Revisiting Episode 3: How to Structure Your Training Plan

In the very early days of Fast Talk, our hosts summarized – in only 20 minutes – how to map out your training week. In today’s episode we revisit that summary to see just how good a job we did back then.


Fast Talk started in 2016 with an H4N podcast recorder and not much else. Our first hosts – Trevor Connor and Caley Fretz – were a couple of VeloNews writers who knew a lot about writing a thousand-word article – and that was about it.  

With some badly recorded audio done in the VeloNews office broom closet and a mix of clips from past interviews, they put together a 20-minute episode explaining the fundamental principles of how to plan out a training week. It was just the third episode, but it touched on themes that still run through Fast Talk seven years later – polarized training, the need for rest, not going too hard. There was even a mention of PGC-1α! And the guest – or at least the clips that were added to the episode – were with none other than legendary physiologist, Dr. John Hawley

So, to indulge in that feeling of nostalgia that comes with the holidays, we decided to go into the way-back machine and revisit this classic episode from our archives. We’ll play the original episode in its entirety and then our current hosts – Rob Pickels, Grant Holicky, and Trevor Connor – will assess just how good, or bad, of a job we did in 2016.  

Pull out your old-timey gear, and let’s make you fast! 

RELATED:  Episode 297: Nerd Lab: Dr. Véronique Billat – A Pioneer in Interval Training Research 

Episode Transcript

Trevor Connor  00:04

Welcome to another episode of Fast Talk your source for the science of endurance sports training. It’s end of December, everybody’s on holidays, we thought we would try something different today. So I have always said, I wish I could take our first 10 episodes of Fast Talk and go and burn them. Because we had no idea what we were doing. We didn’t have the equipment, we didn’t know how to edit, we didn’t know how to talk, so I have to talk.

Rob Pickels  00:32

You’ll see if you listen to the intro, it sounds like Trevor is in echoey cavern of death and despair.

Rob Pickels  00:39

Also known as the Vela news, conference room was probably

Trevor Connor  00:42

too far off the truth. So we’re going to not burn them. But we thought what would be fun is let’s take one of those original episodes. Let’s replay it. It’s only a 22 minute episode because back then we didn’t think anybody would listen longer than 1520 minutes, and we are going to let you listen to it and then pipe in. It’s been seven years since that episode and talk about what’s new. What’s different. What will we say differently? What would we update about the episode?

Background Noise  01:15

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Trevor Connor  01:42

guys excited for this. Any thoughts before we play the original?

Rob Pickels  01:45

Right before you went on air? You gave us permission to basically call it a flaming pile of I don’t know what the words were, but you gave us permission to pick on you and it and so we’re ready. I think we’re all ready. We’re ready.

Trevor Connor  01:58

Okay, Rob, are you ready?

Background Noise  02:03

I listened to the episode and I feel bad for everyone else that has to listen to it right now. But hey, good luck with that. And we’ll be returning soon.

Grant Holicky  02:09


Trevor Connor  02:10

Wait till you get my intro read. It was exciting. If you like a monotone voice.

Background Noise  02:18

It was Trevor talking in a very metered and cadenced speech. I can’t think off the top of my head okay, by

Trevor Connor  02:27

with that here is episode three. Stay tuned afterwards to hear our commentary, probably very colorful, or just

Rob Pickels  02:33

fast forward to that commentary. Yeah. Welcome to Fast talk, the valid news podcast and everything you need to know to run like a crowd

Trevor Connor  02:52

what a lot of people do just say okay, I’m only got six hours. So I’m gonna go do six high intensity workouts. And we’ve already addressed that that’s not

Dr. John Holley  03:01

any extreme is dangerous. And if you do that, you know, doesn’t matter whether it’s training, nutrition, religion, or whatever you need, you need the balance, you need a periodized training program and you need periodized nutrition to support that.

Trevor Connor  03:14

Welcome back to fast talk the VeloNews performance podcast. I’m your co host coach Trevor Connor here with VeloNews senior editor Kelly Fretts. Today we’ll delve into part two of our series on how to structure your training. As we were just reminded by Dr. John Holly one of the preeminent researchers in exercise science, it’s always about balance. In part one of this series, we covered the principles of a balanced training program, why you see the best results from a mix of intensity and slow training, and why there’s such a thing as too much intensity from a physiological standpoint. We also touched on periodization, which is all about manipulating that balance of volume and intensity throughout your season in order to get your peak performance at the right times. In this part two episode, we’ll take those principles from part one and talk about the execution. We’ll explore ways to map out your week, your month, and touch on how to best execute both your intensity work and your long, slow volume. And of course, for all of us who have jobs and families. We’ll talk about how to do this if you only have six to 10 hours to train each week. Dr. Holly, who’s also the head of the exercise and nutrition research group at Australian Catholic University will help us along the way. And we’ll also hear from former US national masters champion Chris Phipps. Let’s make it fast. Kayla, you tell me now that you don’t have the sort of time to train that used to have what have you found that works?

Caley Fretz  04:42

I think works is relative. I haven’t seen you know I I haven’t seen the power numbers of my racing days in a long time. But that said, I’m relatively close and have managed to ride relatively well. Despite the work I would say the highlight would be race lead Well, a couple years ago, after covering the Tour de France, I had a bike with me and was riding sort of an hour hour and a half at a time, and managed a pretty good ride at Leadville. Anyway, and for me, the key has always been get out for a big day when I can call it shock and awe training, or I just sort of tried to shock my body into remembering what it feels like to ride for five hours. And I may only get to do that once a month or so, the rest of the time. You know, I don’t do a lot of focus training anymore. But if I was focusing on a race, I probably would, I would say my average week is, you know, a couple lunch rides, I hit the Thursday throw down with the panache, guys here in Boulder, and then try to get a big ride on the weekend is Am I on the right track?

