Understanding the way your body works is important for the progress of your athletic goals. Athletic achievements are accomplished by taking the science of how your body works, which is objective information, and creating a progression of subjective individualized training plans that work just for you.
There are three main ways to track how your training is progressing. Power training tools, heart rate monitors, and Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). All are important tools for training used for duration, intensity and recovery. Here we will discuss why training is a science used for training progress.
Duration of training lengths vary dramatically. Some days you will train long and with a lower heart rate (HR)or power intensity to build greater endurance. Other days will be short to allow more emphasis on higher intensities. Some will be total rest days and active rest days as the body must have recovery in order to adapt to each period of your training the closer you get to your race(s)and events. Some of the longest training you will do depends on how long the longest race/event is that you are racing.
Training intensity is a very powerful thing. High intensity is something to take very seriously. Too much and you wind up over-strained and on the couch. Too little intensity training and you are off the back and unable to meet your goals and have very little reserves left to finish a season of rides and races.
The body is made up of several interconnected systems, such as the immune system and the nervous system. The measurable indicators of these systems are; Energy production system- lactate threshold numbers, muscular system-power (how hard you can push), and cardiovascular system-heart rate (recovering and maximum numbers). All of these come into play when we train and race. Several of these systems are measurable in training and provide valuable information and feedback.
The metabolic system, of our bodies, provides fuel to muscles in the form of carbohydrate, fat, and protein. Within the muscle, these fuels are converted to a usable energy form called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This process happens either aerobically or anaerobically.
Aerobic energy production occurs while you are riding easily and moderately easy. It relies primarily on fat and carbohydrate fuel and uses oxygen in the process of converting these fuels to ATP. The slower you go, the greater the reliance on fat and the more carbohydrate is spared. As the pace increases towards a moderate pace, there is a gradual shifting away from fat and towards carbohydrate as the fuel source. At even higher efforts, around 8 of your ‘Rate of Perceived Exertion/RPE (scale of 1-10), oxygen delivery no longer keeps up with demand of oxygen use. At this point you begin producing ATP anaerobically/“without oxygen.”
Anaerobic exercise relies heavily on carbohydrate for fuel. As carbohydrate is converted to ATP, a by-product called lactic acid is released into the muscle. This causes the familiar burning and heavy-legged sensations. As lactic acid seeps into the muscle cell walls and into the blood stream, it gives off a hydrogen molecule and becomes lactate. Lactate accumulates in the blood, making it possible to measure its level in blood samples through testing. Lactate Threshold is the level of exertion at which metabolism shifts from aerobic to anaerobic marked by lactate being produced so rapidly that the body cannot keep up with its removal from the blood. Thus you allow less oxygen back into the muscles.
The muscular system has to do with the neuromuscular system. It is the capacity to apply force to the pedals quickly. These are the maximum efforts you can produce. The two ways of producing power are, slowly pushing big gears or rapidly turning low gears at a fast cadence. Combining both produces power.
The way to be fast and strong is to put all of this information together so that you will be able to push a moderately large gear at a faster cadence, tapping into your levels of carbohydrate stores for a long time without building up too much lactic acid for the duration of of your event or race.