Should I use the Polarized method?

Many ask about using the polarized method of training. This methodology is recommended by Dr. Seiler. Most of the fitness podcasts and magazines analyze his system. The benefits of this system are as follows.

  • Improved lactate clearance
  • Higher volumes of training
  • Reduced risk of training injury

In these discussions, training volume or experience is not mentioned. With the case of the athletes that benefited from the polarized system, they were on the bike for 30 hours during the week. They also made sure to limit inflammation. They also completed yoga, stretching, and weight work in the gym. Can you afford all of this time?

In order to be a well rounded person, you should focus on improving all functional strengths. You want to be able to walk up the stairs briskly. You don’t want to complete a training workout on the bicycle and be unable to use any stairs for 5 days. You need to assess your goals and your personal time constrains. Don’t compare yourself to others. Do you really know how someone trains when you only see them on the bike for 1.5 hours each week?

Using a Polarized system is likely to reduce the amount of training injuries. The required amounts of high intensity and frequency of such are amounts are less than the requirements of a more traditional plan. You build the engine by riding many hours. Those hours often have less intensity. The muscle fibers don’t like the long hard hours at high intensity. Your heart will not have to run at 165 bpm indefinitely.

In a sweet spot typical plan provided by many of the coaches, you ride near your maximum sustainable heart rate for an hour or two. You come home tired. The next day, you might elect to skip training. Remember, you want to be able to walk up those stairs? So, you decide not to ride on the following day. You need time to recover. In the sweet spot plan, you accumulate TSS rapidly. You are earning those points.

In the polarized plan, you might find yourself holding out through the day’s workout and saying that you can repeat this, again, tomorrow. This is good. In the polarized method, you would repeat the same intensity, often. You might be able to actually ride more days in the week, consecutively. In the sweet spot training plan, you might need to take a lot of days to recover.

Article by Mr. Joel Friel

The polarized method might help to improve lactate clearance more than a more traditional approach for the typical American amateur athletes. The author of the cycling bible, Mr. Joel Friel, wrote a piece about polarized training. He referenced a study. You have to realize that the study was about elite champion athletes. Those athletes already have improved lactate clearance. Their Vo2Max numbers are in the 50s.

Is your typical new cyclist starting at a Vo2Max of 30? Mr. Friel dismisses the polarized method, which is contrary to his years of publications. His method pushes many complicated interval plans. Does your body really distinguish between all of these intervals?

Some of those intervals are really designed to make you think that the coach is spending a lot of time working on your plan, when they are not. They simply pull the workouts from a library. The library automatically updates the numbers within the workout based on your 20 minute endurance. Can you really rely on this method?

Go polarized. For your high intensity sessions just use the following intervals

  • HIIT – 30 sec Z6, 30 sec off – repeated many times
  • 4×4 – 4 minutes z5, 3 minutes off and repeat 3 more times.
  • 20×3 – 20 minutes z5, 8 minutes off, and repeat 2 more times.

Cross Training?

We often find ourselves needing to recharge mentally when we reach the winter. We are looking for something else to do. It is also a good time to switch it up and focus on other muscle groups. Improving other muscle groups can help to improve stability and control on the bike.

Working on postural muscles is a plus. We really don’t work on this during cycling but we stress those muscles. Look to nordic skiing, walking, or some other load bearing sport.

It’s ok to do something different in January.

How to set FTP

First, we need to know what FTP is. FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power. This is something that an academic researcher developed in Texas. This was not developed by a pro team’s coach. FTP is the power that you can produce for one hour within an aerobic capacity. You don’t necessarily have the ability to sustain this power for 2 hours. You can produce this power for 1 hour without any interruption.

How do we typically set FTP? We listen to folks with training programs. They have us take a test for 20 minutes and multiple the power by 95%. This does not work. Zwift does the same thing.

