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Properly Executing Intervals Is Hard; Keep Your Training Plan Simple

Complex training prescriptions are becoming increasingly popular. Does it really need to be that complex? What do you gain from this complexity?

cycling interval training
Photo: Ioka Studio on Unsplash

Here’s your workout for today:

  • Give me 20 seconds at high anaerobic capacity.
  • Now 10 second recovery at 65 percent.
  • Then one minute at mid-VO2max holding 100 RPM.
  • Now rest one minute.
  • Alright, now give me a series of 10 one-minute efforts at 102 percent of FTP with increasing cadence. But be careful: Do these at 99 percent of FTP and you’re working the wrong system. You’ve screwed up the entire workout!

Okay, perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration. However, the complexity of that routine was probably starting to sound familiar.

Complex training prescriptions are becoming increasingly popular. We ask the question:

Does it really need to be that complex? What do you gain from this complexity?

With the help of seven different experts — coaches, scientists, and athletes — we’re going to try to make three key points:

  1. Human physiology is very complex.
  2. Properly executing intervals is very difficult.
  3. But the prescription should be simple.

Along the way, Trevor will drop his biggest nerd bomb yet, attempting to explain how complex the physiology is. We’ll use the analogy of riding side-by-side to explain why prescriptions should be simple. And we’ll talk about all the subtle ways that top athletes learn to better execute their workouts — numbers are important, but there’s a lot more to it than that. As I mentioned, there was no guest with us in our studio for this recording, but since this is a summary episode, we pulled a lot of segments from past shows.

Our guests this week include:

  • Legendary mountain bike world champion, and a guy who never gets old, Ned Overend. Ned almost sounded scared when he talked with us about the possibility of training with power or heart rate. Yet, despite having almost no metrics, and no structured routine, he’s developed a remarkably sophisticated system of training.
  • Next, we’ll hear from Houshang Amiri, head coach at the Pacific Cycling Centre and past Canadian national team coach. Houshang shared with Trevor his thoughts on complex interval routines.
  • It wouldn’t be an episode on interval work without hearing from Dr. Stephen Seiler, a top exercise physiologist and researcher in Europe, who’s been credited with formalizing the polarized training model. We pulled a few clips from Dr. Seiler sharing his thoughts on interval prescription and execution.
  • But what about athletes who have grown up with power and pre-programmed workouts on their head units? We included an interview we haven’t used before with 2018 Tour of Utah winner Sepp Kuss. While he relies heavily on power, it’s not as simple as setting a target number before he gets on the bike and sticking to it.
  • Next we grabbed a clip with Dr. Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen, authors of Training and Racing with a Power Meter which was updated this year. They invented probably the most common training zone model in the world (though they don’t like the word zones.) They talked with us about the value of zone models or levels.
  • Trevor pulled out an old interview with Trek-Segafredo rider Toms Skujins. Like Sepp, Toms talks about just some of the many decisions that go into effectively executing his interval work.
  • Finally, we hear from 2017 U.S. national champion Larry Warbasse of Ag2r La Mondiale. Larry talked with us about the importance of seeing your training sessions in a broader context. Otherwise, you can execute perfectly and still get off track.

Let’s make you fast!

Episode Transcript

Chris Case  00:11

Hello and welcome to Fast Talk. I’m your host Chris case managing editor of velonews joined by Revenge of the Nerds aficionado, Coach Trevor Connor. All right. Are you ready? Here’s your workout for today. Give me 20 seconds at high or anaerobic capacity now 10 seconds recovery at 65%. Then one minute at mid vo to max holding 100 RPM now rest one minute. All right now give me a series of 10 one minute efforts at 102% of FTP and increasing cadence. But be careful. Do these at 99% of FTP and you’re working the wrong system. Oh my god, you’ve screwed up the entire workout. Okay, perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration. However, the complexity of that routine was probably starting to sound familiar. Complex training prescriptions are becoming increasingly popular. In this episode of Fast Talk, we asked the question, does it really need to be that complex? Today is another summary episode. It’s just Coach Connor and I with no guest to keep us in line. We do bring in seven side interviews from people much smarter than us. With their help, we’re going to try to make three key points. Number one, human physiology is very complex. Number two, properly executing intervals is very difficult. Number three, the prescription should be simple. Along the way, Trevor will drop his biggest nerd bomb yet, trying to explain how complex the physiology is. We’ll use the analogy of riding side by side to explain why prescriptions should be simple. And we’ll talk about all the subtle ways that top athletes learn to better execute their workouts. Numbers are important, but there’s a lot more to it than that. And if you like a challenge and want a really tough workout, here’s one for you. Take a shot of your favorite scotch every time Trevor gushes over PGC one alpha, make it to the end of the podcast doing that and you’re a better athlete than either of us. As I mentioned, there was no guest with us in our studio for this recording. But since this is a summary episode, we pulled a lot of segments from past shows. Our guests this week include legendary mountain bike world champion and a guy who never gets old net overland net almost sounded scared when he talked with us about the possibility of training with power or heart rate. Yet, despite having almost no metrics in his training life and no structured routine, he’s developed a remarkably sophisticated system of training. Next we’ll hear from houzhang emiri, head coach at the Pacific cycling center and past Canadian national team coach houzhang shared with Trevor his thoughts on complex interval routines. Next, it wouldn’t be an episode on interval work without hearing from Dr. Steven Siler, top physiologist and researcher in Europe, one of our favorite guests, even credited with formalizing the polarized training mind. We pulled in a few clips from Dr. Seiler who shared his thoughts on interval prescription and execution. What about athletes who have grown up with power meters and pre programmed workouts on their headphones, we included in an interview here that we haven’t used before. With 2018 tour of Utah winner set coos while he relies heavily on power, it’s not as simple as setting a target number before he gets on the bike and sticking to it. Next, we grab a clip from Dr. Andy Coggan and hunter Allen, authors of training and racing with a power meter, which was updated just this year. The two of them invented probably the most common training zone model in the world. They don’t even use the word training zones. But that’s another story. They talked with us about the value of zone models, or as I like to call them levels. jever pulled out an old interview with trek segafredo writer Tom scootch. Like set, Tom talks about some of the many decisions that go into effectively executing his integral work. And finally, we hear from 2017 US national champ Larry warboss, who now rides for a GTR limo. Dr. Larry, talk with us about the importance of seeing your training sessions in a broader context. Otherwise, you can execute perfectly and still get off track. With that, take that first shot Oh scotch because PG one c alpha. Let’s make it fast.


Trevor Connor  04:44

This episode of Fast Talk is sponsored by whoop. This was one of the really interesting things I remember learning about many years ago and one of my physiology classes. I wish I could find the details about this. But one of the things that made German cyclists back in the 80s Absolutely dominant was apparently, they had the athletes living with a team of doctors and physiologists, and quite literally, they would get up in the morning and go down and get a whole evaluation. And then they would be told, here’s what you are able to do today. So it’s just an assessment of how recovered they are, how beat up they are. So they didn’t just have a standard training plan that they had to follow no matter what it was really customized to, to where they’re at every day. And that gave them an edge. And what’s really neat now is essentially, with a product like whoop, you kind of have that on your wrist, you’re going to get up in the morning, that’s going to give you an idea of how recovered you are, how good your sleep was. That’s going to allow you to adjust your training.


Chris Case  05:43

Yeah, it’s pretty fascinating to think about all of the technology that has been reduced and slapped onto your wrist and gives you that feedback immediately daily, and customized to you as as an athlete as an individual.


Trevor Connor  05:57

This is why I was born 20 years too early. When I when I was in my 20s I loved music I’d have to carry around these giant things of CDs everywhere that I went, I was filling up my car. Now I can fit it all on my phone. Same thing back then you would have had to have a bunch of physiologists in the back of your car. No, you can just carry it on your wrist.


Chris Case  06:13



Trevor Connor  06:14

We’ve come a long way, Trevor, we have I’m so old. Whoop is the performance tool that has changed the way people optimize their training recovery. Whoo provides a wrist worn heartrate monitor that features detailed app based analytics and insights on recovery strain and sleep. Loop tracks sleep quality and heart rate variability 100 times per second 24 hours per day to help you know when your body is recovered or when it needs rest.


Trevor Connor  06:40

You could also use the strap to track workouts and get strain score so that you know how strenuous The training was on your body. Whoop helps you optimize your sleep based on how fatiguing your day was and track sleep performance with insights into sleep quality, stages asleep and consistency. To make things better, we’ve just released a new bootstrap 3.0, which includes a suite of new hardware and app features. The bootstrap 3.0 now has five day battery life and improve strap and live heartrate monitor a handful of new in app features including the new strain coach improve the way you track and plan your training and recovery. Whoop has provided an offer for Fast Talk listeners to get 15% off their purchase with the code Fast Talk. That’s FA s t ta lk. So two T’s no space, just go to That’s w h o o And use the code Fast Talk at checkout to save 15% off and optimize the way you train.


Trevor Connor  07:47

Chris was just looking, he’s looking at the outline I gave him normally our outline is a page long. This is like what four pages long


Chris Case  07:53

it is, but we’re gonna try to get through it. And it’s challenged. But we’ll we’re up for challenges.


Trevor Connor  07:59

Well, I hope you our listeners are ready for this one because this is you’re gonna get some true, Trevor nerd bombs on this one. Yeah, I’m


Chris Case  08:07

gonna try to limit those, but there’ll be some. So today’s episode is just Trevor. And I’ve just got coach Connor Chris case sitting around a table. It’s like a fireside chat you and me. It’s another summary episode. But we’ve been talking about this one for a while and comes back to the types of questions we get the specificity that people seem to want from us. And this one, this episode is really going to hopefully help our listeners understand that the physiology of the human body is extremely complex. But the execution, the prescription of what you should do in your training doesn’t have to be extremely complex. So we’re gonna try to cover a lot of things in this episode. But ultimately, you’re going to hear our biased opinion on what really works. And it’s going to go back to a lot of the things you’ve heard us talk about in previous episodes, whether it’s with Dr. Tyler’s polarized model, or things that Sebastian Weber has brought to the program about the given take between the different types of riders and athletes there are in the world and how you train and if you train in one way, it might, you might sacrifice a little over here and, and so forth, or vice versa. So again, this is going to be an episode where not everybody’s gonna necessarily agree with us. There might be coaches out there that say we’re complete, ding dongs,


Trevor Connor  09:40

and that’s fine. And we’re not gonna sit here and try to argue this is our bias. This is our opinion. But we’ve never said we are absolutely right.


Chris Case  09:48

Yeah, but I do think the reasoning behind what we’re about to say is very sound. And what we’re trying to do is actually make things in a way simpler for people and also bring out the best in terms of performance. So we’ve got good intentions,


Trevor Connor  10:05

we hope. And what motivated this. I mean, we really do listen to your questions, and we try to answer all the questions. We’re not always perfect, but we really try. And one of the themes we’ve really been seeing lately that people are struggling with particular, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about zones, and we hope all of you listen to that episode we did a few months ago about zones. What I have been seeing is people have been oversimplifying the physiology. But then when they talk about their training there, they are making their exercise prescriptions dramatically over complex,


Chris Case  10:38

right, we want to switch that around.


