By Dave Scott
Q: “Dear Dave: I love my bike and training on it. But basically I just go out and ride long miles with my friends. I don’t feel like I really have a plan, other than logging miles. How can I make my cycling sessions more efficient?”
—49-year-old male, with multiple Ironman finishes around 14:30
A: If you’re feeling frustrated with your training and results, the first thing to address is acknowledging your goal. Gaining efficiency in your workouts is not about “logging miles.” Increasing your efficiency can be accomplished with your friends – just suggest the new intensity levels that I’m recommending below.
Lastly, increasing your output will allow you to reduce your total time. I’ve suggested two different workloads that could be incorporated into your week. Being precise in your training is crucial to this goal.
Here are some training ideas to implement into your workouts whether alone or with your training partners. Execute these sessions together and all will benefit.
INCLUDE ANAEROBIC ENDURANCE SETS. To optimize your performance, it’s necessary to include anaerobic endurance sets in your cycling workouts two to four times per week. Anaerobic efforts ( AE ) are characterized by their short time intervals and high-intensity (in contrast to aerobic efforts). For each set aim for a total time of 9-15 minutes of work.
You can insert two of these AE sets on the same day, preferably allowing two days before inserting another session. For example, include two AE sets on one day, then wait 2-3 days and do another. Each repeat within an AE set may range in time from 30 seconds to 3 minutes; depending on your fitness level. An example set: 7 x 90 seconds with 90 seconds to 2 minutes recovery between each repeat. Recovery time may vary depending on fitness level, heat and humidity. Repeat this set, ensuring that you have a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes of recovery between sets. Quite often the sets can be done shortly after your warm up and a second set near the end of your workout.
The critical objective in this kind of training is to stimulate a level of anaerobic stress. It should be extremely hard; near 95% of your max effort. When you begin with this training in your schedule, start with short segments of 30 seconds to no longer than 1 minute. Allow three to six weeks before you increase the segment length. The key element is to maintain the same speed or power as the segment length increases. The objective is lost if the speed and power declines.
A work interval of 90 seconds is simply an example. Here’s another sample set: 3 x 45 seconds plus 2 min – repeat the set. The set is as follows: 45 seconds hard, 45 seconds easy, 45 seconds hard, 45 seconds easy, 45 seconds hard, 90 seconds easy, 2 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy and repeat this same sequence. Again, increase the recovery between repeats if your output begins to fall off. This comprises one set. A second set could be inserted into your workout after recovering with a minimum of 5 minutes.
Integrating this AE set into a 90-minute bike workout could be done as following. Warm up for 20 minutes, then complete your first AE set, ride aerobic recovery for 30 to 40 minutes, then perform your second set of work, cool down and you’re done.
There are two additional considerations for the AE sets: 1. Alternate seated and standing. To get started with these, try rotating 50% of your intervals in a seated position and 50% standing. So if you’re using 90-second repeats, you could break this into 15 seconds standing and 15 seconds sitting and keep repeating for 90 seconds. At first, it may be difficult to sustain a 50/50 split. Try performing 25% of your hard efforts in the standing position and gradually increase your time standing. 2. Incorporate hills or rolling terrain within the repeats. Muscle tension in your gluteals, quads and calves is slightly altered on varying terrain.
INCLUDE A BIKE-RUN-BIKE AS ONE OF YOUR TRAINING DAYS. There are two other combination Brick sessions that also could be inserted into your routine; a R/ B and a B/R. All three bricks can break up the “long day” which quite often is done at a slow pace. Inserting higher workloads into a Brick session will elevate your economy and efficiency plus provide valuable training information on your fluid and caloric intake. So, lets take a look at the B/R/B/.
The B/R/B workouts over a 12 week period will give you a great build up to your IM race. Finishing the final session three weeks prior to the race is optimum. As the weeks progress, the length of the workout is increased. Over the 12 weeks, the goal is to ride 75% of your IM distance or about 80 – 85 miles. Keep the run mileage between 6 – 10 miles. For example, start with weeks 1-3 ( see chart below ) with B – 30 miles, R – 6 miles, B – 25 miles. By the end of the 12 week block the session would increase to B – 50, R – 10, B – 35.
Right from week one you should be doing about 25-50% of the work at Half-Ironman pace in each segment. This intensity can be divided up and spread out over your rides and run The rest can be at an aerobic pace. If you start with 25% of your mileage at Half Ironman pace, then over time increase the amount of intensity to 50%. Again, the magic of this session splitting the bike segments, sandwiched with a run, tests your fitness by incorporating the suggested higher intensity. Mentally, it’s a smashing session but a lot of fun.
12 WEEK PROGRESSIVE B/R/B
WEEKS 1 AND 2: 30 – 6 – 25 , week 3 could be a B /R or R/ B. The double brick is the same distance as the B/R/B
WEEKS 4 AND 5: 35 -8 -30 wk 6 B/R or R /B
WEEKS 7 AND 8: 45 -8- 35 wk 9 B/R or R / B
WEEKS 10 AND 11: 50 – 10 – 35 wk 12 B/R or R / B
*Don’t forget strength work and stretching 2-3 times per week.
Warm up: 20 minutes
7 x 90 seconds with 90 seconds to 2 minutes Rest Interval between segments
20-40 minutes of aerobic riding ( minimum of 5 – 10 min )
Repeat the set
Warm up: 20 minutes
45 seconds hard, 45 seconds easy,
5 seconds hard, 45 seconds easy,
45 seconds hard, 90 seconds to 2 minutes easy,
2 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy. Repeat the set.
20 – 40 minutes of aerobic riding ( minimum of 5 – 10 min )
Repeat the AE set.
TALK TO THE MAN
Dave Scott is a six-time Hawaii Ironman champion and first inductee into the Ironman Hall of Fame. For more info on Dave’s coaching, seminar and speaking schedule, visit . Dave has also partnered with Four Seasons Hualalai to offer triathlon training at the Big Island. Designed for triathletes of all abilities, Dave personalizes the instruction and guarantees results. Visit for more information.