Home > Bike

Three Key Bike Sessions and When to Use Them

Coaching tips from Tim Delss of AJ Baucco Coaching

When it comes to training for a triathlon, we are all trying to find a way to balance training with work, our personal lives, and a variety of other obligations.  Adding these workouts to your training plan, at the appropriate time, will allow you to build speed and endurance while still maintaining a healthy life balance.

Long Easy Ride:  Whether you are training for a short course or long course triathlon, your endurance will determine how you perform on race day. Long rides are typically aerobic, which allows you to build muscular endurance while reducing the risk of injury. These rides are an integral part of your training throughout the entire season. Because time is often a restraint here, these rides are typically executed on the weekend. Pro Tip: If you don’t have time to do a traditional long ride, try splitting the ride into two parts (2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening). For some people, that is the only way to get 4 hours of riding done in one day. If you struggle to get longer rides in, stick to the trainer. You can prepare for your ride in much less time and riding the trainer cuts down on time spent at stop lights, etc. Typically speaking, a 3-hour trainer ride is equivalent to 4 hours spent riding outside.

Race Specific Ride: The effort and duration of these rides should be based on the distance you plan on racing. Always make sure that you warm up beforehand to reduce your risk of injury and maximize your performance. These workouts can be done once, maybe twice, per week, and are much more necessary as race day gets closer. Pro Tip: It is best to increase the duration of the main set as you get closer to your taper. If you are racing longer distances, like 90km, your main set may look like 3 x 30min at or near race pace. If you are racing shorts distances, like 40km, your main set may look like 3 x 15min at or above race pace. The higher the intensity, the more rest you should take.

  • Example:

20 minute warm up. Include a few shorts pickups, 30-60 seconds long, building slowly and hitting race effort for the last 15 seconds.

3 x 10 minute at race effort with 10-minute recovery. Keep the recovery easy so that you can nail the intervals.

10-minute easy cooldown

Strength/Power Ride:  Doing workouts above your threshold goes a long way toward muscular development and adaptation, translating to faster riding race day. These types of rides are typically done after your “base building” training phase but before your “race-specific” training phase. These are often done at lower cadences to force full muscular recruitment. Pro Tip: If you struggle to get your HR above your threshold while riding at a lower cadence, try riding at a cadence that is just a little bit lower than your regular cadence. You can make it a goal to decrease cadence each time you do this session, as long as you are still able to get your HR up. If riding outside, this type of strength workout is much easier to execute on a climb!

  • Example:

30 minute warm up

5 x 1-minute building to a tempo effort (harder than aerobic, but not quite near your threshold) with 1-minute recovery.

10 x 1 minute HARD at 70 RPM with 1-minute recovery at 90-100 RPM.

20-minute easy cooldown

It is important to remember that each of these workouts has a specific purpose and is best executed during a specific time in your training cycle. If you are curious when you would get the most out of these workouts, consult with your coach, reach out to a trusted training partner, or email us at AJ Baucco Coaching. We are always glad to help!

Tim Delss, Owner and Head Coach of CB Multisport, coach at AJ Baucco Coaching, president of Mid Maryland Triathlon Club, an IRONMAN Certified Coach and an International Mountain Bicycling Association Instructor.