Trevor Connor  10:40

And I will give the example of my mentor who’s kind of on the one extreme, he’s a three time national champion. This is Glen Swan, my first mentor,


Chris Case  10:49

Canadian national champions know us, Oh, is he out of New York State, okay.


Trevor Connor  10:53

He’s never done an interval workout in this life. He got his form by he set up a Tuesday night training race, a Thursday time trial. So there was his high intensity work on Tuesday, his threshold work on Thursday, and he would do long rides as his friends on the weekend, he got a good exercise prescription. Mm hmm. That would fit with the sort of interval prescriptions we’ve been talking about, but never did a single interval. Because he hated them.


Chris Case  11:17

Yeah, it also sounds it not only is that sort of, quote, simple, but it sounds perhaps more fun and appealing, because you don’t have to go out there and slaughter yourself by yourself on a hill do repeats or whatever your your interval of choice is. It’s racing, it’s with people. And that’s what he said. He said, Hey, I


Trevor Connor  11:35

find this more fun to be I can never push myself as hard in intervals as I can when I’m racing people. Yeah. So there’s a logic to it. You may not have heard of Glen Swan, but I’m certain you’ve heard of Ned over. And he’s a world champion cyclist and still tears up the local cat ones in Durango and his 16. Decades of success proves he knows a lot about training. But we interviewed him a few years ago, his approach was to keep it simple.



And be honest with you, I’m I’m really just guessing here because I don’t train with a heart rate monitor. I have a very unstructured, well, maybe not unstructured is the right word, but it’s a low tech training method. methodology. I am pretty much a perceived effort trainer. So when I go out and do intervals, I’m doing based on my perceived effort over the length of the interval I’m doing. And and I use group rides, and chasing Strava segments, you know, for either a PR or KLM, or for a high finish on the Strava. Segment as as my kind of drive for interval training, and I don’t use a watt meter or a heartrate monitor.


Trevor Connor  12:51

Do you think there’s a danger with some of these younger athletes who have all these numbers? As they’re going out and doing their workouts and time trialing staring at wattage staring at heart rate? Do you think there’s a danger in not learning the feel and affecting their performance?



Yeah, I think that in the same way, that when I’m doing a group ride, it pushes me harder than when I’m doing intervals myself, or it pushes me in a different way. And I think that when you’re in a race, if somebody, especially in a race, if somebody is looking at a watt meter or a heartrate monitor, they’re restricting themselves when they may be able to push themselves beyond kind of the numbers they’ve seen in training, to whether it’s make or break or, or stay away from somebody or I think they if they put those kind of parameters on themselves, that that may hinder the performance are capable.


Trevor Connor  14:01

Let’s get back to the show and talk about what is complex. The first part of this


Chris Case  14:05

episode is going to be


Trevor Connor  14:08

sort of Trevor is nerd mom I’ve ever done. Well, hopefully


Chris Case  14:12

it’s not that. I’m going to try to keep


Trevor Connor  14:15

Oh, no, no, no, no, hopefully it is going to be the biggest nerd bomb I have ever done. This was planned. I was like, I didn’t sleep last night. I was giddy.


Chris Case  14:26

Oh boy. Oh, boy, I’m in for a challenge, because I’m going to try to keep you on track and keep you rolling. We got I’m going to put you on the clock. How about that? Instead of instead of one minute, I’m going to I’m going to be generous. You’ve got five minutes to go through. What do we got here? 1213, maybe 15 different points that you want to make, hey, it’s probably 25 there, half of them are still in your head.


Trevor Connor  14:51

So before the timer starts. What we’re going to try to do here is show just how remarkably complex the physiology is so it to cover In five minutes, you have to look at this as every single sentence I say, we could do an episode or two, just explaining that one


Chris Case  15:09

sentence and in some ways we have we’ve done some episodes on some of this stuff. So when we can, we’ll try to reference those episodes. Yep. But in the meantime, we’re gonna take the 10,000 foot view on what’s going on. I got the stopwatch. Oh, God, are you ready?


Trevor Connor  15:26

Let’s do this. Are


Chris Case  15:26

you well hydrated?


Trevor Connor  15:28

I am. Well, hi, hold on. I’ve got my tea.


Chris Case  15:30

What kind?



This is a gunpowder,



gunpowder tea, good and bitter. All right, well, on your mark, get set,



  1. Okay,


Trevor Connor  15:41

so we are talking about the different ways in which we improve what’s going on with your physiology. And let’s start really simple. We have those three fiber types. Your slow twitch what are called your your fast twitch two a your fast enough to be when we’ve had Dr. Siler in here, and we’ve talked about the three zone model, it has been pointed out that in some ways that zone one is already really working the slow twitch, when you move into zone two, that’s where you start recruiting those two a fibers. And once you’re in zone three, as you’re really hitting the two axes, your big anaerobic fibers. And so there is some argument that you just need to kind of target those fibers. So that’s a really simple, nice way of looking at the the physiology, and we could just leave it there. And we’ve used that sort of very simple way of looking at it to talk about a lot of our episodes. But even that starts to get a little more complex, because when you go out and do a long ride, even your slow twitch muscle fibers will fatigue. And they’ve shown that you start cycling through muscle fibers. So you could be going out at 150 watts initially just using your slow twitch muscle fibers, but three hours in at 50 watts, you’re starting to recruit some of those those anaerobic muscle fibers and of those two A’s and even some of the two X’s you also see over time transition in fiber types. The two A’s are the what are called the big imitators because they can either act like a big anaerobic fiber or they can start acting like an oxidative fiber. The other key thing to remember is as you go up in intensity, it’s not like all of a sudden now you’re only using your your two exes, you continue to recruit all your muscle fibers, you just recruit more and more as you go up through intensity.



But do we have time we have three minutes left. Okay, so


Trevor Connor  17:23

let’s look at another thing that you’re really trying to train. We’ve talked a lot about fat and carbohydrate metabolism, you’re really trying to affect what fields you’ve used. And we’ve had people like Dr. Holly on the show that have said, if you don’t have the carbohydrates, you can’t do high intensity and high intensity work relies on the carbohydrates. But as a cyclist, we really need to rely on fats for fuel, because as far as a bike race is concerned, fat is unlimited. Carbohydrates are limited. And if you are really using those carbohydrates in a race, you’re gonna bog fat utilization kind of follows a bell shaped curve, it has a peak, which is a little bit below right around threshold, and it actually starts to the client. I have heard physiologist that say once you’re above threshold, you’re not burning fat at all. I’ve heard others that say no, you continue to burn fat, you’re always burning fat. It’s just now your your ratio is completely different. You’re burning a ton more carbohydrates. But the idea here is if you really want to hit burn, improve that fat metabolism, it’s not necessarily at the highest intensities, right? If you want to improve though, your ability to use carbohydrates for high intensity, you need to do high intensity work. that then gets us into this whole idea of lactate metabolism because you only produce lactate when you’re burning carbohydrates. And a big part of training was Cycling is improving your ability to maintain lactate levels. That’s not just reducing how much lactate you produce, but actually improving how much you clear, even when you’re sitting on the couch you are producing lactate right is clearing it as quickly as you’re producing. That’s why you can have a lactate steady state at many different intensities, as long as it’s holding steady. And I think we did an episode on this. We talked with Dr. nugo saw Milan about this, but there’s a lot of research showing that actually, the optimal point of clearance when your body is that you know really really clearing that lactate and improving that system is that 95% of your lactate threshold. So it’s a sub threshold of what people think of as sweetspot work. Yep. And that’s why, you know, for time trailers, training that lactate clearance is critical. If you’re doing a 40 k TT you can’t build up lactate. And that’s why when we had Sebastian Weber in here talking about how do you train a time trial as he was saying sub threshold high low cadence work and we had a lot of people got kind of upset by that they’re like but that sweet spot that’s not threshold that doesn’t fit. But you have to look at what are the different systems we’re trying to train and right now we’re talking about that lactate clearance. Next we can talk about efficiency versus vo two Max and you got 20


Chris Case  19:54

seconds left. I


Trevor Connor  19:55

have failed miserably. We haven’t hit the good stuff yet. I’m trying not Apologize. So we won’t even touch on this one. But we could talk about improving efficiency versus zero to Max, which



says here, let’s not even go there.


Trevor Connor  20:08

Yeah, because it’s controversial. Mm hmm. There was one fascinating five years study.



Everybody. Do you hear that? Yeah, yeah. Done. I miss my face you off? No,


Trevor Connor  20:19

you’re not I’m going. We’re continuing. There was a five year study that showed that some cyclists improved and efficiency over time, some proven vo to max but you never saw somebody who prove right on both. Yep. Which is fascinating. We will save that for another time. That


Chris Case  20:34

was a conversation or a topic that came up in conversation with Joe Friel, if I’m not mistaken, when it came to runners, Yang shorter talking about that, yep,


Trevor Connor  20:43

you’ve heard us talk a lot about PG C, one alpha, there are a ton of different pathways that affect our training affect our body’s ability to produce work, both robotically, anaerobically, we didn’t want to talk about all of them. Mm, you know, I’m a geek, but we know our limits for the show. But you’ve heard us continuously talk about this PG c one alpha pathway, because you



have a tattoo of that on you on your forearm don’t



you probably


Trevor Connor  21:12

probably should get it. We picked that pathway, because it’s kind of this funnel. And it’s been shown that it’s the master regulator of endurance adaptations, and everything kind of goes through this pathway. So and we’re going to talk more about this in a minute. But in some ways, you know, we talked about what intensity should be going at, there is a bit of an argument of does it really matter because it’s all actually hitting the same pathway, we’ll get to that my time is out. Last thing that you have to look at when you’re talking about what you’re doing with your training is autonomic stress, and reactive oxygen species. I actually just wrote an article about this, and we should probably do an episode on this. But when you do a lot of aerobic work, especially when you do high intensity, very fatiguing work, you produce a lot of Ross reactive oxygen species. And it has this interesting kind of bell shaped curve to it, or we were talking before, try not to throw too many words out there. But hormesis, in that if you produce a certain amount of Ross, it actually promotes adaptations. If you want to produce a certain amount, it’s going to help your training, you produce too much. And it actually shuts down your immune system and your body doesn’t adapt and you start pushing towards burnout, right. So that’s another thing you have to look at is how much we’re awesome. I’m producing


Chris Case  22:29

a lot of balancing acts taking place in what we’ve talked about. And that one in particular,


Trevor Connor  22:34

with the Ross, right. And the reason I just tried to get all that into five minutes and explain all that, and probably confuse everybody, including myself, is to get across this idea that the physiology is remarkably complex. And as you said, it’s a balancing act. All these different things are influenced differently by our training. And so really focusing on one might actually have a negative effect and one of the others, you have to look at, am I really trying to improve my fat metabolism? I’m trying to prove lactate clearance, am I trying to Am I building too much Ross, you have to look at all these things is this giant mill you that doesn’t quite fit together. And where we are heading with this is we got a lot of emails where people are talking about well, I was just above or just a little below my vo two Max and my lactate threshold. So I was in this zone, therefore I was training this system. And that’s just not the way the body works. It’s not this case of I am now my vo to maximum. So I am just training vo to my eyes, right? Or I am, you know, in my threshold zone. So I’m just training my threshold.