Trevor Connor  05:39

What you brought up there, to me is a really important part of the question of what are you trying to do with your fitness, there is a ton you can do a six to eight hours a week, especially if you say I just want to do well at the local launch, right or I want to race crits. If you’re building up to doing a five day large stage race, and you’re training six hours a week, you might want to rethink that you’re not really going to be able to build that form. But there is a lot that you can do. So what does all this mean? What should you be doing?

Caley Fretz  06:12

Yeah, break this down for me. So give me give me an average week, I think that would be most helpful. So

Trevor Connor  06:16

I would start with mapping out your high intensity work plan on to high intensity sessions during the week, and they should not be back to back. So maybe you do one on Tuesday and one on Friday, or one on Tuesday one on Thursday, it’s usually pretty popular to do the high intensity work during the week, because that’s when you work. And you might be stuck on a trainer for an hour or you might be stuck doing a lunchtime ride. So high intensity work is a great thing to do. And I’ve only got an hour to get on the bike, let’s go out and do it and a

Caley Fretz  06:48

hard group ride or interval session or whatever any of those work,

Trevor Connor  06:52

are they hard group rides are great, but go out to ride them hard. I always tell my athletes race smart on the weekends race hard during the week. So as you go to a group ride, don’t sit in and save your energy till the end attack, go and break boys blow yourself up. Because that’s more like the interval work and let the group motivate you. For those of us who work that’s a really great bounce get the two interval sessions in a week. Don’t do more than that. I watched this winter at this. These trainers sessions I was doing in the morning, I watched some of the athletes and I really admired their dedication. But they were coming in four days a week doing intervals every single morning. And again, what you were seeing is they were very rapidly burning out. By the time they got to my session, which was Thursday, they couldn’t even finish it and they weren’t getting stronger. So to is right, you’re actually going to see greater gains with less. And then if you have the time that you still get that benefit for the long, slow volume. A lot of us on the weekends, we can get up a little early and go out and get that 345 hour ride. And you get those three things, it’s going to work out to about seven, eight hours a week, which is pretty manageable, you’re going to you’re going to hit that PGCE Alpha pathway from both the long slow volume side and for the high intensity side. And you’re going to maximize the time, we

Caley Fretz  08:18

Caught up with Chris Phillips, who’s a former masters national champion and as a Masters national champion did so with a job. And so we asked him about how he maintained his training schedule with limited time.

Chris Phillips  08:30

My volume is it as much as a lot of guys, which is easy to compare on something like Strava you look at all your competitions. Now this guy’s training 20 hours a week, and this guy’s doing 15 hours a week. But I generally try to hit 12 most time during the season and I average like 10 hours a week during the whole year. Usually after work, it’s just either an hour or 90 minutes most days and then get in a couple of long rides in the weekend. I think he had one four hour plus ride in NSA, like two of those every three weeks. That’s pretty good. And also with the longer daylight like we can do that ride and then add on the one week night I’m out kind of long, like two to three hours. So it’s intensity and little more endurance. And then just slow down with more daylight. And I guess I use just like to to longer nights during the week while there’s during bases. And I’m pretty sure every night during the week, but during the season, it’s I try to get at least two hours twice a week, and then do the longer stuff on the weekends. So

Chris Phillips  09:29

Trevor, we talked earlier about the polarized model and how it’s being used by a lot of pros. But does it really work for your average cyclist or average amateur cyclist? Is it a mental model that we can apply to our own lives and training? Yeah,

Trevor Connor  09:43

that’s a good question. And certainly they’ve been shown in all endurance sports, your top definitely polarized their training. And they’ve even been showing that at amateurs, you they seem to see greater gains with a more polarized model. That being said, when they looked at The individual sports cycling was a little bit different cyclists actually do a little more of that in between training, which we would call threshold training. So where runners and rowers would just do very high intensity or very long, slow, cyclists are actually going to do more of a mix of about 77%, low intensity 15% threshold work, and only about 8% high intensity, once they get into the season, the high intensity increases, the threshold comes down. In terms of what all this means and what the right balance is, Dr. Billet did a great study, and I’m sure I’m mispronouncing his name, were with runners where they looked at what’s the best mix of the different types of training, what they found worked best was for slow workouts during the week, one high intensity, so that’s above threshold short interval work, and one threshold workout per week produce the best gains, when they actually increased that to where they were just doing two continuous training, or they were calling continuous training or that slow running during the week, multiple high intensity sessions per week and one threshold workout, they saw absolutely no greater gains, but all the signs of burnout started to appear. And frankly, these athletes just wouldn’t have been able to keep it up for more than a few weeks. So it’s really keeping that that high end work to two sessions per week is what keeps coming up. Dr. Holly had some thoughts to share with us on both polarized training and how much intensity work we

Dr. John Holley  11:33

really need, that Steve’s done some great work on the polarized training, and that if you look at the rowers, and the cyclists, and probably even the runners, you know, there’s this huge volume of Amin, let’s just call it steady state aerobic work and, and it’s peppered in between with very bits of high intensity or even super maximal intensity. And again, that seems to be what works for the athlete, I’m not sure you need to do intervals all year round, I’m not sure. Really how long you need to do intervals for you know, if you want to get really, really sharp, my guess is you can probably do this in three to six weeks. And if you look at a periodized training program, but again, most athletes don’t aim for one event, like the Olympics, they’ve got races throughout the year. So it’s quite different depending on the caliber of the athlete.

