Training by time is a popular and easy method to use when outlining your cycling training program. The only tool you need is a device that will record your ride time, whether that is a bike computer, a phone app, or a wrist watch. It is an easy and inexpensive way to track your training and is helpful when planning training around all the other activities in your life.
If you have an hour available for training after work you can plan for an intensity that is appropriate for that time block or arrange your day to allow for a 4hr long ride with the confidence that you will complete your training goal before you need to get home for dinner.
Although races are based on a set distance, a rider must plan for the time that it would take to complete the course. An 80 kilometer race might mean a 2hr effort if it is flat and fast, however if the course is a circuit with an 8km climb at 15% every lap the race might take 3hrs or longer depending on how many laps you are expected to do over the climb. The intensity and pace required for a 2hr race is very different from what is required for a 3hr race; therefore understanding what your training effort should feel like for these different scenarios will increase your odds of success.
Using Time Based Training
When using time-based training, you will get a feel for the amount of intensity you can lay down on the pedals for various training efforts no matter the level of fitness you are at. When training by time, it is important to keep in mind what your ultimate goal is.
Here is a guide and a few workout examples on how to manage training intensity based on time:
|6-10 sec||Maximal effort; Sprints||Use in warm-up: Ride 10-30min or until warm, 3 x 6sec max sprint|
|10-30 sec||Sprint practice: Start with 2 sets of 3 x 30sec sprint with 30sec recovery and build to 5 sets, 3min between sets|
|1-8 min||High; Intervals||Improve VO2max: 4 x 4min on a hill, riding steady-hard in between, work to increase number of repeats|
|10-30min||Moderate; TT effort or Tempo||TT Tempo effort: 2 x 10min TT effort with full recovery in between increase workout by 2min each week (2 x 12min, 2 x 14min)|
|30min+||Low; Endurance ride||Long ride 2-5+ hrs|
Maximal Effort – Sprints
The highest anaerobic effort will last 6-10 seconds and can translate into a varied range of distances from person to person depending on individual fitness. A 30 second anaerobic sprint might equate to 250m for a male pro but only 100m for a beginner cyclist with their 30lbs. commuter bike.
Sprints are useful for road cyclists who want to beat their competitors to the line.
Moderate and High Intensity – Intervals
Moderate and high intensity intervals will help all cyclists, whether it is powering up a climb, breaking away from the group or just improving overall speed.
Low Intensity – Endurance
If you are planning a century ride or long distance races over 40km then you will want to add a lot of endurance rides in to your training.