing field.


When you are training someone with a certain physiological profile they respond better to certain stimuli. But then again, Lance did said in the Rich Roll podcast that he would never make a good coach because he was just a follower of the plan, which made it sound like he wasn’t fully engaged into what Ferrari was giving him… so i’d take what Lance said and his training style commentary with a grain of salt.


Ferrari was famously detail oriented as well… it’s very likely that if you were ‘on the plan’, you had little to zero input as a rider - even if your initials were LA.

Thought it was one of his best podcasts.

Didn’t make me think polarized necessarily, at least not for Lance. Maybe a sprint interval training block for the sprinters during the season, but he wasn’t that specific. It seemed to line up with stuff lately about VLamax. GC guys drive that down as much as possible with threshold and sub-threshold work. As a marathoner, Ryan Hall would’ve been doing the same thing, even though he (and all his coaches over the years) probably didn’t think of it that way.

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I was listening to a podcast recently, maybe Mitch Dockers? and someone mentioned that the biggest difference between world tour pros and elite amateurs was that the pros can go 5 hours + and still be strong, but that the amateurs can be even stronger than pros over short distances.

Maybe this is why?

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Agreed, and I think Ryan Hall would be wanting to limit his anaerobic system as much as humanly possible. His entire race was sub-threshold whereas GC cyclists sometimes need to be able to operate slightly above threshold for long periods of time.

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Right! But only slightly :smile: And as for those climbs Lance dominated, correct me if I’m wrong here, but he excelled at long, sustained L’ Alpe d’Huez style efforts, not 3 minute jobs…and certainly not bunch sprinting.

qualifier: I know much more about Ryan Hall’s training than Lances. So happy to be corrected here :smile:

Makes sense to me, for the GC atleast the gaps are generally only made in the closing parts of the race so being able to do a super strong 5-10 minute effort on the final climb of the day after sitting at 300w for 5 hours is what is needed. Whereas a non pro might be able to do a stronger effort while fresh they would not be able to do even close to that after a long ride.

I know a recent article in Training Peaks talked about power output after doing a 3000kj effort as being a good indicator to fitness.

Also Phil Gaimon has talked a bit about how he is faster up climbs now than he was when he was racing but that his endurance and ability to do back to back hard days has gone down a lot.


Totally. And as a former decent marathoner trying to figure out why I’m not nearly as good at bike racing, take anything I say here with a grain of salt. The only difference I see is that while both GC cyclists and marathoners need massive thresholds, a GC cyclist may need to put out 465W for over 6 minutes like Froome did to win Stage 14 of the Giro last year. This is an interesting breakdown of his Giro performance: INSCYD view: A scientific analysis of Chris Froome’s Giro d'Italia performance - CyclingTips

Edit: granted…that is only barely above threshold (which is insane) but still think it might be more of an effort than a finishing kick you might need in a marathon


Exactly, and if you tie that to what @THowe and @Benjamin_Reynolds pointed out, you’re not looking at his best 6 minute power. It’s his…what? “fatigue resistant 6 minute power?” :sweat_smile::tired_face::sweat_smile: So he might not even be super strong for that duration when fresh (comparatively speaking of course). But after 3000kJ, he turns that screw and it’s game on.

Lance is a baller

Found the article I mentioned before here the part I was referencing in particular was his fatigue resistant 20 minute power they talk about part way down the article.

In this case he was able to do a 20 minute effort at 323w (~5.5w/kg) after 3200kj of effort before the final climb. Those 3200kj were done at a normalized power of 283 and the first 5 minutes of the 20 minute effort were done at 360w or ~6w/kg.

I would not be too surprised to see a dedicated amateur be able to hit 323w for 20 minutes while fresh, however being able to do that effort after 4 hours of hard riding is another thing altogether.

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323 for 20 min would be an FTP of ~340 and for a 70kg rider that would put them at 4.85 W/kg. Definitely at the pointy end of the power distribution, but not unheard of for a Cat 1/2 type rider. But yea, being able to pull that out after riding tempo for 4 hours would be brutal.

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I wish I was a baller. I wish I was taller. I wish I had a girl who looked good, I would call her.


@tshortt Is that you Too Short? lol

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It was that podcast and Adam Hansen was the guest, I listened to it earlier today.