This time of year triggers an avalanche of quick fix training programs guaranteed IN JUST 10 DAYS! to GAIN SPEED!, LOSE WEIGHT! and SLAY DRAGONS! A prominent admonition this year seems to focus on the concept of avoiding "dead" miles, i.e., pedaling miles that are too easy for aerobic or strength training, but too hard for base building or recovery. In general, this concept advocates a high percentage of miles be very easy and a low percentage of miles be off-the-charts hard. Everything in between has no beneficial training effect and are "dead" miles to be avoided at all cost.
Maybe this resonates with those having the goal of optimizing every riding moment for optimal training effect. If your paycheck or your ego depends on your relative placing in races, then perhaps you should ride only boringly slow or lung-burstingly fast. If there's no margin for error, maybe every riding moment must contribute to a specific training benefit. I don't know. I'll leave that to the professionals.
|Just riding along on some favorite M-Hill trails in the heart of Rapid City.|
(photo by Chani Groseth, CapturedMomentsByChani.com)
I understand that a structured plan with high intensity workouts produces results. By following a variety of such plans over the years, I have experienced the speed and endurance gains from high intensity training. However, these days I choose not to rigorously structure my riding to specific training. I just ride.
That does not mean my week is without structure. For base building and recovery, I commute every day by bike, year around, which is about 25-30 minutes each way or almost 5 hours a week. That quietly adds up to about 2,500 miles a year. I don't feel compelled to add more base building/recovery rides during the limited ride times on nights and weekends.
For high intensity training, I now run. In late 2017, I started running again after a very long hiatus. For the past 68 weeks, I have run three times a week, with increasingly harder and longer efforts. By now, I'm at Tuesday early morning short intervals (4x3min, 3 miles total), Thursday early morning threshold (1x20min, 3 miles total) and Sunday morning trails (1 hour up and around M-Hill). The key for me is consistent effort over time. I am gradually getting lighter and faster, both running and riding, as a direct result of incorporating these short runs into my week. They also free up the rest of my nights and weekends to find someplace fun to ride.
So, I bike commute for base building/recovery, run for training and ride nights/weekends for fun.
No "dead" miles for me.