DIABLO CHALLENGE TRAINING

Over the next 12 weeks, I will be posting a series of progressive trainings that are designed to help you improve your time at the Diablo Challenge, held this year on Oct 5, 2014.  While these workouts will not be sufficient to improve your time, they will certainly help if done along with your regular training.


Week 14 – Diablo Challenge Training – the week of the Challenge

This is the last workout prior to Sunday’s Challenge….the day we’ve been leading up to for several month. The workout this week will only be to the Junction.

We are officially in a “taper” week, where the length of our efforts has significantly decreased, with a slight decrease in intensity. In fact, after Wednesday this week, you should limit yourself mostly to medium intensity efforts, with a few short (1-2 minute) intervals at higher intensities.

For this week, we’ll be riding from Athenian to the Junction, at our race pace.

Following our usual extended warm up routine (between 30-45 minutes), you should end up at Athenian to start the ride. Remember to practice all of the little details that we’ve been covering for several months:

  1. Start out harder than you’d like to in order to get up the first hill and through the descent quickly.
  2. Once at the left hand uphill bend past the downhill section, get into your climbing rhythm quickly. For today’s ride, you should be just a few beats, and a few watts shy of your Lactate Threshold HR and wattage (whichever metric you use as your primary guide).
  3. Through Rock City, aim for maximum speed while still giving yourself the a very minor easing of intensity (as during the Challenge, you’ll hopefully be with a group and will get both speed and a slight break).
  4. As always, start the lower segments of the climb just a tiny bit easier than you end the climb. You want to build intensity as you approach the end of the climb, in other words, aim to “finish hard.”

For the few days immediately prior to the Challenge, you should consider your training completed……and all you want to do is keep yourself fresh and ready. Kind of like baking a casserole, and then keeping it warm a few extra minutes prior to serving. I hope that you have enjoyed these workouts, and that they give you some extra confidence come race day.

Good luck on Sunday…….I wish you good legs and a quick ride up the mountain!

Coach Matt


Week 13 Diablo Challenge Training

We now have only two more workouts prior to the Challenge. Today’s workout will be the last one to go all the way from Athenian to the Summit; the final workout (next week) will only be to the Junction.

For this week, we’ll redo the, Diablo to Summit – in thirds” workout that we did in Week 11. The purpose of this is to get used to riding a bit easier at the start in order to save a little energy for the later portions of the climb.

Following our usual extended warm up routine (between 30-45 minutes), you should end up at Athenian to start the following. This workout will have you practicing riding up Diablo by separating it into three parts (like a giant progression): Athenian to 2000 ft mark, 2000 – 3000 foot marks, 3000 – Summit.

The first segment should be at RPE of 6.5-7 (approx. 90% of LT HR or power), 2nd segment should be RPE 7-8 (approx. 95% of LT HR or power), 3rd segment should be at RPE of 8.5-9 (approx. 98% of LT HR or power), and the wall should be ridden as hard as possible. Record each segment by pressing the lap button (and also press your lap/interval timer at the 1000 foot mark); you’ll use these times over coming weeks. You should DEFINITELY hold something back on segments 1 & 2 as you will be able to ride harder than this. This workout is about creating a pattern of approach for the Challenge rather than having you ride as hard as possible.

TIP: the “outside” line of a turn (apex) is slightly shallower than the inside line. This gets more pronounced the greater the radius of the turn. To the greatest degree possible, ride from apex to apex and you’ll save yourself a little bit of otherwise wasted energy.

Enjoy yourselves on the downhill, go home, and chill out J

Enjoy!

Coach Matt


Week 12  Diablo Challenge Training

This week we’ll be doing a ride from Athenian to the Summit, just like on the day of the Challenge, at a pace that resembles that of the Challenge. Use your experience doing the “Diablo in Thirds” workouts (week 11) to help guide your approach to today’s ride; you’ll want to start out slightly easier and build intensity as you ride up the mountain to your full steady state capacity.

There are only a few instructions this week:

  1. Do a significant warm-up of 30-45 minutes prior to reaching the start line below Athenian School.
  2. Take a very brief pause (up to 3 minutes) before starting the climb. Focus your attention to the task at hand, and take off.
  3. Ride fairly hard up the first short pitch, and practice riding smoothly through the downhill section that immediately follows.
  4. Once you start the climb (at the first left hand bend after the downhill section), ride smoothly and steadily as much as possible. Explosive efforts burn “matches”, so avoid expending energy in this way unless absolutely necessary.
  5. Diablo is a long climb…..ride just a bit easier up to the Junction than you might ordinarily wish to do so. The most successful riders reserve a bit of energy for themselves as they ride further up the mountain.
  6. Through Rock City, focus on maintaining speed rather than power. It’s the rare opportunity to both go fast, and get a tiny bit of recovery.

If you have anything left, spend your energy after Devil’s Elbow. Have fun, record your times, and have a great week.

Enjoy!

Coach Matt


Week 11 – Diablo Challenge Training

We have four more workouts prior to the Challenge. The next 3 workouts will be from Athenian to the Summit; the final workout of the month will only be to the Junction.

