Question: I wondered if all rides at your high-mileage training camp were the same intensity, or were they like they’ve been described in Coach Fred Matheny’s eBooks? Were you riding often in “no-man’s land?” Did you use a heart monitor? — Jim D.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I didn’t use a heart monitor this year. But from wearing one at other camps and tuning in to perceived exertion, I know that my HR varied quite a bit during each day’s ride.
Typically, we’d cruise pretty easily to the first rest stop at mile 25-30. Then we’d ride in a paceline for the rest of the day. Effort would vary from about 65-75% of max heart rate to 80-90%, depending on the wind, the road gradient or other campers feeling their oats.
We definitely spent time in “no-man’s land.” I once wrote an article about this concept in Bicycling magazine, and I still get asked about it.
No-man’s land is defined as 80-84% of max heart rate. It isn’t necessarily bad. In fact, it’s an appropriate level of exertion for many events, including fast century rides. The problem is with training too much of the time in this range. It feels hard enough to be productive. But it’s too strenuous for recovery while not intense enough for top-end improvement.
As you might imagine in the course of 600 miles, a fair amount falls into the 80-84% range as miles are pounded out between rest stops. But there was plenty of easier and harder riding, too.
One other point: On one mid-camp day, we rode the whole way at an easy pace. We called this our “designated weenie day,” and the recovery it provided boosted ride quality on other days. We actually raised our average speed throughout the week.