Chris Case  23:40

They’re not these distinct silos, right? Everything’s a blend,


Trevor Connor  23:44

I brought up the PG c one alpha st everything kind of funneled through there. Because in some ways, all training produces some of the some similar games. They used to be there’s all belief that there was a central conditioning, which you influence when you went out and did long and slow. And then there was peripheral conditioning. And that’s kind of been tossed out. And part of that was discovery of this PG c one alpha pathway. They said actually, it all just goes through the same funnel, so do threshold work, do sprint work. And they even did studies on Sprint’s, and this was more in in untrained individuals, but showed Hey, they went out and did sprints and their endurance improved. So it’s just not that simple. It’s not I’m in my threshold zone. Therefore, I’m doing threshold training. If you are in your threshold zone, that whole giant physiological soup that I just gave you. It’s all been influenced and it’s all being influenced in different ways. And yes, when you’re in that threshold zone, that’s when your lactate clearance system is a little more maximal, that’s when you’re really stressing that that ability to use fats, that’s when you’re pushing some of those fast twitch muscle fibers to work more rope okay. So it is optimal for improving your Your threshold, but it’s not a simple process that’s going on.


Chris Case  25:03

Yep. Let’s put all of that complexity behind us for now. And because of that complexity of the human body and the physiology, it doesn’t mean that your prescription of what you’re doing should actually be simple.


Trevor Connor  25:19

Yeah, you would think when I’m explaining all that complexity, you would just kind of throw your hands up in the air and go, this is so ridiculously complex, I have no idea how to train. And what we want to get at with the rest of this podcast is, now that you understand the physiology is remarkably complex, don’t simplify it, don’t simplify it down to zones. And this zone is just training the system. What’s very counter intuitive. And, again, this is where we’re getting into our bias. I’m going to try to explain how this this complexity actually leads to. I think the best training is a very simple exercise prescription. And remember, we had Dr. Siler on the show who basically said the same


Chris Case  25:59

thing. Yeah. And in your opinion, there’s a keystone here, there’s this PG c one alpha pathway. And because you can come at it from all these different directions and affect it in different ways that is central to what you’re about to get into.


Trevor Connor  26:16

So let’s take that whole physiological meal you that we just talked about, throw most of it out, we’ll cover in more detail, this whole reactive oxygen species and the training at 95%. For better lactate clearance, hopefully, we’ll touch on that in future shows. Sure, let’s just kind of zero in on this PG c one alpha. So I called it the funnel. Basically, it is the master regulator of all endurance work. And I’m going to tell you, I’m not going to go too much into the details of it. But there are two great reviews out there that really explained this by two Titans in exercise physiology. One was written by Dr. Larsen, that was in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science and sports, written in 2010. And it’s a great review where he talks about the importance of this PG c one alpha pathway, and then how to influence it. And we’ll we’ll actually go a little more into detail about what he says in his study. The other one was written by doctors Kofi and dr. john Holly who had had on the show in the past, and it’s again a review that was written in 2007. And he really details this the importance of this PG c one alpha pathway, and puts it up against the the pathway that’s really important for strength athletes who are looking for hypertrophy, that’s a different pathway. And he does show that the the pathway VGC one alpha pathway for endurance training, actually mutes the other one, which is why if you go out and do a lot of endurance work, you never gonna look like Arnold Schwarzenegger


Chris Case  27:45

can attest to that.


Trevor Connor  27:47

Going back to this pathway, so I’ve said it’s kind of the master regulator, everything funnels through it. There is a little bit of truth to saying, Who cares what you do go to sprint work, go to two bottles go do long, slow. It’s all going to promote PGC, one out this this pathway. So who cares? Do whatever you want to do. least that’s what it sounds like we’re saying, sure. It’s it’s not quite that simple. physiology is never quite that simple. But I’m still going to use this pathway to explain why the training is actually simple. In the the review by Larson, he shows that there’s actually four pathways that stimulate PG C, one alpha. So the first one is mechanical stretch or muscle tension. Mm. Which when you’re riding the bike, that’s what you’re doing. Yep. Second one is an increase in Ross. So that’s why I was saying before that you’re looking for that armies is that optimal release of Ross because if you get enough, it’s going to promote pgcbl alpha. You do too much. It shuts system down.


Chris Case  28:50

You think Goldilocks? Not too much. Not too little. Not too hot. Not too cold? I don’t know is that Goldilocks? Right?


Trevor Connor  28:57

I was Goldilocks. Okay, and so recover. You’re looking for that bed? Not too hard. Yeah, yeah,


Chris Case  29:02



Trevor Connor  29:03

Okay, so the other two pathways are the ones that that we really want to hit on for a second. One is an increase in muscle calcium concentrations.





Trevor Connor  29:16

So when you use your muscles, basically, if you if you remember your high school physiology, calcium is released into the cytosol. That’s what causes the muscles to contract and then it’s sucked back up. And that keeps happening every single time your muscle contracts, that does break down over time, and you’re sensitive. And that then promotes this PG c one alpha. The other pathway is the a MP k pathway. And that pathway is promoted by when you you see a drop in the muscle store of ATP and an increase in the muscle store of ATP. That first one that calcium concentration pathway really just takes lots of time at the bike doesn’t take intense There’s your long, slow.


Chris Case  30:01



Trevor Connor  30:02

yep. That other pathway, they NPK, you need to hit the muscles hard, you need to do big anaerobic depleting work. So this is talking about clearing out that watt prime that we’ve talked about in previous episodes, you can do that through sprints, you can do that for two bottles, you just have to find the right execution, so that you just beat up those muscles. And there’s no anaerobic stores left in your system. Larson goes on, in his his review to say that a these two pathways affect PGC, one alpha differently. Mm hmm. So it seems that the effects from the calcium pathway are much slower, but don’t seem to have as much of a limit where the effects from the amtk are very rapid, but do seem to plateau quite quickly, which is consistent with what we’re always saying that high intensity work, absolutely improve quickly. But then you plateau. Yep. Where you need much more time with the endurance. But the other thing that he showed is that they’re additive, that these different ways of influencing PG, C, one alpha, add to one another. So if you just only did the one the ISO distance hitting that calcium, you’ll get so far, sure. Not far enough. Yep. If you just did hit the NPK, you’re going to plateau very quickly.



Mm hmm.


Trevor Connor  31:21

You combine the two in just that right mix? And that’s where you really start seeing the biggest gains? Yep. And once again, so you know, again, we’re talking about our bias, you know, we’re big fans of the polarized approach, what is the polarized approach 80%, low intensity hitting that calcium concentration pathway, combined with doing some high intensity work, really hitting that a NPK pathway and getting that additive effect? Mm hmm. So how does this lead to saying that the work is actually the prescription is quite simple. There’s a lot of different ways to really hit that amtk pathway. Sure, it doesn’t need to be overly complex, it just needs to be executed, right? Mm hmm. It doesn’t need to be overly complex how you hit that calcium pathway, it’s just lots of time at the bike, low intensity, sure. And then you are hitting that additive effect.


Chris Case  32:14

I think this follows logic, if you just come off of the winter, and you’ve taken a break, and you just start writing, and you’re riding long, slow rides, you gain fitness, if you just went out in twice a week did super hard rides, you’d gain fitness. But we’re talking about putting all the puzzle pieces together and really optimizing your training and getting to the next level so to speak, right?


Trevor Connor  32:41

We’ve talked with my old coach who sang Mary pass Canadian national team coach several times. Now, of course, I already knew his opinion on this, but as to sharing what he felt about complex animal prescriptions. So it seems like workouts are getting quite complex, they have this whole a minute of this and 20 seconds of that then 30 seconds or two minutes of that, etc, etc, etc. What’s your feeling about this? Does interval work need to be that complicated? Or I mean, do you get greater gains having really complex workouts like that? Or do you think they should be kept simple,


Houshang Amiri  33:17

extreme amounts of training should be kept simple training is complex, but that complexity is coaching for coaches not for athletes, training has to be presented to that is as simple as possible. I am not fan at all doing mixed intervals, your interest has to aim on certain goals, what are you developing, what is the goal is it speed is anaerobic, the speed strength, whatever it is, there is no need to mix this make it complicated to 10 seconds of it of one minute or certain words, drop it to certain words. By the end of the day, you are working on one energy system. And if somebody says I got to work on to energy to some of this training session, is your training wrong? That’s not going to happen. You know, so somebody asked me if he is strength training helps you I said strength training helps no matter what you do, even if you do it wrong. But if you do it correctly, you gain much faster in a shorter period of time. So that’s my feeling about those complicated intervals that’s completely unnecessary.


Trevor Connor  34:39

Let’s get back to the show where I tried to give an analogy explaining why prescription should be simple.


Chris Case  34:45

So give us an example. That really helps us understand what you’re talking about here.


Trevor Connor  34:53

Okay, so yeah, let’s step back because I’ve now done my giant nerd bomb. I was actually out for a ride. With an athlete who came to Boulder to get tested, Mm hmm. He’s actually one of the listeners of the show and, and really enjoyed having him here. And we went out, he wanted me to show him a bit of Boulder take him out for a ride. So we’re out in the bypass riding together. And I was thinking about this at the time and thinking about the what we want to do with this episode, and realized that my ride with him was his amazing analogy for what we’re trying to communicate. Because I was getting extraordinarily frustrated. I was trying to ride side by side with him. And I could not get him to ride side by side with me. And Chris can tell you, Chris, and I go for a ride, we can ride on the bike paths, we can ride on the roads, and we’re just side by side and it seems very fluid and we’re constantly lots of cars come in or something out. Yes.


Chris Case  35:46

You pick up on cues. It’s symbiotic. You move over when you need to you don’t want you know, it’s just it’s not it feels natural. He wasn’t


Trevor Connor  35:53

getting that. And I admit I was not as patient as I should have been at some point. I just kind of went, you know, you can ride beside me. Because we’re trying to talk and he’s talking 10 feet behind me and 10 feet in front of me and 10 feet. Yeah, I mean, it’s conversation impossible. Yeah. So I tried and he tried, he really did try to ride side by side with me, but he couldn’t really do it. And what I realized is, this is a great analogy. Because if you think of this in terms of training, the the exercise prescription here is incredibly simple. Go out ride side by side. Yeah. But it’s only when I’m riding with a very experienced riders, like some of the pros and boulder are going out with Chris, that were able to execute it. And when you think about it, there are so many little things. What happens when you see a kid on the path? What comes with somebody coming out of the way what is when you go around a corner? Yep. How do you deal with cars? How do you deal with with rocks in the road? And what you realize is just to do that simple prescription of ride side by side, you are making constantly, several times a minute, little decisions, figuring out absolutely, what I need to do. Now to make sure we’re side by side, there’s even just figuring out, what’s the pace that we want. I noticed when you ride with somebody who’s inexperienced, there’s going to sit there and a half wheel, he can go faster and faster. And if you ask a pro mobile, I’ve talked to a lot of pros who have said that’s one of the most frustrating things in the world for them. And I was thinking about this ever since that experience with this athlete and realized, that’s one of the cues. If you want if you’re running side by side with somebody and you want to speed it up, you go a little bit ahead of them.