Were you riding through a big climb in Zwift and it lasted for 20 minutes? You set a new power record. Your heart rate was 180bpm. Perhaps you only spun the cranks at 55rpm. Was this not anaerobic? Zwift applied the 95 percentage against your new power record and displayed a window. Within the window it stated that your FTP increased. Can we rely upon this display?

Well not quite. Your heart rate was 180. Was this aerobic? No.

The best way to determine your FTP and your actual zones is to complete the 1 hour test. You might want to rest for two days to ensure full recovery prior to completing the FTP test.

warm-up for 20 minutes; ride for 1 hour.

While you are pedaling for the 1 hour, try to reach a heart rate in the 150 to 165 range. Hold your efforts while you maintain this heart beat. Pick flat terrain for this effort. Try to avoid stop lights and other traffic control devices. Pick a route with long sections that do not require stopping.

It takes practice to maintain that smooth pace and produce the power for an hour. If you don’t feel that you succeeded on the first try, then repeat the process on another day.

When you finished pedaling the second section, use the average power of the second section as your FTP.

Pacelining tips

Think of paceline riding as team riding. It requires cooperation and a lot more than just keeping up. It calls for focused attention, taking responsibility and leading. When riding in a paceline observe the following:

  • Ride to the right − pull off to your left.
  • Ride in a straight line following the rider in front of you.  Do not swerve or brake without warning. Pedal through bumps in the road − do not swerve around them. Don’t panic and jam on your brakes − the bike behind will run right up your rear wheel. Feather your brakes to modulate speed.
  • Always Pedal.  No coasting.  Always pedal down hills.
  • Keep your head up and your eyes scanning up the road as much as possible. Do not get hypnotized by the wheel in front of you. Use your peripheral vision to monitor the wheel in front of yours while you watch the road and riders ahead. You can then better see the paceline slowing or accelerating, as well as traffic lights and stop signs and you will be better prepared to react to any situation.
  • Do not overlap the rear wheel of the bike in front of you.  Keep your wheel in line with the rear wheel in front of you.
  • Keep the same distance between you and the rider in front of you.  If it requires more energy momentarily, expend it.  Don’t create a yo-yo.  It makes it much harder for the folks behind you, if you open a gap.
  • When at the front of the group, pedal smoothly at all times, even down hills. You will need to keep pedaling on the down hills so that the bikes in back of you do not have to brake in order to avoid riding up your rear wheel.
  • When at the front you are the eyes of the paceline. Watch for hazards. Ideally you will see a hazard far enough in advance to move the path of the paceline well clear of it. Call out obstacles or holes in the road as well as your intentions to slow or stop. Every rider in the paceline is depending on you − you at the front of the line. Not every single hole warrants a shout. Call out hazards, don’t call out little bumps. Ride through rough spots by rising slightly off your saddle and pedaling through.
  • When at the front of the paceline and it is time to pull off, maintain the same steady pace.  Move to the side.  When clear of the paceline connect to the back of the line.  Pull in behind the last bike.
  • Stay at the front only for as long as you’re directed, shorter if you are feeling tired. When a rider has pulled off and approaches the back of the group the last rider should call “LAST” so the rider coming back won’t have to chase to get back on.
  • When taking the lead in a paceline do not surge or pick up the overall pace. Maintain the same speed as when drafting. As you take over you will naturally have to put out more effort. Learn to finesse your effort in order to maintain a smooth transition as you take over. If you are tired, make your turn at the front as short as possible. No one has to prove anything at the front.
  • A great group works together! We keep the people together.  We ride at 20.25 instead of 21mph, if everyone can hang together.

2019 Events of interest

Keep an eye out for these events.  These are some of the popular events that will be held during 2019.  We hope to send a team to each one of those events.

If you are interested in riding with the SSB at one of these events, then ask Bill, Liz, Linda, or Paul.

