Question: I’m 73 and aiming for the 5K time trial at the Texas Senior Games in 10 weeks. I wasn’t happy with my qualification time even though I was doing 3 or 4 time trials of 5K each in training. What type of workout will increase my speed for this short but very intense TT? — John H.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: As you note, a 5-km (3.1-mile) time trial emphasizes speed. I think you’ll do fine with a fairly standard routine centered around (a) fast intervals, (b) one weekly aerobic ride of 25-40 miles at a heart rate of 75-80% of max, and (c) at least 2 easy days or days off per week.
Intervals that focus on speed are more useful than race-distance or race-pace intervals. Riding at your current TT speed will only get you another so-so performance. For training, the 5K TTs you’ve been doing aren’t as good as shorter efforts.
A good workout would be 3-minute intervals at a heart rate that reaches about 90% of your max at the end. Take 3 minutes between intervals for recovery. Five repeats would be a hard workout. I’d try these once per week and then see if you can do them twice a week.
These intervals are tough. Monitor yourself carefully for overtraining and lowered enthusiasm. Ride them on your TT bike in the position you intend to use for racing.
For variety you could try 10 repeats of 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off. The hard efforts should be done almost all out. Spin easily to recover and then go again.
If you get plenty of rest while you’re doing this intense work, you should improve a lot in 10 weeks. You may want to test yourself every 3 or 4 weeks with a 5-km TT. To get accurate comparisons, ride the same course each time on days with similar conditions.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred's full bio.