Getting fast(er) on limited time…

Of late I’ve been asked more frequently what I’ve been doing with my limited time; I seem to be getting faster every time I head out if the local bunch, my average speeds and Strava “trophies” count for anything. So I figured I would detail some of what I do on an average week and share a few of my favourite shorter workouts – there is nothing new or ground breaking here just hard work!

As most with children know having a new born is a challenge in itself, they demand 110% of your time and often falling into bed immediately after they do is the most eagerly anticipated part of the day; on top of that there is work – got to pay the bills, other family commitments – can’t forget the wife and daughter too and finally at the bottom of the list comes riding. All of this means often getting out at “dark o’clock”, a short trainer session while bub is asleep or even just staying in bed / lazing on the couch (recovery) are the only options.

“Dark O’clock”
Admittedly I am a bit of an early riser anyways, so getting up early to head out the door for a ride has never really fazed me. If I am up at 5 o’clock and out the door at it means I can get in a solid 2 hours of riding before needing to race home and get ready for work. I usually use this time to get in some much needed actual riding and respite from the brain drain that is spending a lot of time on the trainer. These rides usually have some purposeful training but nothing too regimented, I will often take the opportunity to make these either easy or hard rides, easy being much needed Z1/Z2 work, the hard rides being either fast bunch rides or longer (20min) FTP intervals, I generally aim to get out for one of each (easy / hard) once a week.

“Short & Sweet”
The other portion of my little riding time is spent on the ergo / trainer, usually this short period of time is spent focusing on specific training zones aimed at forcing specific adaptions; a lot of the work on the trainer is designed to be short and sweet; with a high to very high intensity working predominately Vo2 Max, Anaerobic and Neuromuscular though intervals of varying length from 8mins down to 15sec respectively. These intervals are painful but very effective at increasing anaerobic capacity and highly specific to mountain bike racing. The hardest part is hitting the required power output, over and over and over again, followed by trying not to fall off the trainer!

I’ve outlined below a couple of workouts I am loving at the moment, maximal effort minimal time.

Vo2 Max Lung Buster.
This workout albeit pretty short is solid, a lot of time spent at Vo2 Max with very short rest periods (1:30min) to induce some pretty serious oxygen debt. The hardest part is just going again, and again, and again; it’s tough not just on the legs / lungs but also psychologically as well. Intervals should be done at 106% to 120% of FTP (Z5) or >120% in the case of the Z6 intervals (very hard to achieve by now). If you don’t fall off the trainer at the end, or collapse in the shower shortly after you are not going hard enough!

5 to 10mins Warm Up
3 x 3min Z5 Intervals w/ 1:30 Rest
2 x 2min Z5 Intervals w/1:30 Rest
3 x 1min Z6 Intervals w/1:30 Rest
2 x 2min Z5 Intervals w/ 1:30 Rest
3 x 3min Z5 Intervals w/ 1:30 Rest
5 to 10mins Cool Down.
Hit the shower, then slam down 500ml; of chocolate milk or your favorite recovery drink / foods.


Under/Over – Over/Under Intervals
This is a workout I have been doing for a long time, I am pretty sure it was originally featured in one of Lynda Wallenfels training plans I did years and years ago – I think it was originally devised by Chris Carmichael and has done the rounds in most “Time Crunched” type training plans; most recently it’s been brought to attention by Team Sky who claim it has been one of their keys to success on the mountains in the TDF. The interval consists of a an interval of riding at 95% FTP (or just below LTHR) followed by 105% FTP (or just above LTHR), repeated a few times. The durations can be whatever durations you like, I like to mix them up a little just to ease the boredom on the trainer. It’s a solid threshold workout, your legs should be burning by the end of it but your lungs should be fine.

5 to 10min Warm Up
8mins x [1min @ 95% FTP / 1min 105% FTP, repeat]
5min Easy Spin
8mins x [30sec @95% FTP / 1min 105%FTP, repeat] (alternatively try 2mins/2mins)
5miins Easy Spin
8mins x [1min @ 95% FTP / 1min 105% FTP, repeat]
5 to 10min cool down


So that’s it…

Well not really! I have a large pool of workouts I can do on the trainer – most of which hurt! The even scarier part is the coach has an even BIGGER list of workouts he can draw on if he is feeling particularly nasty. But a single workout WILL NOT make you fast, hell even a heap of workouts won’t make you fast; there is a significant amount of planning that goes into how I spend my limited time; the above are just very limited examples that might be applicable to this week, but not necessarily the next. It’s all a juggling act of consistency and balancing stress / recovery!

Anyways that’s all for now, happy riding!