  • May 5 Cranko De Mayo Gravel Grinder Sugarbush VT
  • Jun 10 King’s Tour Quabbin Road Century
  • Jul 15 SSB P2P
  • Aug 19 R2D2 Gravel Mass

Night Rider 05-01-18

In 2017 I rolled in the dark night with the Halifax Night Rider chasing a strava segment.  Here is the latest update from him.

The serenity and stillness of the night beckons the soul of The Halifax Night Rider.  Even after driving 500 or more miles a day behind the wheel of a Walmart tractor trailer, Eugene Coghill feels most alive in the saddle rolling out on a night ride to new destinations.
He takes full advantage of the added perk his trucking career allows by exploring new and sometimes unusual sites, such as his most recent ride to the notorious Attica State Prison in
upper state New York.
It was a chilly 45 degrees with a slight westerly breeze when he pedaled out over slight rolling hills with his bike headlight piercing through the dark.
Upon reaching the town of Attica he asked the only awake local he could find at the 7-11, for directions to the prison.
Two miles later the eerie glow of institutional lights came into view.  He reflected back on the countless movies and episodes of “Locked Up” that highlighted the life of those who reside there.
Upon reaching the front parking lot he took a few photos to add to his cycling adventures, before turning around and pedaling the 15 miles back to a warm truck that waited him.
He smiled at the thought that it takes a 30 mile bike ride, and a visit to prison to reinforce his desire to stay on the straight narrow.

Charles Hind Memorial Race 03/31/18

Today’s race was hosted by the Ar-en-Ciel Club of Rhode Island. They hold this race every year to raise funds for Chris Hind’s son. #Chrishinds. Tragically, fifteen years in the past, Mr. Hinds died young and left behind a young boy and a widow. Each year the club sponsors this race to collect money for a scholarship to provide for Mr. Hind’s son.

The race was on a closed course designed for challenging race. There are some hard turns to make in each lap. The course is less than mile. Thus, you will need to repeat it many times. Every turn must be made perfectly. Flat, but the wind comes off the ocean and hits you hard. The Ninigret state park is located in Rhode Island. It is the only state park to feature an area dedicated to bike racing. Several other events are held, here, during the year.

Thanks to New England Devo Team for the coffee. The parents were running a nice coffee and donuts stand at the race. Their team has become the premier juniors team in the Boston metro. See https://www.newenglanddevo.com/ for more information about their team.

Bill

Labor Day Weekend in review

We will have to move to fall/winter operating hours, soon.  It has starting to be nippy in the mornings.  The traffic patterns have also been changing. Starting next week the Coastal Loop will have a semi-permanent detour.  The bridge in Cohasset over Atlantic avenue will be closed until June of 2018.

As I write this Coach Tony is in second place on the weekly leaderboard. Can he take the top mileage spot?

Let’s have a celebratory dinner for a great season at Plaza  Aztec in Hingham on September 23.  Please RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/501042453583222.

We had a good ride on Saturday.  Sunday has been annulled due to the rain.  Ian lead the A group.  Mike lead the Mellow Group.  See you next weekend.

Bill

Mt Wachusett 2017

20170716_125058~2Some of us rode a century on Sunday because Tracy rode 400mi during the week. We tried to catch up.  We went to the CRW century.  This century is very affordable($20/person) and well run.  We stayed ahead of Eric, the sweeper.

We added a few miles.  We started slow to warm up.  We hit a few of the hills before Mt. Wachusett.  Those hills were harder than the “climb.”  There was 10% grade on the main road to the visitor center.  The “climb” did not start until the visitor center.  Liz chose to do a repeat on the 10% section.  Why not?!?

The debate over the total elevation gain continues.  One bike computer obtained 6,600 feet of elevation gain over 105 mles.

Riders include Vito, Liz, Linda, Wes, Bill, and April from Team Kermit.

Vito was wearing the Triple Bypass kit, which you earn after riding over three mountains in Colorado in the same day in 2016.  The 2017 event was cancelled due to wildfires.

On top of Wachusett
On top of Wachusett