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I have written about this workout previously:

https://jeraldcook.wordpress.com/2011/06/04/20-second-intervals/

https://jeraldcook.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/13-x-20-sec/

https://jeraldcook.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/8-x-20-sec-intervals/

Why write about this now? It’s pre-season, and I am putting this workout into some of my athletes’ workouts. I also am doing 20 second intervals. Looking over these posts I see that I was doing them in preparation for Superfrog Triathlon on 9/11/2011. My race report is here. I did well in the race. These intervals weren’t the only reason why I did well, but they were part of the early prep to my build up for a peak Half Irondistance event.

Intervals of such short duration and high intensity are not the core of long distance triathlon. To race a triathlon (that is not draft legal) well you really need to have a high Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and a big aerobic engine. This allows you to maintain a high power over a long period of time. The triathlon does not have a lot of surges or sprints that require a high power. If all training is focused on zones 2-3 this does not improve your peak power, which is a significant metric for strength.

During the early season I focus on getting a lot of zone 2 work in. This improves aerobic fitness which is essential in order to tolerate the high workload that will be necessary later in the season. Mixing in some very high efforts, such as 20 second intervals, early in the season provide some stimulus outside the heavy zone 2 work without taxing the athlete so much that it interferes with recovery and other workouts.

Another consideration for early season, or base training period, is high cadence work. Having the ability to spin a high cadence provides the athlete with more gears. Ramping up the cadence before shifting up is more efficient and effective than just shifting up and then pushing that heavy gear. I like doing these 20 second intervals with a higher cadence, usually 100+ RPM. I usually get a couple intervals in that are at lower cadence, like 60-80, but feel that the rapid turnover is valuable practice during the early season. With the lower cadence there is more torque because it requires more force per pedal stroke to generate that power. The force though is still relatively very low, although it doesn’t feel like it. There are other workouts that are better at generating max force.

Thanks for reading. If you are interested in joining our team and/or looking for a coach, we are getting ramped up for the 2014 season. Leave a message or send me an email at CoachJerry@medfitracing.com

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