On here and many other forums, I see many people seeking the “perfect” training program. As my brilliant wife once pointed out to me, there is no such thing. To reinforce that conclusion, I submit that there are really only three types of workouts (not three training “zones”):
Sprint (and/or weight- or plyometric-) training aimed at increasing maximal neuromuscular power;
“Go hard, puke, go home” intervals (i.e., high intensity efforts with lots of rest in between), intended to enhance fatigue resistance during non-sustainable exercise; and
Everything else, which is meant to improve our ability to perform aerobic exercise.
Recognition of this fact (if you accept the premise anyway) makes it a lot easier to understand why “all roads lead to Rome”. That is, there are numerous tactics that can be used to achieve this strategy, with success coming not from some “secret recipe” but simply the diligent application of established training principles (esp. overload).
This is something I really wrestle with, especially in the off-season. I think the thing that makes a lot of these totalizing solutions so tempting is the feeling/illusion of control a highly-prescriptive plan gives you. You look from week to week, see increases in TSS and hours, and can see in numeric form what your progress is supposed to look like. Note: I’m a huge sucker for this.
But I’m trying to wean myself now. So @The_Cog - what do your weeks looks like when you plan them? Something like RTP (Ride Til Puking) on Tuesdays, Endurance on Wednesday, etc.? How prescriptive do you tend to get?
Maybe I’m reading the threads differently, or maybe I’m just not reading the same threads. But I think people are looking for perfect training principles, not perfect plans.
Maybe I’m wrong, I often am.
I also think people (I’ll put myself in this bucket) struggle with how to maximize their time on the bike while managing physical fatigue (often discussed here) and mental fatigue (not often discussed here) …
I live in Chicago, so it’s cold in the winter. Even so, I aim to do 10-12 hours a week on the bike. And I HATE doing long slow rides (2+ hours) on the trainer in a way that is 100% tied to mental fatigue. Also, I’m 49 … and it seems how I recover changes every year. Also, sometimes I map out a perfect week of training … but I have to miss a day, or a couple days. So I just try to get ideas here, principles, ideas, etc., even if for no other reason than it makes staring at a wall/iPad/computer/iPhone in my basement a bit more tolerable.
This year, I’m working on a progression that in many ways is the same thing I’ve always been doing … but I’m planning it different, marking progression a bit different … even using some metrics that you don’t believe are useful lol … in ways that just keep things interesting for me.
In the summer, I feel like I can cover up all sins by doing longer rides on the weekend … but in the winter turning my Saturday 3 hour ride into a 5 hour ride doesn’t feel like an option (because the longest session I’ve ever done on a trainer is 3:48 and I don’t think I ever want to break that record)
I’ve come back towards this with my own training and interacting with the coach I’ve worked on and off with for the last 6 years. Essentially, build in #1 and #2 into your schedule and be “fresh” for those (especially #2), and then fit as much of #3 in as you can handle while still being fresh for #1 and #2.
All keeping in mind that the more total volume of #3, the higher you can ultimately push #1 and #2.
When time is unlimited, intensity of #3 can be lower as you’re doing more of it. More time crunched? #3 should probably chew up more kj’s/hour
the ideal programme is the one you can trust and actually carry out. regardless of the actual individual workout make up, they all work, but only when combined with the other workouts in the rest of the year or multiple years. some workouts create the possibility of adaptation in certain pathways, but again, only if combined with other workouts and recovery. as the years go by, finer and finer adaptations occur. i sometimes think the TR PL levels are too focused on the moment, the single workout. if PLs looked at a block’s worth of work in a zone, they could take a longer lens view. i would argue that a single 5.0 threshold session, is a lesser gauge of ability, than a set 8 sessions at 5.0 over 4 weeks. we definitely look too closely at individual workouts rather than the spread of 250 workouts over a year or more.
I guess I would assume that tempo, SS, and even threshold along with of course endurance would all fit within 3. Everything else. VO2 max would “go hard go puke”.
While I agree with K.I.S.S. in so many ways and your general claim here - I would think in planning around these three workout types is where we can further refine that concept into spacing these activities out into a periodized training plan and taking each of these workout types and turning them into specific activities in the plan.
I totally agree with KISS approach, I don’t even bother with sprint training but I’ve thrown in a couple of blocks with 1min anaerobic focus. I maintain that a lot of plans are just so general and mixed that benefits are somewhat limited.
K.I.S.S. delivered results, both self-coached and coached. My best fatigue resistance and “don’t need to pour sugar down my throat for 6 hours” rides were a result of averaging 7 hours/week of really high-intensity two-a-days.
I think most people can only sustain a maximum of a few (3-4?) hours per week of 1 and 2, so most of the discussion goes onto type 3 - how much, and how to structure it.
If I do 490TSS of type 3 workouts, is 6 hours a week at .9 IF leading me to Rome the same as 12 hours per week at .64 IF?
My take is that in the short-medium term (weeks-months), it is the same. It’s your glycogen budget, spend it wisely ™.
However, if you consider long-term athlete development as a multi-year project, maybe it’s not the same. On a months and years timescale, it seems longer, easier workouts may allow continued aerobic development with less systemic (hormonal? nervous system? mental?) stress, and so less risk of overtraining (and more energy/motivation saved for type 1 and 2 workouts). (assuming you have the additional time to spend). Of course there are no studies to back this up because as @The_Cog has mentioned elsewhere, most studies are short, and if you only have 8 weeks to show an effect, you’re going to work your subjects hard.