Q&A on Gran Fondo Training, Cardiac Drift, Inflammation, and More

We answer listener questions on training for long endurance events, cardiac drift, the types of inflammation, and much more.

Fast Talk Podcast

We’ve received so many intriguing questions from our listeners, it was time to devote an entire episode to answering them. We appreciate the feedback, and generate many future podcast topics from your questions, so please keep them coming. You can always email us at info@fasttalklabs.com.

Episode Transcript



Welcome to Fast Talk developer news podcast and everything you need to know to ride like a pro.


Chris Case  00:15

Hello, and welcome to Fast Talk. I’m Chris case, no longer managing editor of velonews. This is Episode 86. I’m joined today by Trevor Connor, as always Coach Connor. Welcome, Trevor, you’re sitting next to me today we are not in distant lands. We’re not in distant rooms. We’re actually face to face. It’s been a while hasn’t It’s


Trevor Connor  00:38

been a long time you are in Italy, then I went down to Tobago and to Disney World, Rufus was so excited about that we


Chris Case  00:46

won’t even get into it. We will not get into it. We’ve had many discussions about it, but we won’t today. So today’s episode is going to be a good old fashioned q&a session with Trevor Nye. I’ll be asking the questions. Of course, he’ll be doing most of the answering. We haven’t done one of these in a long time.


Trevor Connor  01:04

So there’s anything I’ve learned QA is a code word for we don’t have our stuff together. So let’s throw it together. Really quick. Know,


Chris Case  01:13

man, we have so many good questions coming in from listeners, a lot of the time, Trevor is answering those questions for people in emails. And it’s really good content. And I think that the way he answers the questions for one person can apply to a lot of people out there. So this is great stuff. Got a range of really good questions today. It also allows us to get back in the groove of recording just the two of us and getting back to our roots in a way. And we have several interesting, profound announcements. Fascinating, exciting stuff.


Trevor Connor  01:52

Yeah, so I kind of brought that up. Because there is a bit of a, we got to get our stuff together. But there is a reason for that. And we felt like this is a good opportunity to explain to everybody what’s going on. And person as Chris said, he is no longer managing editor at velonews. Something that was going on behind the scenes that might have come out a little bit in our shows, but we haven’t really talked about was the fact that starting back in late July, I knew Chris was leaving Bella news, we thought he was moving on to other things. So we had several episodes there where I was actually quite sad thinking, well, this is our second to last fast dock episode. And this is our last fast dock episode. And and there was a period of time there where we thought it was coming to an end.


Chris Case  02:40

But it didn’t. What’s interesting, though, is for a while there, we weren’t sure Fast Talk was going to live. And now what has happened is the two of us have turned it 180 degrees from that. And we’re actually we formed a company called Fast Talk Labs. And we’re going to be offering more stuff. Hopefully, the audio quality will improve the content quality of Fast Talk will get even better than it is now. And you’re going to see those changes take place over the next several episodes, it will be an immediate thing. But yeah, we’re both really excited that from the ashes, not really from the ashes but close to the app from the ashes. Fast talk has risen on to bigger and better things with fast dock and Fast Talk Labs.


Trevor Connor  03:32

So what’s potentially exciting is up until now, this show has, in some ways been a side project for us. It’s what we do in the evenings. Literally the editing. And we’ve certainly got some feedback on the editing has been me sitting there with audacity, mostly hitting the various buttons going hey, what does that do?


Chris Case  03:55

That sounds like a really bad way to edit.


Trevor Connor  03:59

Not a good way.



Hey, what’s this thing? Oh, wow, what does that button do?


Trevor Connor  04:04

So these are all things now that this has gone from something that we do when we can to we’re gonna try to make a true business out of this. We’re hoping we can step up the quality, we hope there’s a lot more that we can offer to you in the coming months. So once we catch up, because as of a few weeks ago, we actually thought we were doing our final episodes. But then what’s exciting to us is what we could potentially do and what we could potentially offer all of you. But so Chris, this has to be a little bit scary for you that now this is this is this is the full time job.


Chris Case  04:45

Yeah, you know, it presents both challenges and opportunities. It’s a it’s not a side project. It’s the real thing. It’s It’s my it’s a business and that’s that’s got its challenge. Just like we said, but it’s also good opportunities. If nothing else, we get so much out of our listeners the feedback, we hear from them the questions they asked the emails they write, we want more of that we want to be informed by them. And that’s why we put put together a survey. This is going out to maybe 100 150 listeners already, but we want to really expand it and get much more feedback, the address Fast Talk Labs.com slash survey. So what is in this survey? Well, it’s everything from tell us how to listen to Fast Talk, where you listen to it, what you like about it, what you don’t like about it. But what we’re also looking for is more information on what other types of offerings you’d like, because we want to expand this that’s the opportunity component here we want to we should we have one on running and triathlon? Should we bring our guests some of our most popular guests on more often should we give them their own show, in a sense, a lot of these things is what we want to, we want to learn more from our listeners. So in essence, the survey is just a great opportunity for all of you out there to tell us exactly what you want what we do, right? When we do wrong, we do a lot of things wrong, we want to improve, we know that. And it also has a a big component of asking for your feedback on Fast Talk Labs, camps, these performance training camps that we want to offer in collaboration with the University of Colorado sports medicine, and Performance Center. We are working on those camps as we speak, but we need your help and informing us what they should be, where you’d like to stay those types of things.


Trevor Connor  06:53

So please go and fill out our survey. Again, it’s Fast Talk Labs.com slash survey. And please don’t judge us by our website, we registered that domain was a week ago, we’re still just working on a logo. So literally, our webpage right now is just a link to that survey.


Chris Case  07:13

It is indeed. So Pro, as they say hashtag so Pro. And with that, let’s get into some questions, Trevor, shall we?


