Thoughts on approach to intervals

I’m a big fan of Dr. Stephen Seiler. One of the things he says is that you want to be recovered enough to allow yourself to hit intervals hard - not in a fatigued state. Often when we have a training plan, we dread the upcoming interval session that day. Wouldn’t it be a better approach if you managed your training schedule so that you were excited about the interval session, excited about “revving the engine” - more like a race horse that loves to race, as opposed to a work horse being whipped. My suspicion is that if you are dreading an upcoming interval session - you are either too fatigued or are training in an unsustainable way. Perhaps one of the AI questions should be “how do you feel about the upcoming interval session?”


For me it’s 90% state of mind. 10% physical.


No amount of rest can make me “excited” to tackle VO2 intervals.

They suck and I will always dread them. they are my kryptonite.


Sometimes that’s the case. But interval sessions, some more than others, are often hard work. And many people would love to go ride around the neighborhood in zone 1 with a beer in hand but that isn’t likely to improve their cycling fitness.

You just need to do some hard work sometimes to see progress even when that hard work can suck sometimes.


How the hell can you read and perform a difficult interval? Those must be sweet spot intervals at best, or you have some crazy abilities to read and suffer going on.
To respond to the OP’s comment - this depends on where you are at in your training plan from my experience and what type of plan you are on. IMO, bottom line is your are not going to feel 100% or motivated at least part of the time and sometimes more. That is a good point to “listen to your body” and decide if you need to adjust or keep going and crash and burn.
One thing I know from my experience is that even though I might not feel good going into a workout, I’m still going to go for it and see if I can perform, because there’s no guarantee that on race day you will feel good or be motivated either. Most times I can complete the workout and I feel way better afterwards once it’s done. So, cue up a Rocky movie motivational montage and get on with it.

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  • TR had a very brief moment in the beta where they added this type of question. It was pulled almost immediately for no stated reason. But I expect we may see some form of that in the future.
  • That could be true at times, but I think this is a poor blanket statement broadly speaking.

  • As others mentioned, much of this is training phase and workout dependent. As is so often stressed in many places here, “Hard work should be HARD”. Meaning that even with proper rest & fueling, these are likely to be challenging physically and mentally.

  • That level will vary for a number of reasons, but I’d say that it’s quite reasonable for people to have some reservations heading into these hard workouts and still be “ready” to knock them out.


For me, if I’m over doing it, it’s not really dread but rather a feeling of apathy. Like I just don’t care enough to really push myself. The stressing about an upcoming workout usually means that I am ready to push myself and I know it’s going to hurt.


Yes and no. Dreading harder sessions can definetly be a symptom of excessive fatigue and that’s probably worth being mindful of, but there’s any number of off -the-bike factors that can influence your mindset on a given day. There’s definetly been days where I’m not in the most motivated headspace due to other stuff going on in my life, even if I’m physically fresh and end up feeling better after a decent workout. Likewise, there’s also been days where I’m probably better served resting or riding easy, but it’s a nice day and I can definitely beat that guy up that climb.
Longer-term trends are more helpful IME, as is comparison to your own ‘normal’- if I’m consistently dreading sessions that I usually wouldn’t think twice about, or I’m noticing a steady decline in motivation rather than general day-to-day fluctuations, that’s usually when I start looking at training load.


I far prefer VO2 to FTP - I’m not necessarily excited about them - but I definitely don’t dread them. I don’t over-do the dose, and I know the discomfort will be over soon - much better than the slow torture of Z4.


I think that illustrates my point…I don’t mind Z4 workouts.

It isn’t that you or I aren’t training properly, there are just some workouts that don’t suit our makeup.


Me too. Even if not feeling great, I always go through my warmup for intervals - which is 20min Z2, 3x3min Z4, 3X1.5min VO2. If at the end of that I’m still not feeling good, I won’t do the interval - and just go back to a Z1/Z2 ride.

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These seem to be counter to your opening statement?

  • Probably blurry lines with use of terms & interpretation, but I think this shows that there is likely to be some level of resistance, worry, trepidation, etc. heading into the “hard” type workouts as a general expectation.

I’ve got so many friends that were cyclists, runners, triathletes, powerlifter/body builders, and cross fitters. They didn’t quit because of time or money. They quit because it was too hard and no longer “enjoyable.” Professional bike racers don’t have to enjoy their interval training, just like we don’t have to enjoy our commute to work - we will do it because we have to. If we make our hobbies/interests too hard, the chances of quitting goes way up - and that ain’t good for your FTP.

But that all morphs into a broader discussion on long term goals for the training at hand. Some are here for “fitness” objectives (keep healthy) while others are “performance” minded (objectives like races or other metrics of interest) and a large swath that are a blend between those ends of the bell curve.

Enjoyment can come anywhere in that range as well since motivation and interest vary widely between people undertaking these plans & workouts. Picking a plan & related workouts (easy thru hard) combined with available time for training & recovery and all the other life, work, family and the like are all part of the process.

If your ultimate concern here is people crashing out & bailing on these sports, I think it goes a fair bit beyond workouts being “too hard” and/or people not being “excited” to do them. They need to consider their “Why” with respect to doing a training plan in the first place, and reconcile that with their overall life demands.

I think there is far more than workouts at the root cause. It may well me more about expectations vs reality, combined with personal priorities as well. Any and all of that is subject to change over time and what may have been appropriate / tolerable at one stage of life may not be in a different stage.


By your responses, I get the sense that my opinions/posts are a bit threatening. I know there has been a lot of negativity from Dylan Johnson’s criticisms of TR training plans (too much intensity, etc), and of course his affiliation w/ Dr. Stephen Seiler’s training philosophy, but I’m a big trainer road podcast fan and have been listening/watching from day 1. Am I misreading this?


Chad isn’t a TR employee, so why would he feel your posts are threatening?

He (and I) have just pointed out that your hypothesis probably isn’t valid…just because you “dread” an upcoming workout doesn’t mean you are training too hard or aren’t training properly.

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Cool - I really thought he was a moderator by his responses to my posts. Thanks for that. LOL.

He is a moderator of the forum, but as a volunteer, not a TR employee.

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Gotcha. Suspicion confirmed.

  • Not even in the slightest.
  • Yup.

As Power13 covers, I am just a volunteer around here. This all started with me doing a bunch to help people back in the old TR FB group days. When they released this forum, TR saw fit to give me some moderator access since I was so active in the FB group. I use and like a lot of the TR world, but I am not shy about being critical of the app & service when appropriate (latest to be seen in the “slow app” topic).

My responses above were just my perspective about your question and your subsequent responses that seemed a bit contrary to your supposition.