Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

Career Highlights

4X US National Cyclo-Cross Champion
5X UCI World Champion MTB-Masters
3X World Road Team Member
1st NORBA National Mountain Bike Champion
Inducted into Mountain Bike Hall of Fame-2000


1st Hell’s Kitchen Road Race, Hogeye, AR
1st Auburn Road Race, Auburn, KS
2nd SaltyCow Road Race, Tulsa, OK*
4th Pace Bend Road Race, Austin, TX
4th Old Capitol Criterium, Iowa City, IA
4th New Cross on the Block, OKC, OK
5th Rut and Guts Cross, Broken Arrow, OK
6th Hotter’ n Hell Criterium, Wichita Falls, TX
6th Tour of Battlekill, Cambridge, NY*
6th Walburg Road Race, Walburg, TX
6th Iowa City Road Race, Iowa City, IA
6th Quad Cities Criterium, Rock Island, IL
7th Tour de Lafayette, St. Louis, MO
8th Snake Alley Criterium, Burlington, IA
8th Tour of Kansas City Overall, Kansas City, MO

It was a tremendous honor to have ridden quite a bit with Steve back in the early 80’s.  He taught me a great deal about self-discipline, but also about enjoying life.  The guy has always figured out how to earn a living as a pro cyclist, savor it, and stay motivated for a very long time.

These are a few snippets from a recent Pez Cycling Interview.  You can see the whole interview with Edmond Hood here.

PEZ: How many seasons have you been racing, Steve?
Steve Tilford: My first season was 1975 and I’ve raced every year since; that’s 35 years – it’s not normal, is it?

PEZ: Why have you never quit?
ST: I never found anything I’d like to do as much. It’s not just the racing, it’s the travel, the people you meet – I don’t want to do anything else; but if I think of something, I might try it.

PEZ: Teams – Levis, Scwinn, Vosschemie, Pepsi, Wheaties, VW, Scott, Specialized – have I missed any?
ST: No, that’s about it, but pro racing in the States isn’t like it is in Europe. The UCI introduced all that Division one, two and three stuff, but in the US we were more flexible; I could ride the US road and crit champs on my own but now the UCI enforce the teams rules. Our team, Tradewind Energy/Trek has five or six guys and we race well at the likes of Battenkill, which is a UCI race – but you get 11 or 12 local guys who somehow get $27,000 dollars together and they’ve got a UCI team. There are maybe 40 good pros in the US and 150 who make up the numbers.

PEZ: You’ve been US ‘cross champ, too.
ST: Twice as an amateur and twice as a pro; I still race ‘cross but not so much last winter because I was roofing a building. One year when I won the Nationals I lapped everyone except the silver and bronze medalists.

PEZ: Do you still ride all disciplines? – what about the track?
ST: Yes, I still ride all disciplines; I’ve ridden a bit of track too – I had the US hour record back in ’83 or ’84 until John Frey broke it. I’ve ridden the track five times in my life and four of those occasions were the track Nationals; I picked up a team pursuit silver medal with Steve Hegg one time.

PEZ: What has been your favourite part of your career?
ST: When I was on the Levis team with Andy Hampsten and Roy Knickman; when we were outside the US we got to race for la Vie Claire in races like the RCN classic in Columbia but then when they were in the US for the Coors Classic, we’d be racing against the guys we’d been team mates with. Back then there were two good teams, Levi and 7-11; and the sport is still a little like that, a few good teams and then a lot of other teams. (editor: Andy Hampsten won the Giro d’Italia in 1988)

PEZ: Do you ever ride the World masters?
ST: I’ve won the mountain bike Worlds masters five times – but that was for my sponsors; I’m not so interested in beating up on a bunch of old guys. I’d rather be tenth in pro race than win a masters – unless there was a $1,000 prize for winning the masters, of course! I ride the masters at big cross races but that’s just so I can ride the course at race speed to get the feel of it.

PEZ: Who impressed you the most during your career?
ST: Greg Lemond, by a mile; he’s the most talented natural cyclist I’ve ever encountered – he could have won the Tour de france when he was 17, I think. There were some of the most talented juniors in the world at that time; guys like Davis Phinney – but Greg was twice as good.

