You’ve already had two pretty hard weeks of serious speed workouts, so you’re probably not going to be happy when we tell you that this week will be an absolute stinker. Stick with us through this peak of training and tiredness though, as everything gets a whole lot easier after this.
Not only will you be fitter but your body will be better equipped to deal with the pain and waste products of maximal intensity riding. Once you’ve got that kind of advantage under your belt there’s not much that will trouble you for the rest of the summer!To make things easier we’re recycling previous sessions so you know what to expect, and so your brain doesn’t have to remember new stuff when you’re knackered. There’s also my new fit chip tips to check out at the end of the article.So grit your teeth and get on with it – it’s only a week. The weekly plan “Only half a minute but a whole lot of hell” What?
Speed costs – and this is where you start paying!
Warm up gradually for ten minutes as usual and then find a hill (or as close to a hill as you can get). Set your stopwatch and then sprint up it as hard as you possibly can for 30 seconds. Check how far that gets you.
Turn round immediately and roll back down the hill to where you started turn round again and sprint back up again like your life depends on it.
If you train once midweek, do three sprints up the hill, then rest for ten minutes before doing another three.
If you train twice midweek do four sprints up the hill, then rest for eight minutes before doing another four.
If you train / ride hard more than twice midweek do five sprints up the hill, then rest for five minutes before doing another five.
Now ride home gently, weeping quietly to yourself if necessary, but as soon as you can stomach it get a banana, energy drink / bar down your neck and follow it up with your main meal asap.Words of Warning
This session will hurt. A lot. That’s why it works. Sprint every sprint as hard as you can for the full 30 seconds to get maximum benefit. Don’t go pacing yourself so you can manage every one, it’s much better to be on your knees and go home early than find you’ve still energy left at the end because you’ve been soft pedalling.
However, if you physically throw up, or are falling a long way short of the distance you ‘set’ on your first sprint then it’s time to wobble home. Training is only worth doing when you’re still working effectively rather than flogging a dead horse.Why?
This session you’re burning fuel without enough oxygen to keep the process ‘clean’. This gives maximum power but it also creates a lot of lactic acid and other waste products and that means pain (normally becoming really savage at the 15 – 20 second mark). You’ll also exhaust fuel supplies very quickly leaving your legs feeling like rubber and your lower lip wobbling.
Repeating sprints of this intensity allows you to spend more time at this pain threshold than just doing it the once, and it also trains your body to cope with getting rid of the lactic acid as quickly as possible. You’ll also never get this kind of rapid successive effort in a race, which means however bad you feel on the day of reckoning at least you can console yourself that it isn’t as bad as the sessions that b*st*rd Coach potato made you do!Where?
Ideally you need a steady gradient hill that means you can just get going on in about middle ring middle sprocket and finish spinning without having to change gear at the top. You’ll also want it traffic clear so you can turn round again straight away.
If you haven’t got a hill then you’ll just have to do it on the flat but keep changing up gears to make sure it really hurts 😉When
This session is particularly nasty, so it’s best done when you’re feeling fresh. That doesn’t mean copping out at any available excuse though. The good thing is that once you’re out there it doesn’t actually take long at all, so you could even fit it into a lunch break (but not straight after lunch!).Rest of the week
Even if you previously only trained once during the week, make a real effort to fit an extra session in. To make it easier on your brain we’ll stick to a session you know well already so roll up your sleeves for “Quite saw legs”. Be warned though, after all the work you’ve been doing recently your legs will probably feel like lead for the first couple of turns and then feel on fire for the last two. As long as you’re still going forward, stick with it though, as it’s the last session before the rest week. Fronting it out in training will also make those out of body experiences on ‘real’ rides a lot more bearable.Coach Potato’s fit chip tips Friend or foe?
As this training plan has largely been based on solo efforts at particular levels of personal exertion, it hasn’t been the most sociable of affairs.
Sprint training is an ideal opportunity to buddy up with other riders though, as you’ll never push yourself harder than if you’re wheel to wheel with another rider. Either just find a partner to go head to head with, or maybe even have a knockout competition with a few of you.
The idea is for everyone to improve as much as possible not for some people to walk it while others get pissed off, so make sure you keep it friendly and accurately handicapped with staggered starts. You’ll also have a better idea of what gears and starting styles suit you if you can see how different approaches work against the same rider.Next week
You’ll be more than ready for next week’s rest week, but we’ll make sure we’ve got plenty of informative and inspirational stuff to keep you on track for your fastest year yet.
PS: For those of you desperate to know why interval training sessions are sometimes called Fartlek training, it’s a Scandinavian thing, rather than any reference to the indigestion caused by repetitive sprints.