Chris Case  07:34

Well, let’s get into the questions, shall we? This first question comes from Elliot cherish, who has a really fascinating question about breathing, respiration and heart rate and the relationship between the two. And I know Trevor is just chomping at the bit to answer this question, because it’s one of his favorite subjects in all of physiology. So Elliot writes in Elliott cherish writes in. I’ve noticed recently that during hard efforts, especially when racing, my breathing feels less labored at a given heart rate than it has in the past. So for example, at 185 beats per minute, I don’t feel like I’m breathing as hard as I’d expect to at that rate. I’m definitely fitter than I’ve been in prior seasons. But it seems to me there should be a pretty direct relationship between breathing rate and heart rate, as the heart is beating faster to meet increased oxygen demand. If my body needed less oxygen for the given power output, shouldn’t my heart rate also be lower? Do you know of a physiological explanation for this? Or is it just in my head?


Trevor Connor  08:36

I absolutely love this question. I still wanted to answer this question. We are getting a one of my absolute favorite things in physiology. First of all, quickly addresses final question. Yes, I do think perception was part of it. Mm hmm. He talked about his raif Fitness being different. And when you are on race form, your biochemistry is a little bit different. Pain feels different. So it just doesn’t feel as labored. So I do think that was a factor. But now let’s address the breathing. And I’m going to go on a big tangent here. But that’s because I absolutely love this. This is a question I asked myself when I was taking my first exercise physiology course that I was obsessed with obsessed with for years. Which is this. When you when you’re trying to define what is fitness, there’s that picture of you have two riders who are the same weight riding side by side one is an elite Tour de France level cyclist. The other person just started riding a bike a couple months ago and it’s completely out of shape. And you see them the Tour de France riders sitting their nose breathing while the other rider is mouth wide open. panting right. You know, they’re putting out the same power, right? Why is that? I’ve been I was fascinated with that because that was raised in one of my physiology classes. And we realize from a physiology standpoint, that’s a harder question to Answer than you would think it is. And I’ll give you some of the reasons why. First, when you look at it from a biochemistry standpoint, in order to produce that wattage, we are burning fats and carbohydrates. When you’re burning them aerobically, at the end of it, oxygen is used to basically get rid of the waste product. So this you need oxygen to fully metabolize fats and carbohydrates. That is a biochemical process that requires the exact same amount of oxygen in that elite Tour de France athlete and the completely out of shape person. So you want to completely oxidize a mole of fat requires same amount of oxygen. So then you say, well, then is the unfit person just doing that much more work? Then you’re getting into efficiency. Yes, the internal work to produce the wattage is going to be a little more than that unfit person, but they’ve shown the range of human efficiency on the bike. And it’s actually a very, very tight range. And it is not enough to explain the one person knows breathing the other person panting. Third thing to understand is humans, along with pronghorns are two of the only animals that they might actually I think they are the only two animals on the planet that have overbuilt lungs. Mm hmm. We actually never have a problem getting enough oxygen. That’s when you go to very high altitudes you do? Sure. But for the most part, we actually don’t have a problem getting enough oxygen. So what all this means is the person panting and the person knows breathing, or putting out the same wattage. oxygen consumption doesn’t explain that. So what does explain and this is what what I absolutely love. The reason we breathe really hard, when we’re going hard, is not to take in enough oxygen. I think I have actually explained this before, but I just love it so much.



I know what I know where this is going, I’ve read the article waiting for the punch line here.


Trevor Connor  12:07

We are breathing really hard to exhale carbon dioxide. Yes,


Chris Case  12:11

that’s it.


Trevor Connor  12:13

When you are going really hard, you are producing a lot of acid, your body needs a buffer that acid, its immediate way of buffering is with something called bicarbonate. When bicarbonate is used to buffer acid byproduct is carbon dioxide. In order to maintain your ability to buffer acid, you need to get rid of that carbon dioxide. So when you are going hard and producing all that acid, you need to breathe harder to get rid of carbon dioxide. Going back to our elite athlete beside the unfit, Mm hmm. Not a cyclist, that elite athlete, what they have developed is amazing abilities to stay in homeostasis. So even when they’re going really hard, they aren’t producing nearly as much acid. Mm hmm. And when they are producing acid, because a calorie density and a whole bunch of other factors are able to move that shuttle that acid to other tissues in the body where it can be managed and handled. They have so basically the not gonna dive too deep into the physiology. But basically, they produce less acid, they have a much better ability to buffer manage that acid besides just the bicarbonate. So they just don’t need to breathe this out. Where that very unfit person is going to start producing a lot of acid very quickly, with very limited ability to manage it, to shuttle it to other tissues, all the other ways that we manage it. So the only option they have is serpin.


Chris Case  13:40

panting like a dog. Yes. All right. Our next question comes from a listener that doesn’t actually want to be named. The question is, or the context of the question is that this particular individuals had a combination of illness, work projects, school, things going on in his life, that were interrupting his his training in performance but despite being far fitter than he was the previous year, he ended up overtrained shortly before Redlands, which is a pretty big cycling race out there for amateurs still to this day. And he put on about six and a half kilos. By the time I realized I was overtrained. He says both the Tour de both up in Canada was just around the corner and I never managed to properly recover. With regards to being overtrained. Rest is obviously the solution. But are there any signs when it’s time to get back on the bike? He asks Trevor, what do you think? big sigh from Trevor?


Trevor Connor  14:47

More just thinking about? Let’s put it this way. At some point we really have to do an episode on burnout. burnout is a remarkably complex site. Subject scientifically, it is very complex. And it’s also very hard to understand and very hard to study, there is that issue of in scientific research ethically, you can do no damage, you can’t harm your subjects. burnout, by definition is doing harm. So you can’t conduct a study where you say, we are going to intentionally burn you out. Though, I will actually, in my explanation here, in a minute given, give an exception to that. So I’m just going to start by saying at some point, we will do a deeper dive into the science of burnout. But that’s not for today and QA, right? So what I’m going to do is give you the way a little higher level way of thinking about the way I always think about it. When you we talked about training adaptations, we have adaptations that are structural, we have adaptations that are biochemical. So when you talk about structural, you’re thinking about things like increasing pillar density, we’re talking about increases in the size of the left ventricle of the heart. These are structural changes that take a long time. But once you have them they tend to stick around by biochemical changes are things like increase in your blood volume changes, in particular cytokines, or particular markers that allow you in a very short run, to adapt to the training stress and get stronger, where the structural changes take a long time. But stick around those biochemical changes. Think of them as that is almost an emergency response. I want to go with go that strong. But that is a very acute response of your body that is in some ways takes your body out of homeostasis your body saying Okay, I know you need to perform better right now. So we’re going to do this, but this actually in ways gets me out of balance. So those biochemical changes are by nature temporary. At some point, your body’s going to say, That’s enough. Stop this, I need to get back into balance. And that’s how I think of overtraining or burnout. Dr. Seiler did a fascinating study with this on what’s called autonomic stress. And pointed out that really autonomic stress is associated with burnout. You really only see autonomic stress when you do high intensity work.


