• How to adjust the cycling or triathlon training plan for a hilly course

    My triathlon and cycling training plans are structured so that you can use them for a flat or hilly courses. The progression, or periodization, of training is accomplished by designing the daily and weekly workouts to optimize training time. One part of this optimization is training intensity.

    When a plan specifies interval work at a particular training intensity, one of the best parts of the training plan is that the work can be accomplished on a flat section of road for those doing a flat race or the work can be done as hill repeats. For those doing rolling courses, the hill repeats are best done on a hill that is roughly 4-percent or the same grade as a highway off-ramp. For athletes doing very hilly courses, with steep grades, seek out a hill to use in training that is roughly the same grade as your hill(s) in your key race.

    For example, a workout may specify:

    Cruise Intervals - Z3: These intervals begin work on lactate threshold speed. Complete the prescribed intervals allowing heart rate to rise into the Zone 3 over the course of the interval and no higher. After heart rate is in Zone 3, try to hold it there until the end of the interval. Begin timing the interval as soon as you begin an increased effort - do not wait to begin the clock when heart rate just reaches Zone 3. All work intervals begin when effort is increased and end when effort is decreased. Rest for the indicated time between intervals.

    Complete 5-7 x 3 minutes at Zone 3 intensity (recover for 1 minute at Zone 1 intensity)

    For this workout, if you are preparing for a flat course, you could do the intervals on a flat road or a slight incline of 1- to 2-percent. If your race will be on a very hilly course, with the most challenging hill having an 8-percent grade, seek out a hill for training that is close to your race course hill.

    For some of you, finding a hill grade near your home town that is close to the race course hill grade is impossible. Some options for you:

    Do your intervals into a head wind.

    Use a bigger gear than normal for your intervals (simulating a bigger load like climbing a hill.)

    Do a combination of the previous two suggestions.

    Do your intervals based on power (wattage) indoors or outside. (Know that if your baseline power training zone numbers were established on a flat road, the power you will produce on a hill climb will be more for the same heart rate cost. For example if you produce 200 watts for a heart rate of 150 on the flats, you can produce 210 (or more, depending on the hill grade) for a heart rate of 150.) One option for you is to increase the power load by 5- to 10-percent and stop the interval when you exceed the heart rate zone. Training this way is slightly more complicated, but the suggestion I made is one easy option.

    Know that there is a bigger selection of off-season or base training plans found on TrainingPeaks.

    If you use one of my triathlon or cycling training plans to have your best season yet, keep me posted on your training and racing goes ~

    Coach Gale

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