Q. Hi Gale, I am in week 8 of your 27 week plan for the Half-Ironman training program. I tested this week and have made noticeable gains in both swimming and running (my limiters, so this was a big positive!). However, my T1(5) biketesting ended up with identical #s from my first test 8 weeks ago. Conditions were the same, on an indoor trainer, didn't feel tired, ate well, etc. Avg. watts 277, HR avg. 142, total time of 14:30. Any thoughts as to why or what I should do differently? I have not really skipped any workout to date and have clearly made progress in the other 2 disciplines. Thanks - S. T.
A. Hi S.T.~
Thanks for using my training plan to help you succeed - and - congratulations on the swimming and running improvements! You mention those are your limiters so I suspect you are a very strong cyclist.
If that is the case, you require higher intensities to make improvements on the bike. But - you may not want to add that level of intensity as I suspect you'll trade swimming and running performance. Since those are your limiting sports, holding cycling steady isn't a bad thing right now.
I also suspect that as you progress through the plan and intensity increases, cycling should show some gains. Since you are already strong there, the gains may not be as much as swimming and running though.
Let me know if my assumption is true (strong cyclist) and keep me posted to the changes as you make your way through the plan. If you do decide to increase cycling intensity, monitor your fatigue. You may need to just keep cycling in a maintenance mode until you get stronger in the other two sports.
A. Thanks Gale! Good advice and insight--cycling has been my strong suit. I will hold steady on that for now and let my swim and run 'catch up' before increasing bike intensities. I'll keep you updated; thanks for the plan--it's helped immensely so far. S.T.
Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.
I received a request to do an interview with a writer from WebMD, Saylnn Boyles. The issue she was investigating was decreased genital sensation among women due to riding a bike. A research paper indicated that genital neuropathies and erectile dysfunction in males is commonly discussed and a well accepted concern for male cyclists; but what about the women? Do women have neurological injuries due to riding a bike and can those be solved by simply raising the handle bars?
Saylnn sent me the research paper, “The Bar Sinister: DoesHandlebar Level Damage the Pelvic Floor in Female Cyclists?” The paper looked at 48 cyclists and compared their genital sensations with those of 22 runners.
Early in my conversation with Saylnn, she commented that her impression was that the topic of genital numbness was a common topic of conversation among female riders.
Before I let you know the full range of my comments on her assumption and the research paper, I want to hear from you. Is this an issue? Do you experience genital numbness after a bike ride?
Ladies, let me know if you experience this problem or not.
You’ll need to post your comments on my Facebook page, since comments are blocked here on Active due to spammers.
To help 100-mile mountain bike racers with some training references, this blog is a good start. Many of the resources can help 100-mile mountain bike racers for any event. Some of the resources are Leadville 100 specific.
First, training plan help.
In my newest book, Training Plans for Cyclists, you will find two foundation fitness training plans. (You can see the table of contents online.) The two foundation fitness plans are designed to help cyclists maintain or improve fitness in the off-season. Often, there are two Levels of training plan presented in the book. Level I is for completion and Level II is more competitive. Level I and Level II descriptions are also relative to event distance. For example, I classify a Level I rider looking at a 100-mile mountain bike race differently than a Level I road rider looking to complete a century. Of course, the event route itself can have a major influence.
The book contains detailed, daily workouts. (Not just general instructions on how to assemble your own plan.) Here are athlete profile descriptions:
Level I Profile (Chapter 19)
The plan in this chapter is designed for a Level I rider. Before beginning the plan, you are riding two or three times per week, indoors or outdoors; but, your workouts are not consistent. It is not a problem for you to ride for an hour, though.
You are looking to build strength, endurance and increase your riding speed. You’d like to begin a weight training program, but don’t know where to begin.
One big issue you have is time. There is never enough time and you don’t have much of it to devote to staying fit. If you can see a training plan that would whip you into shape on three to six hours a week, you’d jump up and down.
The plan in this chapter is designed for a Level II cyclist that is riding three or four times per week before beginning the plan. You are currently capable of comfortably completing a two-and-a-half hour ride. Your current long ride is mostly aerobic, but may include a small amount of intensity.
You are looking to build strength, endurance and increase your riding speed for next season. You want a weight training program included in your plan that will deliver on-the-bike speed later.
Your schedule allows you to train six or seven days per week.