Chris Case  17:28

For those who don’t know, Dr. Seiler is Trevor’s favorite researcher of all time in the history of the world. We did call him the Jay Z, Z. And we’ve done we’ve done some episodes with him. So please reference those. They’re great episodes.


Trevor Connor  17:42

So again, I’m given the high level view of this, but the short of it and so the eyes did say there was actually a study that they conducted on burnout, I went to the blanking on his name, but the researcher who did this study was a keynote at a conference I went to, and they managed to get approval to do a study where they tried to burn out cyclists. So they took semi professional cyclists, and for a month had them ride 100 miles a day. And none of them burned out. Unfortunately, in his keynote, he kind of said, Well, I’m not sure burnout fully exists, which I think is completely the wrong.



Yeah, collusion, that’s dangerous.


Trevor Connor  18:24

The better conclusion was, you were feeding them food, they were getting lots of sleep, every other aspect of their life was taken care of. So they’re getting plenty of rest. The other thing was they were just doing long, steady rides, they weren’t doing a lot of high intensity.


Chris Case  18:38

So that still sounds brutal. a month, you said 100 miles every day. Yeah.


Trevor Connor  18:43

Wow, you know, they’re tired, they’re certainly tired, but none of them hit what they would call clinical burger. So the point that I’m trying to make is, is when you do the structural work, which is mostly your your base style training, it is very, very hard to burn out. That’s your body’s making changes so that it can stay in homeostasis, but perform better. When you are doing lots of high intensity type work. You’re going to start getting those biochemical adaptations you need those. And a lot of those biochemical adaptations are what we think of when we talk about race form. But they put your body out of balance. And if you try to perpetuate them, at some point, you’re going to go into overtraining. And if you really push it, you are going to go into burnout. So it is important to maintain and think I’m finally getting to answering his question. But our listener that’s basically was talking about, he didn’t have as much time to train so it was doing more high intensity. His performance was good because he was getting all those biochemical adaptations. But he was over balanced on that end. He wasn’t doing enough of that slower, easier work. And he got way out of homeostasis and it very quickly pushed him towards burnout. So you need to work both structural changes are measured in years. And that’s why we say it takes a long time to hit your peak form. Right? When you are starting to do those biochemical adaptations, think of it as a timer just started, and at some point, you need to let them clear. Chris just flipped over our five minute timer. You have a little more time than that.


Chris Case  20:18

Yes, but the clock is ticking.


Trevor Connor  20:20

So how do you get yourself out of burnout? That again, we could probably do a whole episode explaining burnout. Mm hmm. Probably a couple episodes is going to burn out and then a whole nother episode on the art of getting out of burnout. And the the first answer that question is it is how deep into burnout argue,


Chris Case  20:39

sales. It seems like it would be a very individual process.


Trevor Connor  20:43

It is very individual. And there is a timing thing. You know, I can tell you from my own experience, if I pick up on it really early, and take some rest, I can get myself out of that path in a couple days. Mm hmm. The deeper you go, the longer it takes. And you do that a certain point. So you know, we’re talking about getting out of a couple of days. That’s more overtraining, right. And there is a difference between overtraining and burnout. Once you get into true burnout, we’re talking months to your season is over to, I personally had the experience of severe burnout. And it was several years before I was able to get back to regular train naked and really take yard. So really what we’re talking about now and answering the question, we’re talking more about getting out of overtraining. Sure. So you don’t, unless you have a really good idea of how deep you went, what you often don’t, there is just a bit of art here. There, you basically have to take rest. And one of the symptom or one of the things that happens to athletes, when they’re they’re getting into an overtrained state that really can lead to bad decision making, is it’s not like now all of a sudden, you just suck. And every time you go out and you suck, right, until you’re deep into burnout, you’re going to have some days, you’re going to go out and feel awful, you’re going to go have some days where you are going to go out and because your body is trying to compensate, you are going to put out some of the best numbers you’ve seen. Mm hmm.


Chris Case  22:08

And that’s a problem. You’re teetering on the edge there,


Trevor Connor  22:10

right. And that’s a problem. We’ll go I felt bad. I felt bad before I went out these intervals yesterday, that was the best numbers I’ve seen. And then they convinced themselves No, I’m not overtraining.


