Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Last Pacing Post

Even though pacing is one of my favorite topics - as you can undoubtedly tell from my long string of posts on this subject - I promise that this is my last for some time. I want to share with you an interval workout that is great not only for improving your ability to negative split but also for building muscular endurance. ME is the key ability for steady state racing such as time trials, triathlons, and running road races. It should be the a primary focus of your training for such events during the Build training period.

Here is the bicycle version. It requires a power meter. A heart rate monitor simply won't work for this kind of session as it is not sensitive enough to give you good data about pacing.

1. After warm-up do a 10-minute work interval at just below functional threshold power (FTP). This is roughly the equivalent of your lactate or anaerobic threshold power. If you have done my CP30 self-test or know your actual CP60 from a race then that is what you would use for a power level on this first interval. So if your FTP (or self-test CP30 or CP60 or AT/LT power) is 250 watts try to make this first one 245-249w. You may find it very difficult to do this if you are not good at pacing. Watch your power meter very closely.

2. Recover for 2 minutes by spinning easily. Check your average power for the first interval.

3. Do an 8-minute work interval at a slightly higher power than the first. So let's say you averaged 248w on #1. For#2 try to average 250w.

4. Recover for 2 minutes and again check your average power for interval #2.

5. If the average power on #2 was higher than for #1 then repeat the 8-minute interval. If the power for #2 was lower than for #1 subtract 2 minutes and make this a 6-minute interval. Again, try to beat the power of the previous interval, but only slightly.

6. Recover 2 minutes and check power for the third interval the same as before.

7. If the power for #3 was higher than for #2 repeat the same duration as #3. If it was less subtract 2 minutes.

8. Recover. Check previous interval power.

9. Continue with this same process until your interval becomes 4 minutes. This is the last one regardless of what happens.

If you are poor at pacing your intervals will go 10-8-6-4 and you're done. 28 minutes of FTP work. That's a good session so your ME should be nicely challenged. But you also know you need to focus on pacing. The fact that you are fading as the workout progresses gives you a good idea of what also happens in a race. Learn to hold back at the start and you will maintain a much higher average power and produce a faster race.

If you are good at pacing (and have your FTP correct) then the work intervals may have totaled 36 or more minutes. That's excellent.

This same workout may be done running using a pacing device or on a track with a stopwatch but reduce the subsequent work intervals by 3 minutes. So the intervals may go something like this: 10-7-4 (21 minutes total) or 10-7-7-4 (28 minutes).

I guarantee you that this workout will improve your pacing ability and your ME fitness if done once a week throughout the Build period.

OK, that's my last negative splits/pacing post for a while. I promise.


At May 20, 2008 7:57 AM , Anonymous Rick Kiley - www.gThankYou.com said...


Many thanks for an informative series of posts.

For the run-equivalent workout, what do you suggest as the change of the pace between intervals?

How about for swimming in a 1000-yard time trial?


At May 20, 2008 9:44 AM , Blogger Dave said...

Joe... I don't have a power meter. Any recommendations on how to to this using perceived effort?

At May 20, 2008 7:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe - really enjoying your blog. I do some of my bike training on a CT - for the intervals you describe, is there value in setting up an ERG file that forces progressively higher power level for each of the intervals described? Or is it better to use the CT in 3D mode and try to manage power on your own?

Steve in San Diego

At May 21, 2008 12:28 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Rick--The idea is to run at about FTP (functional threshold pace) on each interval and beat the previous by a few seconds/mile/km on each subsequent one. So the pace would get slightly faster on each one. A run workout like this is best done on a track or flat road course.

A swim TT should be done the same as any other sport TT--slightly faster in the second half than the first.

At May 21, 2008 12:35 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Dave--No power meter! Shame on you. :)

It's hard to gauge this by RPE but not impossible. Realize that RPE will increase on each due to fatigue even if you are going slower. The better option would be a standard course that you ride using a stop watch on each interval. Each one should get slightly faster. Of course, this assumes that wind doesn't change.

At May 21, 2008 12:36 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Anon--You need to learn this skill on your own so you can apply it in a race where only you control the pace.

At May 21, 2008 2:10 PM , Blogger Dave said...

Joe.. I ride too many different bikes (road, fixed-gear commuter, MTB) to outfit them all with power meters. And I'm cheap. :)

Your suggestion about RPE and a timed course is a good one. I'll have to identify some loops and time them.

I really loved the series. It's something that in the past, I've neglected pacing to a certain extent and this series of posts is invaluable advice to my coming season.

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