Chris Case  37:25

And then they pick it up to


Trevor Connor  37:26

they either pick it up to say or that’s fine. Or they don’t and say that’s their way of communicating. I don’t want to go faster. Sure. And then you slow down and go back to their pace. And by doing that, you never say a word. But you find a pace. That’s right for both of you.


Chris Case  37:39

Yeah, this is this is the thing about experience that comes into play here. You ask a pro, what they’re thinking about, or what all the things that they’re trying to process while doing this. They might not have thought about it. It’s just second nature to them. It’s it’s learned through experience, and it just happens, right?


Trevor Connor  37:57

You have no idea how much in the last two weeks, I’ve been thinking that we do derive side by side realizing this is incredibly complex. Yeah,


Chris Case  38:05

yeah, it’s like a lot of behaviors, a lot of things that we do, you do it enough, you don’t think about it. But the


Trevor Connor  38:12

prescription there is simple ride side by side. And it’s remarkably hard to execute. Now imagine if Chris and I were going out. And let’s say we had this third fictitious person who coached us and said, what I want you to do is, I want you to ride side by side for 45 seconds, and then I want Chris to half wheel for 30 seconds, then I want you to ride 10 feet apart for another minute, then I want you to pick up the pace and ride side by side for 15. Just share, just you know, you get the idea. This will be hopeless. Mm hmm. And you would not have a good ride. And the likelihood of executing this in any effective beneficial way is is even with great riders would be low. Right? Yep. And this is this is the analogy. And when I think about interval work, so when I’m talking about the complexity of the physiology, I’m thinking about in this analogy, that’s all these little factors of the the kid coming the other way but bends in the road and cars and rocks on the road and all that sort of stuff. You’re dealing with a remarkably complex meal you have things on on this path. The prescription is the right side by side. That’s like your exercise prescription. What is remarkably complex and where you should be focusing your energy is in the execution. And I don’t think you can execute Well, when you have too complex a prescription. My bias there’s gonna be coaches out there that are cringing right now saying no, I want my pyramids and ramp ups and 30 seconds of this and 20 seconds that look if it works for you. Yeah, just my bias. Sure. But to give you an example, one of my favorite workouts that I give a lot of my athletes is just simple. five by five minute intervals, right at or just slightly below threshold with one minute recoveries,



Mm hmm.


Trevor Connor  40:07

And when I get a new athlete, it usually takes about a season before I can actually get them to execute it right. And that is a remarkably simple prescription. Mm hmm. But I’m looking for a particular heart rate response, I’m looking for them to be consistent interval, the interval where they’re their average wattage is the same, I’m looking for them to be steady. Putting all that together. And it’s not, the prescription I give them is not a just right at 310 watts, I tell them, here’s what I want to see with your heart rate. Here’s what I want to see with your power. Here’s the field that I want to see. And it takes them a year with me constantly giving feedback to learn how to effectively execute a remarkably simple prescription.


Chris Case  40:47

This makes me think of the third episode with Dr. Seiler and interval work where he talks about some of those complexities and some of the difficulty of execution because you’re not a robot. So you need to go out and you have to understand the pacing, that’s going to bring you to the specified heart rate at the end of the interval, the first one’s going to be a little bit lower, and then the subsequent ones you need to, to ramp it up. And then you’ll sit and plateau at 91 to 93% of Max heart rate or whatever that figure is. And of course, you could have gone out too hard. And if if you’re seeing that you’re not able to sustain a particular level in a particular in one of the repetitions then maybe you need to, to stop or back off. So there’s a lot of nuance in there. And again, it comes back to that experience thing. There’s a there’s a feeling component here, there’s an understanding of the numbers that may have been presented to you by your coach that you have to understand. So yeah, that’s that gets into some of the complexity. And that episode, again with Dr. Siler, a great one to listen to, to understand a little bit more about the the execution and the difficulty of executing what we’re talking about. We did a whole episode,


Trevor Connor  42:00

Episode Number 75. With Dr. Steven Siler talking about intervals and why the prescription should be simple. So it’s hard to pick a clip, instead, here’s a couple of his key messages. So if you tell somebody to go and do intervals at 88% of Max heart rate, it’s going to be different things for different people, what I’m kind of getting at here is trying to just find a simple number and say, do your interval work at this number. And that’s going to have this particular training adaptation is actually a much harder thing to do than you think.



Oh, I agree. And and that’s kind of why our research has moved in the direction of is just to give athletes a basic prescription, and then let them solve the prescription or kind of, even in papers described it as an equation. It’s like giving someone an equation and say, Alright, solve for x. And x in this case, just becomes your average power. For that interval session. You solve the equation, I say, I want you to do four times eight minutes. With two minute recovery, I want you to have the highest average power for the workout that you’re able to maintain it kind of a training max. So that’s, that’s I’ve given them an equation and how they solve it. So that has kind of become our way of doing this in the laboratory. And I think it works out pretty well. Because if we give them the prescription, then yeah, then we don’t have to, we’re not really telling them I want you to be at 91% of heart rate, or I want you to be at four millimolar lactate, we’re just saying solve the equation, but then what we find is that they tend to fall into some kind of typical ranges for heart rate for blood lactate for perceived exertion and so forth.


Chris Case  43:53

This might take us a little off track but is there anything to replace experience to help athletes understand the feeling that you have when you’re on the edge should go you know, like you were saying flex a little above or flex or bring it back down? Is there anything that replaces experience?



I know I think at least some experience you know what I hope we can do with these these messages is that we can help people to get be on the right track with just the prescription itself and some basics but then within that prescription I think they need to do it that first time and maybe the second time and start to get a feeling for what is what’s four times eight feel like and what do I Where do I need to start? What’s the initial power and initial feeling and then guide you know, go from there. It’s really important for me to say there’s nothing magical about any of these and I’m not trying to sell one. So once a while Steven sells the four times eight, that’s his that’s the Seiler intervals or whatever. No, four times eight was one of the Models we’ve used, and it turned out seemed to result in good adaptation. But it maybe could have been seven times six, or, you know, you know, I’m saying it, we think it’s more to do with the total duration that we’re prescribing that that actually is a constraining factor that helped that we can use as coaches or, you know, to prescribe and help our athletes be where we want them to be. And then I need to backup now, because we get so focused on the individual interval session that we forget the forest here, we get so focused on the tree, that we forget the forest in the forest is this, let’s let’s say you train five times a week on average day weekend weekend. So that’s about 250 sessions per year, if my math is right, plus minus, and let’s say you do an 8020 model where you say, Yep, 20% of my sessions are going to be seriously hard. All right, then that’s around 50 hit sessions each year. And then you may end up doing a few more than that. But a minimum, typical, reo listeners are doing 50 to 100 hard sessions per season or per year, as part of their training, right. So we have to think about is, when we’re prescribing this, we’re trying to prescribe a an interval training prescription base, that gives us the signals that we need over time, over these hundred sessions that they may be, without stressing more than necessary. So I always get back to this issue is, is I want to create a signal, I’ve got to live with some stress, yes, we’re gonna stress the system big time. But we don’t need to stress the system more than necessary, then it becomes unsustainable. This is about the big philosophy, this is the big picture. And sometimes we forget this because we get so focused on the individual details of the workout, that maybe are not as important as we think. And we forget the big issue, which is, hey, I need to make sure that these hundred hard workouts I do in a year have some there’s a plan here and that there’s a sustainability built into them. So that I’m, I’m progressing.


Trevor Connor  47:20

Let’s get back to the show. Right. And just to go a little deeper down that rabbit hole that you’re talking about. I think that that was a great observation. Talking about those five by five minute intervals. One of the reasons I love those is remember, we earlier in the episode talked about training, just sub threshold is great for improving lactate clearance. So when I want to improve that side of an athlete system, this is one of the intervals I give, when I have a new athlete, they’re always just tell me what power to do it at. And that’s the problem. One day, 290 watts might be right, another day, 290 watts might be too high another time, it might be too low. And I’ll actually put this clip in. But we had that episode where we talked with Sepp coos about his training, and he says he goes out, he’ll he has a target power for a workout. But he’ll see how the first interval feels and then he adjusts. He says some days, power needs to be lower. Some days the power needs to be higher, realizing that 290 watts might be the right one time, but it’s not the right the next time if you just go out and blindly do every interval up to 90, you’re not as optimally hitting what you’re trying to hit.


Chris Case  48:28

Yep. And Dr. Seiler mentioned the you know, some days you might only be able to do three, right some days you might be able to do five so there’s not only the the watts themselves, but the number of repetitions where you have that variability there and you can play with that to customize the workout on that day and based on your sensations and the numbers.


Trevor Connor  48:49

Sep Cuse 2018 winner the tour of Utah’s growing up with power and relies on it heavily. He talked with us about how he uses it really got into the complexity of the execution. He told us he starts with a simple targets owner intensity, but then there’s a lot of on their own decisions along the way.



For me, I usually just buy by power only. I’ve never done done heart rate. But yeah, I usually set myself up with with numbers that are pretty, pretty doable. Really, never, never really reaching for for a number. I mean, you know, some days will be harder than others. But yeah, the way I do the intervals I go into them knowing Yeah, this is a number or, or a perceived exertion that that is not not easy, but something that’s attainable and repeatable day to day or interval to intervals. So yes, it’s hard to describe it. But I’d say at the end of the day, I never feel like Oh, that was a 10 out of 10. just awful day hard. At the end of the day, it’s like oh, that was maybe a maybe eight out of 10 difficulty. But I could do it again tomorrow. So I’d say that’s my my general feeling. Yeah,


Trevor Connor  49:59

so If you You said you’re going to look at power, let’s say you do an intervals you say I’m going to be doing these intervals at 400 watts. Do you consider how you feel at all? I mean, if you go out in one day, they’re killing you another day, they feel easy. Do to say I’m gonna ignore how that feels. And I’m going to stick with the 400 watts or do you? Listen to how you feel and say, maybe today I need to back down? Or today? I can step it up a little?



Yeah, I think usually if it takes me about, yeah, intervals to intervals to truly feel how, how I’ll feel that that day or that session or whatever. So yeah, definitely. If I feel like crap, I think okay, well, what did I do? What was the what is the training looks like before? What What have I been eating? And then you know, I’ll make a decision. Maybe I shouldn’t be doing the interval at all. If I feel that awful, or, yeah, maybe I should push through maybe at a lower lower power and just make that that new number, the new, you know, standard for for just that day. But yeah, it’s always a tough call. Because you always want to be, at least for me, I always want to be at the the top of what I can do. But another component is thinking thinking big picture the left for later in the week or for, you know, the next week’s training what when you need to, when you need to do save yourself for


Trevor Connor  51:22

now, what about I don’t know what type of intervals you do, but what about shorter like, vo two max intervals? So yeah, that kind of too. Yeah. So that range,



that’s what I was gonna also measure. So for v2, for example, that’s just, yeah, I’d never feel good during those. And those are pretty much I feel pretty much all out to truly get the v2 effect. So that is also just based on. Yeah, what I what I perceive the effort to be and then also what, what kind of number I, I know I should be at, but they never feel like, they feel completely different from a threshold effort to me, because it’s five minutes full gasp, basically. And then recovery. Fair enough.