Chris Case  22:19

Yeah, dangerous place to be,


Trevor Connor  22:21

it’s a very dangerous place to be. So you need some sort of consistency. So if I know an athlete has gone pretty deep into burnout, I start with look, we’re just going to take a week, you’re going to do nothing hard. We’re going to start with several days, no training at all, then we’re going to give back to easy training. And this is our hour and a half going out on the bike path getting passed by people on commuter bikes. And it’s tough, you want to go hard, even when you start feeling like you’re ready to go hard, don’t. And I will do that until they’ve had several rides in the row where they go, I felt pretty good. Then we’ll do a test or I’ll have them do a longer ride. Because I have found if you’re still often if you’re still in an overtrained state, you can go out do an hour fine, you go out and try to do three hours, all of a sudden, you feel lousy. If they can go out and do that three hour ride and feel good, then I’ll have them take another day off. And then we’ll attempt a moderate interval session. And again, see how it goes. And even following that whole routine, I’ve had that where they’ll do the interval session, they’ll feel good, wait a couple days, we’ll do another interval session. They don’t feel so good. And they try to do something on the weekend and they’re back and burnout, it really is an art form. And I would say the the one rule here is generally you’re going to have to rest a lot longer than you want. And then you think you have to Yeah, when you’re you’ve gone really into burnout. I’ll do all that. And then it’s now we need to do a couple weeks of structural work, we are going to clear out all those biochemical adaptations, we’re going to go right back to basically base training, focus on work that’s tends to produce more than the structural to end look in a couple of weeks, you’re not going to get any significant structural changes. But it’s more allowing you to train so that you don’t de train too much without doing too much that’s going to produce or bring back all those biochemical, out of homeostasis type adaptations. And when that point you’re looking at, from when we started resting to when you’re going to be ready to race again. It could be a month, longer. Right, right. Finally, so the question was about how do you get out of it. But again, you think about the injury model. It’s great to explain to somebody how to deal with an injury but it’s even better to explain to them how to prevent the injury in the first place. And one of the best ways to prevent ever burning out or even going dramatic. Going into that dysfunctional overtraining. is a when you start doing that high end work that autonomic stress producing type training, a put on a timeline. So I like to say six weeks to really hit that peak form, I really don’t want to keep you in this type of training mode for more than about nine weeks, sometimes extended a little longer, but then we have to take a longer rest. So you plan a point where you say, I am then going to rest, I’m going to go back to a period of time and doing more base type work. And certainly, we had Joe freelon. Here, he said, At certain points in the season, you need to return to doing those long steady base type type rides. Yep, planning that planning those several points in a season where you return to that you let the race form, come down a little bit, and then rebuild, that’s gonna allow you to get through a very long season with hopefully avoiding any sort of overtraining. And keep in mind, each time you rebuild, you’re going to come back quicker. So it takes less and less time to get back to that piece.


Chris Case  25:59

Right. Very good. Our next question comes from a Chris Doug, co via Twitter. And this has to do with inflammation. He asks, What’s the health difference between the inflammation caused by a hard workout versus inflammation from poor diet?


Trevor Connor  26:16

I really love this question.



It’s a great question. I


Trevor Connor  26:19

love this question. We’ve got it because we’ve been talking about inflammation. And some of the changes in mindset about it, there was a point where any inflammation was bad, and you need to do everything to stop inflammation. And when you look back at the 80s, and 90s, that was the time of you should be taking anti inflammatories every morning, because that’s going to help your training. So now we discovered that actually added so we did an episode on this the adaptation process, what we’re talking about the adaptation process, we’re talking about how your body handles training to try to figure out how to define as well using the word adapt. But after you’ve done a lot of training, how your body makes you bigger and stronger. So that’s, that’s what we’re talking about with adaptation. So inflammation is central to that our immune system is responsible for it. So now, a lot of the sciences saying inflammation is good, you don’t want to stop inflammation. So we don’t want to go too far. The other way we don’t want to sit now say all inflammation is good for you. That’s not the case either. So there there is good inflammation where the the immune system is functioning properly. And there’s bad inflammation where the immune system is not functioning properly. even talking about adaptations, you do the right level of training stress, and that’s going to produce inflammation, but that’s going to produce most primarily beneficial inflammation. You do you overtrain, that inflammation become apparent they become excessive, and you can actually get kind of an exercise version of sepsis, which is not good for you. So even they’re good inflammation gone too far can become bad inflammation. When we’re talking about inflammation from diet, that’s generally a bad thing. Now, granted, food is exogamous. It’s not part of your body. So whenever you absorb food, there actually is a slight inflammatory process because your body, your immune system responds to anything that is more


Chris Case  28:15

anything that’s entering your body,


Trevor Connor  28:17

but it should be quite temporary, and it should be pretty minor. One of the issues and we aren’t going to go deep in this because it’s a really complex subject. And we have touched on this before but one of the issues with the standard Western diet is it’s, it’s highly inflammatory. There has been more and more research coming out lately showing that cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease, they all are preceded by inappropriate chronic inflammation. And and this is my bias. But I think one of the biggest sources of that chronic, inappropriate inflammation is diet. So where you want to allow the inflammatory process to happen with your your adaptations, you don’t want inflammation from diet, you want to limit inflammatory type foods.


Chris Case  29:13

Before you go there. The next question is probably going to help you explain a little bit more about the inflammatory process because we’ve got a trick Patricia nickel, down at the University of Colorado Denver campus it looks like and she has a question for us. I thought that episode 82 was fantastic. It left me wondering, is there a distinction between anti inflammatory foods and anti inflammatory pills, or between antioxidants in foods and antioxidants in pills? I’m convinced that one should not take pills after training, but surely one doesn’t need to avoid eating turmeric and blueberries. What do you think, Trevor?


Trevor Connor  29:58

Yeah, that’s a great question. That’s it. exactly where I was heading with previous question. So just like there is inflammation that is appropriate, and inflammation that is not and can can lead to disease, you can say the same thing about stuff that you put in your body. So first of all, let’s let’s take a step back and say, anti inflammatory food is really a marketing term. Really what they’re talking about is food that doesn’t cause inappropriate inflammation. So I would say most natural food that we would refer to as healthy as by nature, not inflammatory food. So you can turn around say, well, that’s anti inflammatory. So anti inflammatory is fruits, vegetables, things like that. And no, you of course, you should not be avoiding those foods, those foods are not going to harm the adaptation process quite the quite the opposite. They tend to be very nutrient dense foods that your body needs for that repair process. In terms of antioxidants, that gets a little more complicated again, but 20 years ago, they were big on athlete should be taking lots of antioxidants, because training produces a lot of Ross produces a lot of oxidative stress. So you want to reduce that. But again, we found out that it’s actually important to the adaptation process. Further, our body produces natural antioxidants. There was a fantastic study that we talked about, on a recent episode, where they showed that very high level cyclists when they’re doing a grand tour or big stage race, even though they’re producing huge amounts of raw so reactive oxygen species, the net oxidative stress in their body actually reduces because their natural antioxidants are so effective, that it actually almost overcompensates. So you want to develop those systems. And if you are supplementing with huge amounts of antioxidants, your body kind of goes well you’re providing it to me so I don’t need to learn how to do this myself. Right, which you don’t want. That said your body does rely on some exogenous antioxidants. There are a lot of other health benefits to these foods, and we’ll use those and do expect some we evolved around eating fruits and vegetables which contain a lot of antioxidants. So no our body needs those eating those foods that contains them. Antioxidants are not going to harm the adaptation process taking big anti oxidant supplements. It’s the same difference between that and anti inflammatory diet. Again, a marketing term is good for you. But pounding the Tylenol after every workout is not going to help your adaptations. Mm hmm.


