Training Tips for Dirty Kanza 200
Do Longer Intervals
The days of the 3 x 20 minute intervals being “long” are far from gone. I remember in 2008 that a 3 x 20 set was a really big chunk of time to be training in Sweet Spot or dare I say, an FTP test. When a fellow teammate told me after an NRC race that his coach used the 30 minute test, that sounded like FOREVER.
Those days are over and you need to extend out your interval work. Tempo rides need to have intervals as long as 2-3 hours if you want to really maximize the benefit. Is it easy? No! But it will increase your aerobic engine in a massive way.
Look at endurance rides as a long interval as well. If you go out for a long ride, say 3-5 hours, try to ride in zone 2 for the entire ride, with very little zone 1 time (ideally less than 10%). The last hour or two will be very difficult, but these rides will increase your aerobic engine and take your cycling to the next level. Try it, and let us know, how much time do you spend in Zone 1? You can also check out our blog post for more details on this super easy, but massively effective, training strategy.
Sweet Spot intervals can go out to 90 minutes. Again, this is not easy, but something to work up to. 20 minutes, then 30, then 40, etc etc.
Once you start hitting these longer durations and seeing your numbers go up, don’t forget about repeatability, which is next on our tips list!
Ride Endurance, Not Just Group Rides
Riding with friends is fun. This is an excellent part of the sport and something that we encourage our athletes to get and stay involved in. It’s important to be a positive member of your cycling community and be involved, and that can include simply showing up and promoting group cycling activities. Most of the time, unless the ride is led by one or two members, these rides turn into practice races with guns blazing, sprinting for every Townline and Stop Ahead sign within the county. There’s a time and a place for these rides in your training, but it shouldn’t be all of the time.
Sometimes, you need to ride PURE ENDURANCE. Simply put, endurance is 50-75% of your FTP, but I always tell athletes to shoot for 70-75% on these endurance rides, and PEDAL CONSISTENTLY. If you do this, and reduce your coasting time to 10% of less, you’ll make massive aerobic gains. We see that most athletes average 30% or more of their group rides in Zone 1. It sounds really high, but look at your data and tell us if it’s different!
Endurance riding is the foundation for ALL of your cycling adventures, whether a 2 minute all out sprint effort, or a shot at a 200 mile gravel race. Use the weekends to capture hours on end of endurance riding.
If you’re short on time, you can bump this up to 80-83% of your FTP, and ride tempo, but this is much more fatiguing to the body even though it’s only a few percentiles higher. While we are huge fans of tempo, it is the silent killer, and can derail training and performance for those that only ride “fast fun” with their friends. Use it wisely.
Getting Stronger Requires REST
Setting PR’s and reaching your goals requires progressive overload, and the fitter you become, the harder it is to hit these new highs. Why? For one, you need to become more creative so that you are able to “dose” enough stimulus to your body where you will experience overload, and then adaptation. Said differently, you stress your body in a way that fatigues you, you rest, and THEN you get stronger. Big reminder: you get STRONGER when you rest, NOT from the actual workout. The actual workout just makes you tired.
The adaptation that is mentioned above doesn’t happen on the first or second interval. It happens when you REALLY STRESS THE SYSTEM. To do so, it is going to hurt, but the benefit is massive. One must remember: Cry in the dojo, laugh on the battlefield. If you can make yourself hurt THE RIGHT WAY during training, you will have a much greater chance of success come race day.
Our minds will tell us to stop well before the limit of what is physically possible. Fighting the urge to just pedal easy when the intervals become difficult is the core of what causes adaptation. If you are tired at the end of a block, and you skip a workout because you are below your interval target on 1 or two efforts, realistically you probably QUIT JUST BEFORE YOU WERE GOING TO REALIZE IMPROVEMENT! DO NOT DO THIS.
The old way of thinking was that if your watts dropped a certain percentage, you turned around and went home. The thinking now is that if you aren’t hitting the wattages, you must realize that you must be tired, so don’t go home and try the next day; you’ll still be tired. Finish the intervals to the best of your capacity, finish the ride, go home, then REST (get stronger) before you try them again. There is much debate about stress versus strain, and sometimes just straining yourself to finish the workout, even if the watts are lower than desired, will have some positive effects on your cycling abilities.
Dialed training often involves looking at the close up of what you are doing but quickly being able to zoom out and see the big picture. We try really hard to nail our schedule down and hit the interval sessions that we carefully plan out, but if you have a job (or two!), inevitably there will be unforeseen conflicts within the training schedule. Learning to adapt to these conflicts, while trying to minimize and adapt to them, is really important to reaching your goals. This is where your coach can be a massive help.
Realizing your potential requires playing the long game in cycling. To fully understand what you are capable of requires a lot of dedication, and simply put there are no shortcuts. Greg LeMond nailed it when he famously quoted “It doesn’t get easier, you just go faster”. Ride, rest, repeat. In other words, realizing adaptation and setting PR’s on the bike consistently will directly relate to the quality and depth of your training content on the macro level.