Trevor Connor  52:09

So you said it feels different? How do they feel different?



Yeah, I guess a threshold, for example, feels feels controlled, repeatable. You have more, I guess, mental mental clarity for for your technique, and you’re shifting and looking up the road. So I think those are, those are markers for me that I say, Okay, I’m in, I’m in a good, good place right now. This is a good, good pace, or a good power. And then for for a v2 effort, for example, which you’re, you’re kind of reaching for, you know, those those components, like your your cadence, your gear, choice, your technique, that all starts to, to fade a bit as that ever gets harder. But then again, that that goes to show what your what zones, you’re most comfortable. And so if you’re, you know, if you’ve been training that, let’s say that vo to number for a while, you’re going to be much more comfortable in it, and you’re going to be able to execute all these, I guess techniques. And then if you’re, you know, not comfortable in that zone, you’re going to start to to fade a bit technique wise, which I think a lot of people overlook.


Trevor Connor  53:21

Fair enough. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.



What Lee missing the or the losing a bit of the tech tech.






And those intervals, I mean, ideally, you’d have full control in every every zone, you know, and you Yeah, I’d say for me, if I’m training one, not one zone, but one, I guess, type of effort for extended period of time, I feel more in control, and I feel okay, I can, you know, play around a bit more in this zone. But if it’s like, oh, this is the first time I’ve done a threshold workout in a week, it feels very foreign. And those things like feet, like your respiration rate or your you know, you’re sitting standing, all those things start to feel a bit more like out of control, I guess or something that you’re chasing a bit rather than firmly in control of.


Chris Case  54:22

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Trevor Connor  55:36

So this is where the complexity of the mill you comes into effect in the execution, I don’t think you can effectively execute just saying I’m going to hit a target wattage, I think you have to look at the wattage, you have to use it I give my athletes a target wattage range, but it’s going to vary day to day, I also talked about heart rate, but sometimes they might be dehydrated, that’s gonna raise heartbreak, sometimes it might be a little fatigue, that’s gonna lower heart rate, they need to know about those effects. And no one. I do those intervals all the time myself, sometimes I do them. And I can’t break 165 beats per minute. Other times I do them. And I’m already at 170 the first interval, but I know that it’s I’ve learned the field. And ultimately feel is really critical. Yep, I know what they should feel like and just go out today, my heart rates a little low, then ask myself the question, does that mean I’m too fatigued? And I shouldn’t do them? Or is that due to something else? And these are, this goes back to that when you’re riding side by side, you just have this natural instinct of here’s what I do in this situation, usually to do that situation when I do these intervals. I’m not just blindly sitting there doing a walk, I’m looking at my heart rate, I’m looking at my power, I’m looking at feel I’m looking at what’s been going on this week, how was my sleep last week and all these different factors to finally say, Here’s about the right intensity for these intervals, or no not going to do these intervals aren’t just going to do three, or hell, I’m feeling great. I’m going to do six Yep. That’s the complexity that’s in the execution. And again, my strong bias is if you have this remarkably complex exercise prescription, and every time you go out to do intervals, you’re doing a different exercise prescription, you don’t have that wherewithal to be able to say, Is this right? Is this wrong? You know, I personally only have five, six types of intervals that I go to, because I’ve learned them really well. And I know what they should feel like,


Chris Case  57:23

you know, this, this makes me think of and you might you might disagree with me here. But at one point, we spoke with Evan Huffman. And he described one of his favorite workouts, and it was, I would say, on the slightly complex side, it was these over over unders, you know, there was so many minutes at a certain percentage, and then you would go over it, then you drop back down. And then you do other sets and stuff like that. And I felt like, you know, the, those were kept things interesting. But I felt like you had to think too much while you were doing them. And and you could get confused, or you could get off and then you get kind of lost in that is if you did it enough, it’d probably be second nature, right? But we’re talking here about doing intervals and accumulating quality time, right? If you can just if it’s like five by five or four by eight, it’s like that’s so easy to wrap your head around. And then you can focus on all of those other things that makes the execution optimal, right? But if you’re worried about like, I got to go to 20% over this, and then I got to drop 10% in under 20 seconds, then after 10 seconds for 30 seconds, then that for a minute. Exactly. It’s just like you get lost in that





Trevor Connor  58:40

So you know, personally, like I said, I have just a few go to so I have my threshold work. I do five by fives four by eight. Sometimes I’ll do the three by 16. And they’re all very simple. And I know exactly how they should feel I know exactly what I’m looking for. And it took me years to learn how to really execute them right? Even though they’re remarkably simple prescriptions. Yep. For my high intensity, I have a sprint workout. And I love Tabata style workouts. I do 20 times and I do 1515 and again, I’ve done them enough. I know exactly how to



Why do you even bother doing them? Trevor? You’re so bad at sprinting everyone. So I


Trevor Connor  59:16

want to actually thousand watts and go because it’s additive. Yes. Because it’s additive. You need that additive. You need that, you know, everybody needs to do that work that really hits that amtk pathway. And I went out and did my 2010s last night and they absolutely sucked. It was my first time doing them this year and blew up spectacularly Mm hmm. And went great workout for me right now because that system isn’t isn’t fully there.


Chris Case  59:40

That’s an interesting point. Honestly, like you’re not a sprinter. But you still do what would most people would consider like a quote sprint workout because of the effects that it has on your adaptation as an athlete. So to stress that point, the things that you do aren’t necessarily key to your qualities as a racer or your your interest as a racer, but you might end up doing things that are a little outside of your wheelhouse because they affect your physiology and improve you.


Trevor Connor  1:00:10

So yeah, and I think that actually leads I was going to use another example is going to talk about in a minute, but maybe there’s a good place to talk about it. This again, the prescription does not need to be complex, but the execution is critical. So I’ve been doing Green Mountain stage race for many years. Mm hmm. And I’ve started using it. I do my mad scientist stuff on myself to both help me be a better coach. And so we can talk about these things. Fast talk. So I have experimented with my build the Green Mountain I had one year where I did nothing but sprint intervals leading up to it. Wow, I had a another level it wasn’t like it’s doing every day. But my Yeah, intensity work with a sprint. Yeah, guys a week, I had other times where I just did threshold Hill repeats almost nothing above that. And I can tell you, each of those times that I got to the line, I was still the same. I was still that diesel that can go good, hard, steady pace. But when you get to the sprint, yeah, not there. When I did the sprint workout, I maybe had a slightly better jump. But it did not transform me as a rider, I was still basically the same guy. And when I look back on it, how well I did in the race had nothing to do with what was my mix of complex intervals. Really, almost anything was gonna kind of get me there. As long as I was doing some big volume in some sort of high intensity. It was going to get me to somewhat where I need to be for the race. What affected my performance was looking back and saying, How well did I execute? Sure it was I under training was I overtraining when I was doing the high intensity stuff? Was it really hurting myself? Or was I kind of giving it the the 95% effort and the yo ain’t home? Right? Those are the things I could point at. It looked at one year I did horrible Green Mountain, I look back at my interval work. And when I was fun, listen every day. Mm hmm. Those were the things that showed up in the race. Right, but I won’t I have no evidence that boy, I did this one interval workout. That was the magic bullet. And all of a sudden I was crushing.





Chris Case  1:02:16

Okay, so with all that being said, we’ve got the complexity of the physiology. We’ve got the hopefully the simplicity of the prescription. And then we’ve talked about the difficulty of that execution. What does this all mean? There’s there’s three big things that we want to focus on now in terms of the meaning of this episode.


Trevor Connor  1:02:39

So I think the first one is going right back to the beginning of this podcast, looking at that giant, ugly mess of a physiological meal you and saying, the first thing you really need to do is figure out what parts of that meal you you want to focus on. And this is why, you know, was so great to have Sebastian Weber on the show. And I we got some feedback from people that really struggled with this, because he is the one who came on board and said sometimes working the right part of that mill you to be, let’s say a time trailer is going to hurt other sides of your fitness, and vice versa. Mm hmm. So the example he gave is if you want to be a top level time trailer, you’re going to hurt your sprint share. And if you want to be a great sprinter, you’re not going to win the World time drop champion, right. And that’s because in this giant ugly mess, that particular parts of the middle you that you want to hit, actually can hurt assets you need for the other. So know what parts you really want to target that’s going to determine the sort of work that you want to do. And again, go with it will go the time traveler example, he gave a lot of sub threshold work at locates. And the reason for that is then you’re really hitting that lactate clearance. Also, when you’re doing low cadence, you’re recruiting more of those to a fibers and you’re training them to work aerobically. And the problem is if you train them to work, aerobic Li, they’re not gonna be good for sprinting. Yep. So you’re going to lose some of that top and jump. mess. You know, that’s just an example. But the really important message here is targeting the right parts of the mill you is a lot more than just saying, I need to train in this particular zone, or this particular watch. And I loved when we had Dr. Coggan and hunter Allen and Steven McGregor on the show. They talked a bit about this. First of all, they pointed out zones overlap. Mm hmm. There’s levels not zones. There are levels, there are levels overlap, and understand that you have a threshold level. But it doesn’t mean that you aren’t training other systems when you’re at that level. It also doesn’t mean that you are only training your threshold when you’re at threshold. Right? Right. You have to think of it as more complex than that. Yep. Pretty much unless you are absolute sprint, or noodling. 90 watts, you’re going to get some improvements in that threshold fitness. And most of those levels is just where do you optimally target. But it’s beyond just zones. It’s beyond just intensity, there’s cadence, there’s a link, there’s recovery. There’s a whole bunch of other factors that make the execution remarkably complex. But the prescription doesn’t need to become yonex. Yeah, we were lucky enough to talk with Dr. Andy Coggan and hunter Allen about training zones, they invented possibly the most common zone model in existence. But as you see, they believe our physiology is more of a continuum. And these training zones are really more of a standardization or a communication tool. And there’s nothing really magical about each zone. In fact, they even hate the term zones.