Chris Case  32:54

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Chris Case  33:41

Let’s move away from inflammation and towards Gran fondos. This question comes from and apologies if this is not the correct pronunciation but zimo boatswains four context I’ll explain what he’s doing or probably has already done. He writes this summer I’m planning to participate in a granfondo with 7400 meters of climbing now 7400 meters of climbing is a lot of climbing. We’re not certain if it’s 7400 meters or feet, but let’s go with a lot of climbing for this individual. Your guide on designing a training program seems to adhere to a polarized training distribution. And most of what I’ve been reading on training lately takes the same approach. However, during this granfondo I will not be competing against anyone but myself. There will be no sprints for the finish line or attacks to follow. If all goes well, and I have the right gears I will not exceed my FTP the entire day. Instead, if I’m not descending, I will be spending all my pedaling time at around 85 to 90% of my FTP. So I suppose this is high tempo to sweetspot. In this scenario, does it make sense to spend more time training at this specific intensity at the expense of time above lt lactate threshold and below aerobic threshold or will adhere To the polarized approach increased my fitness across the board, and therefore also in this tempo sweetspot zone.


Trevor Connor  35:07

Trevor? So I love this question for a couple of reasons. First, some criticism that we’ve received and very fairly as sometimes we focus way too much on racers, right? We know a lot of a lot of you out there are not racers. And we need to recognize that a lot more. And I love the fact that we have somebody coming to us saying, I want the challenge to do in a grand fondo. But I’m not there to race it, I don’t really care about my sprint at the end, I’m there to enjoy the experience and to challenge myself. And that’s a that’s a, that’s fantastic. And this is a challenging granfondo did we say was 7400 meters or feet?


Chris Case  35:45

It’s meters is what was written. So if it is, that’s massive,


Trevor Connor  35:49

so I’m gonna get to that 7400 feet.


Chris Case  35:53

You know, for the average rider, that’s a lot of feed.


Trevor Connor  35:56

That’s huge. That that’s that this is a big, challenging event. And kudos to zimo for doing this. To answer his question, we get into something else that I love to discuss. And look, there is not a right or wrong answer on this one. But it’s a question of specificity versus systems. And most coaches are going to be biased one way or the other. I don’t think anybody’s going to be just one or just the other, but be biased. So meaning when you talk about specificity, that’s the the the argument is the best training for an event or in a race is the event of the race. So you simulate what you are going to race or ride in your training. So if you’re going to a grand fondo, with 7400 meters, because you’re doing a lot of rides, that are 60 to 100 miles in length with a lot of climbing, simulate the event. The flip side is the system’s argument, which is the focus your training on building your energy systems as effectively as possible. So I call it, build it build as good an engine as you can, and let the engine figure out the event. Right, right. I tend to be a little there’s a huge value to specificity, but I tend to be biased more towards the system side. Mm hmm. Where I bring in specificity is looking at what are you doing? Are you somebody who just enjoys these recreational long rides? Or are you a high level crit rider? Mm hmm. You need different energy systems for those. So where I get into the specificity is, which energy systems do you need to focus on, and which are less important? And certainly, we’ve had Sebastian Weber on here who’s pointing out the fact that at a certain point, developing one comes at the expense of the other. Right. And so you need to be aware of that. And that’s relevant to this question, because if you’re doing a grand fondo, and you’re not there to race it, Sebastian Wilder talks about the vo two max versus Vla Max. Max is that measure of really simplified How good is your robot system? Vla Max is a way of looking at how strong is your anaerobic system? So for our listener here, he doesn’t need to cut Vla Max, right? what he needs to focus on is that aerobic side, so he needs to focus on those energy systems. So again, the question is, he brought up? Should we just be going out doing a ton of sweetspot? At about the intensity, he’s going to do the event? Or is there a better way to train? And this is where I’m going to give you my bias, right? Which is yes, you train at the intensity, you’re going to do the event, you are going to improve those energy systems. But question is, is that the best way to improve those energy systems? And I would argue that actually, there are better ways where you can get even greater gains in those energy systems, potentially with less stress to your body, less likelihood of pushing burnout and those sorts of issues. And so again, that’s where I would say, what’s the best way to target those aerobic energy systems. And that’s where I would say, early in your base. I think doing a lot of slower endurance work you don’t need to be doing and I just felt Frank Overton shutter but I would say during the base, just lots of slow volume, you can build that aerobic system without a lot of stress. That said, yes, if you’re gonna be doing a granfondo like this, at some point, you need to be doing some long sweetspot rides, but my argument is, I wouldn’t have my athletes start doing those until a little closer to the event. So let’s say the event was in May, I would say let’s start bringing in some sweet spot where again in March, but certainly December, January, February, just go out, get some volume, right, easier done. You don’t need that added stress.


Chris Case  39:58

What About In this scenario, should people just say, Yeah, I don’t need to do another interval the rest of the year.


Trevor Connor  40:07

So that’s again, are you just trying to get through the event? Are you trying to? Are you racing yourself? Do you want to see how quickly you can do this? Do? Are you concerned about 7400 meters of climbing there? You can’t do all that at some point. I’m sure those climbs get steep enough that you’re going to have to go a little bit hard, right? It’s how well do you want to get through this event. But even we’re talking about the energy systems, we had that whole conversation about how everything is funneled through one pathway and not going to throw out the term, you know, the term, everything kind of funneled through one pathway. But you can hit it from multiple directions, and it’s added on as a multiplier. So even though this athlete is really focused on really just almost one system that really needs to be developed, I would still say doing some high intensity work is going to be a benefit from just maybe stay, instead of doing two bottles or sprints, sure, a really high intensity stuff, do some threshold work, maybe in some, some do to max like four or five minute interval type works. Hmm. I think that’s ultimately going to you will see, it’s going to speed them up even doing steady endurance work. And when he hits those hard climbs where it gets over 10%. He’s going to appreciate having that sort of sort of development.