Trevor Connor  12:16

So if you want an example of how important as balance is, and just how much you want to avoid doing too much high intensity work, you can look at the gold medalists in the 4000 meter pursuit at the the 2000 Sydney Olympics, they actually did a study on them. And it was amazing how they built up to that race the riders on this German team. And it wouldn’t be it wasn’t what you would think they actually did very, very high volume in the seven months building up a lot of them were pros. And we’re actually doing Grand Tours as a build up to these Olympics. And it was only in the final eight days before the Olympics that they started doing very specific on the track high intensity work to get ready for the Olympics, and they won the gold medal. So

Caley Fretz  13:03

what exactly do you mean by by high intensity work? I mean, that could be a lot of different things. Yeah,

Trevor Connor  13:08

and there’s a lot of different ways to do it. But typically what we’re thinking about with high intensity work, and where you see some of the biggest gains is these very short intervals, like 15 second intervals, 22nd intervals, or one minute 42nd. But typically a short interval with also a short recovery. You think of the Tabata style intervals, which is 20 seconds going all out, then a 10 second recovery, then another 20 seconds going all out, and you keep repeating that for four or five minutes. So that’s till you puke, tell you, you could also do sprint type work. And that sort of interval work is where you see some of the biggest gains. But there’s actually another type of interval work that a lot of coaches and physiologist I’ve spoken to talk about threshold work where you change just sub threshold, some coaches feel that’s kind of the poor man’s volume, right? If you can’t go out and get a five hour ride, go out and do some 20 minute intervals at just sub threshold like 95% a threshold, that that can compensate a little bit for volume. Not sure where I stand on that. But I will admit to you with a lot of athletes who don’t have a ton of time, when we’re really focused on building that endurance and I feel the volume is a little more important. I will mix in threshold work. So

Grant Holicky  14:29

we know what that intensity those intensity rides look like they’re a hard group ride or an interval session or whatever. What exactly does the big long weekend ride look like? So let’s just just for the sake of argument, you know, my thresholds 300 Watts, what am I watching on my power meter for three and a half, four hours. So

Trevor Connor  14:44

that’s, that also depends on where you’re at in the season. So when you’re in the base, that ride should be going talking pace. Gotcha. And again, that’s actually one where I’ve really struggled with some of the riders I’m working with who only have your you know, they have full time jobs, and when they have 68 hours, I’ll go out and ride with them on the Saturday. And I’m the one sitting there yelling, slow down, you’re killing me, you got in January, and they’re trying to put out 240 watts for four hours. Would I say it’s slow, it is slow. So for example, if your threshold was 300 Watts, you should be going out in January and February at 150 160 watts. So we’re talking, you get same thing, heart rate, if your threshold heart rate was 170 or so your max heart rates in the 180s 190s, we’re talking right at about a 130 heart rate. Gotcha. But as you get closer to the season, especially as you get into the season, you start racing, that’s where you can start upping the intensity a little bit. And you especially as you start getting close to the race season, go out and do the group rides, go out and get for your long ride a little more intensity and where you’re more in that sweet spot zone, that gives you that race specificity. So you aren’t suddenly going from riding for hours at 160 Watts to trying to hang on at 240 250 watts. So that really depends on the time of the year. We asked Dr. Holiday about the benefits of long rides, how frequently we really need them. And if it’s possible to compensate for long rides if you simply don’t have the time. Now,

Dr. John Holley  16:21

there’s certainly in any fight, I guess, in any sort of seven to 10 day period, I’d always put on, you know, long, longest ride or longest running. And if you go out, the longer you go, the more you tend towards free fatty acid oxidation. But again, you’ve got to remember that unless you’re doing a five hour ride race at that pace, it doesn’t necessarily help race in all it does is build up extra capillaries. Again, it gets the muscle used to use in fat and turning on beta oxidation and all these, you know, adaptations at the muscle, which you know about. So, yes, that there is a point to that. But again, when I send you the articles, you’ll see that if it’s a race situation, at the end of the day, even if it’s a three hour race, it’s carbohydrate dependent and not fat dependent. Having said that having the ability to utilize fat at the highest rates possible is an advantage in long endurance events. But again, the goal is of the person in the race in mind. So the answer to your question is, I would think every seven to 10 days, there should be one very long ride in there. Absolutely. And again, depending on the ability level of the person that might be two hours to someone it might be five or six for, you know, someone who’s been in a sport a lot longer. The great New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard, you know, coached probably half a dozen Olympic gold medalists. It even have runners like Peter Snell or when the 815 100 doing very long Sunday morning runs sometimes up to 20 miles and Snell, if you talk to him now, I know Peter reasonably well, I’d say, Look, I’m not not quite sure what I was doing at the time. But now, you know, he’s an exercise physiologist at Southwestern Texas. And he said, Look, you know, now I know the physiology behind this. The other thing that the ride to do is go through the whole fiber population, if you just go out and ride for an hour, you’ll tap into some slow twitch fibers and you do this and you do that. But by going along and almost go into exhaustion at that submaximal pace, you are then asking the muscles to recruit a slow twitch fibers, the fast twitch A and the fast twitch being unless you do very high intensity intervals, I don’t think you do that. So you’ve got two ways of tapping into that fiber population, either go long and slow to exhaustion, or basically, you know, do high intensity and wipe them all out anyway. So I think another advantage of the long long ride is to is to get all the fibers active. And at the end of those rides, you know, you’re calling on fibers like the two A’s and two B’s which aren’t that used or aren’t that good to do in that endurance. And I think that’s an important thing as well to to make sure that all the all the fiber population has been recruited and has that potential to use as much fat as it actually can to be fibers are very good at that. But us use everything, you’ve got type thing, and that’s another reason for doing a long ride, we often do rise to exhaustion in the lab and they’re fine for the first hour you get to the second hour, it gets a bit tougher and you get to the third hour, the workload hasn’t changed. But of course, the fiber recruitment hasn’t to be fibers don’t like working at 250 Watts, they prefer working at 550 for 30 seconds. So it’s a really hard ask if the muscle but only by using the muscle and driving it to that point, do you actually recruit it? So I think it’s a vital reason and yeah, you’ve already hit on it. But most people forget that. And I think that’s a very important reason if that’s I put that right up there as with with fat burning, the recruitment pattern is vital.

