Q&A on Travel and Training, CTL, Race Prep, and Big Gear LSD Rides, with Kendra Wenzel

Coach Wenzel helps answer questions on travel, final race prep, big gear work on LSD rides, pushing through exhaustion, and training races.

Coach Kendra Wenzel

With the help of Kendra Wenzel, co-founder and head coach at Wenzel Coaching, we field questions on how to manage training when you have a busy travel schedule, when to get intensity during the week before a race, incorporating big gear work into your LSD rides, and knowing when to push through or when to pull the plug on a workout.

Travel and training

This first question comes from Steve Herman in Dayton, Ohio. He writes:

“I recently took a new job that requires a significant travel schedule. Typically, about once or twice per month, I’ll have a two- to three-day trip, but sometimes more. I can control when I travel to some extent, but not completely. So far, I’ve been planning my workouts around my trips and vice versa, i.e., digging an ATL “hole” and using the time off the bike while away from home to recover. This can’t be optimal. Now that I’m in the off-season, I’ve been thinking about incorporating running to eventually build up my ability to do high-intensity and/or long duration workouts while traveling. What are your thoughts on that idea? Is there some way to translate work done while running to work done on the bike? Is there a better way to deal with this?”

Training camp before a big race

Our next question on travel comes from Susan Squam in Buffalo, New York. She writes:

“I have my target race coming up towards the end of August. It’s a three-day stage race. I want to do a big training camp before the race, but I was wondering how much rest I need between the end of the camp and the race? The race starts on a Friday and I’m flying there on the Wednesday night. Does finishing my camp on the Sunday before give me enough time?”

HIT work in final race prep

This question comes from Lasse in Lillehammer, Norway. He writes:

“I am planning to run a 14-mile [running] race on Saturday. How many days before the race should I refrain from doing a HIT workout? Can I do one Thursday and then have Friday to recover or is two days out too close? If two days is too close, can I focus the HIT workout on upper body on Thursday? Will that leave my legs fresh for the race on Saturday?”

When to push through or pull the plug

This question comes from David Sutter in Carbondale, Colorado. He writes:

“Should I suspend training if I am feeling exhausted or push through with a shorter zone 2 workout? Am I negating gains that could be realized by not allowing for adequate recovery? When I see CTL drop on TrainingPeaks, it makes me think I’m losing fitness, but I think that is a maybe a flaw with CTL?”

Effective use of training races

This question comes from Amos Kirkpatrick in Burbank, California. He writes:

“I’m not a big interval guy. I love to get my intensity through training races. Most weeks, I’ll do the group ride on the weekend, a training race on Tuesdays, and another training race on Thursdays when work allows. Is this an effective approach to keep me strong throughout the season and to prepare for my target event?”

Big gear work on your LSD rides?

Our final question comes from Scott in Greensboro, North Carolina. He writes:

“Is there any benefit to doing the long, slow rides at a slow grinding cadence? I do mine indoors on rollers. My thought process would be that the low cadence (60 rpm or lower) would fatigue the slow-twitch muscles quicker, thus, recruiting the fast twitch muscles to work sooner.”

Episode Transcript

Chris Case  00:12

Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of Fast Talk, your source for the science of endurance performance.

Chris Case  00:19

Today we’re doing a q&a with Kendra Wenzel, head coach and co-founder of Wenzel Coaching.

Chris Case  00:28

Hey everyone, today we’d like to share a great way for you to enjoy the Fast Talk Podcast, even more, join Fast Talk Labs through our free listener membership. You’ll enjoy access to our Fast Talk Podcast forum, unlock over 45 of Dr. Stephen Seiler’s lectures and interviews, get our weekly newsletter, and unlock podcast episode transcripts. Listener membership makes the Fast Talk Podcast even better, join today at fasttalklabs.com.

Chris Case  00:57

Welcome to the program, Kendra.

Kendra Wenzel  00:59

Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Chris Case  01:01

We also have, of course, Trevor Connor and Ryan Kohler are in the studio as well today.

Chris Case  01:08

Kendra, let’s start off, give us a little bit of a background on your experience as a coach.

