Fast Talk, ep. 68: The big picture — the three types of rides you should do

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In this episode we’re taking a step back — way back — to see the forest for the tress. Let me explain: Many of you have been fascinated by our recordings with scientists and coaches like Stephen Seiler, John Hawley, Iñigo San Millan, and Joe Friel. Now, we’ve sifted through hours of Fast Talk recordings with our many distinguished guests to bring context to what we hope is a simplified, unified message about the fundamental principles of these previous shows: there are just three types of rides. Yes, that’s a simplification. Yes, you’re getting our bias. So, if you want that high level of detail, please return to those past episodes. In this episode, we’re talking about the forest. We’re hoping to give you a framework to understand all that scientific detail. And we’re going to keep it simple. We’ll discuss: - First, when you take away the complexity, training boils down to three ride types in most training models. - We’ll give a simple zone system, based on physiology, and explain why that’s important. - We’ll define the long ride: why it’s important, how to execute it, and why there are no shortcuts. - We’ll define the high-intensity ride: why less is more with this type of ride and why executing it with quality is so critical. Dr. Seiler actually divides these rides into two categories — threshold rides and high-intensity work. For this podcast, we’re lumping them together, but we will hear from Dr. Seiler about why we shouldn’t neglect threshold work despite the current popularity of one-minute intervals and Tabata work. - We’ll discuss the recovery ride. Ironically, for most of us, this is the hardest to execute. When we’re time-crunched, we might think that spending an hour spinning easy on the trainer is not time well spent. We’ll discuss why that philosophy is dangerous to take. - Finally, we’ll talk about some of the exceptions, including sweet spot work and training races. We’ve included excerpts from Dr. San Millan, once the exercise physiologist for the Garmin-Slipstream WorldTour team, among others. We’ll hear several times from Dr. Stephen Seiler, who is often credited with defining the polarized training model, which developed from his research with some of the best endurance athletes in the world. Dr. John Hawley will address both long rides and high-intensity work. Dr. Hawley has been one of the leading researchers in sports science for several decades and is a big proponent of interval work and carbohydrate feeding, but even he feels there’s a limit. Grant Holicky, formerly of Apex Coaching in Boulder, Colorado, has worked with some of the best cyclists in the world. He sees undirected training, those “sort of hard” rides, as one of the biggest mistakes athletes can make. He’ll explain why. And finally, we’ll hear from legendary coach Joe Friel about sweet spot work and why it does have a place… even though technically it’s not one of our three rides. Now, to the forest! Let’s make you fast.

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