A full season of racing has left many athletes tired and ready for the fall break. Often motivation to train hard wanes and a season's worth of fitness can disappear in a few weeks. Rather than tossing away all that hard work, here are a few workouts to help pull you through those hot late-summer sessions.
The late summer is like Friday. It's pretty close to the off season, or pre-season if you ride 'cross, but it's still work and you have to put in the time to get the payoff. Fine, but that doesn't mean you have to do the same dreary intervals you've done all season. Five-minute VO2max efforts, two-by-20-minute threshold efforts, and the dreaded one-minute max efforts can get a bit tired by August, so I thought I'd offer up a few alternatives to keep you motivated.
The Endurance Razor
This is quickly becoming one of my favorite workouts on days when motivation to ride hard is tough to find. Athletes are often faced with having limited time to train and tend to compromise the endurance component in search of greater speed and high intensity. This workout walks the line between being a true endurance effort (because it's not terribly long) and a true tempo workout (because the intensity averages tempo).
Here's the 411:
First, set your computer to the "average watts" view and keep it there the entire workout. Start the ride averaging approximately 65 to 70 percent of threshold power for the first 20 minutes. For this example let's use 200 watts as our 70 percent value.
After 20 minutes at 200 watts start to increase your average power in 1-watt increments over the next 60 minutes. You want to add 20 percent of your starting value, in this case 40 watts, by the end of the hour. Doing the quick math you can see that you want to add a watt to your average about every 60 to 90 seconds. A much slower pace than you are likely to use to for an interval but there is a caveat. You cannot lose a watt on average, ever. If you drop a watt on average you have to sprint through that watt and up to the next one, then return to your steady-state pacing.
As the hour continues you'll find it a bit harder to add a watt, and a bit harder to keep from losing a watt—therein lies the fun. Over the course of the hour your intensity will rise, but the effort is easy enough that it doesn't go above threshold. If you want to add to the fun do this on a rolling course! That will really help with pacing a steady effort. Typically a 90-minute workout like this, including a 10-minute easy spin cool down, will be around 100 TSS points and .82 to .85 on Intensity Factor.