Kendra Wenzel: Experience as a Coach

Kendra Wenzel  01:14

I raced for about 14 years, a lot of that time with a national team, primarily on the road, did a lot of track, a little bit of mountain bike, a little bit of cyclocross. From there, I transitioned into coaching, and with Wenzel coaching, we work with all different levels of cyclists, triathletes, and runners, primarily cyclists, my favorite kind of clients to work with are the developing elite. So, those people that are making the jump from, you know, developing into maybe national or international competition. Most recently I’ve been coaching Clara Honsinger, who is our current cyclocross national champion.

Chris Case  01:58

Perfect. Well, let’s dive into some questions, shall we? We’ve got a few right off the top that pertains to the subject of travel. I’ll read the first one, it comes from Steve Herman, he’s in Dayton, Ohio. He writes, “I recently took a new job that requires a significant travel schedule. Typically, about once or twice per month, I’ll have a two-to-three-day trip, but sometimes I’ll do some more. I can control when I traveled to some extent, but not completely. So far, I’ve been planning my workouts around my trips, and vice versa, ie, I’ll dig an ATL hole, and use the time off the bike while away from home to recover, this can’t be optimal. Now that I’m in the offseason, I’ve been thinking about incorporating running to eventually build up my ability to do high-intensity and or long-duration workouts while traveling. What are your thoughts on that idea? Is there some way to translate work done while running to work done on the bike?” Finally, he asks, “Is there a better way to deal with this?” Kendra, I’ll turn this over to you. What are your thoughts on managing travel and training together and trying to bring those two seamlessly together?

Managing Travel and Training

Chris Case  03:18

Yeah, so we run into this a lot with working athletes, I mean, this is just a fact of life for most people, and for those that must travel multiple days during the month, there are different ways to work this in, the way that he’s doing it can work, but the piece that I see that’s sort of missing in there is that a lot of times, travel is not recovery. That means that time on airplanes, generally not recovery, time in meetings, depending on how stressful it is, a lot of times not recovery. A lot of times those outings also include a lot of eating and drinking and standing around. So, again, not all, particularly recovery-based. So, it would depend a lot on the makeup of the travel. So, going into a hole, maybe not always the best idea, but again, it just depends on what is happening during what kind of travel it is. So, what I generally would do is arrange it that way sometimes, but also, you know, maybe head into it a little bit in the hole, but more so treat it just like an easier training day, a less stressful day, and then maybe they can jump back into training afterward, or maybe they might even need an extra recovery day coming back.

Chris Case  04:45

To complicate matters, he’s talking about incorporating running into things. Have you heard or dealt with this before where somebody is trying to, maybe because it’s simpler and they don’t have to bring their bike with them, to take up running while they’re traveling because it’s a little bit easier to do that, and then how that translates to the bike?

How Running Translates on the Bike

Kendra Wenzel  05:06

This can work well, particularly in the offseason, especially if he wants to include a little intensity, it’d be a little more complicated, maybe if he’s racing during the season, but it could be a way to get into shorter workouts to do because a lot of times travel wise, you’re trying to stack that in the morning before you’re off to meetings, or whatever you got to do. The heart and lungs don’t really know whether you’re running or riding, aerobically it could be great training, you could do some interval training within that, but again, you still need to consider the recovery component, when is the recovery going to come? That is going to mean, maybe you come home from a trip, and you still need to recover, or this is sort of midweek, and the recovery is coming at a different part in the week.

Chris Case  05:51

Trevor, what would you add here about seamlessly or trying to seamlessly integrate travel and training together?

Trevor Connor  06:00

My biggest thing is don’t stress too much, especially if it is just a couple day trip, and this is less frequent. I do have an athlete I coach who travels once or twice per week, and we figured out ways to deal with it. So, the couple thoughts I have from my experience working with him, one, I get the appeal of what he’s referring to as the ATL hole, which is to hit yourself hard before you travel, and then if you can’t work out for a couple of days, you feel okay with it, because you feel like your body is repairing from all that work you did. Kendra, I think you were spot on with saying that, well, you might not actually be recovering on that trip. The other thing to be aware of is if you dig yourself deep into a hole, that can compromise your immune system, and having a compromised immune system and then walking through an airport and getting on a plane might not produce the results you want, so do be careful about that. If you are going to dig into that hole, make sure you have at least one day to recover before your trip. Running does translate well to cycling, so for a couple of days, I think it’s a perfectly valid option, I’ve done it many times myself. With the athlete I coach, he just takes his shoes and his pedals with him, and it’s not as fun as being on his own bike, but quite frequently he’s staying somewhere that has a decent gym bike, he puts his paddles on that bike and does it work out there. Sometimes we’ll just make it easy rides, there are some intensity workouts that we can do that are okay on a gym bike, as strange as it sounds, if we have to do some intensity to give them sprint workouts because you’re going to get out of the saddle, so having a perfect position on the gym bike isn’t going to be as important.

