Q&A on Pacing for a Gran Fondo, Juniors Training, Two Minute Climbs, and 5×5 Minute Intervals with Houshang Amiri

We’re joined by Houshang Amiri, a UCI Elite Coach and Trevor Connor’s coach at the Canadian National Center, to address questions about gran fondo endurance, developing anaerobic power, and how to pace 5x5 interval workouts.

On this episode of Fast Talk, coach Houshang Amiri joins us to discuss listener questions. Amiri is a UCI elite coach and was Trevor Connor’s coach at the Canadian National Center. In this episode, we discuss pacing for a gran fondo, how time trialists can develop more anaerobic power, and how to pace 5×5 interval workouts.

Pacing for a Gran Fondo

The first question comes from John Hints in Bloomsburg, PA. He writes:

“Is 85-90% of FTP a reasonable goal for five hours of riding? I ask because I am a similar rider to the caller (my “competitive” rides are hilly grand fondos and gravel “races” where I am mostly riding to see how well I can do personally). I would like to figure out how to best pace these 5 to 6 or so hour rides, but I fear that if I head out and try to ride at a steady 85% of my FTP my tank will be empty long before the ride is over. So, I guess I am asking for tips on pacing these long competitive rides, as you have thoroughly covered in this and other episodes quite nicely how to train for them.” 

Two Minute Climbs

This question comes from Nathan Rediske. He writes:

“I usually consider myself more of a rouler type rider due to my size (6’4″ 186lbs) but have found in the higher race categories that my lack of “anaerobic” power has been both a weakness and a limiter. On climbs under 5 minutes, I find myself getting spit out the back and having to burn a ton of energy to claw myself back to the group.  I’m excited to use a more polarized training model considering I love nothing more than long 4-hour rides and threshold intervals. But, I am curious about your thoughts on also using the base and build period to focus on my anaerobic energy systems as well. Maybe a Zwift race once a week? I would love to become more of a punchy racer, but have had a hard time finding gains in this short power duration energy system. Any hope or am I destined for the solo breakaways and gravel events?” 

5×5 Minute Intervals

This question comes from Cynthia Green. She writes:

“I’ve heard you talk about 5×5 minute intervals with 1-minute recoveries as a good threshold workout. You mentioned the importance of keeping the power steady and consistent throughout all of the repetitions – i.e. start at 230 watts and keep them all at 230 watts. However, you also mentioned that that means you often won’t hit your threshold heart rate until the second or third interval. Since you always say the goal is to train a particular energy system and heart rate is a measure of what’s going on in your body, wouldn’t it be better get your heart rate up to threshold right away? I’ve done this by riding the first 30 seconds of each interval harder – about 120 to 140% of threshold power – and then dropping down to a steady FTP power for the remaining four and a half minutes of each repetition. Do you think that’s a better way to do the 5x5s?” 

Episode Transcript

Trevor Connor 0:04
Hello and welcome to another episode of fast talk your source for endurance sports science. I am your host, Trevor Connor. I am here with Can we still call you my new host? My new co host Rob pickles.

Rob Pickels 0:17
I think at one point I was the saltiness. Nope. Wait, that’s a different podcast.

Trevor Connor 0:24
And I am actually very excited about this episode because we have on somebody who’s very near and dear to my heart, my coach back when I was at the National Center, Houshang Amiri who is still up in British Columbia, still developing Canada’s top athletes. So Houshang excited to have you welcome to the show.

Houshang Amiri 0:45
Thank you, sir. It is a pleasure to be here. Thank you for the wait.

Trevor Connor 0:49
Yeah, no, I have been looking forward to this for a long time. So I’m glad you could join us. Thank you.

Ryan Kohler 0:59
The more you measure training data, the more important understanding it becomes.

Trevor Connor 1:03
In our new Advanced Performance Data Analysis Pathway we move beyond the basics to explore more complex data analysis. We help you navigate complex techniques so you don’t get lost in the numbers.

Ryan Kohler 1:14
This pathway features Tim Cusick, Dirk Friel, Armando astrology coach, Dean Gulledge, Joe Dombrowski, Trevor Connor, Dr. Steven Chung and me Ryan Kohler. We also explore advanced features of WKO, TrainingPeaks, Xert, and Intervals.icu.

Trevor Connor 1:28
We use the term deep dive a lot around here. But this is our deepest dive yet and performance data analysis, follow our Advanced Performance Data Analysis Pathway at fasttalklabs.com.

So today, we’ve got a few listener questions that we are going to address. So Rob, where would you like to start?