Trevor Connor  19:38

Do you think they can produce a lot of the gains if they simply don’t have the time for a longer ride? Or is there just no way to substitute for the long ride?

Dr. John Holley  19:47

I think I think that’s a great question because again, most people are asking for the minimum that they can do rather than the maximum they can go and look, you may not on an hour and a half training hit 100% of your genetic potential but You’ll be you know, you’ll be 94 95%. Close. So I’m a case in point I, you know, I was competitive, I don’t have four or five hours to train now, I have an hour or an hour and a half at the most I have to make it work. And, you know, typical session is 4040 minute warm up on the bike, and then 10 times one minute as flat out as I can with a minute recovery. And I know when I go overseas, I’ve just been, you know, for another 10 days, I come back and provide documentation the intensity while I’m overseas, I come back and I’m pleasantly surprised. So again, I think you can I think you can get good bang for the buck.

Trevor Connor  20:33

Another big mistake that I often see athletes makes is to do the same thing every single week, our bodies are really good at adapting to whatever we throw at them. And once our bodies get used to something, they go, Well, why am I going to adapt anymore, I can handle this. So you’ll see initial gains. But if you’re doing the same to interval sessions, and long ride every week, you’re going to plateau very rapidly. So you need to have weeks where you really beat yourself up. And this is where you can see some of your biggest gains. And it actually I find it really works well with the athletes that I have that have a family and have full time jobs. So most of the weeks, we just say let’s get done, whether you can get done, if you can only train five, six hours per week, that’s fine. But what I asked for is about once a month, every four or five weeks, I want you to find three, four days in a row, where you tell the family sorry, you’re not going to see much of me you you find the time with work, and you go out and you do some good volume and some good intensity. So I’ll start with like a good format that’ll give somebody is Thursday, we’ll do intervals, because you still have to go to work it and for pretty strong athletes, I might do intervals again on Friday, then Saturday, do a long, easy ride of four hours and then Sunday, go and hit the group ride, explode, keep ride and get five hours in and by the end of that week. And there’s a lot of different ways to balance it. But by the end of that, that Sunday, you want to be limping home and saying I’m pretty tired. And then the following week, you start by taking two, three days off. Now they’re a couple days of writing easy, you let all that work you did sink in and you’re gonna come out of it at a higher level. And then you could have a few more weeks of just normal training. So it’s


a mini training camp, basically. Right. So I think it’s pretty clear that I’ve been doing it all wrong. I think that’s the most clear thing from the last 20 minutes of conversation. But relatively easy changes to make, I think, and I will certainly be adjusting my my weekly training to fit what we’re talking about today. And I think we can sum up the takeaways pretty quickly, right? I mean, balance is the key, both on a micro scale and a macro scale. So both within within a week, and within a month and within your whole season. Run me through what that week and month should really look like you know, one or two sentences.

Trevor Connor  22:59

So via to summarize all this. It’s Yes, intensity can compensate for volume to a degree. But when it comes to intensity, more is not better. To intensity sessions per week is ideal. Getting one long ride in per week really adds to those gains. And it’s trying to balance everything. It’s trying to balance it all together. And then in terms of your month, making sure you don’t do the same thing week in week out have that periodic week, where you beat yourself up a little more. And then just as importantly, have the week after where you recover. The even more important question to agree is, what are you looking to do? Are you looking to really get stronger? Are you just looking to have some fun, because if you’re just trying to have some fun, go and hit all the lunchtime rides go and hit the weekend ride. It might not necessarily always be the best training. But if you’re enjoying it, what do you out there for?

Chris Philips  23:56

Well, that’s Fast Talk.

Trevor Connor  23:59

We’re gonna wrap up for the day. Thanks for tuning in.

Chris Philips  24:02

And we’ll see you next time

Trevor Connor  24:08

All right, hope everybody kind of enjoyed that episode. Somewhat enjoyed that episode got something out of it survived. I had forgotten about our porn music and the beginning Whoa. And the fact that our tagline was actually bad grammar that Kristin never once corrected. If

Rob Pickels  24:25

I remember correctly, that was you and or Kaylee asked an intern to record it and he just said something and it stuck. We

Trevor Connor  24:33

used we used it for like 100 episodes. I do remember that. Yep. The thing that actually kind of liked about this that we used to do that I completely forgot was we would pull a really good clip from the guest and put it right at the start. And I don’t know why we stopped doing that.

Background Noise  24:49

You got to draw people in like that. That grab gotta bring that back. I’m

Trevor Connor  24:53

thinking about it. It was kind of nice thinking to do it at some point. Yeah. Nearly two years. As fast doc Laboratories has brought you the craft of coaching with Joe Friel the ultimate resource to become a better, more successful and happier coach. We’ve bundled some of the most popular pieces of content from all 14 craft to coaching modules to reshare and what we’re calling the craft of coaching with Joe Friel coaches pics, which includes the star power panel of featured experts like Dr. Stacey Sims, Dr. Andy Kirkland, Jim Miller, Victoria Brumfield and Jim Ruppert, this incredible library of revitalizing legacy and guiding life for endurance coaches for many years to come. Check out the craft of coaching with Joe Friel coach’s choice at fast talk. All right, so so much for the good things. Yeah. Rob, grab, tear it apart. What do you think?