Now, if you’re dealing with what athlete, if you’re dealing with six athletes, yes, I could sit there and tell athletes a go out today and hold between 210 and 240 watts for six hours. And I can tell athletes be you do 270, you know, 325, or whatever. But if you’re dealing with more than six athletes, you need some systematic approach in order to a communication to standardize things. And that’s really what this is all about. I mean, Hunter use the word clarity. It’s a it’s a system to standardize communication. With the recognition, of course, the physiological responses occur on a continuum, physiological adaptations are a result of the continuum. Nonetheless, you know, humans have difficulty dealing with Shades of Grey. So we painted as a bit more black and light. And we say there are seven training levels. Because it’s a way of eating and communication, especially with dealing with large numbers of individuals. But anyone who thinks that there’s magic and training in a particular intensity, you know, just doesn’t understand well, first, they don’t understand how the body responds to exercise. But they also don’t understand what a hunter and I and then, with the join in, I’ve been trying to educate people about for the past two decades, again, I come back to they’re called levels and not zones, or a reason. I’ve always been called levels. And I’ve, I’ve railed against this, you know, if you’re not as been around as long as I have, you may not remember the era in which people were discouraged from going too hard in the offseason, because they will, you’ll blow up their capillaries. You go out and you go, yeah, sticker sticker, I hear you, and you go out and ride with Adam, it’s like, No, I have to, you know, get off my bike and walk up this hill, because I’ll blow up my capillaries. You know, that’s ridiculous. That’s not how people ride bikes in the real world. So if you overly constrained somebody’s power out, but because of the way you’re prescribing training, all you’re doing is making the training less specific, go back to the original system that I put out there back in 2001. Now, it refers to the average power, either for the interval, if you’re talking about interval type work, or refers to the average power for the entire workout, if you were talking about, you know, just a steady state endurance ride, or if it’s something like a tempo session, well, you know, you warm up and you cool down, but you focus on what was the average power over the hour and a half in the middle. But that doesn’t mean that power remains within that range at all times. In fact, you know, exactly what you really should be aiming for. Because we don’t go out and Time Trial everywhere. At least not masters. I was gonna say, I’d like to circle back to the question you asked originally and why you know what represents a good system? On presale? Another question I know that you wanted to address and that is what you use as your anchor point. So I would upfront say it makes sense from a physiological perspective that your anchor point has to be your metabolic fitness. But with that said, one of the issues that I had to take into consideration with the additional levels was, you know, what is the right number, recognizing that it’s all shades of grey, and that subdividing things into ranges or regions, or zones or levels, or whatever you want to call them, is simply a mental convenience. Well, how far do you go, if you set up 15 different levels, that better reflects the continuum, but it’s rather unwieldy. On the other hand, if you have a three zone system, and you’re an advocate of polarized training, well, if you think you’re never going to train in zone two, and that everything should be a 65% of vo two Max and below or really hard, well, then three zones might be sufficient because it serves the needs of your I’ll call it bias as to how people should train. I was trying to develop something that was flexible enough that it could be used by any coach regardless of their philosophy about how people should train Trying to be agnostic with respect to training, philosophy, and also trying to think about well, how complex and the how simple should it be? And ultimately, I decided seven was the magic number. Probably number, by the way,



ah, I could have been right could



have been wrong, but that’s what I settled on. Because it seemed to me that that was the minimum number that were that was needed to really capture the way people actually do train. And that you could then classify various workouts and they would all all or almost all fall into one of these seven levels.


Trevor Connor  1:10:38

Let’s get back to the show and quickly talk about another approach race specific training.


Chris Case  1:10:44

So, Trevor, you’ve been talking a lot about this physiological mill you going on? What about specificity? Where’s that come into play?


Trevor Connor  1:10:53

Yeah, we’ve certainly had some people come on the show have really talked about your training needs to be very specific to your event, I’m a little more in the camp of of train the engine, build a big engine, and then let the engine figure out how to handle the race. But I do think there is a place for specificity. And I will say, if you’re looking at that physiological mill you and feeling overwhelmed and trying to figure out what parts of it Do I want to hit? Well, an easy way to answer that is to look at what’s my target races here, my target race has a five minute climb, that’s going to be selective. So I’m going to focus on doing five minute climb work, because I know that’s going to hit the same parts of the mill you that I need for my target race. So in some ways, specificity can help you pick exactly what you want to target


Chris Case  1:11:42

mm can be beneficial. Well, that leads us right to your your second point, which we’ve we’ve talked about already. But let’s get really to the point, keep the prescription simple focus on execution. And you gave your example of how you change things for Green Mountain stage race, and you came at it from many different directions and ended up virtually in the same place, same place. But my fitness, I could really look back and say, when did I execute the plan? Well,


Trevor Connor  1:12:09

I had better fitness executed the plan not so well. Yep, fitness wasn’t as good. So again, this is a bit of an oversimplification of the science. But remember those four pathways that promote PG C, one alpha, particularly the that calcium release, and the NPK pathway, you want to just really focus on optimally hitting both of those in a good mix. And hitting that amtk pathway. As we said before, that is just really depleting that that anaerobic energy store, hitting that calcium pathway. It’s just getting that volume, getting that time on the bike. The other thing that I’m going to say with this is because execution is so important, and again, my bias, I don’t think it’s beneficial to do a different workout every single time. Sure, I am a big fan of pick a workout. That’s going to target what you want to target. Really focus on the execution and do it for four to six weeks, especially because that’s first time you do it, it’s probably going to take you four to six weeks to figure out how to execute it right? Yeah,


Chris Case  1:13:14

no, it that that repetition in succession is really going to help you dial in things learn how how to execute in a better way. It’s kind of like when we record a lot of podcasts. In a given time. We by the eighth episode in a given week. We’re like, man, we’re really good at this right and then we’ll take a break and we’ll come back and we’re like, suck. So


Trevor Connor  1:13:38

what’s actually going on is by the eighth episode, we’re so tired, we’re deluding ourselves into thinking we’re good. That’s probably more like and we come back with a fresh mind and go, boy, we’re awful.


Chris Case  1:13:47

So we our apologies, were completely inconsistent in how we record so if there are any duds out there, we you know, sincerest apologies.


Trevor Connor  1:13:57

But going back, we’ve interviewed a lot of pros, and many of those pros actually have very simple workouts. But when they talk about the complexity of their workout, they’re talking about the execution, they’re talking about those second by second decisions that actually somewhat come naturally, because they are so experienced, but they get that an overly complex prescription doesn’t allow them to get that field doesn’t allow them to make those decisions. And they also most of them that we’ve talked to use a mix of heart rate power and Rp. I can tell you personally, I’ve been training for so many years, I have not calculated my training zones, or levels or whatever you want to call them calculate them in years. Because I know exactly what every single workout to do. I know exactly what you feel. Mm hmm.


Chris Case  1:14:44

I don’t use anything anymore. I guess I do have feelings, Trevor. I use them sometimes.


Trevor Connor  1:14:52

Your coach I don’t care about your feelings. to pose yourself.


Chris Case  1:14:56

I can’t you know all that that that field with the description in the notes. I put I put a lot of time into that. Remember that ad would end with an insult to you know, you wanted that you were craving that. Yes, that’s true. That’s true. Okay.


Trevor Connor  1:15:10

Moving on. Sorry. So I will be more attentive to your feelings in the future. Thank


Chris Case  1:15:13

you. I need that.


Trevor Connor  1:15:15

Okay. So now that we did our little psycho therapy session, let’s get back to the topic on hand. Other things to factor into that execution and making sure the execution is really good is making sure Are you ready for the intervals? That goes back to we’re talking about about the game producing the right amount of Ross, but not too much.


Chris Case  1:15:35

How do you know?


Trevor Connor  1:15:36

There’s a bunch of feel factors? there, there’s tools and we just talked about? whoop, yep, that’s going to help you, it’s going to give you some indicators. So that’s using heart rate variability, which does show recovery levels, a lot of it is feel one of the things I look for, with my athletes, if they go out to execute the intervals, and they can’t hit the wattage, turn around and go home. Yeah, I always give them a, here’s what you have to hit. And you could be two intervals in if you aren’t able to hit this anymore. You’re done. Yeah. And again, that’s another argument for keeping the prescription simple. Because if you’re all over the map, you don’t know if you’re hitting the interval the water or not, if I go and do five by five minute intervals, even though I don’t give myself zones, I watch where my watch is, every time I do it. And if I did it one week at 330. And then a couple days, or if I’m consistently doing it 330. And then a couple days later, I get on the bike, I try to do it, the legs feel bad, I can barely break 300 I go, I’m not ready. I’m not recovered. And I pull the plug.


Chris Case  1:16:40

I will also mention a previous episode that we did, we like to pitch those episodes, so you can refer back to them. We did an episode entirely on recovery. And, and some of the cool things that we heard from from specialists, there was that some of these questionnaires that you do on a daily basis, or regularly and frequently also give you a great sense of how recovered you are, what condition you are, and they have to do with your mood. A lot of them. So that was interesting to learn that.


Trevor Connor  1:17:11

Yeah, so there’s a scale called the palms, which some athletes will do almost every day. And it actually is pretty good at showing where you’re at. And whether you need recovery or whether you’re you’re ready to be training. Yep. And sometimes when my athletes when I’m worried they’re pushing burnout, I tend to take the palms. Yeah. One thing we hope you don’t think we’re saying is that power is useless. Not at all. It’s very powerful tool. But what we are saying is there’s a lot more to it than just doggedly sitting in training zones. Here’s a great pass interview with Tom squinch. With trek Sega Fredo explain some of the ways he uses power and show some of these subtle differences.



So that also depends on the type of interval, just because the sustained efforts, the long ones that you keep on going forever, it’s very important to keep an eye on that number and not go over just because as soon as you go over your body turns to a different kind of intensity and builds lactic acid, and you won’t be able to sustain it. Whereas if you have shorter intervals, which are like two minutes, five minutes, then it’s not necessarily about the actual power number. But it is in that regard. As soon as you go for too far down, it’s not worth doing it. But sometimes it’s the higher you go, the better where but at the same time, not for me, I never, I’m almost never going flat out in training, just because I like to keep my race legs for the races. And just doing those intervals at a specific power number, like saves your legs a little bit and doesn’t let you go too far into the read. Like if you if even if you’re trying to do like five minute intervals, and you just do the first one too hard. And then the last one is not going to be anywhere near as good. And you’re just going to be well it’s not, it’s not gonna be worth doing the fifth 161 or whatever.


Trevor Connor  1:19:11

Let’s quickly go back to our interview with Ned over and we talked to them about how he executes his training. Notice that well, he doesn’t use numbers or complex intervals. He literally just uses climbs at different links. He really struggles in this interview to explain some of the complexity behind the execution.



What I’ll do is have a loop planned. Generally maybe I’ll ride out the valley to get into some climbs and then there’ll be a series of rolling up and down climbs which I will plan to go hard on and and I know the segments right on Strava. So I I I’ll paste myself for those certain segments to try and get a fast time on. When I go out and do that. It’s not set in stone because And it’s really just kind of a feeling I have my legs a warm up, I’ll start doing the segments. And if I can feel my legs, like whether they’re loading up with lactic acid, and Okay, that’s probably the wrong term. Already, I’ve recently read that that’s probably not the right description of it, but my legs will feel heavy. And I won’t be able to turn over the gear that I’m looking for. And I know the speeds and just the, the feeling my body has when when it’s rested, then I’ll skip doing intervals do a recovery ride and wait to do intervals on a day when I’m when I’m better recovered.


Trevor Connor  1:20:43

Are there particular fields in your body that you say, okay, that’s a dangerous sign, or that’s a red flag.