PEZ: How many more seasons?
ST: I dunno! maybe I’ll keep going ’til I’m 60? I have a little less snap now, my jump’s not as good but I can still sprint. The big thing you notice is that it takes you so much longer to heal – one time in the Milk Race I broke my leg, hand and collar bone and was back racing at the Coors Classic within five weeks. I’ve broken my collar bone pretty often, that heals in about three weeks – it’s broken ribs that are the worst.

I remember talking with Steve about getting stitches about a million years ago.  He said that he has a simple rule: anything below the neck he does himself.  The guy will often offer up that he no longer feels the pain, probably because he has killed so many brain cells racing that it just doesn’t register.  You gotta love the guy.  And, that Raleigh Team Pro that he is riding in the first photo…I got one just like it that I bought from Andy Hampsten for $650 when he needed gas money.  This is a Nottingham, England built with Reynolds 753 tubing masterpiece.  I love the bike.

Visit Steve’s Blog

Todd Spain, Editor


Many of us are nearing the end of our season and with that comes ‘A’ races and the taper. Tapering can be a funny thing – sometimes you feel great when tapering and sometimes you feel horrible. Neither of these scenarios  predict the outcome of your race – it’s important to let the taper do what the taper wants and not become all mental during the time. Here are a couple of different ways the taper may affect you:

You feel extremely tired and sluggish. You require more sleep and can’t believe you did the training you were able to do because doing a 30 minute run right now causes you to take a nap. You might not be able to get your heartrate very high, or conversely, you may not be able to keep your heartrate down.  This phenomenon is due primarily to your body’s inherent drive to repair & rebuild itself (on the cellular level) from the extended training period.

This period can last 5 days to 2 weeks. Some people do not really notice any major differences, while others may find themselves in a ‘fog’ for a few days. If you experience this recovery fog, take note:

•    Don’t go harder or longer to ‘push through’ it. Your body is getting you ready for the one day you really care about. Keep your effort levels appropriate.
•    Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.
•    Eat well, but don’t use this period as an excuse to over-eat.
This is only a temporary period, and you will feel great after being rebuilt stronger…faster…and ready to go on race day.

Because of underlying genetic factors related to your lifestyle, recovery habits or years of prior experience, you may feel absolutely wonderful on the taper. Don’t be fooled into doing harder/longer efforts than your coach has scheduled for you. Save it for race day! It is still important to sleep and eat well, and most importantly, tighten the reigns and hold yourself back.

Some people fall somewhere in between the above two scenarios. Don’t be surprised if you have some emotional swings during the taper (or should I say, tell your significant other not to be surprised if you have some emotional swings!)

Another common occurrence is catching a cold or mild sickness. Sometimes during these rest periods your immune system goes into rest mode, too.

Sleep and eat well.

Do you see a common thread here throughout the taper? Sleep well. Eat well. Don’t freak out. Get to that start line and GO.

Bri Gaal is a multiple USAT All-American and USA Triathlon coach.

photo borrowed from Pez Cycling

Ben King road away from the best pros in the U.S. and stole the US Pro Road Race Title.  He will be wearing the stars and stripes for the next year.

Here is his race report:

I counted myself one of the twenty odd riders who had a prayer of upsetting the cycling celebrities until I attacked in the first mile of the race. Too much coffee? Too much techno and dancing in the room with Taylor? Suicide. Scott Swisanski, Daniel Holloway, and I would bake into the asphalt and be crispy road kill when the field overcame us. We didn’t concern the peloton, and they gave us an enormous 17 minute leash. Suicide attacks have value in a team dynamic. When a select few caught us from behind, I could help Phinney- my only TLS teammate- or one of the RadioShack guys. My job was to delay that catch as long as possible. That’s why on the third of four times up Paris Mt. I left Swiz and Holloway. I felt guilty for violating the unspoken early breakaway code- stick together as long as possible- but our time gap had fallen five minutes to 12 minute in one lap. Those were my minutes, and I hated watching the field take them back. My style is to go out with a bang. Fight to the death. People on course seemed to think I could win, but they don’t know how these things work. With 50 miles to go, I would get caught. Regardless, I tried to match their energy on my bike. Each lap they cheered harder, more shirts came off, people holding “Go King!” signs for Ted King ( began shouting “Ben King.” I took a beer feed from a fan the third time up Paris Mt.- I’m trying to steel Lance’s Michelob sponsorship- and the next lap they had a keg for me which I ignored.