Chris Case  07:44

Excellent. Ryan, did you have any thoughts that you wanted to share?

Ryan Kohler  07:48

Yeah, you know, I fully agree with all the points so far, they’re great. I love the running idea, and I think it’s a pretty useful activity to bring with you. As Kendra said, those trips are not always recovery, so on the other side of the coin too, it’s interesting if you can bring your running shoes with you, if you’re in meetings all day or business dinners, things like that, that’s a lot of stuff going on, and it’s sometimes nice to have something like running as an outlet. So, just to get away from that and feel like you’re still being active. So, I think to support Trevor’s note, if you’re not stressing about it, you can even think of it as just a way to stay physically active and just enjoy moving. The one cautionary note that I will give to athletes is if you have, you know, that hour, hour and a half ride planned, it’s likely not going to mean you should go out and do an hour and a half run, especially if you don’t have that foundation in running. So, if this is something new for an athlete, I think just making sure they know that just some general physical activity, a 20- or 30-minute jog might be great. So, making sure they don’t jump in headfirst with running if they’re going to bring this into the plan.

Training Camp Before a Big Race

Chris Case  09:11

Well, let’s move on to the next question because it also pertains to travel. So, maybe it dovetails nicely with what we’ve just spoken about. This one comes from Susan, she’s up in Buffalo, New York. She writes, “I have my target race coming up towards the end of August, it’s a three-day stage race, I want to do a big training camp before the race, but I was wondering how much rest I need between the end of the camp and the race? The race starts on a Friday and I’m flying there on the Wednesday night beforehand. Does finishing my camp on the Sunday before give me enough time to recover?” Kendra, I’ll turn this over to you.

Recovery Time and Travel Races

Kendra Wenzel  09:52

I guess my first question would be, you know, it could depend a lot on how big is big, right? And how much she has been trying before that. A big training camp right before a race, generally not ideal, in my opinion, I probably would try to push that maybe two or three weeks before, so there’s time to have a real rest, get in some peak training going into the big event that way, you’re not taking risks that maybe if you go overboard, or you could even get sick, or it’s usually just a little bit too much that close to the race.

Chris Case  10:30

If I had to guess it sounds like the use of the word big means they’re thinking, “Oh, I can get in one big training camp and set myself up great for this trip, or this big event.” However, it doesn’t allow enough time for your body to benefit from what you did to it during the camp. Do I have that right, guys?

Ryan Kohler  10:55

Yeah, I think that’s great. This is a really timely question, too, I actually just finished a sizable training camp, and I’m about three weeks out from my main race, and Jana and I were even talking today about the race that she just did, where she had a pretty massive week, the week before, but we spent that final week leading up to the race, just really focusing on a lot more rest than really what our brains tell us, they want to keep going. So, yeah, this is timely in the sense that I totally agree with what Kendra is saying, how big is big? When I read this, it just feels very close. So, yeah, I think encouraging a little bit more time in between allows you to get that overload from the camp, and then really give the body enough time where you feel like, yep, okay, I’m back, and now I can finish getting ready for this race.

Trevor Connor  11:52

So, remember, if you’re beating yourself up with a big camp, you’re not going to see benefits from it unless you get recovery afterward to let your body repair and adapt. Sometimes you can feel good on a recovery week, but for the most part, if you try to race towards the end, or in the middle of a recovery week, you are going to feel lousy. So, you don’t want your target event to be in that recovery week, you want to have your big week, your recovery week, and then at least a week to just get back to normal training and refine your legs before your event.

Ryan Kohler  12:26

Unless you just finished the tour and then jumped into the Olympics, right?

Trevor Connor  12:29

And almost win it? Yes.