Rob Pickels 1:52
Yeah, Trevor, our first question is coming from John Hinze, from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, and he wrote a question asking about pacing for GranFondo. His question is, greetings. I have a question from your discussion of GranFondo is from Episode 86, which yes, is from October of 2019. I’m a relatively new listener to your podcast, and I’m working my way through your back catalogue now. So far, I am extremely impressed. And thank you for the bottomless and thorough resources.

Trevor Connor 2:21
Yeah, just have one thing to say stop it. Episode. 10. Don’t Don’t Don’t Don’t go further back, please. You want to keep having a good impression of our show? Don’t go further back.

Rob Pickels 2:31
There was a pro tip for you right there episodes over. John goes on to say the listener who wrote in the questions said he was writing a GranFondo and trying to train to do as well as he could, but not necessarily thinking of it as a race. Your answer was helpful. But one thing that wasn’t addressed was whether his initial goal was even possible. He said he planned on riding the entire fondo at 85 to 90% of his FTP. My question is, is 85 to 90% of FTP a reasonable goal for five hours of riding, I ask because I am a similar rider to the color my competitive rides are hilly, Gran Fondos, and gravel races. Were mostly riding to see how well I can do personally, I’d like to figure out how to best pace these five to six hour rides. But I fear that if I head out and try to ride at a steady 85% of my FTP, my tank will be empty long before the ride is over. So I guess I’m asking for tips on pacing these long competitive rides, as you have thoroughly covered how to train for them quite nicely in other episodes. Thanks so much.

Trevor Connor 3:42
Houshang, do you want to start this one out?

Houshang Amiri 3:44
Sure. I’m assuming he’s talking about 85 90% of FTP power? Yes, not necessarily heart rates. And I think in theory, it is possible to do that. But really reality can be really hard to get it up just because it’s more than one thing is involved. And the management of the ROI, just having a plan of nutrition, hydration, it can change, the outcome of the right is focused, of course, only on the power many things can go wrong with in my opinion. So if you go with FTP power, I going to say the heart rates, it can change from first to second from second to third and so on. And quite end of the ride is a possibility to have and I believe it will be big CORDIC drift in the heart rate and he will be moving away from that 85 90% of FTP power because you’re going to keep the power same but really response but the response is different. Simply if he not Drink enough, the harder it’s going to go up. And that 85% Maybe is easy on first our become really hard. In fifth our

Trevor Connor 5:09
Yeah, I was kind of hoping that you would go there because I agree. You know, starting with that 85% of FTP, we’ve talked a lot in the show about your your anaerobic threshold and your aerobic threshold, that 85% of FTP is around where a lot of people’s aerobic threshold is. But as you pointed out, this is by power. And whenever we tell people to do those long rides at your aerobic threshold, we always recommend you got to do that by heart rate, because that’s a physiological response. And I agree with you 100%, that, if you’re doing five, six hours, by power at that 85% of FTP, you might be starting at or a little below your robic threshold. But by the end of the ride, you’re going to be going much harder than that, physiologically speaking.

Houshang Amiri 5:56
Yes, absolutely. You know, in past few years, I use RA for all in your constructs. And power comes when you go evolve your aerobic threshold, it is and paying attention to your body response is very important, you know, wanting to kind of make sure that he won’t do this GranFondo is fond, right? It should not be treated as a race. And forget about key elements that is a fun, and enjoy the rides. And that means you’re not going to just focus on the power and trigger the gods, everything ups. Do you know, for example, getting on a proper group that matches his pace is important. This kind of work on proper pacing, getting into front, probably going at 90% of FTP, and coming back of the that group is in and resting. And, you know, enjoying the rights. And going to the mics.

Rob Pickels 7:01
I love that both of you when initially to these limitations, right, who Shang you brought up eating enough, you brought up drinking enough and because my mind always goes to limitations too. And neither of you have mentioned 90% of FTP that sounds like it’s over the threshold of what a writer is going to be able to do for these hours. And that maybe 85% is possible. If you get things right, like drinking, like taking in enough carbohydrate, because 85% is probably right at that threshold, where you know, if everything is perfect, it’s possible. And if you do lose things, you get overheated, you go too hard on a couple hills, you don’t drink or eat enough that 85% is going to be 60% of FTP really, really fast. Yeah, well,

Trevor Connor 7:49
I mean, I can tell you, if I can’t get an athlete into the lab to measure where their actual aerobic threshold or VT one is, I’ll use a calculation. But 85% is the very top and I usually go with about 77 78%. Yeah, so and we should bring up you know, that aerobic threshold that’s considered kind of the highest point or highest effort you can go at, that’s considered sustainable that you can do for hours and hours and hours on end, once you start going above that, your body’s paying a price and you’ll be able to sustain that for four or five, six hours, or it’s gonna really take it out of you. So I look at that 85% personally and even say that, that’s going to be a struggle 90% Unless you’re a top top level cyclist, I think you’d have a hard time doing a five, six hour event of that sort of intensity, but Shang, what do you think when I said

Houshang Amiri 8:42
it 90%, we are looking at the baseline ranking, you may be in there for a minute or two. And now if you group of 10, it’s going to take you on the 10 to 15 minutes to get in the front. And that allows you to recover and to get back on but I am 100% with you here that even 85% is just pushing the limits for the duration of the ride.