It really doesn’t matter what your season goals are (road vs. mountain) because the foundation fitness plans can be used for preparation for century rides, multi-day tours, short-course mountain bike racing, 24-hour races or 100-mile mountain bike races.
After you have built foundation fitness on your own or used one of the above plans, then you transfer that fitness to a more event-specific plan taking you right up to race day.
Keeping attention focused on just the mountain bike events for now, below are the plan descriptions contained in the book:
Chapter 16, Level I Rider, 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race, 16 Week Plan
Before beginning this plan, you are riding consistently and doing between five and six hours of training each week. Your long ride is around two hours long and it includes some intensity as well as hill riding. At least one other ride during the week contains some intensity. That ride can be an indoor spinning class.
If your current fitness does not meet the description above, begin your training journey in Chapter 19 to build foundation fitness. After the last week of the Chapter 19 training plan, begin with Week 1 of this chapter.
During the week, you are limited to an hour of training on three days. You need two days off for other activities. Additionally, you do not have time to commute to a mountain course, so the training needs to be on an indoor trainer, spin class or a road bike.
Your goal is to comfortably complete a 100-mile mountain bike race. While you want to ride in a time that is as fast as possible, you realize you are restricted for training time. You want the best time, given your limited training time.
(The biggest training week is 13:30. The online version of this race-specific plan is found here.)
Chapter 17, Level II Rider, 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race, 14 Week Plan
Before beginning this plan, you are training approximately nine hours per week. You are riding two long rides each week. One ride is around two hours long and the second one is roughly three hours in length.
You are riding two or three other weekday rides that are an hour each. You may or may not be strength training.
This plan is designed to follow the Level II Foundation Fitness training plan found in Chapter 20. After completing 18 weeks of that plan, you can move directly into the plan in this chapter. That combination provides you with 32 weeks of training.
If you are not using the Chapter 20 training plan, review the last few weeks of that training plan. Before beginning this training plan you should be capable of completing those workouts, or similar workouts, both in time and intensity.
Due to the volume of training necessary to complete this plan you will need to focus on recovery as much as you focus on accomplishing the training. Improved performance is accompanied by recovery techniques and high density nutrition. In summary, in addition to completing the training sessions, you need to get adequate rest and eat nutritious foods that fuel a high performance body. Be sure to read Chapter 3 that covers nutrition.
Your goal is to ride a 100-mile mountain bike race in a personal best time. This competitive goal is more than just completing the event, it is competing at the event. The competition may be for a spot on the podium or to beat a past personal record (PR). You want a new PR.
(The biggest training week is 22:00. The online version of this race plan isfound here.)
Now that the training portion is covered, below is more information within columns and blogs:
Description of key points and challenges in the Leadville 100 mountain bike race: (Note that the entry numbers are low compared to 2009 because the column was written in 2005):
The second weekend in June, I was in Vancouver, British Columbia supporting the ITU Development Team. On Saturday before the race it was raining and it was cold. Not just a little rain, a lot of rain.
On a trip to the grocery store a short distance from my hotel, I could hear chanting. It seemed a demonstration of some sort was heading toward me. I looked down the street and I could see cyclists approaching - but something wasn't normal.
Know how you glance at something, then your brain resisters that what you are seeing is does not fit with stored data?
The brain responds with, "What is wrong with this picture?"
You stare more, trying to sort out exactly what is going on. What is going on?
They were chanting, "Use less gas. Use more ***. Use less gas. Use more ***." Chanting away while riding bicycles naked. Most of them were naked anyway. A few of them had swim suits or underwear on, but most were in the buff. Keeping with the intended spirit of "The World Naked Bike Ride", the ones that wanted rain gear to stay warm and dry wore transparent rain slickers. Impressive in an odd sort of way.
Once past the shock of seeing what I was seeing, the analytical part of me began to question. Geeze, aren't there chaffing problems? Pressure points, you know where? How is this possible without extreme pain?
I suppose I could be accused of ogling. There are guidelines for the ride that admonish ogling. But, maybe that is just for participants, regarding each other?
In defense of my (and everyone around me) ogling, I decided getting an audience to pay attention was one of the main objectives. If the ride organizers organized a "regular" ride to bring attention to using bicycles for transportation and using less gas and oil, I'm certain it would not have recieved the same level of attention.
Did the ride have the intended impact? I'm not sure, but I can say I do remember the catchy chant and I'm still wondering about the multiple issues related to no-clothes bike riding.