Muscular Endurance budgeting

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  • #46437

    Over the last few months I’ve been following the training philosophy mentioned in TftUA and have put in decent time in to maximise my aerobic base for my cycling and have seen pleasant results with my Z2 becoming more capable. I have an ultra-endurance hill climb race which I am interested to participate which involves climbing a total of 4000m across 4 different climbs in a day. I’d like to put my current fitness to test and inject a dose of Muscular Endurance over my current aerobic fitness and see how I fare and get some experience out of this. My question is regarding periodising this ME block most effectively.

    Now, I am fairly new to ME workouts. Hence I chose to spread this across 12 weeks leading up to the race instead of the recommended 8 weeks. I will be doing the ME workouts on a hill with very similar gradient to that of the race and instead of adding weight I’ll be pushing heavy gears at around 55-60rpm and the idea is to accumulate increasing % of vertical gains in these ME workouts with the last one being around 80% of the target (ie 3200m in my last ME session). Does that make sense?

    Now as to progression of these ME sessions, I did stumble upon posts on the forum and in the book that you want to start with half of your target total vertical but I believe that was for the biggest gain of a multi day race. Since my race involves just one big day and I will be doing this for the first time, I am planning to start the first ME session targeting 20% of total race elevation gain and the last session covering 80%. Sounds fine?

    Here’s my breakdown for the 12 ME sessions:

    ME #1 – 20% of total race vertical
    ME #2 – 30%
    ME #3 – 40%
    ME 4(Recovery week) – 20%(half of the 3rd week)

    ME 5 – 40%
    ME 6 – 50%
    ME 7 – 60%
    Recovery week – 30%

    ME 9 – 60%
    ME 10 – 70%
    ME 11 – 80%
    Recovery week – 50%; with the event on the following weekend

    Is the rationale behind this progression correct? Ideally I’d have wanted to go for a steady 10% jump in vertical across all the weeks excluding recovery ME but was afraid of then making the progression of 8 weeks instead of 12 and thus too demanding.

    Also, in this above context how does adding 10% vertical volume weekly fare against adding intensity(pushing heavier gears)?


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    Anonymous on #46453

    The progression looks fine but you should plan for an extended taper. after 12 weeks of this you will not be at full strength for probably 3 weeks. You’ll be carrying residual fatigue that you will not really notice too much in training. But you will really notice it in a race.

    The kind of ME progression you are looking at is designed for mountaineers and alpinists who will normally have a longer taper due to travel, approach and acclimatization before they need to tap into their best performance.

    With the ultra runners I coach when we do an extensive ME block we see that the training effect and gains from it last for about the same length as the block with only some maintenance high intensity uphill intervals (which have a high ME component).

    My normal progression is to end a long ME block 6 weeks before the taper starts. In those 6 weeks we introduce the more conventional high intensity interval workouts 1x/week. We see that the athlete’s performance continues to rise through those 6 weeks as the ME fatigue declines. For a long (>100miles) running race we do a 2-3 week gradual taper with no fatiguing workouts.

    In your case I suggest at least 3 weeks with no ME before the race.


    GS09 on #46457

    Thanks for the response Scott!

    So the race is 12 weeks away. So instead of a 12 week ME block would a 8 week block with steady progression be advisable?

    ME workout #1 – 20% of event vertical
    #2 – 30%
    #3 – 40%
    Recovery week ME #4 – 20%

    #5 – 50%
    #6 – 60%
    #7 – 70%/80%?
    Recovery #8 – 40% (is this needed then?)

    That still leaves me with 5 weeks till the event. Should I be squeezing in one or two more ME workouts?

    You mentioned high intensity intervals which has a high ME component, for which I am guessing Lactate threshold, VO2 work and something like Over Unders @ LT and probably 1 min Anaerobic sprints?

    Also one last thing, when I’ll be going for ME workout with 70% or 80% of total event vertical I’ll probably spending similar time or probably more time climbing than what I’ll do in the event since VAM during ME will be slower even though I’ll be doing 3/4 of vertical.. Is that fine? Or should I be looking at increasing the load on muscles say when I reach 50-60% of total vertical? Wanted to understand the role of accumulating volume at the same load VS increasing the load/intensity after you reach X volume.

    Thanks again!

    Anonymous on #46465

    Since I have no experience with coaching cycling I may be wrong. I am just trying to think about the principles involved and see if we can apply them to cycling. That’s what you are doing after all. This is going to be a bit of an experiment. However, I have spoken go some pro cyclists who have told me that their coaches do prescribe seated big gear workouts that have this ME effect. So I am quite sure it can work for you.

    Since this is going to be an experiment it will be wise to keep in mind some fundamental principles and be ready to change things if needed. In my mind these would be:

    1) This progression is not handed down from God. It should serve as general guide not a hard and fast, do or die approach. That will get you in trouble I’m sure.

    2) Monitor recovery and improvement. I suggest doing these workouts on the same hill each time so you can monitor progress. If you are not improving significantly Like going farther in the same time) each workout (assuming 1x/wk) then you are doing too much and not recovering. I’ve never seen an ME progression NOT improve performance week to week unless the athlete is over doing either the ME of the other training.

    3) Adjust the volume of ME work not based on a strict schedule but on how you are adapting to it, understanding that failure to adapt is not due to under training but over training.

    With mountaineers I have done both approaches: Increasing the volume and increasing the weight carried. The main reason to increase the weight is if you run out of steep hill. It can become very awkward to carry a very heavy pack, especially if it is water weight.
    With your gears you have more options. But I’d be inclined to use increased volume. Having only one variable will make it easier to asses your progress.

    With runners and skiers this shift to Z3-4 interval work might make more sense that for cyclists. Cycling, because it involves a much smaller muscle mass, is more ME dependent than running or skiing. So, more ME might be in order during those 5 weeks. But, I’d taper the ME volume gradually during those weeks and not do any ME in the last 2 weeks. Maybe some short (<1min) sprints with long rests to keep the legs sharp.

    During the taper you should get to feeling jumpy and overly energetic but do not be tempted to push hard during this period or you run the risk of leaving your race on the training circuit.

    Good luck,

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