Alone there is less to think about. Solo, there is no second place. You either win, or you don’t. At the top of the climb I had 9 minutes. I paced myself like a marathoner to certain check points. I told myself, “try to make it to the start finish again.” Announcer, Dave Towle, stirred the crowd into a frenzy. At sign-in before the race he asked me if I could make the selection. I said, “Either that, or do something crazy.” My coach told me to be patient. Then he told me, “everything you do is a time trial.” These thoughts and the people behind them brewed in my head. My dad and sister, Hannah, on course. Keep it going for them. I prayed and thought, “God must have something to do with the situation I’m in.” Keep it going for Him. At the base of Paris Mt. for the last time, I lost only one minute to the chasing pack. At the top of the climb, the gap was 6:25. Is that enough? I tried to do the math, but my brain stalled. My legs began to cramp. I tasted salty. I focused everything on turning over the pedals. Four cruel four mile circuits around the start finish waited. I labored onto the first circuit with just over three minutes advantage. Like a marathoner, I had paced myself to these circuits with nothing left to complete them. My legs cramped. I disintegrated in front of 80,000 people. The road blurred. My hearing blurred. Lactic acid filled in for the oxygen I needed. People leaned over the barriers and yowled with enough passion that veins bulged in their beet red necks and foreheads. It was a glorious nightmare.

Three more laps. Half an hour in the fire. Quitting never occurred to me, but I feared a loss of consciousness. Then the RadioShack team car pulled alongside me. They saw my agony. From the exhilaration in their voices, I know they wanted to pedal for me. The intensity of the pain felt unjustifiable. Jose Asevedo, the director, talked me through it. “They take thirty seconds from you per lap. You start the last lap with two minutes and you win.” Sports physiologist, Allen Lim, rode shotgun hyping me up. “You deserve this. This is for the jersey. Its yours. You’re making history. This is history!” History sounded pretty important to me at the time, and I visualized this moment as history to remove myself from it. I rounded into the finishing straight with 500 m to go, zipped up my jersey, and put my hands over my head.

It’s never been about winning for me. I said in my L’Avenir blog that I don’t do it for love of the sport. Its about the people. Reporters called this “the most inspiring human drama” they’ve ever seen in cycling. It didn’t start so inspired, and I think part of the reason it was inspiring is that I interacted with the fans throughout the race. When I won, we won. We did it.

Instory LabToo often, athletes show up late to a group workout and just jump in on the fast swimming, running or riding with no warm-up. Others are pinched for time, trying to squeeze a workout into a busy schedule, so they skip the warm-up figuring the main set of the workout is more important anyway.

Is a warm-up really necessary? What constitutes a “good” warm-up?

Enhanced Performance

A warm-up activity serves two major purposes—to enhance performance and prevent injury. Consequently, a warm-up is both physical and mental.

Relaxed, sitting in your chair and reading this column produces a relatively low 15- to 20-percent of blood flow to your skeletal muscles. Most of the small blood vessels (capillaries) within those muscles are closed. After 10 to 12 minutes of total body exercise, blood flow to the skeletal muscles increases to some 70 to 75 percent and the capillaries open.

Along with more blood flow comes an increase in muscle temperature. This is good because the hemoglobin in your blood releases oxygen more readily at a higher temperature. More blood going to the muscles, along with more oxygen available to the working muscles, means better performance.

An increase in temperature also contributes to faster muscle contraction and relaxation. Nerve transmission and muscle metabolism is increased, so the muscles work more efficiently.

Injury Prevention

Scientific studies on linking warming up with injury prevention are difficult to administer. Few athletes want to go through a muscle stress test to see what it takes to tear a muscle.

Old studies on animal subjects determined that injuring a muscle that has gone through a warm-up process required more force and more muscle length than a muscle with no warm-up. This study is in line with the anecdotal data that acute muscle tears occur more often when the muscles are cold or not warmed up.

There have been human studies on sudden, high-intensity exercise and the effects on the heart. One particular study had 44 men (free of overt symptoms of coronary artery disease) run on a treadmill at high intensity for 10 to 15 seconds without any warm-up. Electrocardiogram (ECG) data showed that 70 percent of the subjects displayed abnormal ECG changes that were attributed to low blood supply to the heart muscle. Yikes!

The abnormal changes were not related to age or fitness level.

