Cycling workouts - race specific phase, on trainer or on hilly road? | 80/20 Endurance

Cycling workouts – race specific phase, on trainer or on hilly road?

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  • #11059

    I am in week 11 of Half Iron Level 2 and have a decision to make in the coming weeks on my bike training.

    My outdoor riding of choice near me is quite hilly (9W along the Hudson River for anyone who knows it.) I did several 3.75 hour rides in the fall and the route I took had about 4,000 feet of elevation gain. My Normalized Power from each of those rides was at the high end of Zone 3 – they were hard rides, and I pushed to exhaustion. I was in the Maintenance Plan and just let myself ride as hard as I could on those days, for those weeks 80/20 was not achieved, but I wasn’t training for an event seriously so less of an issue.

    As I mentioned I am in the Race Specific phase of training, and I’m not sure if it the hilliness of the race course should be a consideration in a training plan or not (it seems like it should be intuitively but I’m not the sports physiologist) – my upcoming next race is not hilly. It’s 70.3 Gulf Coast in Florida which is very flat – looks like it’s about 400 ft of elevation gain.

    So the decision, do I do:
    1. All of my long rides on my trainer and hit my zones precisely, also probably better simulate the warmer temperature I will have to deal with in Florida in May, or
    2. do I do some of the long rides on the trainer and some of the long rides out on the hilly roads, at lower temperatures, and likely blow out of the ceiling of Zone 2 on the hill ascents, but get in some bike handling experience as an added bonus (and ride with a friend – another bonus)?

    David Warden

    Ted, option 2 has gotta be the better choice. There’s a lot to be said about the quality of indoor training. There is no coasting. But, it may eventually drive you crazy and you have to get that aero position dialed in outside. Under normal conditions I’d say 50/50 inside and out, but if you are doing Florida I’d say 65/35 indoor to outdoor.

    Also, does not have to be all or nothing for a given workout. Spend an hour on the trainer, go outside for an hour, another hour on the trainer. Breaks up the monotony and you still get tons of time in aero.


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