Rob Pickels 9:07
So in his question, John asked, If I head out and try to ride at a steady 85% How does this change if we’re say in hilly terrain, or if somebody intentionally rides at, I don’t know, 100% of threshold for a short time and then 60% At other times and it averages to 85 Is that more sustainable? Or is going out at 85%? Maybe a more likely scenario?

Houshang Amiri 9:37
That’s that’s a really good point. Because I would say when you’re writing, you’re looking at the numbers, you got to look at your 85% 80% not thinking okay, if I go 100% And then go 50% is kind of averages out to 80% That doesn’t work like that. Right is as I said again, economy Change your fuel consumption and the rate of the carbon your body’s using, and that will be issued by itself.

Trevor Connor 10:09
And I agree, I think you have to be really careful about looking at the the averages. You know, I can give you an example from my own experience where in the winter, I’ll go out and do easy steady bass mile rides and average, like 134 135 heart rate, in the summers, I’ll go and hit every killer climb around Boulder and come back absolutely destroyed and have the same average heart rate, right? So you can end up with the same averages, and have very different rides or very different experiences on your legs and houzhang. As you said, if you’re not fueling correctly, if you’re doing these hard efforts where you’re just absolutely depleting your glycogen. You might say, Well, my average heart rate looks about right, my average waters looks about right. But you’re you’re killing yourself. And but you won’t you won’t get through those six hours.

Rob Pickels 10:55
Yeah. So Trevor, I mean, take you and I’m, I’m a washed up. Never has been sprinter. You’re more of

Trevor Connor 11:01
a still out sprint me by a

Rob Pickels 11:04
lot. Exactly. Exactly. Right. You and I we have these innate sort of differences in our writing abilities. Do we both attack this fondo in the same way? Or do we each have different pacing techniques?

Trevor Connor 11:15
It’s a good question, who’s

Houshang Amiri 11:16
saying it, you have to prepare for it. If you’re a sprinter, or Time Trial type rider really not going to change too much of pacing, because still you’re dealing with same energy system. And same fuel consumption. I will set everything based on mid range of Pyro pick capacity, power or heart rate and go from there. I don’t think I truly believe what type of rider you are not going to play a big role in here because by end of it, you’re not sprinting you just finishing this ride, and enjoy it.

Trevor Connor 11:55
Yeah, I was gonna say I think the biggest differences of you and I were actually racing that I’d wait for that 2030 minute climb near the end and try to drop you so you don’t have the opportunity to sprint me.

Rob Pickels 12:06
And I’d sit in behind that massive frame and draft that you provide. And hopefully I’ll kick you at the end. Gina? Thank you. You know, it sounds like I think that we’ve got some great information here. You know, if I want to try to summarize it real quick, it seems like the technique for going out and doing this the pacing strategy ought to be something that’s relatively even, it shouldn’t involve big spikes in power, big increases in effort. But that maybe 85% is the very, very upper limit of what you could expect with that relatively steady strategy. And that may be something slightly below, you know, maybe 80 ish, or 75% of FTP would be more likely. And the reason for that is just due to substrate utilization, making sure we’re not burning through too many carbohydrates, not dehydrating ourselves not driving our core temperature too high. All of those limitations that could otherwise really decrease your your pacing there.

Trevor Connor 12:59
So I’ll just share a story of a GranFondo I did a few years ago, and then we can move on to the next question. So who Shang you’ll find those kind of funny it was a GranFondo up in Canada, and I was going for the fun of it. And we were 10 minutes into it. It was 160 kilometers. And I went, Oh, let’s have some fun and attacked God way, way,

Rob Pickels 13:20
way way. What kind of fun. This is Trevor Connor type of fun.

Trevor Connor 13:23
This is my kind of fun. So 10 minutes in attacked, went away with a rider looked down was doing about 303 10 Watts, my threshold at the time was about 343 50 and just went, Okay, this is gonna hurt. Let’s see how long I can hold this. And actually ended up averaging pretty close to that for the whole fondo. We were away for a long time. But I remember the people who are smart, some of the cat ones who are on the race attack later, they caught the two of us and we hit this little 30/42 riser. And they hit a little hard. Not really hard, but just hit it a little harder. And I was out the back shot out so fast. I had absolutely nothing left. Except just this ability to grind it. So yeah, yeah. So that was basically I was riding out that 90% That’s

Rob Pickels 14:19
the quick math in my head says yeah, about 90% of FTP, and I

Trevor Connor 14:23
paid for it. I absolutely paid for it by the end. And I’m you know, my strength is my ability to sustain for a long time. So I would not do that again.

