TT intervals with Kristin Armstrong and Jim Miller

I listened intently to the recent time trial podcast. Really excellent information, thank you!

Jim Miller discussed an interval session he used with Kristin Armstrong.

He said 1:30 on 30 off etc. until 10 minutes of threshold, then 3 minutes of VO2max right away. Do this over and over and over.

Few questions:

  1. What does he mean by threshold? LT or FTP?

  2. Is he willing to clarify suggested rest between sessions? I could see doing a few sets of these in a session with rests, but maybe he means continuously, but at FTP, which seems doable, maybe for 3 rounds?

  3. What does he mean by over and over and over?

Discussion: Maybe this was how they trained for the Rio course due to that particular course.

I can see a very similar approach for the Gila course, which I do/have done (VERY slowly- would love to speed it up so to speak).

@Lmasursky, thanks for your question! I’m going to tag @trevor on this one for his input since he was on the podcast with Jim, but having listened to the episode I do think this was specific to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics time trial course from his description.

I won’t pretend to know what Jim’s plan was regarding rest, sets, etc., but will add some insights from my years as a coach. This stands out to me as the “art” of coaching in some respect. With regard to your questions, I’m not sure this is something that would be perfect to replicate, even with exact answers to Jim’s session since this seemed pretty specific to Rio. In the episode, Jim relays information about the course that informs his decisions with Kristin’s session - rollers that require ~1:25-1:30 with approx. ~25sec descending, and then you repeat, etc. In addition, one thing to mention is the level Kristin is at - she can handle this kind of workload. The rest of us, highly unlikely that we would put out quality work for that long.

So my take-home is: know the course you’re riding, check conditions, get a sense for how the race usually progresses (e.g., where do people go hard, or not, and where can you make time, etc.) and then you can come up with a training session that will replicate those demands. I look at this as specific preparation versus more general training where you have something like 4x4 minutes at 118% FTP, and so on. For your approach on the Gila course, where do you see yourself making the biggest gains? Alternatively, where do you lose time on that course? Those might be two questions that can help inform your own specific training sessions for the event.

Coach Ryan

Hey Coach Ryan, thanks so much for the thoughtful comments, look forward to any other information.

As for Gila, I think I lose time throughout as I often come in under-trained, however assuming I come in somewhat equal to the other competitors, I think I lose time on the second (last) main climb, and then am gassed for the final descent.

I see the FTP/VO2 interval at issue as good for Gila, seems like two without rest gets you to 32 minutes, which is pretty good.

The more I think about it, I can’t see it as LT/VO2, unless you rest after each round. No reason to train such a pattern as it’s not possible to repeat that over and over. You basically have to raise your FTP, so you can raise your sustainable speed, rather than somehow training to do LT and VO2 for some sort of physiologically unlikely performance.

This has to mean you are doing work to raise FTP And also race specific training which looks for adaptation to repeat FTP/VO2 (descend) efforts.

I suppose there is LT potential given the descents, but again, it doesn’t seem repeatable at competitive speeds; have to raise that FTP!

@Lmasursky, I think you’re onto it now with your thoughts there. Something like LT/VO2 repeats is what I would expect to see leading into an event like Gila - very specific to the demands of the race. What you’re suggesting around raising FTP seems like the better option. Anything you can do to improve your base aerobic abilities/durability, and then move into more threshold-focused work, will translate into improved performance sub-LT and at LT too!

So, what kind of training are you doing now that you see as getting you toward that FTP increase?

Hi @Lmasursky and @ryan I can’t add too much to the question because I actually don’t remember Jim mentioning those intervals. But at a protocol of 1:30 on 30 seconds off, I doubt he was having Kristin do them at threshold. Those seem more like a higher intensity almost Tabata style interval.

In terms of whether he meant LT or FTP, I’m 99% certain his answer would be similar to mine - that’s getting too precise for interval work. Especially short interval work. Threshold is a range and it’s going to vary day-to-day. An athlete of Kristin’s experience is going to do that sort of work by feel and not by a precise number.

I can speak a little to Gila. That time trial is one of the most technical time trials in the country. Execution is everything. The first year I did it, I hit the turn around top 20 and finished 70-something because of that descent. Pacing each portion of that race is essential. Particularly the final descent. It’s really important to hold back on the climb before that descent and then pin the descent. I personally lost a lot of time because I had a 53 tooth chainring and couldn’t spin it fast enough. Riders who knew the course were using a 56 or bigger.

Hope that helps!

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I think you actually nailed it, this ‘interval session’ was more like a race simulation. It was meant to be very specific prep for the hilly course in the Rio Olympic tt she was targeting.

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