Improve Your Power
With the advent of affordable and accurate power meters, wattage is all the rage.
that power before failing to make the split. If you survived the first split but fell off the pace in the second or even third surge, then you need to be looking at the repeatability of the efforts as well as the sustainable power required in each effort.
Increasing Maximum Sustainable Power
In order to increase the sustainable power you can produce as well as your ability to repeat those efforts, you first need to identify your lactate threshold (LT) power. This can be obtained through laboratory testing or through a couple, 3-mile time trial efforts. Most experienced cyclists can complete a 3 mile time trial at an average power that’s about 10% above their lactate threshold power.
Once establishing your LT power you’re ready to get to work. The majority of training time should be focused on increasing the sustainable power (LT power). Fortunately, intervals at or slightly below your LT power are relatively easy to complete when compared to max intensity work. The initial goal should be to increase the time spent in your LT power zone through the completion of multiple intervals (3-4) intervals. Depending on your fitness, a couple sets might be necessary to increase the total time spent on LT work. For less experienced riders, LT work might need to start out at 8-10 min efforts before progressing into the longer duration 15-20 minute efforts. The goal is to accumulate more work time, partitioned into longer work intervals and as a result, increase your sustainable power (LT power). That is if proper structure and rest is incorporated allowing the body to recover, adapt, and overcompensate.
Developing High-Intensity Repeatable Power
After improving your sustainable power to the point where the splits are the ‘make it’ rather than the ‘break it’ point of your ride, it’s time to look at the finish line. If a bunch sprint isn’t your cup of tea, then it might be best to thin out the pack a bit or establish yourself and a few choice riders into a breakaway before approaching the line. This is where you’re going to need to be able to generate repeatable power at a level much higher than your LT training has prepared you for. This is where max intensity VO2 work comes into play.
In order to provide enough stimuli for VO2 adaptation to occur, a max effort is required during every VO2 interval, but that max effort needs to be tailored accordingly. Max intensity workouts of equal interval duration and rest (1:1 ratio), allowing for a relatively full recovery will successfully increase VO2 max power. Interval and rest durations of 3-5 min should be sufficient in length. Workouts weighted more heavily on the interval side (compared to the rest side), will improve the repeatability of maximal efforts and the tolerance of high levels of lactic acid for the repeated efforts you might find necessary to establish a favorable break.
Finish it Off Right
If you’re breakaway attempts are either unsuccessful or if you’re the type of rider who would rather save your efforts for the finish