Rob Pickels 14:32
But the question was, was it fun?

Trevor Connor 14:34
Oh, hell yeah. There you go. And who Shang is my past coach? How much would you be shaking your head at me right now?

Houshang Amiri 14:41
I don’t know. I just know you. That’s I’m not surprised you the best and always is pushing the limits. That’s one of the qualities you had to cover. And I think, you know, again, this brings important of nutrition because when you run Without intensity, your energy consumption changes compared to 85%. And if you plan for 85%, and you go with 90%, now you have to make sure you simply make a simple, you’re going to eat less with more, not running out a few. But even with that being said, we know the light of production happens on any intensity. And that’s been accumulate over time.

Trevor Connor 15:25
Yes, I did. And I’m not going to tell you how it feels. Because then you’re you’re truly just chastise me for it. So let’s move on to the next question.

Rob Pickels 15:35
Yeah, we got a good one about juniors training too hard from John BlackRock. His question reads, I’m a 47 year old masters rider who’s been racing recreationally for over 20 years, I was very excited when my 15 year old son decided to get into cycling, and even more excited when he wanted to race. He’s working with the juniors coach. But based on some of the things you’ve said on the show, I’m concerned about his training. He’s doing a lot. And there’s emphasis on a lot of high intensity interval work, the juniors trained together as a group, and they’re often doing intervals four times a week, they do very little long, slow volume work. I talked with the coach about it, and he feels this work is appropriate at their age, I brought up doing more slow volume type work. And he told me that something you definitely don’t want to do at that young age. I’d like to take his word on this, but my son seems tired all the time. And worse, he seems to be losing his motivation to ride and race lately. What are your thoughts on this? Is he doing the right thing?

Trevor Connor 16:37
And so I gotta just say, we actually didn’t get this question recently. But when we received this question, I did send my response. But I hung on to this one because he’s sharing I know, this is a question that’s an it’s near and dear to your heart. And it’s one that I wanted to hear your answer to?

Houshang Amiri 16:52
Yes. So I think that’s it’s very common, I see it most of the time, and for all different reasons, juniors training, harder than they supposed to, or coaches doing that hard training, and sometime has to do with race proposed race calendar that the juniors has to do. And coaches have no choice regardless of their experience or junior coach, for example, having missed a track Nationals at in early in the season in January, for example, right is the time they have to work on the base not they’re working on on the speed. And in this particular athletes, I like really to know a little bit more like I will ask their Chino, athletes Chronicon, age versal biological age, what is really developed at age, not every 15 years old, they’re the same 15 years old, and some of them can take the intensity. But again, as a coach, I need to know where I’m going, why I’m doing this. And as athletes has to know that is taking if it’s appropriate for important race does maybe is adjustable in or is okay to do that. But other things, I do not have a what is recovery plan, like a four times intensity per week, it looks like a unit of nine days in a week, because Arizona the intensity, you have to recover, allow the body to adapt before you move on. Without it to fatigue and under recovery can occur and fatigue can accumulate. And over time, you’re going to create overtraining symptoms, and that should be paying reasonable in performance. And as matter of fact, is just loss of motivation is one of the founders recovery symptoms or getting into overtraining centers.

Trevor Connor 18:53
My guess is that’s what’s happening with this athlete. And just like you, I’ve seen this before, I remember seeing a juniors program where they had the juniors training together twice a week in a studio together. This was through the winter, and they’re doing some really high intensity work. And I was looking to go and boy, that’s that’s tough work in January, and then found out that there was two sessions of high intensity as a group. And then all the athletes were doing another two high intensity sessions on their own during the week. And that was in January, and then I saw several the athletes in this program ultimately just end up quitting.

Houshang Amiri 19:28
Yes, that is pretty common and also known with juniors when they are training as a group, always the intensity gets through the roof, that competitive side of the things plays a big role and even on my training sessions, as opposed to why you got to go this is a pace this the speed and as soon as I let them go things changes, different days or race. You know, that’s the nature of the things and that’s brings me to really education For the bike education, how much coaches really sit down with their athletes now explain the pacing idea, you know, just explaining what is reason behind what they want to do. And if they don’t do it, that’s the way it has to be done. But as a consequence of if that is they don’t know the consequence of changing the training intensity or volume on their own, can be leading to really overtraining a.