To examine the benefit of a warm-up, 22 of the men with abnormal results did a jog-in-place at a moderate intensity for two minutes before getting on the treadmill for another test of high-intensity running. With that small two-minute warm-up, 10 of the men now showed normal ECG tracings and 10 showed improved tracings. Only two of the subjects still showed significant abnormalities.

It is not known if a more thorough warm-up of 10 to 20 minutes would have made more improvements. It would have been interesting to see the results if the scientists would have taken the experiment that additional step.

Mental Preparation

Part of a warm-up process includes getting your head ready for the upcoming activity. Mentally preparing for the upcoming workout, or event, is thought to improve technique, skill and coordination.

This mental warm-up also prepares athletes for the discomfort of tough intervals or a race. If the mind is ready to endure discomfort, the body can produce higher speeds. If the mind is unwilling to endure discomfort, physical performance will certainly be limited.

How Much Should I Warm Up?

There is no hard evidence as to how much warm-up is needed before a workout or a race. Most recommendations are in the 10- to 20-minute range, though some athletes have found they need more warm-up time.

Athletes with high levels of fitness typically need longer warm-up periods before doing high-intensity workouts or short races. Athletes with lower levels of fitness usually use a shorter warm-up time. However, athletes with low fitness levels also tend to produce lower speeds during workouts and races.

Athletes with dormant speed and currently low fitness levels need to be particularly cautious with workout and race intensities in order to minimize injury risk. This means if you were once fast, but you’re now out of shape, be patient with building your speed and fitness.

A general recommendation for warming up is to begin with low-intensity swimming, cycling or running. Keep it mostly aerobic or Zone 1 intensity at the beginning of the warm-up. Gradually increase intensity as you progress through the warm-up period. You can include short segments of gradually increasing intensity in the 30- to 60-second range, with long rest intervals as you get closer to the high-intensity segment of your workout.

In order to perform at your best and minimize the risk of hurting yourself, take time for an adequate warm-up.

Gale Bernhardt was the 2003 USA Triathlon Pan American Games and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic coach for both the men’s and women’s teams. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale’s pre-built, easy-to-follow training plans. For more information, click here. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

This article originally appeared on — your source for event information, training plans, expert advice, and everything you need to connect with the sport you love.


  1. Noakes, Lore of Running, Oxford University Press, 2003, pp. 773-774.
  2. McArdle, Katch, Katch, Exercise Physiology, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2001, pp. 574-575.
  3. Safran, et al, “Warm-up and muscular injury prevention. An update.”, Sports Med. 1989 Oct;8(4):239-49.
  4. Safran, et al, “The role of warmup in muscular injury prevention”, Am J Sports Med, 1988 Mar-Apr;16(2):123-9.
  5. Shephard & Astrand, Endurance in Sport, Blackwell Science Ltd, 2000, International Olympic Committee, pp. 474-475.


There is no suspense here – I really like the Zipp 303 tubular wheels.

If you try these you will have to have them.  The cool factor is very high, but comes at a fairly hefty price of $2,300 for the pair. However, these are perhaps the most versatile combination in Zipp’s arsenal.  They are light, responsive, climb well, accelerate rapidly, and are very durable.  You can ride them as the perfect training wheel on your road bike, race them on your time trial bike in any conditions, and outclass your competitors at cyclocross in the winter.  If I had the chance to buy just one super nice tubular wheelset, for all the types of riding, this would be my top choice.

The 303’s are similar to the rest of Zipp’s portfolio. They are laced with 18 radial front and 24 radial/1-cross rear SAPIM CX-Ray bladed spokes. External nipples make truing easy. The hubset is Zipp’s 88/188 combo, featuring fat, 17mm aluminum axles and threaded endcaps for easy bearing interface adjustment. These guys weigh in at only 1171 grams per pair.  This is light.

In total, I have ridden approximately 300 miles on these wheels over the spring and summer with Vittoria Corsa Evo KS tubulars. I used the 21mm, 290tpi with the puncture resistant belt.

The 303’s were installed on my road bike for the Paris Mountain Triathlon in the spring.  This course featured a 2.7 mile climb that is quite steep, while the rest of the course is hilly.  The Zipp 303’s are an ideal choice here as they climb very well and are far more aerodynamic than an ordinary lightweight climbing wheel.  They also made their way onto my time trial bike for several of the fast group rides.