Grant Holicky  25:45

I don’t really have any major criticisms of it other than the surrounding external pieces. But then again, I can’t really say anything, because we recorded an episode recently where I forgot to bring a microphone when I was on the road remote. So I probably sounded the same way. You guys sounded? Right. It brought back memories. Oh, good. Yeah, yeah. And the last thing in the world I would want anybody to do is replay some of the episodes of Off course that I put out there in the world. So I’m just gonna wait. I’ll chip in with my thoughts. Well,

Background Noise  26:16

I’m going to start with the first teardown of the episode. Trevor and I do have to say that Veronique betta is a girl, not.

Trevor Connor  26:25

Thank you. And good timing, because we just did an episode on her. And I’ve referred to her as a man Sure did. Oops. Now, I listened to that last night. And I was trying to think of a good excuse when we’re recording today. And I’m like, No, I just gotta own this. That was just bad.

Background Noise  26:42

Yeah, no, I will say, you know, it was a great episode on training, you know, you and Kaylee at the time did a good job. You had John Hawley on there, who is, you know, a phenomenal researcher, a great, absolutely great resource. And I think that you covered a lot of the same training principles that we really, ultimately are still talking about today. Right. And I think that we all as coaches, or as self coached athletes, maybe we change our training philosophy a little bit sort of year over year. And so Trevor, I’m interested, hopefully, in this update, to hear how you would have done things differently because a lot of this was sort of coach Connor giving advice, you know, to Kaylee at the time. But ultimately, hey, the conversation revolved around the importance of writing it at base at a zone two, and a five zone model that is still super important today. Dr. Holly mentioned that long rides are amazing for recruiting all of the muscle fibers and being able to train all of them in aerobic fashion. And that is still true today. And so you know, the bones of the episode I actually think we’re spot on. But I do have a couple other things to call you out on but I’ll let you get a word in now. Yeah, I

Trevor Connor  27:48

was actually surprised. I was expecting to listen to a bunch of stuff and go oh, my god, I can’t believe I said that. Were actually I think this was the episode where we introduced certain themes like polarized training. This was the first episode we talked about it. I even mentioned PGC, one alpha, which Chris still gets a laugh.

Rob Pickels  28:08

Yes, that’s been mentioned so many times. So many times,

Trevor Connor  28:12

there were fundamental concepts we introduced at a very high level in this episode that still carry through fast talk even 290. Or I guess it’d be 296 episodes later, what really caught my attention because I used to do the editing. I was a writer for VeloNews at the time, and did the episode like an article, what you kind of can and can’t tell in the episode was, that was not one recording, it was definitely not one recording in order, it was four different recordings, where I treat it like an article and just spliced out a piece here and put that first and then spliced out another piece put that second, the way I would build an article even when we outline the episode, I use the outline format I use for writing articles. And basically what we’re trying to do with this episode was an audio version of an article. I that’s what I really noticed.

Grant Holicky  29:06

Well, that’s I mean, that’s a bit Rob alluded to this, that’s what it sounded like, it sounded like, here’s my advice. Here’s how we want to do this. I think that if we were to do that episode, now would be more. Let’s look at the topic individually and break down the topic and kind of comp pros cons, the editor, I don’t see the show as much as the advice column that it is, was then are like, here’s the advice on training, but I will you know, I do think what’s interesting about this is how many years ago was this eight?

Trevor Connor  29:37

This was 2016. So seven years, seven years ago,

Grant Holicky  29:41

I do think what’s interesting is you’re seeing this huge swing back right now to how important basis as if we’ve all forgotten it, but there’s sports scientists out there right now talking about how just it’s just the most important thing in the world and base and we got a right base, we get it. So that stood up incredibly They will, and probably always well, I’ll

Background Noise  30:02

say one thing that didn’t quite stand up as well, for me was, you know, Trevor, and I know and I think that maybe you still feel this way about training. And so I’m gonna let you defend it, you had mentioned with the time crunched athlete, that the big training block to be thrown in kind of once a month, and then to take a recovery week after but, you know, for the athlete to put aside a bunch of time and tell the family like, hey, you know, I got to disappear for a few days. And to really ramp up volume and intensity, you know, in my opinion, I really try to push for more consistency throughout a training cycle. And if I am in a big training block like that, especially with athletes who aren’t well trained, at least to an elite level, I think is really hard to do training blocks that really ramp up volume and intensity. And I very much tried to pick one over the other, kind of like I mentioned in the Block Periodization episode for amateurs, with my side and there,

Trevor Connor  30:56

see, that’s something I still haven’t changed. I am a big believer, I am a big believer in that fatigue block. I still do it with myself, I still do it with my athletes. I see huge gains out of that fatigue box. But yeah, I’ve noticed you on some other episodes talking about that saying, I’d rather be consistent week to week and I mentioned that in this episode that I don’t believe in every week should be the same. I think it needs to have bigger weeks of fatigue, I think you need to have weeks that are that are easier. And that’s how I would periodized training. Yeah,

Background Noise  31:25

and I guess my point isn’t necessarily like, everybody should be doing the exact same workouts, and they should be doing exactly 10 hours every week. You know, and I think that there should be growth there. But I wouldn’t ever have an athlete who is used to training eight to 10 hours a week, on average, suddenly throw in a gigantic fatiguing week that 16 to 20 hours and involves a lot of climbing and everything else. I think that oftentimes that potentially puts an athlete in a bad place. But I think that at this point, what we’re ultimately talking about maybe not is aging and how the episode did but just different coaching philosophies among people. Grant,