Rob Pickels 20:35
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Trevor Connor 21:19
Rob, what are your thoughts here cuz I know you’ve worked in the lab with a lot of juniors

Rob Pickels 21:23
yeah, I’ve worked both in the lab with a lot of juniors and then also out in the field with junior mountain biking cyclocross teams. And, you know, I think that my thoughts are a little bit more broad, where, if you’re talking ages in the say, eight to early teens, I don’t really believe in much structure training at all, to tell you the truth, riders should be out riding for fun. Any practice, any formal practice should be more skill development than anything else. And if there’s anything that even remotely comes close to an interval, it should be something fun, like a relay race or something of that nature. You know, maybe you’re weaving down between some trees on your cyclocross bike, and then you’re just riding, you know, hard back to the top of the hill, nothing that’s really structured around this 15 year old age, though, I think that we can get into more structured interval training where you’re running out a training plan in a training season, as that athlete begins to develop into higher performance. At that point, though, in my experience, it’s always been training that’s much more similar to what you would do with an adult in terms of the balance of base intensity and higher intensity work. I’ve actually gone back and I did look at some research on this. And there was a great study from Dr. Seiler who looked at 51 German cyclists that are about 17 years old. And to keep it really simple. Essentially, there was some responders and some non responders in that group. And the responders had the training intensity distribution that is effective across all ages. And the non responders were the ones that spent a significant amount of time in that three to six millimole in that threshold range. And so I think that that’s some some great objective data that supports a lot of what we’re feeling as coaches on what’s effective for these athletes when we’re making an actual training program for them.

Trevor Connor 23:07
And who shame that’s very much in line with your long term athlete development program.

Houshang Amiri 23:11
Yes, absolutely. As Mel effect to that long term athlete development, and some of the workshop I had, at Worlds I can center in Switzerland is what we did we look at all the top cyclists for that few years that we were working on this, how many of them they were world champion, or really good genius tip, outcome was very little, only very few even, you can hardly can’t read Warner, and none of the tops, cyclists top performer, they are the ones that they were really okay, good juniors, they’re good juniors, but they were not good champion, or Vien anything big. And what we find really pushing the athletes too early, in early season, they can have a short, athletic life. So some athletes, they’re talented, some they have to change that we have nothing to do with it. If they are pushing for one championship, just simply go back last 10 years look at every world champion, Junior World Champion. Where are they right now? We can find?

Rob Pickels 24:23
Yep, no, it’s true. You see it all the time, because, you know, I was very involved with a junior cyclocross program at the national and international competitive in I oftentimes look back at these names that I remember from the world stage who were absolutely incredible as 17 and 18 year olds, and it’s very rare to continue to see them being successful in the pro ranks.

Trevor Connor 24:44
So let’s move on to our next question. And thank you for that response. That was a response. I was hoping for a while save that question for you, who Shang Thank you. We have another interesting question here, Rob.

Rob Pickels 24:56
Yeah, Nathan wrote in about anaerobic power to do one to two minute climbs, here’s his question. Hi guys, I’ve been getting back into competitive cycling over the last few years after taking some time off to start a family. I usually consider myself more of a roller or type rider due to my size, six foot 486 pounds. But I have found in the higher res categories that my lack of anaerobic power has been both a weakness and a limiter. On climbs under five minutes, I find myself getting spit out the back and having to burn a lot of energy to claw back into the group. I’m excited to use a more polarized training model considering I love nothing more than long four hour rides and threshold intervals. But I’m curious about your thoughts on also using the base and build period to focus on my anaerobic energy systems as well. Maybe his whiffed race once a week, I would love to become more of a punchy racer, but have had a hard time finding gains in this short power duration energy system. Any hope? Or Am I destined for the solo breakaway and gravel events?

Trevor Connor 26:04
So Shang, I’m actually very interested in hearing your answer on this one, because I have a feeling you’re gonna say something that you taught me a long time ago. And I have said probably multiple times on this show, but I’m not going to give it away. So So let’s hear your response. First, I’m

Houshang Amiri 26:20
going to say, I truly believe the issue he’s dealing with is has nothing to do with anaerobic energy system, anaerobic energy, so functions for wise energy, up to one minute, they say you can increase it to little further. But as soon as you hit the peak economy downwards, and if you look at the characteristic of anaerobic energy system is not what he’s looking for. But as he relies on really ability to be more effective tuning by Rubik system, and when we talk about our aerobic system, you’re looking at the capacity and as well as hydrophobic power or MEP Max aerobic power, there was many podcasts on your show traverse that this has been discussed in details. And, you know, basically looking at mitochondrial function, how important is when you want to go heart, and that mitochondrion development is happens in Lori’s feet, we are talking about some two. Yeah, definitely, this is not an aerobic system need to be targeted at all in here.