Chris Case  41:29

Alright, moving on to our next question, which pertains to the all important heart. So this listener out there writes, I raised in my first crit this past weekend, and my average heart rate was 190 beats per minute for 25 minutes. Yikes. The maximum heart rate I saw was 202. I think I was on top of my hydration. So I don’t think dehydration was to blame. It was hot out but cooler than temperatures I’ve been routinely writing and so I don’t think it was heat stress. I don’t think over caffeination was a significant variable either. I only got a burning sensation in my legs for a brief period of time during the race. And I didn’t feel quote, worked the following day. I even did a three hour ride that day at 70% of Max heart rate. Although it was a heart effort. I don’t think my effort was causing the heart rate. I’ve experienced what a 95 plus percent of heart rate max effort feels like in that, wasn’t it? My best guess is that my nerves were causing the increase. But still, it seems odd that I would be able to perform for that duration. With that average heart rate. It also seems unhealthy to do. So. Any thoughts on this? That’s not normal. Right, Trevor? Is this normal?


Trevor Connor  42:48

Great question, a whole bunch of things that we can kind of dive into with this one. And I hope Chris throws in some thoughts in this one as well. First, and is going to address the the nature of a crit because some people are really surprised by this but seen higher than what you’re used to heart rates and a crit is actually quite normal. I have seen my athletes be able to average for an hour criterium higher heart rates than what they can do in a 30 minute all out time trial nature of a crit, you go through corners and you’re sprinting out of each corner and then you’re you stopped pedaling for a bit. So if you look at your average power, it’s actually not going to be that impressive. But heart rates slow to respond. So all those little efforts are going to keep driving heart rate up and up and up and up. And those rests in between those corners, which is going to bring your average power down, your heart rate really doesn’t have time to respond. So in a criterium, if you’re not used to crits and you do want and you look at your average heart rate relative to your average power, you’re going to see something very unusual for you. And that’s actually quite normal and a crit. I thought she was very perceptive, and also pointing out the fact this was their first race crits are a little bit scary. I’m certain stress was a big factor here. So I’m going to give a big qualifier here that if you ever start seeing abnormal things with your heart, and you are worried, yes, go see your doctor.



Mm hmm.


Trevor Connor  44:13

But just based on her description, I haven’t seen any files. I haven’t yet heard something I’m going wow, that’s a giant red flag to me.


Chris Case  44:21

Right right. And she did do a good job of sort of giving the context with the temperature which can affect things state of hydration which can effects things, caffeine which can affect things etc. So she she’s thinking in the right way to try to walk through potential like a diagnostic type scenario.


Trevor Connor  44:41

There are a lot of things that can affect heart rate she you just gave her list which was actually pretty comprehensive list. Fatigue and overtraining can also really affect your your heart rate. When you’re really overtrained, it gets depressed but often when you’re very early stages and you have some muscle damage that’s going to drive heart rate up right When I’ve had people come back to me and say something is really wrong with my heart rate, look at this, I was hitting 220 beats per minute. Mm hmm. So that really simple explanations like your jersey flapping,


Chris Case  45:10

right? Or the zipper. Yeah, sometimes going by power lines. Of course, those are typically short lived the shirt flapping on descends, sometimes it’ll set it off into an erratic pattern, and it kind of stays there. But usually they end. So yeah, to have it for 25 minutes average, something was going on in it. Like you said, it sounds like the stress of the race, the race itself. We’re contributing here. And I don’t also see, neither of us are cardiologists, mind you, but there are no red flags here.


Trevor Connor  45:44

So thank you, and we’re gonna keep giving these qualifiers, we are not cardiologists, or electrophysiologist, any of this. But I will say when I am, if I’m looking for signs that boy, something’s off, you need to see a doctor, what you’re really looking for is an increase or change in the heart rate where there’s just really no explanation. And particularly you look at the you download the file, you look at the profile and go, that’s just kind of a strange look at heart rate. Mm hmm. So yes, her heart rate was higher than she expected. But you can still say for a crit and everything else, yeah, no, that’s, that’s not boy, there’s zero explanation for this.


Chris Case  46:25

If she were 75. And she was seeing 200 heart rate, that’d be cause for concern. If she’s, it sounds like she’s probably not 75. So this is within normal range of what you would expect to see.


Trevor Connor  46:40

So this is you’re looking for things like heart rate suddenly shoots up and comes down for no explanation, or, you know, some people with a fib, yes, intensity sets it off. So you’re gonna see a rise in heart rate, but then all of a sudden, it just shoots up. They can typically feel it. Yes. And even when they stop pedaling, right, it stays elevate. Exactly, exactly. And so not only is it high, but you’re looking at going. That’s really odd. Like it almost looks you the question, if you’re starting to wonder, boy, is my computer working?


Chris Case  47:15

Yeah, right, right. Yep. That’s a telltale. If there’s shortness of breath, if there’s fluttering inside the chest, all these things that are kind of inexplicable and just abnormal, those are definitely things to take, pay attention to and consider, in some cases, certainly go straight to the emergency room. If if it if it weren’t for others, you know, monitor it. And take notes and keep those files for later use if need be. You reading your stories in the haywire heart. Yes,


Trevor Connor  47:53

thank you. I don’t ever remember a description of one of the athletes who in a day fit or had some sort of an issue, saying, I just ride along, everything felt fine. I just looked down my heart rate monitors, it seemed that there was usually something felt off. Mm hm.


Chris Case  48:07

Or something precipitated, like a super hard effort that triggered it. And then it it stayed elevated or began to flutter. And yeah, it was definitely, quote, an off feeling at that point.


Trevor Connor  48:21

So all this being said, again, if you are concerned, go see your doctor. But if you are in a race and your heart rate is high, but consistent with the efforts, but it’s 510 beats higher than what you normally expect, don’t be immediately concerned that you have a heart condition.


Chris Case  48:41

Very good. Alright, our next question comes from a Mickey, and they pertain to the recovery period between Tabata sets. So her question, I’m wondering about 13 by 32nd work intervals and 15 second rest intervals and three minute set of rest between sets. This is in a Tabata Workout. If a person was following a polarized training model, and was seeking maximum gains from this workout, then would removing the three minutes of rest between sets be best, or simply trying to pedal harder during each work interval. Please assume that both options would include me riding at about 120% of my FTP.


