Sunday, October 23, 2005

Off Season Training- Part 6: SMSP Intervals

This is part 6 in a series of how I've been training on the Morris Plan

So we just finished a block of Aerobic Endurance (+ some sprinting/Muscle Endurance work) and a week of rest.

Now comes what I consider the definitive cornerstone of this training program. The SMSP (Supermaximum Sustainable Intervals)

All the phases are important and each one build upon the previous to create a foundation to step to the next. But if there is one phase that is most important I'd consider it this one. It puts hair on your chest

-The other phases are all doable, in that your strength training is keyed off your 1rep max, and the aerobc phase is all reasonably doable for any somewhat experienced athlete. But in this phase you begin to creep up on the limits of your capabilties, and you have to develop a keen understanding of your body and what your ability to work and more imortantly recover is. This phase helps to empower you and give you some taste of accomplishing somethinig with each succesful interval, but it also serves up some good 'ol humble pie:

When you think you are ready for the next day and you just can't do it. Sometimes you have to know when to fold them. Other days you go for the gold and push as hard as you can with the knowledge that you won't be able to complete it all. And that is where experience and knowing your body and knowing your end all goals comes in.

-It introduces you to pain, and is the stepping stone to begining to feel comfortable with the pain and even begin to embrace it.

If there is one image that defines this phase it would be Mr.T as Clubber Lang.
"What's your predictioin for the fight, Clubber" --"Pain"

And here is a good image to help you get a feel if you are doing them right:

Coming to this phase after the Aerobic Endurance phase is a dramatic paradigm shift.
You go from 3-4 hrs in the saddle, or for some of you 5-6. To under an hour for these intervals. At first you scoff at the low volume till you get into it, then you curse.

These intervals range from 1-4minutes, and are performed at 105%+ of your MSPO. But basically you try to do them at an intensity that you can maintain for the entire workout.

The idea behind them is to get your body used to working well beyond what it can tolerate for a long sustained effort. And the speculation that we aren't dying in the races because we lack volume of riding but are dying because we lack the ability to tolerat the volume of high intensity efforts seen in a race. These intervals allow you to accomplish 15-30mins (or whatever works for you) of really high intensity work

On the Macro level we are doing a 3 week block of this.

On the Micro level you are doing blocks of successive days but where you cut the length of the interval. The idea here is to allow you to complete another session at the same power as the previous day.

Here is a typical micro block day-to-day

Day Schedule
1 4min intervals
2 2min intervals
3 off
4 1hr zone 2
5 4min intervals
6 3min intervals
7 1min interavals
8 easy/off
9 easy/off
10 1hr zone 2

Recall from the discussion on intervals that there are several variables that need to be tuned to your individual situation.

In this phase the main ones are the TOTAL VOLUME of on time, and the rest time. Typically Work time=rest time at first. Later in the year you might want to try Work=1/2 rest where you create a situation where you are not fully recovered for the next interval.

For total volume it depends on your abilty to tolerate the work. And will require some experimentation. Just as a guideline.

As a vet sport I was starting at total ON time of 10-14minutes and working up to 20-24 minutes.

Here are some examples. Again these are just EXAMPLES. We are all individuals and you will need to figure out what works for you.

3 sets 5x1 on 1 off w/3 mins rest between sets
2 sets 7x1 on 2 off w/3 mins rest between sets

Notice in the above block that the second day you get mins off after 1 min on. This is to allow you the ability to complete the interval at the same power as the day before.

Later in the Macro block you might do something like this:

2 sets 6x2 on 2 off w/5 mins rest between sets
3 sets 7x1 on 1 off w/5 mins rest between sets
2 sets 5x1 on 2 off w/5 mins rest between sets

During this phase my workouts lasted like 50 mins or so on a trainer including warm up and cool down. But felt like utter complete hell afterwards. Recovery drink a must. Food wouldn't go down for at least another hour.

Many a time I just could not do the workout at the prescrbed power level. It was like hitting a wall. Here is where discretion becomes the better part of valor. Just walk away sometimes. Rest some more.

This year I am actually goinig to INCREASE the power on a successive day with the understandinig that I KNOW I will not be able to complete the full interval, and just see how far I can get.

But I know earlier on in the phase I will not be able to finish a workout and I am ok with just spinning it out and living to fight another day. I know that I don't have the best ability to recover and it takes me some time to get used to these intervals.

After this phase I do a rest week and them move to longer /lower intensity intervals.


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