Trevor Connor 27:33
That’s exactly where I was hoping you were going. So the thing I’ve said on the show, as you pointed out in the past is if you’re sitting in the field, and you’re close to your threshold, and then you hit that one minute climb, I don’t care how good an anaerobic system you have, you’re going to be fatigued, and you’re going to struggle getting over that climb. Conversely, if you have a great aerobic system, and you’re sitting in the field for an hour or two, at a talking pace, and then you hit a short climb, you’re gonna have a real good jump, you’re gonna have that ability, even if he would say the anaerobic side isn’t necessarily your your strength. And there’s just give a little bit of a physiological explanation behind that, if you’re going close to your your threshold, you are recruiting a lot of those fast twitch muscle fibers and they fatigue quickly. So when you need to actually rely on them to get over that one two minute climb, they’re just not going to be there, they’re already going to be tired,

Rob Pickels 28:27
you’re not going to have that short term power that you are going to have when you’re fresh in the workout.

Trevor Connor 28:32
If you’re sitting in the field going easy and relying almost exclusively on the slow twitch muscle fibers, then when you hit that climb, all those anaerobic fibers are gonna say, yep, ready to go? I have not been used yet today.

Rob Pickels 28:44
Yeah, can we actually maybe look at this question from a different perspective? How much in your experience? Can we change the weaknesses that somebody has? Should we just acknowledge our strengths and choose events that play into them? Or, you know, if somebody really wants to alter kind of their their base physiology? Are they able to do that to be successful in something that really they shouldn’t be able to be?

Trevor Connor 29:09
Who sharing any thoughts?

Houshang Amiri 29:10
The answer is yes to all of those, right? You have to know what I’m finding you are and also what are the weaknesses? Always I tell my athletes train with your weaknesses, race reduce threat. So knowing what is missing or what need to improve is very important that bring us back to benchmarking, getting proper testing done, and figuring out where our areas need to be improved the most. In this case, definitely, I see I Rubik system is not there. And also looking at the athletes profile. It looks like a pretty powerful athlete See he gonna have lots of potential doing really well on the flats and doing some damage to the pack is on on the flats and based on him his ability, he can have different strategy going through those, those clients, maybe getting a vein from the pack certain climb ahead of the time to pack and riding his own pace. And when he got caught, he can go with them. And by the time usually, he’s top of the client? Well, the answer to Rob’s question, I would say yes to both.

Rob Pickels 30:22
Yeah. And I do think that, you know, advice for Nathan, right is play to your strengths when you’re racing. And also to define success. If you want to go out and be racing in these events, then great, that’s your choice that you can do. Or you may be going to be successful in something else. Certainly, if that means being on the podium, if that means placing as high as you can. But success in a race like this is maybe challenging yourself or whatever else. And if you are going to choose to do things and because this is a larger rider, and as who Shang said his power numbers are great, but the fact that he’s 186 pounds, means he’s not going to be as effective on a five minute climb as possible. So what can you do with that race craft? And, you know, Trevor, how do you feel about this, where oftentimes I’ll advise people, you know, you know, a climb is coming up, get to the front of the field, try to control the pace of the pack a little bit, you know, try to hold them back at the beginning of the climb. But then also that allows you to drift to the back of the pack as you’re going up the climb, and you’re still attached. So a little extra effort before the climb can keep you attached over the top, as opposed to coming into it at the back of the pack is five feet becomes 15 becomes 20 feet. And then and then you’re gone at that point.

Trevor Connor 31:34
I think that was exactly what Shang was bringing up and I’ll throw this back to you Shang. But absolutely, I mean, I can tell you from my own experience as a racer, the only times I was ever at the back of the pack on a climb was when I was feeling really good and had confidence that nobody’s dropping me. Yep. Actually, on the days where I wasn’t feeling good, and was worried about my racing, I would be literally on the front. Because sometimes, if you can take that climb hard enough, guys will let you set the pace. And if I’m feeling bad, I’d rather be the ones setting the pace and trying to hang on to somebody else’s wheel. So yes, if you’re worried about those climbs, you don’t want to burn a bunch of matches getting to the climb. So there’s an art form to getting on the front right at the right moment. But you should be hitting that that climb right near the front of the field so you can slip back houzhang What’s your thoughts on this?