Trevor Connor  49:24

This is another one which we’re at some point, we should do a full episode just on the recovery period between intervals.


Chris Case  49:31

Mm hmm. I know such a simple thing, I guess or something that people probably don’t put much thought into, but pretty important.


Trevor Connor  49:39

Yeah, I can tell you I used to be pretty competent in my opinion on this. I have I am now at the point of I’m actually not exactly certain where I stand. Yeah, I used to be very much of the mindset of recovery length is everything. So if I went out and did sets and I had an eight minute recovery between my sets, and I got back to where I was going to start doing my intervals at 752. I would sit there for eight seconds to get my exact eight minutes, which is kind of ridiculous. But that’s how obsessive I used to be about it. We’ve had guests on the show who will describe intervals and not give a recovery period and later on, reach out to them because we got asked, we got question. Yeah, yeah, I’ll do us and I said, What’s the recovery period for those like, okay, whatever, whatever feels.


Chris Case  50:26

Right, right. Yeah, I think that that is probably sometimes frustrating for people because they want instruction and they want to do it right. But if it’s kind of this vague thing, then they don’t know exactly what to do.


Trevor Connor  50:40

So this athlete asked about this is the interval particular intervals here are what are called Tabata style intervals. So they are high intensity, they are above your vo two max. And he’s asking about in the context of polarized training. So I just quickly need to add a note here, that when Dr. Siler really described the polarized training model, his high intensity work was at vo two max intensity between kind of lactate threshold and vo two max intensity. And one of the episodes we asked him about that, should you be doing higher intensity Cycling is a bit of a unique sport where you need that you said sure those devata sell intervals have a value. But it’s a do it for about six weeks, they aren’t something you should start doing in December and do all year round. And right, we already probably now have coaches that are writing the same, you’re dead wrong. Again, this is art of coaching. Everybody has different opinions and seen everything work. But I’m just telling you on the polarized model, this is not your go to all year round interval.


Chris Case  51:41

This is that pinch of salt.


Trevor Connor  51:43

Yes. Yes thing, but that’s fine.


Chris Case  51:45

That’s I know, I’m mixing my physiological metaphors here.


Trevor Connor  51:50

But talking about the recovery length between sets? Again, I don’t I’m still trying to figure out where I stand. But my answer is, depends on the energy system you are targeting. So when you are talking about your robot system, where you really trying to train your body’s ability to use oxygen, you are talking about the Krebs cycle, you’re talking about electron transfer chain. These, the Krebs cycle is very slow to ramp up. So I actually when I have athletes do threshold intervals, I give them very short recoveries because we don’t want it to get them to recover so much that you then have wasted time or you’re getting the aerobic system ramped up again. So for example, I love to give my athletes five by five minute intervals, I have a one minute recovery. If they’re doing four by eight, I give them a two minute recovery. So it’s relatively short recoveries. And Robic system doesn’t deplete really rapidly. So it just doesn’t need that long recovery. When you’re doing work, like devadas, that really hit a lot of your anaerobic energy system is totally different, completely different. anaerobic system is very quick to respond. But those reserves deplete quickly, and they’re very slow to recharge. So you take the extreme with a sprint, you go and watch track sprinters. So they’ll get on the track, they’ll do one sprint, and then the line the grass for four minutes. Because they they want that phosphocreatine system to fully recharge and takes a long time. So no, I would say, doing sets of these two bottles and saying let’s just skip the rest in between and do them all in a row. Very quickly, you are going to devadas kind of hit both your aerobic and your anaerobic, so it’s not a pure anaerobic workout, are you still using a lot of those anaerobic pathways. And if you don’t have that recovery, your intensity is going to drop, you’re going to start hitting the wrong energy systems. So I actually would say, do your set when I do devadas. The harder they are the shorter the set is like I do 20 times and I just do for five minutes. And then I’ll take like a 10 minute rest, let the full anaerobic system recharge and then hit it again.


Chris Case  54:08

Very good. Something that Trevor is not fully, huh, planted. He doesn’t have all the research done on this one. That’s that’s rare.


Trevor Connor  54:20

But you make me sound like I actually know what I’m talking about. Thank you for that.


Chris Case  54:26

You’re welcome. Well, I mean, no, this is one of those areas where it sounds like there’s still a lot to be learned.


Trevor Connor  54:35

I personally would say so I’m just fascinated by it. So I would say what you’re


Chris Case  54:40

needed by that. The rest period between intervals. That’s amazing.


Trevor Connor  54:48

Going back to your previous point, look there there’s there’s things that I am certain about. There are things that I have no clue about. And there are things that I have no clue about or pretend I know something about and knocking Tell you the percent ratio.


Chris Case  55:02

Yes, of those three things. Understood, we will keep your secrets secret. All right, the next question this one will take a little bit of a setup. It comes from Greg Baumann. I want to just give you the context. But I think it’s an interesting question. And Trevor’s gonna have a fascinating answer for us. He writes, I’m an amateur racer, 61 years old. I’m on my second coach, and he is a good one. After four or five years of making marginal gains in threshold, under the guidance of my new coach gains have gone up markedly. He has been training an average of 14 hours each week, I’m retired and I can afford to rest like a pro life. This month concludes what was what has been three months of twice weekly efforts where I maintain a given power for a given duration with a goal of keeping the normalized power as close as possible to average power. I always wear a heartrate monitor and I do see the cardiac drift, referred to by Trevor and why he is more a proponent of doing longer based training rides using heart rate zones as opposed as opposed to power zones. I realize everybody is different. But blanket statements on the subject of long study low intensity rides, like Trevor’s, regarding heart rate monitoring, as compared to my current coaches recommendation of the opposite of power monitoring, as me inquiring as to the significance of cardiac drift is cardiac drift justification for Trevor’s opinion. So he says, My current coach is using a threshold value FTP in training peaks, that is about 7%, less than my actual FTP. This seems to be the biggest difference in what is enabling greater gains and fitness. Now as compared to my previous when, if anything, my entered FTP value was equivalent or slightly greater than reality. All this boils down to my contention, that current recommendations for establishing FTP, and the use of this value in the likes of training peaks is what is flawed, and not the use of power itself to gauge workouts. What do you think? What are your thoughts on this contention asks Greg? Trevor?


