• Training Plan Workouts: Interval Training in the Heat

    One of the common training plan workouts I assign to athlete in the last four to six weeks before an important race is 5-6 x 3 minutes getting heart rate or power into Zone 5b (anaerobic) and holding it there. Take 3 minutes of Zone 1 recovery between each one. These are best done on a hill.

    Most of the time I want this workout done in cool conditions so athletes can produce the most amount of power possible – because we know that heat decreases your ability to produce power. This is because some of your energy is spent trying to keep the engine cool.

    I will modify this workout, on occasion. How I modify it depends on the athlete, the particular race they are gunning for and whether or not the athlete is “on the edge” or well rested.

    Here is one modification:

    3-4 x 3 minutes getting heart rate or power into Zone 5b and holding it there. Take 3 minutes of high Zone 2/low Zone 3 partial recovery between each one. After the last interval, head into 5-10 minutes at Zone 4 to Zone 5a intensity. If the athlete will be racing in the heat, this is done in the heat.

    I use partial recovery because that is closer to real racing conditions than full recovery. I use a combination of work above and at threshold, because again that is more like racing for road racers and mountain bike riders. The workout is assigned in the heat some 10 to 14 days out from race day, when racers will race in hot conditions.

    Athletes will see this workout no more than twice in the weeks prior to an “A-ranked” race because it is difficult both mentally and physically to do it correctly. Attempting to overdo the application of this workout leads to burnout and staleness.

    A key reminder is that athletes must be rested and focused to get the most out of important workouts. If you can’t get heart rate or power into the right zones, skip the workout, it wasn’t your day.

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