Trevor Connor  32:00

what do you think grads like plan out weeks? I don’t want my athletes doing Oh,

Grant Holicky  32:05

my God. So not true. I mean, I think that the point that gets missed and in some of this with athletes is the rest of their lives, right? And so I mean, we were just talking about this in another context is that the influence of kids and job and family and vacations and all those things, that’s what’s really going to alter everything. And so you have to play this puzzle. In your planning of, okay, where does this week fit? And where does that week fit and, okay, I have a vacation with no real family responsibilities, which is rare if you have kids, but they they come along, where you can really go after that fatiguing block. And I think there’s something to be said for that take advantage of the time when you can have it. But I think on the other side of that coin is like as we have the holidays come up, I’m a huge proponent of just drop it. Don’t do anything during the holiday, spend time with the family, even if it’s family, you want to, you know, choke out because you have real problems with them, you know, really lean into that, especially because for most of the amateur athletes, it’s the right time of year to be able to do that for professional athletes. It’s not anymore, like they’re ramping up like crazy right now. But from that planning context, I think that’s one of the things that that episode really didn’t take into consideration very much. It was very cut and dry. It was like this is the way it’s supposed to go. And I think one of the big changes if we were to do that episode now, especially if I was on it, we’d be talking about the rest of the life. And there’s other influences and others pieces.

Trevor Connor  33:38

There’s nothing I said in that episode that I wouldn’t stand behind my issue with it was and maybe best to think of it as kind of an intro episode when you’re you’re just trying to get the basics is it was very simplistic. I think we could take any aspect of it and say, Now let’s get into the nuances and the complexity, sure.

Grant Holicky  33:55

But it was also very instructional like, so here’s the basics, here’s what you want to go do. Now we’re two levels deep. This is where he get a coach anyway, right? Or have a bunch of experience as a self coached athlete to be able to look back at and make good choices. But it is a great intro of here are the basics.

Trevor Connor  34:13

Here’s the question I have for all of you. I started out by Kaylee asked me and no, this was not spontaneous. This entire thing was. But Kaylee asked me, you know, how would you map out a week and what I explained was to interval sessions during the week. And as thinking of the time crunched athlete, where the longest workout you’re gonna get during the week might be an hour. So use that for your intervals, and then try to get that long workout in on the weekend. And then the rest should be easy, very simple structure. How do you guys respond to that? And let’s get into a little more of the complexity.

Background Noise  34:47

I mean, if we’re gonna get into complexity, there’s two things techniques that I like to do. And this is piggybacking off what Grant said in that the daily lives of people and the things that pull them in different directions. Make sometimes easier and sometimes harder. And so it’s not a steadfast rule. But two complexities that I like to add that I think have good bang for the buck. One is pairing intensity and longer duration rides back to back, not necessarily in the same ride. I’m a huge proponent of a Tuesday workout and a Wednesday long ride. And then the same thing with a Saturday workout and a Sunday long ride. I think that being able to do that longer a robic with some fatigue in the legs from the day before, I think that that’s really beneficial, you know, but it’s a little bit hard sometimes to get in a longer ride on Wednesday for people. The other thing that I really liked to do is I’m not a big proponent of mixing intensities, I really like for people to know why they’re doing their high intensity interval training, and to be designing workouts that are all leading in the same direction so that the signal is ultimately amplified. And this is somewhat backed up by a paper that Dr. Seiler was a part of CELTA was the lead author, it was a few different universities involved. And they did an interesting study where they looked at four by four minute four by eight minute and four by 16 minute intervals. And one group did them from longer interval to shorter interval over the course of weeks. The other group did them, they started with the shorter intervals, and they ended their periodization with the longest intervals. And then the last group did a mix where they did a little bit of each interval every single week. Interestingly enough, the increasing and the decreasing the people that were focused on a particular interval type, they for the most part, improved about the same amount in terms of physiology and performance. But that mixed group, even though the mixed group did have some improvement, they didn’t have as big of improvement. And I my takeaway from that is focus on vo to focus on threshold, focus on whatever you want to focus on. But make sure you focus on that. And I try not to say do a vo to interval on Tuesday and a threshold workout on Saturday. Yeah, I

Trevor Connor  36:55

tend to agree with you and what was your response? I mentioned the study by Apparently Mr. Blood. I also have butchered the pronunciation of that name. I did bad job there de la Vilas study, you had one high intensity session and one threshold session. What was your feeling about that? Yeah,

Background Noise  37:12

even in the Siler study that I referenced, you can improve without question you can improve with a mixed, but it was the increasing in the decreasing the groups that focused on a particular workout type, they improved 6%. And the one that mixed in didn’t focus, they improved about two and a half percent. So it’s still a two and a half percent improvement. And that’s great. And maybe that’s great for your mental health. But in terms of just that little thing that might push physiology further, I think that that’s where the focus really matters. So here’s

Trevor Connor  37:42

my embarrassing little tidbit for you, Rob. I don’t know if you recognize when I was describing that study by biller. But, Robin, I just did a seminal episode 297 Two episodes ago, I think something like that. Yeah. Where we talked about the research of Biela. And one of the studies that we covered, I was certain I was reading for the first time that I have read it and completely forgotten. I had read it seven years ago. There you go.

Grant Holicky  38:08

So I think my big input on that is years ago, I remember when I started racing triathlon, I was getting into the weeds on how I designed my week, and my dad kind of chuckled, and he was like, run four times a week, do one run long and do one run kind of hard and do the rest easy. And my dad’s not like a high level endurance athlete or anything is the guy who ran for fun. And I was always impressed at how true that was, to an extent, you know, do some base training, do a long girl effort and do efforts in there, and you have most things sorted. So I do think that that framework is really good, you know, to emphasize what Rob saying, I like the idea of stacking. You know, I like the idea of moving from a higher intensity to a lower intensity over days and having that lower intensity be the base at the end so that you’re doing that aerobic piece fatigued. I will wholly stand by this next statement that the Seiler study is not even remotely encompasses all the energy systems that we talk about when we’re training four by four four by four by 1216 or 16. Sorry, it’s all threshold work. No, yes, I would argue a little Oh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, the four by fours are Supra threshold they’re still below 120 Or at 120. I’ve had this argument for ages that there is a whole realm of training of vO two max that is above 120% that cannot be treated as if it’s 120%. Sure. So you know I get it. I get a really hard time that I’m mixing energy systems people say well you’re doing via to max work while I’m doing cadence work or sprint work. And that stuff’s you know, off the reservation the other direction too. We don’t have any research of how those mixed pieces kind of come together. And we do mix all those energies systems when we’re racing. So there’s some contexts that I think it’s important to stack days have go a cadence day, go an interval day and then go base day at the end. And that cadence day or sprint day may have a different piece of energy system than

Trevor Connor  40:16

the threshold day that actually surprised me in this episode knowing myself because you know, I love the threshold, my four by eights, that’s probably the biggest difference between you and me.

