By Joe Friel
Joe Friel is author of the successful “Training Bible” series ofbooks, a regular columnist for VeloNews and Inside Triathlonand the founder of www.ultrafit.com.Friel also offers answers to a selection of questions in this weekly column here on VeloNews.com. Readers can send questions to Friel in care of VeloNews.com at WebLetters@7Dogs.com.(Be sure to include “Friel” in the subject line.) Question: I have recently (1 year) been cycling more seriously. I did an Aids Ride in Alaska (500 miles in 6 days) and every day I feltstronger. In the past 6 years I was more of a runner and I did a coupleof triathlons.A few cyclists have approached me and commented on my strength and abilityespecially climbing. I’m 35 and I have never raced but it’s somethingthat I would like to do. I know cyclists have competed in their 40’s(JeannieLongo) but since I’m only starting, what is the realistic possibility ofcompeting?
KellyAnswer: It is quite realistic–and even common. I know many,many people who began racing at ages ranging from their 50s to their 70s.And successfully. At 35 you’re just a pup. Go for it!
JoeQuestion: I use your “Cyclists Training Bible” to formulate mytraining programs and find it very useful. I’m a 37 year old Cat.2/ XC expert cyclist who also does nordic (skate ski) racing from earlyDecember to early March each winter (around 10-12 races per winter). My aerobic fitness is good coming into the spring from the nordic racingand I ride my trainer two or three days a week over the course ofthe winter (30-45min. at varying intensities) to keep the cycling musclememory good. I usually can’t start riding my bike outside until midMarch. My question is, since I have a good endurance base from trainingyear round (I have been doing this for 15 years) could I reduce the numberof weeks spent in the Base Periods or first part of the Build Periods). I would like to be more competitive in the early season races (late Mayto early June) but I’m usually at the maximum weekly hours portion of mybase training at that time. With limited time to train, I’m tryingto be most efficient with my time. Any suggestions?
RichAnswer: You probably can shorten your Base period given yourlong riding and racing history. Six to eight is probably about the lowestyou’d want to go, so you could start in Base 2 or 3.
JoeQuestion: I’m a Colorado cyclist who splits his week living andtraining in Boulder (5,200′) and Estes Park (7,500′). Would you be ableto tell me if altitude effects your training zones in reference to heartrate. I ask this because it seems that every time I try to do intervalsin Estes Park my RPE is always higher for a given heart rate than in Boulder.Acclimation shouldn’t be a factor as I’ve noticed this even when I wasliving full time in Estes Park.
JeffAnswer: I have never seen any research on this, but what youdescribe others also say. So there is a good chance this is true aboutheart rate being higher at any given RPE. We know that is certainly thecase with power output. One way to resolve this would be to complete a30-minute time trial in Estes Park on a flat (if you can find one) road,or a gradual, steady climb. Ten minutes into the time trial click the “lap”button on your heart rate monitor. Your average heart rate for the last20 minutes should be close to your lactate threshold. If this is differentfrom your LTHR in Boulder then you will need to use two sets of zones dependingon where you are. Let me know what you find out if you do this.
JoeQuestion: I am planning on competing at a two day stagerace at a moderately high altitude, starts at 4000 ft, with climbs over9000 ft. The trouble is that I live at 52 ft. In the monthpreceding the event, I am planning 3 trips to altitude (6000 ft) of 3 days(1month prior to event), 4 days, and 6 days (1 week prior to event), withdoing very hard workouts at sea level the day of leaving to altitude (trainlow, sleep high). I know everyone’s adaptation is different, but is therea chance this will help me? I am planning the trips regardless (camping). Also, are there any nutritional supplements short of EPO that can help. I
know eat plenty of high iron foods, but anything else?
MikeAnswer: This may help you but the since your stays are relativelybrief and spaced the benefit may not be too great.As for diet, at high altitude your body will preferentially use glycogen—acarbohydrate-derived fuel source—to power the muscles while sparing fat.This makes your limited glycogen stores extremely important for the race,so it’s a good idea to carbohydrate load the last three days before theevent. It also means that you need to keep the carbohydrates coming inthroughout the race as the bonk will occur sooner than at sea level.The other challenge you need to prepare for is dehydration. The airis drier at high altitude so you’re more likely to lose body fluids makingyour blood into a thick sludge that slows you down. Starting the day beforethe race, increase your fluid intake. If you’re sleeping at altitude thenight before the race, place a bottle of water by your bed and sip fromit every time you wake up during the night.Supplementation with 400 milligrams of vitamin E daily for 10 weekshas been shown in research to preserve VO2max in high-altitude mountainclimbers. In another study, 1200 IU of vitamin E every day caused athletesto maintain a higher percentage of their VO2max at altitude compared withsubjects who took a placebo. If you’ve never taken such large doses ofvitamin E it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before starting. Certainconditions and medications when combined with vitamin E may cause healthcomplications.
JoeQuestion: I am getting dehydrated and cramps after races. I drinkenough fluids like Cytomax, Gatorade, water, gels. Probably not the amountrequired. What do you suggest to avoid this from happening and what mightbe the treatment if this occurred again
DavidAnswer: Go to http://www.ultrafit.com/newsletter/june00.html to see an article I wrote on this for my newsletter. It will give you moredepth than I could in a brief answer here.
JoeQuestion: I have been racing for 2 years but this year work,family, and life in general all collaborated to derail my racing. I completeda weight workout as described in your book and have had to greatly curtailmy training of any kind the last 6 weeks.I am ready to begin again. strength and speed endurance were alwaysmy limiter as a 47 year old cat 4. any suggestions on maintaining a scheduleuntil October when I should be able to train for next year. I live in Floridaand the season starts in February.I can maintain about 10-12 hours a week of training, where should Ifocus?Joe Friel is author of the successful “Training Bible” series ofbooks, a regular columnist for VeloNews and Inside Triathlonand the founder of www.ultrafit.com.Friel also offers answers to a selection of questions in this weekly column here on VeloNews.com. Readers can send questions to Friel in care of VeloNews.com at WebLetters@7Dogs.com.(Be sure to include “Friel” in the subject line.)
WilliamAnswer: You could spend this time primarily in your base period,but that might get really old after a few weeks. I’d strongly suggest somefall races that you actually train and peak for as a first peak periodof the season. Then begin your build up to the second peak of the year.