Weight and VO2 Max, Why Interval Order Matters, Training Camps and More – Ask a Cycling a Coach 189


Thanks for explaining how I was thinking about it. :+1:


Interesting stuff. I am relatively new to cycling. I have been thinking my VO2 max is not good and now listening to this episode I have some maths to apply to that theory. My FTP is 85% of my VO2 Max (my best ever 5 minute effort). That gives some substance to my belief. Time to do more work VO2 max training.


I transitioned from running to cycling about 10 years ago. I ran a marathon, started riding intermittently, then rode really well in 250km event about a month later. I was with a group of about 15 work colleagues at the time. I ended up being the fastest finisher even though the rest of them had all been training for many months for the big cycling event. I wasn’t anything special in terms of being a fast runner. But, I’d say it was the running that gave me the cardiac fitness - and that easily transitioned to cycling.

Now 10 years later, after pretty much only doing cycling, I’ve started to incorporate some running and other sports into my routine, to counter the limited range of movement that is cycling.

So, to summarize, I’d say running definitely helps my cycling.


That’s very heartening to me since I just started training for a marathon this spring and I was worried it might detract significantly from my bike racing goals this year! I ain’t going for a podium or anything, I just like to compete and finish… Im always happy with some PRs and something north of a mid-pack finish at this point :wink: Thanks for posting!


@Frankenzen do you mean your history being a runner helps your cycling now? Or incorporating running into your cycling today is beneficial? Both?

Just wondering as I was never a runner. I’m in a “trying to lean out” mode mainly because I’m not lean!:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Any pitfalls or tips on how to incorporating running into a say TR plan?


I’d say it goes both ways @Landis. My running helped me get up to speed with being a cyclist 10 years ago. Now my cycling has helped me get back to speed being a runner, primarily because of the cardio fitness. My advice is to ramp up the running very slowly, specifically no more than a 10% increase in distance each week. As a cyclist my cardio fitness is very good but I noticed that my running form and running muscles are considerably weaker, and from past experience I know its easy to get injured doing too much running too soon.

How to incorporate it into a TR plan? I’m not so sure on the specifics but I’d suggest doing the first few runs the day before a rest day - I found the initial runs to give me more muscle soreness than a ride.


This week’s podcast, for sure!


Coach chad said it the podcast that most people it falls between 78-85 percent so I would think you are doing okay. :+1: If you feel you struggle with them maybe it’s repeatability or sustaining it? Looks like coach chad will be talking about that next episode. Mine is 75 per cent which is great for hill climbing not so great for 25 mile TT’s. I listened to podcast again and coach chad recommended over unders, sweet spot and threshold work for someone in my position. Looking back at last years training I seemed to make some good gains with this approach so interested to see if the percentage changes over the winter.


Hopfully @chad will also talk about the best way to improve if your spot on in the 85% of 5 min power = ftp camp. My 5min power pr is 233. My FTP was last tested at 200. Both numbers come from the last month.

233 * 0.85 = 198!

It seems like threshold and VO2 are in balance based on the podcast discussion so I am assuming sweet spot is the hot ticket for me.


The answer might be more VO2max training to raise your ceiling…which will slightly lower your %…then more training to raise your FTP. Whatever the case, will be an interesting podcast for sure!


@Landis my advice would be to make sure you keep most of your runs at an easy pace. Ideally use a HR monitor to ensure you’re under your aerobic threshold HR. This will reduce chance of illness/injuries, plus puts you in the fat burning zone. The other bonus is you’ll still be fresh enough to complete the TR workouts. The hardest thing with this approach is taking the hit to your ego, as aerobic running pace is real slow :slightly_smiling_face:


@oggie41 Ok super! Yeah I’m not looking to improve my cycling with it just don’t want to sabotage the TR workouts. They are hard enough as is!


Timely video here:


@MI-XC Boom! Thanks!


Med school? I have a medical degree and took a lot of physiology and biochemistry along the way. I think a solid grounding in physiology can be helpful, but it’s a lot to learn just to get a marginally better understanding of your training. It’s not free, but the best physiology book I’ve read is this:


(although I read an earlier edition). You could probably find it at the library, or definitely at a medical school library (although it might be on hold if being used by an active class).