Background Noise  40:27

Yeah, you love your four by eights are at a relatively low intensity. Yeah, minor

Trevor Connor  40:30

or relatively low intensity. But what I was surprised listening to myself in that episode was when I was talking about interval work. I talked about the super high intensity. So the 1515 to 3030s the Tabata was, and then I talked about sub threshold. Yeah, the the 95% a threshold? I never in that episode touched what I love, which is the threshold to the VO two max right 100% 220%. Now, I kind of surprised myself with that. Well,

Grant Holicky  40:59

it doesn’t. I mean, I do think that’s kind of next level stuff, though. I mean, that’s level two or level three, right. And this is what we were talking about a little bit of what that episode was, it was here’s the introduction to General Training Plan. And I think even the stuff that Rob and I and we’re all talking about now is that next level stuff, okay, the basics are there, like my dad said, you have a long day and intense day, and the rest is pretty easy. That’s the basic intro to training and a lot of what you were, I almost said writing at the time. But you know, that’s what you kind of set this was was, here’s a general piece of information on how to create some structure in your training, because there’s a huge part of population that needs that, because they go out every day, and they just kind of go the same speed, you know, is what Neil used to refer to as moderate tow all the time. It’s that middle place all the time. So we got to go above and we got to go below. Well,

Rob Pickels  41:51

that if I could interject, from my point of view, the as an example of the self coach athlete, I think that the way that I plan weeks is probably not too unlike a trained coach does, I think of myself a bit like a chef. And if you’re creating a meal each day, sometimes you have your body tells you it has some cravings, you haven’t done this in a while, oh, I need a little bit of that. Whatever that spice might be, or whatever that whether it’s carbohydrates or protein, you know, not to get the food now go to too deep down that. But I listened to my body, as you know, somebody that’s not only self coached, but not really paying attention to I don’t even have a power meter or heartrate monitor, or any of that stuff. So you’re going by feeling so a lot of this, you might say is getting me 95% of the way there, it’s not not totally optimize, that’s fine. Because the optimization process might be what takes the fun out of it. And then then I get kicked out 85 For strikes, I don’t want to do that stuff, right. But it’s this chef approach or just a coach approach. During this time period, during this part of the season, you need some of this, okay? Well, I have a repertoire of, I can pull from these five to 10 different workouts that kind of do the same thing, but get there in a different way. So it gives me some variety, gives me some interest gives me something different to do. But ultimately, it gets me sorted to the same place. And then the next phase comes along and have these other things to choose from these other ingredients to choose from. So that’s kind of how I look at it. And of course, there’s always always the calendar sitting in front of me that says, Oh, I’ve got this thing going on, oh, my daughter has this thing going on. And I just it’s clay. I just mold around life. I don’t mold life around training.

Grant Holicky  43:45

I think that’s a hugely important point. And that’s something that that’s a nuance that this episode didn’t get to or couldn’t get to in 22 minutes, right is how do you mold these things to make it work for you as an individual with your lifestyle and with what was going on. And we kind of mentioned that earlier.

Trevor Connor  44:02

I will say if this episode was an article, I think the best way to describe it was it was a real basic intro. And I would in the article after every paragraph. But for more detail for more nuance. Check out these five episodes right to the next paragraph and then check out these five episodes,

Rob Pickels  44:20

you had to start somewhere right. And

Grant Holicky  44:21

that’s what you were writing at the time for VeloNews. That’s a lot of what VeloNews was at the time to you did didn’t go very deep. They knew who their audience was, and they stuck to that audience. Here’s the race coverage. Here’s some very basic stuff about how to ride your bike and how to train.

Trevor Connor  44:37

Fast talk laboratories offers deep dives into your favorite training topics like intervals polarized training, data analysis and sports nutrition. Take a look now at our cycling based training pathway. Now’s the perfect time to see how to lay the perfect foundation for an awesome season. In our new guide to cycling based training experts Joe Friel. Dr. Steven Siler Brian Kohler, Dr. Andy Pruitt and I to show why good bass training isn’t just about writing endless miles. We share how to plan and structure your bass season, how to monitor your efforts, and how to track your fitness gain. So you start your next training phase with a strong aerobic engine. See more at fast talk Anything else you guys would like to add to this episode as a bit of an update? Nope. I was just waiting for Rob to just tear apart what I was saying. Rob, you got to have something else.

Background Noise  45:32

I got a point of contention with you here, Trevor. Oh, Kaylee said he had a 300 watt. And let’s be honest, he was making this up that he had a 300 watt threshold. Right. And you recommended that he rides his bass intensity at 150 watts. I think that’s too easy. Not gonna lie. That’s pretty low.

Trevor Connor  45:50

Yeah, that’s fair. Okay, good. When I was doing bass rides, he was going through my head as I knew where my threshold was at. And I used to do my base rides kind of 160 to 180.

Grant Holicky  45:59

But we’re coming full circle now that we come back to a lot of stuff that saying, you know, you can go really easy on your long, slow rides, it’s duration more than it’s what you’re doing from the wattage point of view. So you were both right, though, Trevor wasn’t trying to be right. And I think he just screwed up what he was saying at the time.