Ryan Kohler  12:30


Trevor Connor  12:31

We can talk about the physiology behind how that was possible another time. Kendra, I saw the second part of this that I wanted to ask you about, which is they’re flying in on the Wednesday night the race starts, I think they said the Friday morning, What’s your feeling about that?

Kendra Wenzel  12:49

I think that’s actually pretty doable, I mean, if it’s your peak race, your peak race and you can take off, you know, a lot of times it’s just the reality of what the person has to work with. I remember sending some athletes to nationals at altitude one year, and someone said, “You need to have them go in two weeks before.” I was like, “Great, yes, you tell that to their boss.” So, sometimes you get what you get, if Wednesday night is it then make the most of it by recovering on Thursday, hopefully previewing the course, whatever is going to be the biggest course or the prologue or whatever you can see. I mean Wednesday is pretty safe, right? That gives you still a Thursday if your flight gets screwed up, Tuesday might be better, but Wednesday works.

Chris Case  13:37

Very good. I think this next one in terms of the timing of things, has a little bit of a relationship to what we just spoke about. This one comes from Alhasa in Lillehammer, Norway. He writes, “I’m planning to run a 14-mile running race on Saturday. How many days before the race should I refrain from doing a HIIT workout? Can I do one Thursday and then have Friday to recover? Or is two days out to close? If two days is too close, can I focus the HIIT workout on the upper body on Thursday? Will that leave my legs fresh for the race on Saturday?” Kendra, I’ll start with you on this one.

HIT Work in Final Race Prep

Kendra Wenzel  14:23

So, now we’re into running which is not my primary expertise, but you know, when we look at overall stress to the body, again, the answer always depends on how big is the race? How often has he tried to do this before? How long do you generally take to recover from a workout like that? What part of the season is it? Is it like peak training time? He might be able to get away with that if he does the upper body and leaves the lower body, possibly even more or maybe keep it shorter, or if he is feeling really good and he continuing to build, you know, maybe he looks at it as a way to train through, again, just depends on his personal recovery, and how that’s been working for him in the past.

Chris Case  15:12

Ryan, I know you’ve worked with a lot of different athletes from a lot of different sports, what do you think?

Ryan Kohler  15:18

Yeah, a lot of the same thoughts that Kendra had too, it just goes back to, you know, if you’re a self-coached athlete, just knowing your body and knowing what the goal is for this race coming up. If it’s not a very high-priority race, then sure, maybe you can still keep a HIIT session in there, go into that race and have a fine day. If you’re doing a pretty sizable HIIT workout, and this is a pretty key race for you, then I’d have some questions around that. I think it is just knowing yourself and how you recover and what the purpose of this is, if you’re a coached athlete, just making sure to have that conversation with your coach to go through and see if anything needs to be adjusted. I’ll say I spoke with this athlete, actually, I’m not coaching the athlete, but we spoke about this, and we decided to bag the run.

Trevor Connor  16:10

So, the thing I’m going to add to this is when you get to that week before an important race, and I think here we’re talking about an important race, as opposed to a race every weekend, what should I do? I think if you race every weekend, you have to have some weeks where you just say, this week is more about training, I’m going to show up on the weekend not feeling as good as I could. If you’re talking about an important race, I don’t think there are set rules, certainly, this has been my own personal experience of what I’ve seen with my athletes, which is, sometimes you can go really hard, pretty close up to the event and have great legs, other times, you need to go really easy for a long time before the legs are there. The guide that I use, and the way I explain it to my athletes is, I talk about, you know, those weeks where you went out, you did your intervals, the legs weren’t great, and you felt like you kind of had to force it out and push through it, but you felt good because you did it? Don’t do that three, four days before a key event, that’s fine on a training week, but when you’re getting ready for a big event, if you go out to do intensity, and the legs aren’t feeling great, and you’re feeling like you’re forcing it out, don’t, turn it into a recovery ride. Try the next day, maybe instead of doing three sets, you do two sets because you’re a little closer to the event, and the same thing, if you’re still feeling like you’re forcing it out, don’t do it. So, I’d like to get some intensity before an event, a few days before, not the day before, a few days before the event, but I want the legs to feel good, I want it to feel like this is a sharpening up of the legs. If it feels the opposite, like your kind of digging out of a hole, you’re going to keep yourself in that hole for the event, you don’t want to do that.