If I’m trying to describe the, the fatigue, that I feel when I’m trying to do an effort, and I’m not capable of it, and, and one thing I have to do is that sometimes your body has to wake up, right? So if you’re just starting one effort, and and you don’t, you’re feeling fatigue, sometimes you need more of an opener, before you can get to the point, you know, where you can do a quality animal. And I guess I’m not describing exactly what that feeling is. So well, but it’s it’s just the it’s the lack of power in my legs to to accomplish the effort, and power. So I’m struggling to describe that feeling.


Chris Case  1:21:41

I mean, I understand what you’re trying to say it is tricky to to say it’s like this feeling of sluggishness or a feeling of just that lack of snap or power that you mentioned, in terms of what it actually feels like in your leg. I don’t, yeah, it’s, if you had a it’s like cutting the peak off of if, if What if your optimal performance is the Matterhorn. The day when you go out there, and you don’t feel so great, it’s like somebody’s chopped the tip of the Matterhorn off is that that’s my, that’s my way of describing that lack.



Yeah, it’s a fatigue that I’m feeling in my life. And I’m not gonna call it necessarily a burning because it’s almost because I don’t get to the point where my legs are burning. It’s where I’m attempting to put in an effort. And, you know, I feel like my respiration increases, right, I’m breathing harder. And, and I can’t actually get to that point where I can make my legs burn. But I’m feeling it as kind of a general fatigue. So I breathe harder, but I’m not getting that burning in my legs from from being able to tax them strong enough? If not, I mean,


Trevor Connor  1:23:07

so that begs a question, when you’re doing some sort of structured work, like you’re doing, let’s say, threshold on some of the climbs, how do you pace yourself,



it’s from knowing the segments, and then basically feeling in my legs, not going too hard, you know, in until I can know that the end of the segment is coming or pacing myself throughout the segment, based on on knowing how far the segment is, or roughly how long and then not going anaerobic is, is not necessarily the right term, but not using too much energy to where I know that I will, you know, end up being fatigued and having to slow down before the end of the segment. So really, just, it’s basing it on not feeling my body, which I’m not really describing that well, but I know it well enough based on and this this is more of a fatigue I feel in my legs and actually and as far as increased respiration, right over the course of the segments and the segments are, you know, anywhere from, you know, a minute to a half an hour. So it’s kind of just pace learned over you know, 2030 years of, of training.


Trevor Connor  1:24:28

So as I was gonna ask is how you learn. So it sounds like you just have this innate sense of Okay, this is a 10 minute climb and I know about how hard to go to the last 10 minutes or there’s a 30 minute climb. I know about how hard to go for that. And that was gonna be my question is how did you learn what that intensity is? Is it just trial and error of yours until you you got a feel for it?



Yeah, I would say it’s trial and error smell and, you know, the feeling my leg and the building up of fatigue as far How long can you last over this specific climb? Right, because, you know, it could be an undulating climb, and then you know, there’s a certain amount of recovery. So you can, you can bury yourself a little harder if you know that the climb is going to flatten out, you’ll get a little bit of recovery. So it’s specific to knowing the climb, and not so much just based on time.



Back to the show.


Chris Case  1:25:24

All right, well, the third point that I know you want to make is very critical one and this is again, having having worked with you as a as my coach, I know that it’s not these specific sessions that you’re you’re obviously you want execution in a specific session session to be it is critical. But you also want the athlete to have a greater understanding of the context in which that session falls. And we’re talking here about the locks and perhaps several weeks of training and work that you do that lead to the additive effects, the adaptations that we’re looking for. And that is a critical piece of this puzzle.


Trevor Connor  1:26:09

So remember, again, go into that PG c one alpha boy, we


Chris Case  1:26:12

are not again, no, we’re


Trevor Connor  1:26:13

This is a PG c one alpha episode.





Trevor Connor  1:26:18

That was I was so excited when I realized that’s what this episode is about. I


Chris Case  1:26:22

really think you should get a tattoo of that on your somewhere on your body where people can see it and be like, wow, is that what is that would


Trevor Connor  1:26:30

be like the triathletes will get the Iron Man tattooed on their ankle. I’m gonna PG c one, alpha two, absolutely, I


Chris Case  1:26:36

think that would be great. It’d be such a conversation starter, no,


Trevor Connor  1:26:40

or conversation Ender that would make sure that nobody ever rode beside peloton, ever again,


Chris Case  1:26:46

maybe you should get a kid that just has PG one C, PG, sorry, PG C, one Alpha team,


Trevor Connor  1:26:54

that’s going to be the team name presented by



by presented by Ross.


Trevor Connor  1:27:00

Like it. That’s our team,


Chris Case  1:27:03

presented by hormesis. Again, let’s move on to this critical third,


Trevor Connor  1:27:13

please move on. So remember, there is an additive effect, you want to hit multiple pathways that all promote it. And then you’re going to get greater training gains. That’s that’s the simplification of what we’re talking about. And like I said, if you want the details, go read that great review by Larson. So no one workout is the magic bullet. That’s what we’re trying to get across. It’s in the execution. And on top of just executing each workout correctly, there is the How does it all come together, getting that right mix to get that added effect. And again, this goes back to why we’re such fans of the polarized approach, because polarized approach really hits both that NPK pathway. And that calcium buildup pathway, and theoretically has a big additive effect. So you need to look in terms of the week. And Chris can tell you when I coach him, I talk about the week. Mm. And I always say the week and what you’re trying to accomplish in the week is more important than any particular workout. You go out to do that workout and the legs aren’t there. You’re not recovered, go home, we’ll map out the week again, to still accomplish the purpose of the week. But it’s how that week comes together. And we’ve heard a lot of pros say this to us. How do you map it out? How do you put weeks together? Personally, I love the do your high intensity when you’re fresh, then do your volume when the legs are a little more fatigue. So I like training the two three day blocks. There’s also the building over three weeks and then trying to have a Recovery Week. Yep, these are the things that are really going to help improve you. But it’s looking for that additive effect. It’s looking at that balance of Ross and recovery, a Ross buildup and recovery. So you really need to look at how everything fits together. And that was when I was talking about Green Mountain. That’s really where I saw I was riding, ready to race or it wasn’t driving ready to race. It’s how well I executed the index. And again, just my personal bias. But I think when you look at the particular workouts, the execution doesn’t need to be complex, just find a good interval workout that you know you can execute Well, that’s going to hit the right part of that physiological value that you want to hit. And then it’s how these different workouts simple workouts all come together in the week. That’s where you find the magic. Yeah. I feel like we talked with Dr. Seiler about that were mixing up the different types of intervals you did actually it wasn’t statistically significant, perhaps but they saw that the more consistent you were, the better the gains. So then in his interval study, they had three groups. So when they were looking at periodization, they had one group that did four by fours, then four by eight each time was four for four weeks. Did the four by fours and the four by eights in the four by six teens. Another group did four by 16, and four by eights and four by fours. And a third group was every time you go to do your animal work, just pick one at random Yep. And they found very similar gains between the what was called the increasing and the decreasing groups. And well wasn’t statistically significant. But that’s because they had low numbers is my guess. They saw slightly lower gains in the group that just mixed it up. And they even says in the study, it’s because since they were always mixing it up, he didn’t feel they were able to execute.


Chris Case  1:30:36

They didn’t nail it. Right.


Trevor Connor  1:30:38

Chris and I had a great talk with 2017, US National Champion, Larry warbucks, about numbers and training. Well, Larry talked to us about how to effectively use power and heart rate. But he said he learned over the years is that it has to fit into a broader picture. Otherwise, even if your individual sessions are going well, you may be off track.


Toms Skujins  1:30:58

The other week, I send a message to my trainer that I work with that I am who is a really smart young German guy who now now he’s a trainer, a giant, you know, some of his athletes had been riding really well I knew that he coached one girl, and I said, Hey, you know, I just want to say congratulations, I saw you know, your, your athlete was doing really well. And he said, Oh, thanks, actually, you know, a lot of my athletes have been doing well. And he said, he sort of like, changed his philosophy a bit. Whereas before, when he was working with us, he was saying, you know, he took sort of more of a backseat approach. And, you know, he give us the training, and he looked at our training and everything like that, but that was kind of it. And he said now he’s, I guess a lot more holistic. So he’s talking to his riders a lot more. And, you know, he speaks to them all the time. And then, so he had one athlete who said, Okay, I guess he wrote on whatever the software they were using for training, like, Oh, I was, uh, you know, it was her recovery day. And she said, Oh, sorry, I had to go a little harder, because I was on a bike path. And all these people were in the way and I had to slow down. And then I had to get back in touch with my massage. And you know, like this, that the other thing and, you know, it was kind of like boba, and you know, he said, he read it. And then he called her and he said, look like, I just read your, you know, your comments. And I want to ask you, Does, does that sound like recovery to you? And she was like, No, and he’s like, to me, that sounds like stress. So that’s great, you’re getting massage, that’s great, you’re going on a recovery ride. But if the massage and the recovery ride are making you more stressed, and mentally fatigued than just doing nothing, he’s like, I don’t care. If you ride your bike, then he said, the goal is recovery. So whatever it takes to recover, mentally, and physically, that’s what you need to do. So he said, you know, if you have a recovery day, your goal is recovery, not the not the one hour spin, the goal of the day is recovery. And whatever that means to you is what you need to do. And the same goes for training day, you know, your goal on that day is to achieve your training. But yeah, and then I guess the thing is, with the whole TSS TSB CTL stuff, that’s more like, my coach looks at that, and I don’t pay too close attention, but I’ll definitely take a peek every now and then. But I try not to get too caught up in it.





Toms Skujins  1:33:27

I think it’s more listening to only the numbers and not listening to your body or sensations, you know, I you’ll hear like a lot of directors and stuff like that talking about sensations, sensations, sensations, but I think, I think it’s really important to be sort of in touch with yourself. And I think if you’re just focused too much on the numbers, then you can totally forget that, like, maybe you just feel bad, you know, maybe you’re, maybe you’re tired, maybe you know, there’s all these external factors, maybe you have, you know, a bunch of stress for some other reason in your life. And, you know, that that can add up, like I was saying, a lot more fatigue, then, you know, then training peaks will show so I guess, like, for example, when I was not at 23, you know, there was one, one season and year that, you know, all my numbers and everything were really good, but then I just couldn’t explain why I wasn’t riding Well, in some races until I sort of looked back and realized that like, you know, I had done like overseas travel, you know, did this big raise overseas travel and other big race drove halfway across the country drove halfway back across country drove back, you know, like, flew halfway across the country, you know, and like, all this travel and here and there and whatever. And it was like, I was just looking at the numbers and I was looking at, you know, TSS, tsp, all those things, and it was like, everything looks like I should be good. But, you know, it wasn’t all adding up. So I think it’s more to be a slave to the numbers with that. acknowledging your personal sensations and those things, I think that that’s the, that’s where you can make errors. I think if we were all computers, and you know, we all did the exact same thing every day, and you know, recovered exactly perfectly, then yeah, then you wouldn’t need to look at anything other than the numbers. But, you know, we’re all human. So we all do different things, and have ups and downs and more stressful times and less stressful times. So I think we just need to look at it, you know, more as a whole, rather than just one or the other. So yeah, and I guess one other thing to throw in there. But like, I think one of the most important things with the coach and athlete sort of relationship is, like the comments, actually. So like, my coach really likes it, I just, sometimes I’ll just write a book, you know, and I’ll explain like my how I felt on every single interval I do throughout the day. And then the general how I felt on the day, or, you know, I’ll say, Oh, I slept poorly today. But I still felt great on the bike, or like, you know, subgrade, but for some reason, I felt really bad on the bike, you know, things like that. And I guess that just gives a really good view of everything.