Rob Pickels  46:18

I don’t know if this is relevant. But if I remember correctly, Kaylee was one of those people from a coaching point of view. Well, not even from a coaching point of view, from a personal point of view, he frustrated you, kind of like I frustrated you. In? No, no in that, in that. Like I said, I’m not sure if this is relevant, but we don’t have massive peaks or valleys. You know what I’m saying?

Trevor Connor  46:47

Kaylee was like you in that he could take a month off the bike, and still be race ready, or I take a month off a bike, and you’re in a hole that you have to climb out a giant giant hole that. So yes, Kaylee, he just never really changed, he get a little stronger, he would also never really get much weaker.

Rob Pickels  47:06

Again, I’m not sure if it’s relevant, but just for people out there to know that about that recommendation. The other

Rob Pickels  47:12

thing I’ll say too, about this base writing intensity is I would rather have somebody err on the side of too low or too high to change the truth. Right? If their base range I’m like, pretty solid is 160 to 200 Watts, often prescribed either exactly in the middle or slightly on the low side. Because if you prescribe 200 Watts, you know that person is writing to 10 to 215 to 220. Let’s be honest, I

Trevor Connor  47:36

can remember my thought process seven years ago, I can’t remember my thought process a

Background Noise  47:40

week ago. That’s fine. I’m calling you out on it today. So

Trevor Connor  47:44

I’m guessing this was the first time we did that. I think I was going for a bit of a shock factor.

Grant Holicky  47:49

I think you just got the math wrong.

Grant Holicky  47:57

To try to get in his head, he’s like, okay,

Trevor Connor  48:02

have 300 or so, years here, though, here’s what I got to set six

Rob Pickels  48:06

times 538 That

Trevor Connor  48:08

number now, my recommendation would be 161 70 Top.

Grant Holicky  48:15

Cuz you’d go your Well, that’s not much different than what you’re saying, Rob, that’s not much different than aiming for the low side, or the

Rob Pickels  48:21

low side with a little wiggle room to because they know, you know, Kaylee’s gonna, lying

Background Noise  48:26

to the athlete. Yeah, cuz they’re gonna run higher than I think an actual base is higher until I tell you that for this

Trevor Connor  48:32

is a nuance that we didn’t go into is I have two long base rides. For my athletes, there’s just the standard base ride, which I want to be very slow. And then there’s that zone to trying to hit that aerobic threshold. And it’s much more precise.

Background Noise  48:47

This informs a lot of the conversations that I’ve had with you in some of them even online that I’ve actually kind of struggled to understand why you were saying what you were saying, because you we had a conversation about the value of base rides. And you view half of your base rides like I’ve you recovery, and the other half of your base rides like actual base riding. And that point has always thrown me off here just learning this now Rob? No, it’s so weird.

Trevor Connor  49:14

This gets into some of the nuances and I don’t know how much we’ve gotten into this in the show. I think we actually covered this in this episode. So my base rides I have two names for them. LSD for long slow distance and then LS s which is that so long, so steady, which is that more aerobic threshold, right? And when I learned about aerobic threshold, and the definition I want to change the name of those rides to 80 rides and all my athletes revolted and said we love LSS

Background Noise  49:44

do didn’t we do a whole episode on this crap.

Trevor Connor  49:48

But I’ve just explained to you my my process. So LSD I want slow, I want much easier that LSS is in a much tighter range trying to hit that aerobic threshold. So, I don’t know Kaylee’s numbers, I’ll give you my numbers when I’m doing an LSD ride. It’s 180 or below, when I’m doing LSS. Power wise, it’s going to be about 210 to 230. It’s going to be in a tight range. Yeah.

Background Noise  50:15

And you just can’t call both of those base.

Grant Holicky  50:20

Back to Rob’s original point, call

Background Noise  50:22

him whatever the hell you want. Just don’t call them base.

Trevor Connor  50:24

They’re both below aerobic threshold. So technically, but

Rob Pickels  50:28

that’s fine. By base, you’re basically saying basically saying in a three zone model, they’re zone one. They’re both in the zone one so they both kinda get the same name. Exactly.

Trevor Connor  50:37

Right. But this

Grant Holicky  50:38

is my whole problem with everything above threshold. Even in the five zone model. Everything above 110 is purple, your purple, I’m turning purple.

Trevor Connor  50:47

But I agree with you. So here’s my point where I was talking about cooking. These are the spices, Rob, I have different spices.

Grant Holicky  50:55

Chris was talking Chris was talking about cooking.

Rob Pickels  50:59

And if we had Kobe here, he’d add a little bit of salt right on the

Trevor Connor  51:02

right. So I think the argument that we’re making is Rob has no flavor. That’s true. No.

Grant Holicky  51:13

Rob, Rob, Rob, she’s out here screaming that crushed red pepper and oregano don’t belong in the same category. Yeah,

Background Noise  51:21

exactly. You’re not hitting you and Apple until

Grant Holicky  51:25

a little too far. Based on don’t belong in the same category. Is that better? I think they do. Okay. I mean, battalion I’m mad. No, this has been another do it.

Trevor Connor  51:42

Anything else we want to rip apart here? I think I’ve been sufficiently chastised. I think we’re good. All right. Thanks, guys. That was another episode of Fast Talk. The thoughts and opinions expressed in Fast Talker those are the individual described a Fast Talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcast. Be sure to leave us a rating and review. As always, we love your feedback. Tweet us at @fasttalklabs. Join the conversation at For learn from our experts at Rob Pickels, Chris Case, Chris Phillips, and Dr. John Holley. I’m Trevor Connor. Thanks for listening!