Trevor Connor  17:52

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When to Push Through or Pull the Plug

Chris Case  18:34

All right. Let’s move on to another question, this one’s coming in from David in Carbondale, Colorado. He writes, “should I suspend training if I’m feeling exhausted? Or should I push through with a shorter zone two workouts?” Basically, he’s asking, “Am I negating gains that could be realized by not allowing for adequate recovery? When I see CTL drop on training peaks, it makes me think I’m losing fitness, but I think that is maybe a flaw with CTL?” Ryan, I’m going to start here with you. What are your thoughts here? There are quite a few things to unpack.

Ryan Kohler  19:19

Yeah. Oh, good-ole CTL.

Trevor Connor  19:22

Yeah, we had to get that question, didn’t we?

Ryan Kohler  19:24

Where to begin, CTL is such a stressful metric. So, I’ll start with the feeling of exhaustion. As I read through this, the first thing that comes to mind is just to get that definition of what is exhaustion for this athlete? Is this where the athlete completed a normal couple of weeks of training and they’re sufficiently fatigued, and that’s their version of exhaustion? Or are they truly exhausted where like they can barely walk up the steps? I think that’s a good discussion to have with the athlete that will help to inform their upcoming workouts. So, yeah, if someone is truly exhausted their resting heart rate is elevated, you know, if they’re glycogen depleted and they just have these heavy legs, and maybe mood changes going along with it, then yeah, even zone two work out, I would not consider that as being a productive workout. That’s how it kind of frames it to the athlete is, if we think about that zone two workout now, based on how you are feeling, do you think you would have a productive session? If they can think about it and say, yes, okay, well, maybe., but in this sort of scenario, I would expect them to lean toward no, and say, yeah, it’s probably the case where we need to take more time off. I’m gonna leave the CTL discussion to Trevor because I know you’re just chomping at the bit for this one.

Chris Case  20:53

Trevor and Kendra, yeah, Trevor and Kendra, jump in.

Kendra Wenzel  20:57

Well, as Ryan said, you know, if the athlete is feeling exhausted, if you are sort of able to define exhausted, then I would be hesitant to push through with anything, you know, unless, for instance, we have a major rest coming up a day later or something, it might be something that we wanted to push through. Are you negating gains? Again, it depends if you’re going to get that recovery soon enough. I guess my first thing always with CTL, is all the data accurate that’s in there? If I’m seeing CTL drop, I first still need to make sure that all the training is in there and accounted for its TSS. I don’t know, I guess I don’t panic a lot when I see drops in CTL, just because, there are so many components that are going into it altogether.

Chris Case  21:50

Trevor, we’re going to be doing an episode on CTL soon, but give us the brief answers here on, I don’t want to say necessarily the flaws of CTL, but what are your thoughts here when this person, David, says, I see CTL drop on TrainingPeaks, it makes me think I’m losing fitness.


Trevor Connor  22:13

Well, I’m glad you said that about avoiding the word, “flaw.” CTL is a metric, it’s a good metric, but it’s just a metric. I think the flaw is not in the metric, the flaw is in, based on the questions we’ve been getting lately, and lately, we’ve been getting a lot of questions on this, is there’s more and more this belief that CTL is performance, the higher your CTL, the better the rider you are. That I don’t agree with, I think it gives some indicators, I think it can be very valuable, but I don’t think it correlates quite that well. So, I’m looking at the CTL graph of an athlete that I’m working with who’s 55, we peaked his CTL out at 87 this season, right now he’s down below 70, and he’s absolutely flying, he’s on the best form he’s ever been on, because he was comfortable when I said, “We need to take some breaks.” And he mentioned, “But my CTL is really going to drop,” and I’m like, “That’s fine, you’re tired. You’ve done some good training, let’s let you adapt.” I really appreciated that he was willing to do that, because I think that’s the danger is everybody looks at their CTL and goes, “But if I rest CTL is going to plummet.” CTL plummets fast, you take a rest week, you can drop a lot. So, you see athletes more and more, they get scared to do that and keep training through fatigue, to keep that CTL up and their performance comes way down. So, I think it’s a useful number, but you must be able to put that aside and say, “It’s time for rest. I’m not feeling good. Let’s let it come down.” So, again, I’m looking at his graph, and we now have him, like I said, flying but we took a good two-week rest back in June, and he went all the way down to 65, which I know would flip a lot of athletes out. One of my favorite stories that he shared with me was last summer, he met up with some other master’s riders was out on the roads with them and absolutely ripping their legs off up all these climbs, and they were basically sitting on his wheel on the flats, and they asked him afterward like, “Man, you’re really flying. What’s your CTL right now? like 120?” He goes, “No, I think I’m like 70.” They would not believe him, would not believe him at all.

