The High Road, or Middle Road

Good question Ewen:

Wouldn't improving 'top end' bike speed give you the extra kph you're looking for? I'm thinking things like long intervals (6min hard, 1min easy etc), or 40ks 'hard' (much faster than goal pace) every second or third day?

The short answer is yes.

The longer answer, and the reason I am taking the approach I am is as follows:

Doing the hard intervals or long time trial style efforts will definitely improve my speed and power output for the race. I didn't mention it, but I am still keeping up my weekly interval work. Which will occur on either side of the extra days of cycling. The problem with gaining this speed through a large amount of higher intensity work versus prolonged moderate intensity training is the reasons behind the speed increases.

The high intensity training will improve both the aerobic glycolytic and anaerobic glycolytic energy systems. The extra speed comes from the ability to burn more carbohydrates from various sources. This is overly simplied, but it will do to demonstrate my point, (plus I forget a good amount of the details). Burning carbohydrate at a faster rate is definitely not what I want to achieve. I tried this approach in the past. A further downfall for me is I found it made working at much too high an intensity on race day feel way too easy.

By training for 4-6 hours at or a bit above my intended race pace the extra speed should come from improved aerobic lipolysis and efficiency with aerobic glycolysis. Translating to increased force production that is fueled by an appropriate mix of fats and carbohydrates, rather than from just carbohydrates. There should also be increases in economy of motion achieved at race pace due to improved neuromuscular facilitation. Basically this means the muscle fibres will fire in a more efficient manner at the required power outputs. The body is lazy, and will always try to find the easiest way to something. The plan is to exploit this.

There is still 42.2km to run after the bike leg. Small errors in pacing, meaning going too fast for the ability to appropriately balance fat and carbohydrate metabolism, will result in a large amount of time lost later in the race. My training approach should show my body what is expected of it.


  1. Thanks Jason. Your approach makes sense. One danger of having too much 'reserve' of speed might be that you ride faster than race pace, because the pace feels comfortable.


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