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

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