Wednesday, August 28, 2019

How hard should you push on the bike?

Q: How hard should I push on the bike to have a good run?

A: This depends on several things & I wish I could give a straight answer but it's a little messier than that.

Ask these questions: 
If you want the best outcomes, 

it's a great idea to have a clear strategy.
1) Is this my A race & how long is it? 
2) How did I train on the bike for this? 
3) Is this ride going well, are there ideal conditions? 
4) Check how hard your cardio system is working (HR/RPE) & how much muscle you're recruiting (are they burning/feeling fatigued). 

You can see why I'm always saying stay focused - there's a lot to check in on!

If this is your A race, you have ideal conditions & are feeling as you hope to, you can go as hard as you trained for on the bike. This means you should be training at a specific level during the intensity & (some) brick sessions. 

In training for your A race your goal is faster speed, which means you're going to probably be working in a slightly higher gear than steady state. This will increase HR & muscle recruitment (ultimately the higher gear will be your steady state once you've adapted which will help for longer rides & races). In training you'll find out how that affects your run, and if you can sustain this & complete the run with little effect or if you have to gear up/down to ensure the run isn't highly affected (on a training brick or practice triathlon). OR you may find that you can only increase your gears & push on bike only sessions to slowly adapt over time. Most likely you'll need to do intervals of harder/steady state gear as you progress.

So you need to do some training focusing on this. Some training (your "key intensity" sessions) will be done in this more powerful gear - how hard can you go out? Pay attention as you ride & push yourself. 

On bike only sessions you can work very hard without worrying about the run. I recommend checking these things: Is this harder gear making my speed faster enough to accept the harder intensity I'm feeling? Sometimes I've found the answer to be no, if for example my speed ups by .5mph but my HR goes above sustainable. Sometimes yes it definitely does make sense to be in the harder gear, even though I know I can't sustain the duration. My speed is much faster & makes sense to push for it. 
It also depends on the race distance

Always check in. If you're not sure, try something and see what happens - in training.

Some brick intensity sessions are good as trials - push your bike & ask yourself "am I recruiting too much leg muscle (burning & tired legs) for the allotted run distance after this?" If you're not sure - try pushing & see what happens. You can learn a lot from a tough run. Then ask "how can I do this better?"

It also depends on the race distance the intensity you'll ride and run. A sprint distance race you can ride in Z4 but remember that on race day you'll want it to be more cardio/less muscular so that harder gear you've been pushing in may or may not be the right one. That will depend on your adaption to it, and how much muscle is actually being recruited. One way to know (other than feeling it) is cadence. Riding around a 90rpm is your best bet for proper muscle recruitment. Mashing the pedals uses too much muscle and will ruin your run.

An Olympic distance race you'll want to have a lower HR. Z3, good option.
IRONMAN 70.3 & IRONMAN distances you'll need to stay in Z2 as much as possible.

If this is not your A race, things will be different. You may not want to push as hard as you can simply because it's not logical. It could affect your A race because it takes longer to recover, thus affecting crucial training sessions. This is something you can discuss individually with your coach. 

Remember: If you want the best outcomes it's a great idea to have a clear strategy.

Keep in mind the bike highly affects the run BUT pacing the run plays a big factor. If you start out too fast it's hard to gain control. So on those brick sessions practice this like crazy.

Ready to start working with a coach? We've got you covered. Living in Hawaii or anywhere in the world, we can help!