In terms of how all this impacts training, I defer to Chad. It’s all a bit of an open question scientifically. Part of this comes down to the fact that there is overlap in the utilization of all of these systems. You’ll see improvements in your aerobic system from doing anaerobic intervals if you are untrained. Is this better than doing long slow distance? Maybe for some people, but there isn’t any conclusive evidence. I think the trainerroad approach is a good one for a lot of people, and it’s in line with what we know about biochemistry and physiology, but it doesn’t come from them. It comes from years of experience by many different coaches working with athletes and seeing what works. I think the same can be said for weight loss - yes calories in = calories out is trivially true, but knowing that and executing a diet/exercise plan that gets you to your desired weight are two different things.

Good luck!


Might be a bit of a disconnect here between US and non-US triathletes. USAT races, Ironman-branded races, and the vast majority of tris held in the States are expressly not draft legal. ITU events may be one or the other, but many are draft-legal. I’d say that most “pack” triathletes in the states who are strictly triathletes (and not also cyclists on the side) probably don’t train a bunch of time above threshold. Pointy-end short course racers do - I did for years before switching to longer events. Now, I find my fitness above threshold lacking as all of last season was spent preparing to race at 80-85% FTP.

Draft-legal events are another animal entirely. I got caught out on the front of the paceline into the headwind when someone attacked with a group off the back and I never regained them. I didn’t have the high-end fitness from things like over-unders to raise my effort and get on the back of the attack when I’d already spent time on the front. Screwed up my tactics pretty badly, and probably cost me 20 places since I had a faster run than most of them. Learned my lesson about high-end fitness as a triathlete in a painful way that day.

Overall, I agree it’s a mistake to say that triathletes don’t train those efforts because most of the pointy end does in some way.


Slightly belated but just to say a big thanks for answering my question about VO2Max and Weight in the podcast last week. Really appreciate the time and effort taken by @jonathan, @nate and especially @chad for explaining things so clearly and looking forward to the future discussions around the subject.

I’m just coming towards the end of Mid Volume SSB2 and had Kaiser today (6 x 3min VO2Max). As a steady state TTer VO2Max feel like a weakness for me so after just making it through Spencer last week I was genuinely fearful of the extra interval today. It didn’t feel any easier and felt close to puking a couple of times(!) but was so happy to get through all six sets. As well as the undoubted physiological effects of completing it, I think one one the real benefits of gutting out intervals like this is the confidence boost that you get, not just the confidence that says “I can do these” but the confidence in the plan, the process that you’ve committed to and that incremental progression is happening. I know it’s been said before that each workout and week build on the last but sometimes I think you have to actually experience it to believe it!

Thanks again and keep up the great work.



Interesting. All my TR training is designed around becoming a better TTer (it’s my A race and I am not a natural TTer!). However, VO2 workouts feel like actual road/crit racing to me, e.g. attack after attack, instead of the long drone of a SS or threshold interval…and maybe that’s why I don’t mind them so much.


I’m just catching the last half hour of the podcast now and something @Nate, @chad and @Jonathan talked about I would LOVE to hear more on:

What impact does little to no sleep the night before your race have on your race?

Just about every A or B race I struggle to sleep. No matter how much I think it through logically - ‘there’s nothing I can do now to prepare more’ - sometimes the anxiety just gets me and I can’t fall asleep. Two weeks ago I was awake the entire night before running a full marathon - but I ended up still being really happy with my time. One of the problems I have the night before is actually thinking “If I don’t get to sleep soon then I’m going to make my performance worse tomorrow!” - which of course is super unhelpful because it only makes the anxiety worse. I would LOVE to be able to say to myself, ‘It doesn’t really matter how well I sleep, it wont’ affect my performance tomorrow’. Is that actually true? For the record I’m a triathlete but do occasional half marathon and marathon runs. Thanks guys.


From what I’ve read, the night before a race isn’t as important as the days leading up to it. Most people’s performance won’t suffer much if at all after one bad night, but multiple consecutive bad nights cause a huge issue.

Here is a study for reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23855065

the TL;DR is that you might feel bad but you’ll probably perform just fine