Here is what I like:

They feel light and are fun to ride, especially when climbing and sprinting.

Acceleration is tremendous as the rear does not “load up”.  With many lightweight wheels, the applied rotational torque rotates the hub faster than the rim and you can actually feel this load as a softness or sluggishness in the rear until the rim catches up.

Zipp does not compromise on aerodynamics.  The 303’s have much less side/crosswind deflection to the point where there is no reason to consider potential crosswind when choosing wheels for the day.

These guys are solid.  It feels like they could handle the worst spring pothole riddled roadway.  The 303’s have stayed exceptionally true and require very little maintenance.

Since campy record hubs in the 70’s and 80’s, I have not been impressed with any hub for smoothness.  However, Zipp has built a seriously good hub.   They are  s a m o o o o t h.

They look sexy and fast.  The cool factor is seriously high.

Not as crazy about:

The price – they ain’t cheap, nor is there any compromise on quality.

The rear wheel is not as stiff as several other wheels I have ridden.  This would translate well, I believe, to comfort on long rides, but will zap a bit of efficiency along the way.

Switching back and forth with other wheels requires a bit of a rear brake adjustment, unless you are willing to run your rear brake just a tad loose.


I seriously like the Zipp 303’s.  They are light, snappy, and super comfortable. They’d make an outstanding one-wheelset solution for someone doing road racing, triathlons and cyclocross.  They are a bit pricey, but have fantastic all-around characteristics and are impressively versatile.

Related Videos:

How to install a tubular tire Part I

How to install a tubular tire Part II

Swim  Bike  Run  Passion

Stickers on our cars and, now, our clothing reflect who we are, where have been and where we are going.  Check out the DELTA Oval Sticker Tee available now at Inside-Out Sports in Cary and Charlotte or buy online.

The idea is that, using a sharpie, you check off each event you have completed – from a 5K to Century Ride to Ironman.  Take pride in what you have accomplished.

This 100% Cotton Tee was expertly printed by Progressive Graphics.  It comes in light blue and light yellow and is available in Unisex Sizes XS-XL.

Proceeds help fund clinics and events for multisport athletes.

October 2, 2010
Group Ride from TrySports Raleigh to TrySports Wilmington.

Start: TrySports Raleigh
Finish: TrySports Wilmington
Distance: 150 miles

Your response has been great for our ride and we have finalized the date for October 2nd. This is going to be a fully supported ride with stops at miles 50, 100 and at the finish. If you have questions please email JP at

Preregistration Here>>

Schedule of Events

Category Distance Start Time # of Laps Prizes/Places Entry Fee Field Limit
Pro 1,2 66 miles 8:00 7 $500/7 $25 100
Master 45+/35+ 58 miles 8:10 6 $300/5* $20 100
Women Open 49 miles 8:20 5 $300/5 $20 100
Cat 3 49 miles 12:00 5 $250/5 $20 100
Cat 4/5 33 Miles 12:20 3 $200/5 $20 100

* Masters 45+ and 35+ will be raced together but scored separately, five places each field paying $300 each.

UPDATE: Masters 45+ moved from 12:10 to 8:10. Stay out of the heat!

Course:  All categories will start at the Apex Elementary school on Tingen Rd. Loop starts about 3 miles from start. Each loop is a 8.65-miles of rolling hills. Course has a lot of small climbs. Finishing stretch is 2 miles of fairly flat run in.

Directions:  GPS address: 700 Tingen Road, Apex, NC 27502. (see it on the map>>)

Take Hwy 1 and take 95 exit towards Apex. Left on Salem street. Left on Tingen. After railroad tracks school is on the right side.

Below is a link to view the streets of the course.

The ability to cycle fast is a result of several components: Strength and core strength, bike fit, specific muscular endurance, general stamina, and fast-twitch/slow-twitch crossover neuromuscular training. These are listed in this order because these are what I feel to be the order of importance.

Note: The info here may be useful for pure cyclists, but it is written with time-trialing in mind (ed. e.g. triathlon), not pack riding and furious sprint finishes.

Click here for a brief explanation of training zones.

First, let’s define what ‘cycling fast’ is in a triathlon. For purposes of this article, cycling fast will be your current top speed for a seated 1 minute sprint minus 5-7 miles an hour for sprint distance triathlons (~85-90%), minus 7-9 miles an hour for Olympic distance triathlons (~80-85%), or minus 10-12 miles an hour for half-IM and above (~70%).

