Intensity vs Endurance

I am a male vet racing cyclist, 40 . All my events are under 3 hours -mainly 1-2 hours.

My training time has become limited due to various commitments. I have between 7-9 hours a week to train mainly in my commuting. I am familiar with periodisation - effectively gradually increasing volume, duration and intensity with sufficent rest.

My question; why is high intensity ie HR over 6min TT average discouraged in base training? Surely small amounts of intense intervals are as easily recovered from and far more beneficial then less intense workouts. I find long rides quite tiring and not specific to my racing.

A. Gannon

Dave Palese replies:

I'll agree with you that the average rider has the ability throughout the year to recover from small amounts of intensity. I will however have to strongly disagree that higher intensity work carries greater benefits than less intense work.

Our sport is an aerobic one, regardless of how the effort might feel or heart rates you may see during competition. Thus, the majority of your training time during the base period should be aerobic training (endurance, tempo...). During this period you may also want to put some time into strength work, either on or off the bike, as well as efficiency training for your pedaling mechanics.

To me it is less an issue of any harm that can be done by doing higher intensity work, but rather what gets excluded for the sake of that higher intensity work. I believe that if you were to complete an 8 week block of training focused on training your aerobic system, dedicating 5-6 of that 7-9 hours of total training time for the week to endurance and tempo training, you would see that the quality of your higher intensity intervals would increase (i.e., go longer and recover faster between hard efforts, both key abilities in the short circuit and criterium type races).