Houshang Amiri 32:26
I agree. I gotta give you tell you a little story here. I had a junior athlete, she’s doing well right now. And she erased was in Penticton. And you saw the race, front of the school, you ride about 400 meters, you made a right turn at 6% climb, and you do this climb changes to 10 11% and goes about two and a half kilometers before flat descent and you make a loop again, she was super worried that how can happen. You’re going to give trump the beginning. I said what are you going to do for warm up to warm? I say as soon as I said, ready to go, you’re going to go as far as you can separate yourself. They may catch you by end of the crime. But what happened was she did that they did not catch her by in the crime. And she got caught with two other people in second lap of three or four lotteries. And she are disappearing. Both of them and the finish. She won the race that she thought you’re not going to be able to finish. Wow. And Ali’s story. You remember Aaron Carter are going to mention her name. Yeah, yes. We went to Panama to in Colombia and those years Panem championship is it was track and rotors track for five days before and Dan rotaries end of the week. She was completely pursued her she won the pursuit you want a points race medal on payments every place she did and night before the race road race she was in a road race so rode with course profile 10 Kilometer profile meet about two kilometer climb. Pretty much eight counted, slow the sand you come back pretty much chromium setup. And she was worried if she gets dropped is safe enough. Those years this is a long time ago we are talking about is safe, you know, on her own. And then we talk about it. And long story short, pier on the feets on I heard the song Canadian is in the front. And we said to be 1234 datrix Because we have sandy a specific November it was yes, it was but she’s one of the big world class climbers. And so I don’t know who is it because we could not follow it. So I saw air in the front and long story. Erin tracking one the one two most difficult road race 11 laps of 1102 Kilometer loop return have counted 10% average crime want to just because that’s the way she did it, she attack on the descent opens up the gap and the teammates, older cap, and we finish one, two and fought while on that race a bad year. So again, this brings the idea behind it is really how you’re going to win your race and you have to use your stretch, what is your capability, what you can do that to get best outcome of the race, but

Trevor Connor 35:35
you bring up a really good point lightarian That she broke away on the descent. People focus too much on the climbs and races, they don’t think about any of the other parts on the course I’ve seen this with a lot of athletes. They just know there’s a climb coming up and feeling like well, the whole race is going to happen on that climb. You don’t necessarily have to abide by that you can make the race happen at other points, as you said that might take advantage of your strengths more. Absolutely. All right. So I think we have one more question, Rob. We do.

Rob Pickels 36:03
It’s from Cynthia green. And she wants to know about doing a hard effort at the start of your famous World Famous Five by fives.

Trevor Connor 36:11
And let me just say, I know I’m getting the reputation for these five by fives. But who Shang I completely stole these from you the first year I worked with you, you gave me these? I have been doing them every winter, since

Houshang Amiri 36:24
that’s the world but also am still I’m doing it and just you add so much to the mix in terms of outcome of it, and variation of it and analyzing it and you know, in process is islands really more than what it was in beginning?

Rob Pickels 36:41
Well, perfect. So here we go. This is Cynthia’s question and it sounds like you’re both well prepared to answer it. I’ve heard you talk about five by five minute intervals with a one minute recovery as a good threshold workout. You mentioned the importance of keeping the power steady and consistent throughout all of the repetitions example, Givens started 230 Watts and keep them all at 230 watts. However, you also mentioned that that means you often won’t hit your threshold heart rate until after the second or third interval. Since you always say the goal is to train a particular energy system and heart rate is a measure of what’s going on in your body. Wouldn’t it be better to get your heart rate up at threshold right away? I’ve done this by writing the first 30 seconds of each interval harder, about 120 to 140% of threshold power, and then dropping down to a steady FTP power for the remaining four and a half minutes of each repetition. Do you think that’s a better way to do the five by fives?

Trevor Connor 37:40
Shang you want to take this one first? Because I think we might have slightly different answers.

Houshang Amiri 37:46
Sure, I would say answer is yes. I believe sooner you get to the target heart rate, it will be more benefit from the workouts and power I feel getting into that. Hurry. It should be lit with slowly then in just speak, John, again, depending on really what is the outcome, what she trying to develop exactly from that work, right is like over and under. This is not going to be over on the intervals. But just look at their heart rate response, I would suggest take about two minutes to get push maybe 1015 Watts more to get their target heart rate and then lower the power and make sure you maintaining the same heart rate and it just be a power to reset. Again, I feel this will help. Again, not sure. Really, what is it ends targets? Or what is the goal from overall, this inter was for her.

Trevor Connor 38:50
So I think she mentioned that she’s using what we’ve said in the show, which is a this is a good threshold workout. So I think she’s focusing on raising that threshold power would be my guess,

Houshang Amiri 39:00
is still yes, if that is idea, I still I suggest to do the same thing because I’m doing the same thing. I have athletes when I see them in five minutes. And first off that three minutes of that five minutes. They are in no man’s land. That’s his little bit vest up time until to get on further down the training. When the PT kicks in and heart rate goes up much faster. I suggest definitely moving about 10% above power and then reached targets all rates and loads of power.