Why do I choose these values? So you’ll have some general guidance on what sort of speed you should be able to maintain for those particular distances. These can be considered baseline levels – for shorter races you will race more in or near your anaerobic zone, and for longer races you will want to stay in your aerobic zone. These values are also approximately where I find myself at the races. I can hold about 33-34 mph for a seated 1-minute sprint and can hold 27-29 mph in a 10-mile sprint, 25-26 mph in an OD, and 23 or so in IM.

Now, you may not be able to hold these speeds. Not yet, anyway. This is what I’m going to try to help you learn to do. This article will provide you with some strategies that may help you get there.

Strength and power – For this article we are going to talk about strength as it relates to cycling. So we’re talking about your legs and how much force you can apply to the pedals. We’re also talking about how strong your supporting muscles are – your torso, abs, back, and glutes. They all have an effect on how big a gear you can push.

To get strong in cycling, the simplest solution is to ride a lot. Lots of easy mileage. The more mileage you can put in, the better off you will be. Granted, don’t go nuts and put in 400 mile weeks if you have a job and want to keep your sanity. But 200-250 will go a long way.

That being said, maybe that’s too much for you because of time constraints. Other ways to build strength for the ride include weight training. I like to think that standing squats or seated leg press are the most all encompassing strength building leg exercises you can do. This winter my plan is to hit the gym 2 times a week and do several sets of leg press and squats. Calf raises can also take you a long way. Leg extensions and leg curls will help, but are not as crucial for cycling.

To support those muscles, it’s a good idea to throw in some hip abductor exercises and lots of core work. Core work is as simple as doing sit-ups and crunches, but you can use the exercise ball to roll around and put all sorts of resistance on hard to strengthen places. Hip abductors are harder to work but leg lifts are one method. Some gyms have specific machines for this.

Hill riding is next on my list after sheer mileage. If you can find a gradual climb that doesn’t force you to shoot through your (2nd) lactate threshold (LT – the point where lactate has built up so much that you eventually need to stop or slow dramatically – gasping for air, burning legs) and allows you to stay smooth and in your aerobic zone (your Z2) or the lower end of your anaerobic zone (Z3), do it. Warm up and then do repeated climbs on this hill. Will make you strong like Conan.

Another, less optimal solution, concerns fixed gear riding or big-gear push. Essentially, put your chain ring in your 2nd or 3rd largest big gear, then ride at a moderate, aerobic pace in this gear. This will help you ‘recruit’ more muscles than spinning. However, this is harder on all your joints and should be done intelligently. One time every two weeks for 30 minutes (after a warm up) is a good starting point.

Bike Fit – it’s hard to describe proper fit in an article without lots of illustrations, and my technical illustrator is on vacation. This will make you more comfortable and better able to direct all your power to moving forward.  Check out the bike fit video.

Specific endurance – Being strong alone is not going to get you to the finish line. You need to be able to maintain that power for a certain duration. Again, the simplest and most effective method to do this is saddle time. Ride lots of easy miles and some specific quality miles.

This is where interval training and build workouts come in. Just riding will increase your cycling endurance, while intervals will increase your ability to output higher levels of power for longer durations. They will help lengthen the amount of time you can maintain a certain power output if done in a gradual and honest matter. By that I mean that you need to be honest with the effort you put into an interval. Too much and you’re not increasing your aerobic capacity – you’re probably well into your anaerobic system approaching or beyond your lactate threshold, which is a completely different sort of training. Too little and you’re just getting general aerobic training but nothing that will help increase your power.

Confused? It is a little more complex than just “go hard or go home.” Here’s a sample workout that will, over time, increase your cycling specific endurance (this is geared more towards short races):

20 min warm up
5 x 3 minutes
1 minute high Z2
1 minute Z3
1 minute Z5a
take 2-3 minutes of spinning between each interval
15 minute cool down
Z2 here is aerobic threshold (AeT) or VT1, Z4 is ‘sub-lactate threshold’ while Z5a is ‘over- lactate threshold.’ Z5b is around V02max pace.