Chris Case  24:49

It is the next number of references, I suppose. I don’t know if it’s replacing FTP, but I feel like there’s a sense that the bigger the better, no matter the cost, I guess, or no matter what the context is. It would be great to dig into that metric, what it’s good for? What it’s not so good for? How to interpret it? How to use it in a future episode coming soon.

Effective Use of Training Races

Chris Case  25:18

All right let’s turn our attention to another question, this one has to do with training races, it comes from Amos, he’s out in California. He writes, “I’m not a big interval guy. I love to get my intensity through training races. Most weeks, I’ll do the group ride on the weekend, a training race on Tuesdays, and another training race on Thursdays when work allows, is this an effective approach to keep me strong throughout the season and to prepare for my target event?” Kendra, again, probably hard to say given we don’t know the full context of the story, his season, his age, his experience, all of those things, but is this a little too much? Or is this maybe spot on for Amos?

Kendra Wenzel  26:05

Well, Amos is in California, so I would guess that he’s able to do this relatively early starting in the season. Usually, what happens when someone trains this way, is they’ll get fit quick, and then they’ll just sort of stay at that level, they could probably have a good, you know, after six to eight weeks, maybe another four to six weeks of keeping that up, but if there is a target event in mind there, it’s usually not the most productive way to form a peak performance. That’s not to say that you couldn’t use components of this within the training, but I usually like to use group rides for a very specific thing, so if that’s some race simulation, or even challenging the person to ride easier on the group ride or include some kind of hill interval within it. The group rides in train races tend to kind of be the same all the time, so this leads to a lot of plateauing and frustration in my experience, but it can be handled differently. So, that’s not to say that you can’t utilize it, it’s just I wouldn’t do it all the time.

Chris Case  27:29

Trevor, would you agree with that? I know that you do like to incorporate training races into your training regimen now and again, what are your thoughts?

Trevor Connor  27:39

I 100% agree. They are fun, I mean they have benefits, they’re fun, and you can go hard. My mentor, Glen Swan, basically only trained during training races, I asked him why, and he said, “Well, I can’t push myself as hard in intervals as I can in a training race.” That said, he designed local training races and figured out how to design them, so they really turned into a somewhat structured interval workout just with other people, so they were probably somewhere in between. My explanation for this, and I’m trying to think of a really short version of this. Chris and I recorded a video for the website explaining the way our bodies adapt, but it goes back to you need to do damage to your body and then recover and let your body repair and rebuild. The idea is if you do enough damage, your body is going to hyper-compensate and you’re going to end up stronger. If you don’t do enough damage, your body’s going to repair it but take you right back to where you were. If you do too much damage, your body’s not going to be able to repair effectively and you’re going to start pushing that overreach. So, the one issue I have with training races, Kendra, you talked just a second ago about how initially you improve really rapidly and then you kind of plateau, this is my explanation for that. When you’re doing a training race, you’re hitting every energy system, and so you are faced with this conundrum of even though you do a fair amount of damage in the training race, in my opinion, a little bit of damage to every energy system, so when you’re unfit at the start of the season, that’s enough to get the super-compensation but quickly it becomes not enough damage, so then you’re faced with a scenario of keep going to the training races and not really improved because you’re not hitting any energy system hard enough, or do so much damage that you hit every energy system enough to force a super-compensation, but the overall damage to your body is beyond what your body can handle and you’re just going to be really fatigued. So, that’s where I find interval work very valuable because you can very specifically target one or two energy systems, have all the damage beyond those one or two energy systems, and continue to super-compensate even when you’re pretty fit. So, I personally use a mix of training races and intervals, just like Kendra said, go to training races some of the time, but not all the time.

