Saturday, 28 January 2012

Base Miles - A Coaches Perspective

Guest Blog by Colin Batchelor of  Find Colin on Twitter @onthebanking.

 I’ve been following the excellent discussion on base miles and thought it worth putting in my views as a working coach.

As we ride the training effects/adaptations happens at different %’s of our Max’s. (That can be % or Max heart rate, VO2 max, Max minute power etc) Knowing what happens at what % can help us tailor our riding to meet a specific goal. If we get this wrong we can risk failure to develop in areas that need developing. So lets look at base in a little more detail.

Zone 2 – 65-75% of max heart rate

Zone 2 can best be summed up as the ‘improves efficiency’ zone. Here we see the best results for fat burning and the best increase in the ability to use oxygen to produce power. In other words if we ride a lot in zone 2 (and all else is equal) we will lose fat and be able to produce more power with the same level of effort. In Zone 2 the combination of high volume rides and cardiovascular overload provides core development of baseline aerobic endurance and improves biomechanical and physiological efficiency (your cycling will get better/easier).

Zone 2 is where new cyclists should start to train and provide the core endurance base for competitive and sportive riders. At zone 2 you should be able to hold a conversation, but at the same time be able to concentrate on developing your skills, for example cornering and riding close to other riders.

Ideally don’t have more than two zone 2 sessions back to back (Saturday, Sunday and rest on Monday) to allow your body to recover and to build back from your training, remember the holy trinity of training: Ride appropriately, Nutrition and Rest, miss any one of the triangle out and the other two are liable to falter.

Remember as you train more and get fitter your zones will start to slowly move out, so it’s well worth taking a baseline after 4 or 5 months of regular training.


  1. So how many hours per session and how many session per week would you recommend riding Z2. Should we mix this up with a 1 hour threshold Turbo session per week?

  2. Good question Pete.
    Without knowing what your targets are this is a general type of answer.

    If your targets are spring / summer sportives & you're working Mon-Fri then I'd recommend a long ride on one weekend day and a shorter one on the other.
    Think about how long your first event is and work back from that, aiming to be up to the required distance a few weeks before the event.
    So if you have a May target then probably 4 hours now moving up to 5 in February, 6/7 in March and into April with a comparative length ride late April and so on.

    There is no problem with a threshold turbo session mid week, this will help your development and also keep you focused and motivated. In fact it's a great idea

    Also at weekends think about one of your sessions being a hill focused session, either as a hilly ride or as serious hill reps.

    Hope that helps.