Trevor Connor  1:36:18

Larry mentioned how a coach can help. Let’s finish up with some thoughts from Chris on finding a coach to help at the right complexity.


Chris Case  1:36:26

So this probably sounds incredibly tough. In some ways, what we’ve just thrown at you there was that that was a lot of information we just talked about, from the science to the execution to the prescription was, was totally easy. But you’re right, that was a lot of stuff. Why would you add more complexity to it by creating a prescription that was you know, all over the place and hard to remember, and you had to write it out on a piece of tape on tape it, put it on your top tube or your stem, and then you get lost in it and shouldn’t do that.


Trevor Connor  1:37:01

That is my bias. I agree 100% with you.


Chris Case  1:37:05

This is one thing that’s been on my mind throughout the episode. And that is, you know, we’ve been talking about a lot of this stuff, perhaps it’s overwhelming to you. But a good coach should know, well should know is a strong phrasing. But a good coach will help you through this process. They know they should know the physiology. And if you have questions about it, they should be able to explain it to you. They will understand the trifecta of feeling and heart rate and power and all those nuances of how to execute well, certain intervals. And they can guide you through that so that you can begin to nail those interval sessions faster. I’m not necessarily saying that everybody should go out and hire a coach. Personally, I’ve worked with Trevor but I don’t always it’s for certain things where I will. And other times, you know, my, my preference is to not have a coach. But if you’re really focused on getting better, or just sort of knack cliche way, tapping into your best self, squeezing out the last drop of performance from yourself, then a coach, a really good coach. And we’ve had an episode on what makes a good coach and what doesn’t make a good coach, a really good coach should be able to facilitate all of this and make it less intimidating.


Trevor Connor  1:38:33

And I’m going to, again, throw my BIOS in here. And this is where I’m probably going to get rocks thrown in my window or death threats or whatever you want to call it.


Chris Case  1:38:39

I seriously hope not, this is just a podcast.


Trevor Connor  1:38:44

When you think about the episode that we just recorded in our bias, I’m going to tell you, I don’t think what makes a good coach is a coach that gives you a six week training plan with all these remarkably complex exercise prescriptions. I do think there are some coaches out there that think that’s what they’re being paid for. If they don’t give you something remarkable, big complex, you’re gonna say, why am I hiring this coach? I think a good coach is actually getting give you something very simple. And then what they are going to work on with you is the execution. Yeah, the good coach is the one that’s going to talk to you about the workout, look at your file and say, here’s what I’m noticing the execution who’s going to look at and say, You know what, you weren’t ready for these today. You were fatigued. Here’s why I know that. So you know, for next time.


Chris Case  1:39:31

Yeah, I mean, that’s probably something that maybe those unfamiliar with software like training peaks or some of these other analytical tools will is not familiar with the fact that these intervals we’re talking about really have a signature. When you look at the data and it’s graphed out, you can tell what people are doing based on what they should be doing and how those two matchups so a good coach who’s looked at literally hundreds of these files from 10s if not Hundreds of athletes will we’ll be able to key in on some of those indicators that will say, Yes, you did it right. No, you did wrong. Here’s where you need to improve. Here’s where you need to change things.


Trevor Connor  1:40:11

The next thing I would say is whether you work with a coach or not. My suggestion is, again, try different types of intervals and build for yourself a repertoire of, I’d say, seven, eight different types of interval workouts that you really like that you respond well to, and learn how to execute them. And when you’re trying one for the first time, you got to give it at least four weeks, I would probably say six to eight weeks. Yeah, and learn the execution. But don’t be going out and constantly doing new interval workouts and new interval workouts looking for that perfect interval workout that’s going to make you suddenly the better cyclist and you’ve ever been. For some reason, what always comes to mind for me is when I was a kid, and again, I’m gonna date myself. We had Mortal Kombat, I have never never going to the arcade and playing, or no, sir was Street Fighter two. I remember going to the arcade comm a street fighter two and there was this guy there who was absolutely amazing. If you remember, there’s six different buttons for different moves, you kick some punches, and all that sort of stuff. And this guy just looks at me when I line up to take him on and just goes pick a button. And so I pointed to one of them. And he absolutely destroyed me in this game, only using the one move.


Chris Case  1:41:30

And that’s he perfected it,


Trevor Connor  1:41:32

right? kind of the way I think about the the training, it’s not about having 50 different moves. It’s about having a few moves, but being really good at executing. And that’s how you’re gonna win. So don’t I see athletes a year after year after year trying different workout every year looking for that perfect workout? My argument is, you’ve probably already done a whole bunch that are the perfect workout, you just haven’t perfected them, you haven’t learned how to execute them, right?


Chris Case  1:42:01

My guess is that a lot of listeners of Fast Talk are people that love science. They love a good experiment, they want to improve they love cycling. So here’s what I propose. For those that are longtime listeners, I’d like you to write to us and tell us if our advice that we’ve given you over the last couple years is sound advice for you or not. But here’s the real thing that I like to see, I want you to adopt what we’ve talked about here today, try to put all of what we’ve discussed into practice, and come back to us with case studies of whether it’s worked for you or not. I know we’re at we’re gonna be and Chris will be responding to



all of these.


Chris Case  1:42:50

No, no, no, no, no, no, Trevor knows way more about it. So I just let you know, I give him the opportunity to respond to all these emails from from all of our listeners out there. No, you know, I just I would encourage you to not bombard us with emails, of course, because we don’t we have limited time. But I would like to hear how successful our advices again, you’re getting our bias on this this show? Honestly, it probably doesn’t work for everybody. Right. But I would like to hear how it has, if it has and how it hasn’t, if it hasn’t. And I think that would inform us going forward in terms of producing new episodes on different topics, just inform us as people interested in this type of sports science and training information. So, you know, again, don’t don’t bombard us, but give us give us a few lines about what works and what doesn’t.


Trevor Connor  1:43:49

Okay, I like it a lot. We always love hearing from listeners. And I do apologize. No, I haven’t replied to everybody. Sometimes, just like everybody, I get a little overwhelmed with work and get behind on the emails and just never get back there. But we always love to hear from you. And we always try to reply so so keep doing a say we do a temp one minute. So I


Chris Case  1:44:11

think so you had five minutes earlier, you failed miserably at that. I’m going to give you one minute now to summarize the last hour and a half discussion we’ve just had. So let’s see if you fail miserably at that as well. Ready, set, go.


Trevor Connor  1:44:25

So we talked about three things we talked about exercise prescription, we talked about execution. We talked about physiology. And my point here is physiology is remarkably complex. It’s not as simple as I’m in my threshold training zone. Therefore I’m training my threshold. It’s a lot more complex than that and don’t oversimplify the physiology. execution is remarkably complex. And it’s not as simple as I’m was told to do this at 300 watts. So I’m going to do this at 300 watts you have to factor in feel and heart rate and all these other factors to really Execute intervals write with the complexity of those two things. Keep the prescription simple, because there is no magic prescription that’s suddenly going to make you a miraculous writer. There, there are some good ones out there have been proven beneficial, like the whole reason that the bot is became very popular as it showed, they are fantastic at depleting the ATP, the anaerobic store, and really hitting the de NPK. pathway. Long. So distance is great at hitting that other pathway. So there’s certainly some workouts that are proven beneficial, but they’re not overly complicated. So keep the prescription simple.


Chris Case  1:45:41

I think you’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I think you nailed it, you know, experience,


Trevor Connor  1:45:46

this, your way of saying, I’m not going to do my Well,



you know, I


Chris Case  1:45:49

don’t know what I can add to it. Honestly, again, that summary is kind of an analogy of what we’re talking about fine. Use


Trevor Connor  1:45:55

your one minute about how you kick my butt at the panache today.


Chris Case  1:46:00

It’s all the running that I’ve been doing. That must be at


Trevor Connor  1:46:04

the fact that I’ve been training my ass off on a bike and you haven’t been riding a bike and you’ve been running. That’s why you beat me on the bike.


Chris Case  1:46:10

Let’s see all the wonderful podcast episodes of Fast Talk that we’ve done. I’ve I don’t always talk that much. It’s because I’m listening. I’m absorbing all of this information. I go out and it’s just within me. I don’t I don’t have to think too much about it. Just putting into practice all of the words that you’ve spoken so eloquently over the years on FASTA. And you’re coaching me without coaching me.


Trevor Connor  1:46:43

You didn’t want to you know, know what Chris’s favorite workout is? It’s going up a climb with me and dropping me and then finding a cliff that he can climb up just so I know. It took him a long time to climb up that cliff, because that’s how far ahead of me he got. And then he stands at the top of that cliff taking pictures while laughing at me.


Chris Case  1:47:05

We haven’t done that in a while. We need to do that again. That is your favorite workout. It certainly is. It certainly is. Yeah, there’s the goal. there’s a there’s a big carrot out in front of me get I got to get a decent lead to climb up some precarious cliff. Rock crumbling around me to get that Instagram shot. So about the pic.



There we go.


Trevor Connor  1:47:26

So there there is Chris’s favorite simple exercise prescription.


Chris Case  1:47:30

Yep. Trop Trevor. Trevor, take a picture with a picture of a cliff. Repeat.


Trevor Connor  1:47:35

Do you have a one minute are we gonna leave it there? You’re on the clock. Chris.


Chris Case  1:47:40

I think my one minute is going to be maybe quite redundant with what you’ve just said, with all the complexities that you have. And I’m talking not just what we talked about today, physiology and the the difficulties of execution, but all the other stuff going on in your life. Just it’s nice to have something that’s simple. And this goes back to yet another episode where we talked about athletes that are task oriented, I’m a task oriented athlete. And it’s really nice sometimes to have a very simple checklist of things to do for a ride, you have a purpose for every ride. Sometimes it’s go out ride for five hours. Other times if it’s intervals, which is kind of more what we’re we’re talking about here in terms of execution, it’s four by eight minutes. And that’s sort of my go to if I’m doing intervals, and it’s you do one and you like you said you see how you respond. If you need to adjust, you adjust if you don’t, and you’ve got that feeling going and you know how to do these things. You take off another one, you recover, you take off another one. It just feels good to have that sense of accomplishment as you go through it. And keep it simple and you go home and you’ve got all the quality work you need that day. I think it just helps you not stress about the things that are kind of in a way the most important. That was another episode of Fast Talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at Fast Talk Advil Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, SoundCloud and Google Play should leave us a rating and a comment. That talk is a joint production between velonews and Connor coaching. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual for net overland Chang marry Dr. Steven Siler Sep coos, Dr. Andy Coggan hunter Allen Santa Claus. Wait, that’s not tomsky Larry warboss and Trevor Connor. I’m Chris case. Thanks for listening.