If you do this once a week, after a few weeks you should notice that you’re not as tired at the end of each interval. That’s because your specific endurance has increased. You can then lengthen the intervals:

20 min warm up
5 x 5 minutes
1 minute Z2
2 minutes high Z2-Z3
1 minute Z4
1 minute Z5b
take 3-5 minutes of spinning between each
15-20 min cool down
These are both ‘build’ intervals, in that you progress through effort levels during the interval itself. Other intervals include only one level of effort, for example:

5 x 2 minutes at Z5a-b with 1 minute spin between.
That sort of short recovery, high intensity workout is designed to 1) methodically increase your LT (this can be pushed out slowly and slightly over time), and 2) better equip your body to recover from high intensity (efficiency of lactate removal, buffering capacity (ability to withstand lactate buildup) and HR recovery). You would want to finish each of these intervals panting – but not gasping. Gasping means you are in a Z5b-c area that, in my opinion, most triathletes can ignore 95% of the time. You’re not training for a 200m swim or 400 meter run.

In my book, build workouts are for longer training days and include longer intervals at certain effort levels. These are useful for sprint triathletes as they will also aid in increasing the body’s ability to recover from higher intensity sessions. These are crucial to long distance athletes for half-IM and IM. A sample is:

30 min warm up
10min Z1
10min high Z2
5 to 10min Z4-5a (cross back and forth)
repeat 3-6 times, then cool down 20 minutes.
An even longer build is:
30 min Z1
30 min Z2
15 to 30 min Z3-Z4
repeat 2-3 times and cool down.
Touching on your Z5a (somewhat interchangeable with your ‘anaerobic threshold) in a workout like this will help you to push the limits of your aerobic zone (your high Z2) outwards – increasing your LT.

To refresh your memory, in your aerobic zone you will be producing less lactic acid than you can remove, thus you will not hit your LT. In the anaerobic zone you will produce more than you can remove, and will eventually move beyond your LT if you don’t stop.

The longer workouts described above are designed to increase the upper range of your aerobic zone as well as speed up your lactate removal (recovery) system, while the shorter workouts are designed to increase the amount of time you can remain in your anaerobic zone without hitting your LT as well as increasing your lactate removal (recovery) system. Make sense now?

See, given enough time and training, you can train your body to 1. be able to remain in your anaerobic zone for a long time, and 2. push your lactate threshold out so you don’t have to enter it. I race all the sprints just under or just beyond my lactate threshold (Z4/5a or HR of 160-180, sometimes higher). My goal is to get to the finish line before I move beyond my LT. If you see me puking on the side of the road with a mile to go, I didn’t quite make it! You can also train your body to remain in your aerobic zone (Z2) nearly indefinitely. You’ll get tired and hungry before you have to stop for sleep.

Edit: On a sidebar, there are two LT points. The first you can exercise at and beyond for a while, depending on your ability to withstand lactic acid buildup and your ability to remove that lactic acid. This is Helleman’s aerobic threshold, VT1, or Byrn’s aerobic endurance threshold (AeT). The 2nd point results in another dramatic increase in lactate production from which you won’t recover very quickly. This is the point you want to avoid in races!

The ideal in all triathlon distances is to be able to increase your aerobic zone so massively that you race exclusively in that zone and only go anaerobic for exceptional reasons. But, we’re talking about Mark Allen type ability – a HR of 155 that is exclusively ‘aerobic.’ Those of you with more slow twitch than fast twitch muscle are better designed to do this. That doesn’t leave the fast twitch athletes out, as you too can train your muscles to keep going for exceptional periods of time.

General stamina – all forms of exercise will increase your general stamina. Walking, swimming, running, picking flowers, and thinking real hard. Good stuff. It’s called adaptation. What this whole article is about.

Fast-twitch – what’s all this about fast twitch? Simply put, fast twitch muscle fibers are fibers that are capable of rapid fire responses for shorter amounts of time. You can ‘recruit’ these muscles for longer events by doing low intensity sprints – like 1-minute intervals on the bike (your Z4 as opposed to 20 seconds all out or Z5c) followed by short amounts of rest. Doing so ideally will blur the line between your fast and slow twitch muscles on the upper end and enable you to:

increase your LT point
sprint at the finish line
push your Z4/5a outwards.
In other words, training fast and adapting to training fast will help you to race fast.

Check out the many other cycling topics in the DELTA Triathlon Content Library.

Now that you’ve read this check out a discussion of brick workouts.