Trevor Connor  57:17

So I’m actually gonna go to the final part of this question, what he brought up about FTP, let’s start there, and then we’ll get to the actual main question that he asked in terms of determining FTP, I’m actually going to give some some credit to some of these training tools that he mentioned training peaks, which is my primary tool for coaching my athletes. I actually, I use their desktop version called Wk Oh, I’ve actually been quite impressed how good their estimate of FTP is, and this is based on I get a lot of my athletes in the lab to be properly tested. And when I look at what their their lab if FTP is or threshold, sure, and what the approximate is on training peaks, quite often trainings have been right on Hm. But I do agree with his point that, obviously, getting your FTP accurate is the best thing to do. But if you can’t be accurate, it is better to have it a little too low than a little too high, it’s a little too high, you’re setting yourself up for failure, you can start hitting the wrong energy systems can be hard to complete your intervals. And no, we’ve talked about this before. intervals are about effective execution, it’s not harder is always better. We need to get out of that mindset. That’s why even though we’ve brought up many times in the past that doing short interval work is better by power. I personally with my athletes will will never have them do it purely by power, I’ll spend a lot of time describing just on what the interval should feel like, wherever possible, I’ll use heart rate as a bit of a guide. Because if we have that FTP wrong, if we have those zones a little wrong, you need to know you need to be able to identify that and still figure out how to execute the intervals, right? That was a tangent. Let’s get to the main part of his question about cardiac drift. Why I should probably quickly define that. Yeah, so simplest explanation is cardiac drift is a display of this association between power and heart rate. So the idea being if you went out and rode 180 watts, after that initial slow rise in your heart rate, what you would normally see is a very consistent heart rate relative to that wattage, right. If you ride long enough, at some point, they’re they’re going to stop saying parallel. Mm hmm. So if you stayed at 180 watts,


Chris Case  59:42

heart rate would start rising, you’re going to start working harder, your heart’s going to start working harder to write. So maintain the same power output, right? conversely, if


Trevor Connor  59:50

you stay the same heart rate, your power is going to drop correct. And so that’s part of what he actually before we get to that. He did mention, I think he mentioned dehydration, but there’s a couple causes of cardiac drift. One of the most common is dehydration. Mm hmm. Because if you start to dehydrate your blood volume reduces, so in order to deliver the same blood supply to your working muscles, your heart has to start beating faster. But another cause is actually muscle fatigue, even your slow twitch muscles can eventually start to fatigue, they start to experience damage. So in order to produce the same power to do the same amount of work, you need to recruit more muscle fibers, the number of muscle fibers being used is one of the drivers of heartbreak, so heart rate will start to increase.


Chris Case  1:00:39

It was really interesting for me to learn more about this, from a personal perspective, when we started training, that year for dirty Kansa, when on my initial long, slow rides, I was getting massive cardiac drift, my body was, was having to work much harder to produce the same amount of power. But then on the day of dirty Kansa, it seemed like I had come a long way in my training, but huge dried, dehydration was certainly probably certainly probably most likely an issue because there’s just only so much you can do. And fatigue, muscle fatigue was obvious, so but the cardiac drift was much lower. So this is something that you can improve. It’s really something you can train,


Trevor Connor  1:01:27

and you talk to a lot of pro athletes, and they’ll say this is one of those things that’s really critical that not a lot of people talk about. But let’s go back to that that question when you go out and do these long rides, and you’re going to experience some cardiac drift, should you be doing it by power? Or should you be doing it by heart rate, and look from this point forward, you’re getting my bias. There’s coaches on both sides, very good coaches on both sides of this. So if I’m convincing, great if not my power. But my bias is you should be doing these rides by heart rate. Tell us why. Quite simply, again, I talked about I am a train the energy systems coach. And at the end of the day, power is not physiological. It doesn’t tell what’s going on in your body. Heart rate is. So what drives that increase in heart rate, as I said, as you have damage, you start recruiting more muscle fibers. Another thing that drives it is increases in mitochondrial activity will drive up heart rate. But that’s as a result of the increase in fiber recruitment. So the issue is if you stay at a steady power, physiologically your body is moving, in my opinion, through training zones through ad systems, and so you are training something different. Even the power is the same. If your heart rate goes up 20 beats per minute over the course of that ride you are you are doing a different training ride than you were at the start.


Chris Case  1:03:03

This is all very logical, Trevor.


Trevor Connor  1:03:05

I also like to say so if you do it by heart rate, even though your power plummets, that’s because your body’s lost a huge amount of efficiency is dealing with damage. But in terms of the the stress on your body, the systems, your training, power might drop at the body still training, effectively the same systems, in my opinion,


Chris Case  1:03:24

right? And those are kind of the gains you want to see. Because you want to be able to bring up those systems, right? Since.


Trevor Connor  1:03:31

Right, exactly. So the couple exceptions here are, if you’re doing a long ride in the heat, dehydration is a big factor that’s going to drive up your heart rate. So that’s where you can be a little more liberal and letting your heart rate come up. That said it’s coming way up you probably really dehydrated and you need to address that right. The other places as you’re getting into the season, if you’re a racer, racers don’t say, oh, we’re all getting tired with stronger power. mm power saves up often it gets harder at the end of the race. So it’s good to do these long rides and then some point to say screw my heart rate. Let’s do some efforts. And get that specificity. Yep. Very good.


Chris Case  1:04:10

Well, that was another episode of Fast Talk. One last time we’ll remind you please check out our survey. fasttalklabs.com slash survey. As always, we love your feedback. You can leave us comments in the survey you can email us at Fast Talk at Fast Talk Labs.com. Be sure to subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, SoundCloud and Google Play. We should leave us a rating and a comment there as well. Fast talk is a joint production between velonews and Fast Talk Labs. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual for Trevor Connor. I’m Chris case. Thanks for listening