"Warm up for a solid hour at Endurance pace. Hammer eight all out intervals recovering for one minute between intervals.Cruise for 15 minutes or so and then begin four 10 minute intervals at Threshold increasing your cadence by 5rpm. Rest for 10 minutes between intervals. Finish by riding 45 minutes in Sweetspot riding just below threshold."
The above is a sample workout picked at random from the latest edition of "Training and Racing with Power" There is absolutely nothing wrong with the workout, indeed to the contrary it is an excellent example of a one that is challenging, fun to do and very likely to help build fitness.
All in all it will take about 4 hours or so to complete, so quite a while. But what I am about to suggest applies equally to workouts of this length, of even more or much less time.
The suggestion is a simple one. Use every workout as an opportunity to squeeze in as many things as possible.
That is think of all the many things that you would ideally like to practice and stack every workout with as much of these as possible.
There are three major benefits to this approach
- Every workout becomes a lot more productive. Instead of just improving your fitness you can be improving your fitness and much else beyond.
- It helps time pass. The more things your mind is working on the quicker time will fly by. This isn't necessarily a good thing but it usually is as it means you are having fun and enjoying yourself. But think of the counter case. When time really drags its usually because you are bored. Or when working out it can be when you are feeling exhausted and the end seems a long way away.
- It recreates reality. Workouts are the ideal way to prepare for real life conditions, such as the need to eat and drink or deal with unexpected situations. It is much better to practice, say, getting your food out of your back pocket while wearing a rain jacket than doing it for the first time in a race.
The approach towards stacking can be methodical. Creating a list of every possible thing you may want to practice then ensuring these are all ticked off at some point.
Or you can just do whatever you fancy. Set a number, say 4 and aim to do incorporate that many additional things.
It really doesn't matter, just doing one extra thing is already a start.
So purely off the cuff here are some suggestions for the workout above.
- During the hour at Endurance pace ramp cadence up and down between say 60 and 100rpm. Really focus on a smooth steady pedal stroke.
- Set an alarm on your Garmin at 20 minutes when you will plan to eat 20g of carbs and drink 1/3 of a bottle of water.
- During the Endurance hour spend a steady 20 minutes in the drops trying to be as aerodynamic as you can possibly be without affecting the smoothness of your pedal stroke.
- For the eight one minute intervals imagine it is you and a team mate trying to work together to get to the finish before the pack. Visualise yourself in a race winnning move or try to imagine you are a pro in the Tour de France in that situation.
- During the recovery after try putting on and taking off a gilet while still riding, If this is too difficult just practice riding no hands for short intervals.
- During the recovery, when it is safe, practice bunny hopping at speed. This may seem like a dangerous maneuver but it is an essential skill.
- During the Threshold efforts focus on breathing, Really feel yourself using your diaphragm and synchonise your breathing with your pedal stroke. Also focus on your weaker leg. Make it work harder than your stronger leg.
- For the Sweetspot imagine it is a long steady mountain climb, every now and then stand up and stretch, again imagining you are doing this up a climb. Break the time down into chunks and just focus on nailing each chunk not thinking about the full 45 minute duration.
That's enough I think to provide the idea. Stack em high...