Rob Pickels 39:35
So who Shang It definitely sounds like you’re supportive of her technique of increasing the power earlier in the threshold interval and then backing off a little bit. But I think that I just heard you suggest maybe 110% is how much you want to increase it to and then back off from there, as opposed to the 120 and 140% of threshold power that Cynthia is doing currently,

Houshang Amiri 39:57
I think is too high again depending on Sometimes you can simulate if she’s track cyclists, and she going to do some track work, maybe going through the periods and higher power is more suitable than doing last extra power, good for longer duration to get the right response. Again, those are the variation can be adjusted based on athletes needs.

Trevor Connor 40:25
So when you first gave me these intervals, you had me do them steady, you didn’t have me go a little harder at the start. And I did notice that you started to do that with athletes a few years later. And I’ve always struggled with that I’ve been kind of the steady guy telling all my athletes to just set the wattage and just let the heart rate come up. But interestingly, to the point that you’re bringing up, it seems that a lot of the recent research on interval work has really spent or focused on this, the importance of spending time near vo to max so 90% or higher of your VO to max. And there still isn’t a good study at saying is that truly beneficial, but kind of researchers have landed on that and looked at a lot of interval work in terms of how much time are you spending close to vo to max and and I have seen in some of that research exactly what you’re saying that doing that little bit harder at the beginning gets the heart rate up heart rate and oxygen consumption tend to move with one another. And you end up spending more the workout within that 90% or higher a vo two Max and it seems to be more beneficial. So I admit I’m struggling a little bit but glad to hear that you are doing this because I’ve always trusted you at these intervals. So it might be time for me to make a switch. Rob, what do you think?

Rob Pickels 41:42
Yeah, I think a different point for consideration, Trevor is looking at this from a different angle. And that’s the lactate response. I think that we all know heart rate is sort of that down stream responsive workload, it’s going to lag behind the work that you’re doing a little bit. If you’re looking to achieve a certain workload, you just have to understand the the heart rate, we’ll get there eventually. How I look at this, though, is I love over unders, I love to work a little bit harder, I love to build some lactate in the system. And then I love to pull back below threshold, maybe 90 92% threshold, because that’s where our body is doing a great job of utilizing and removing that lactate. And so I, I love to put in a little bit of a challenge. I love to pour lactate in the system. And then I love to let it work on pulling that lactate back out of the system and recycling. And so I can almost look at this as kind of a quasi over under situation, you’re starting the interval with a little bit higher lactate, and then you’re coming back in maybe reusing some of that a little bit more of a steady lactate toward the end of it. But so for me, I can definitely see that. On the other side of it, though, I will say you know, for someone who is looking to just maintain a steady power, this is a difficult situation for using heart rate again because of that lag. So I think as who Shang said, it just depends on the goals, right? I very strongly believe nothing is right or wrong. It’s just whether or not it’s matched up with what you’re trying to achieve is shining

Trevor Connor 43:03
a light that you brought up the fact that it this is a small percentage above your your target. This isn’t go as hard as you can for two minutes and then try to drop down the threshold and hold it. It’s just that slightly harder.

Houshang Amiri 43:17
Yes. You know, also I dance with some of the artists of over and under meet over his pay much we are going about 40% over their max power and then dropping another 40% of below Basic. Again, those are I feel thickness served purpose, but again, can be adjusted based on what his athletes need, really what type athlete rider they are, and what operation they can do.

Trevor Connor 43:48
No, that’s a good point. Well, who Shang just have to say it was a real pleasure getting on the show, this is something I’ve wanted to do for a while this kind of brings back memories. Because when I was at the center, I used to convince you to go out and hit a coffee shop with me. You told me you’d had about 30 minutes and I would keep you there for an hour and a half hit me with questions. And I still have all my notes from all the great answers that you gave me. So I really appreciate your sharing with all of us some of your thoughts on wisdoms on these questions.

Houshang Amiri 44:19
Thank you, sir. It was a pleasure to be here. And as you said, every time we talk to you, it just brings those memories back.

Trevor Connor 44:25
No pleasure having you on the show.

Rob Pickels 44:27
Yeah, who’s sharing I’m so glad to have met you. Maybe one day it won’t be virtual. But I think that you shared so many insights that really got my mind thinking today. So you know, thank you for being a part of Trevor’s upbringing and training and for all of our listeners too. I really appreciate it.

Houshang Amiri 44:44
Thank you Rob. It was nice meeting you as well.

Rob Pickels 44:48
That was another episode of fast talk. Subscribe to fast talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcast. Be sure to leave us a rating and a review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on fast talk are those of the Individual as always we love your feedback. Join the conversation at forums dot fast talk labs calm to discuss each and every episode. Become a member of fast doc laboratories at fast talk labs comm slash join and become a part of our education and coaching community for who Shang Amuri and Trevor Connor. I’m Rob pickles. Thanks for listening