Big Gear Work on Your LSD Rides

Chris Case  30:14

Very good. Well, let’s move on to a final question on specificity, this question comes from Scott, he’s in Greensboro, North Carolina. He writes, “is there any benefit to doing the long, slow rides at a slow grinding cadence? I do mine indoors on rollers, my thought process would be that the low cadence,” by that he was referring to 60 RPM or lower, “would fatigue the slow-twitch muscles quicker, thus recruiting the fast-twitch muscles to work sooner.” Maybe I’ll start with Trevor here, I know we’ve touched upon big gear work in a great episode with Neil Henderson and others, what are your thoughts here?

Trevor Connor  30:59

Oh, boy, I actually wrote a really long answer to this question, and I didn’t have a full answer because all the research that I have read on big gear work tends to be higher intensity. So, it’s either really short sprint work in enormously big gears or doing either threshold or just sub-threshold work for much shorter periods of time at those lower cadences. I don’t think I’ve ever actually read any research on doing a zone one easier style ride at a lower cadence, so I can’t say definitively, here’s what’s going on with the physiology. It’s just guesswork, I do know a lot of pros like to go out and do these five, six-hour rides and basically lock it in and a 53/12 and just kind of grind out the whole ride. I think there are neuromuscular benefits, I think there’s some potential strengthening of those slow-twitch muscle fibers that are going to prevent you from needing to recruit the fast-twitch as quickly, and there is the potential, but I can’t say definitively, that the question is spot on and you do fatigue the slow-twitch muscle fibers quicker and force those fast-twitch muscle fibers to start working aerobically, but don’t know. Kendra, do you have any thoughts? Ryan? Either of you seen any science on this?

Ryan Kohler  32:28

I haven’t seen the science on it, I’ll just say that I think there are some great positive aspects to it. I like to think of the cadence as a real continuum, and if this is something that an athlete is not very comfortable doing, then potentially a low intensity, low cadence ride over a long period could help them get more comfortable because I do tend to push athletes toward feeling comfortable at that very low end of the cadence range and at the very high range. So, I think there’s something to be said, for just feeling comfortable within that entire range. I think especially for amateur athletes, it’s easy for us to get locked into our kind of preferred cadence range, and we sit there all the time, so I can see this as a good way to help them expand that comfort zone a little bit.

Kendra Wenzel  33:15

I actually would agree with Ryan there, I think a lot of people will get locked into the kind of cadence that feels good to them, and being able to push through or spin through to get out of the comfort zone is part of the challenge. This particular question, you know, he said long, slow rides at grinding cadence on the rollers, that’s a long time on the rollers, I mean, I don’t know what a long time is there. I know that early on at Wenzel Coaching, we would suggest some push rides that were you know, sometimes four hours long, and I kind of moved away from that in my coaching as we went along and split that more into kind of big gear, little gear work, where they would get a challenge even within the same ride to do the higher and lower cadence and maybe even be caught out in terrain where it would not be ideal, just to really throw the process at them of being challenged. You get better at what you practice, right? Most of the time I see way too many people that are slogging around at lower cadence who probably could help themselves in their racing better by learning to ride at a higher cadence. So, I would tend to want to challenge them more with the higher cadence work and for some, you know that riding for hours at the low 60 RPM could be a pretty bad recipe for knee pain.

Trevor Connor  34:41

You have a good point, rollers are hard enough, to do a long, slow ride, and rollers, that’s a tough day. Throw in the low cadence, I just want to know what this person, like are they watching in Pauly Shore movies just to finish themselves off?

Chris Case  34:56

Wow. Pauly Shore movies? How many were there? Was there more than one?

Trevor Connor  35:04

If there was even one that was too many.

Chris Case  35:08

That’s a good point, yes, if there was even one. He made a cameo once and it was terrible.

Chris Case  35:13

Well, on that note, we’ve wrapped up a q&a episode. Thank you, Kendra, was great to have you on the show.

Kendra Wenzel  35:20

Thank you. This is really fun.

Trevor Connor  35:22

Glad you could join us, Thank you.

Chris Case  35:25

That was another episode of Fast Talk. Subscribe to Fast Talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcasts and be sure to leave us a rating and 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.fasttalklabs.com to discuss each and every episode. Become a member of Fast Talk Laboratories at fasttalklabs.com/join and become a part of our education and coaching community. For Kendra Wenzel, Ryan Kohler, and Trevor Connor, I’m Chris Case. Thanks for listening.