For this week, we’ll do what I call, Diablo to Summit – in thirds.”  Following our usual extended warm up routine (between 30-45 minutes), you should end up at Athenian to start the following. This workout will have you practicing riding up Diablo by separating it into three parts (like a giant progression): Athenian to 2000 ft mark, 2000 – 3000 foot marks, 3000 – Summit.

The first segment should be at RPE of 6.5-7 (approx. 90% of LT HR or power), 2nd segment should be RPE 7-8 (approx. 95% of LT HR or power), 3rd segment should be at RPE of 8.5-9 (approx. 98% of LT HR or power), and the wall should be ridden as hard as possible. Record each segment by pressing the lap button (and also press your lap/interval timer at the 1000 foot mark); you’ll use these times over coming weeks. You should DEFINITELY hold something back on segments 1 & 2 as you will be able to ride harder than this. These workouts are about creating a pattern of approach for the Challenge rather than having you ride as hard as possible.

Enjoy yourselves on the downhill, go home, and chill out J

Enjoy!

Coach Matt


Week 10 – Diablo Challenge Training

It’s September, and time to focus all our efforts on riding to the Summit each week from now until the Challenge.

If you’ve been following along with these workouts, you will have been creating some of the building blocks that are necessary to become a stronger climber. These workouts are helpful steps towards your goal of reducing your time on Diablo, but they are only a piece of what you should be doing.

This week, as has been our tradition during this training series, whenever we take the next “step” up the mountain, we always establish a baseline time. So, this week, we’ll be doing a ride from Athenian to the Summit, just like on the day of the Challenge.

There are only a few instructions this week:

  1. Do a significant warm-up of 30-45 minutes prior to reaching the start line below Athenian School.
  2. Take a very brief pause (up to 3 minutes) before starting the climb. Focus your attention to the task at hand, and take off.
  3. Ride fairly hard up the first short pitch, and practice riding smoothly through the downhill section that immediately follows.
  4. Once you start the climb (at the first left hand bend after the downhill section), ride smoothly and steadily as much as possible. Explosive efforts burn “matches”, so avoid expending energy in this way unless absolutely necessary.
  5. Diablo is a long climb…..ride just a bit easier up to the Junction than you might ordinarily wish to do so. The most successful riders reserve a bit of energy for themselves as they ride further up the mountain.
  6. Through Rock City, focus on maintaining speed rather than power. It’s the rare opportunity to both go fast, and get a tiny bit of recovery.

If you have anything left, spend your energy after Devil’s Elbow. Have fun, record your times, and have a great week.

Enjoy!

Coach Mat


Week 9 – Diablo Challenge Training

Our final focus on Juniper Campground….next week, to the summit!

Workout type: This week we’ll be doing something I refer to as a “progression”, which means that we’ll break up the ride into segments that are done at progressively increasing intensities as you climb. This is to teach you how to pace yourself on a relatively long effort like climbing Diablo

After our usual lengthy warm up routine (about 45 minutes), we’ll pause briefly in front of Athenian School to collect ourselves, and then do the following:

Divide the ride into 3 approximately equal length (time) segments, do the following:

  • 1st third: ride in high medium endurance zone, about 90% of your LT wattage or HR
  • 2nd third: ride in low lactate threshold zone, about 95% of your LT wattage or HR
  • Final third: ride just below lactate threshold, about 98% of your LT wattage or HR 

If you are going by rate of perceived exertion (RPE), on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being lowest, 10 being highest, then the first 1/3rd is RPE 6.5-7, second 1/3rd is about RPE is 7.5 – 8, final third is RPE 8.5 – 9. When you are getting really close to Juniper Campground, give it a really good push, and see if you can achieve a near max HR. (It’s always helpful to finish a training ride strong).

Roughly speaking, the first 1/3rd can be from Athenian to start of Rock City, second 1/3rd to Junction, and then final 1/3rd to Juniper Campground. While this isn’t exact, it’s close enough for this workout. When riding through Rock City, which will be early in the second part of the ride, I suggest you focus on maintaining a feeling of speed, rather than trying to hold a specific wattage or HR target.

Remember, hold back something on the first 2/3rd’s of the ride, you will be riding near your maximum sustainable long effort (a good functional definition of lactate threshold) for about 12-20 minutes depending on how strong a climber you are.

Once at Juniper Campground (or at the 3000 foot mark just past the Campground), the workout is over. Either:

  1. complete the climb to the summit, or
  2. turn around and head back home.

Enjoy!

Coach Matt


Week 8 – Diablo Challenge Training

After doing the usual extended warm up from Rudgear to Athenian school, pause for a moment at Athenian School, ride up the first climb, down the descent, and the following intervals should start from the left hand uphill turn immediately following the descent:

Workout type: 4x10’x5’ (recovery while continuing uphill)

We are ready for some longer intervals, as we are now around 6 weeks away from the Challenge. Today, you’ll be doing four 10-minute long intervals @ your LT wattage or HR with 5 minutes of recovery (continuing uphill) in between intervals. You may be further than Juniper campground after completing your 4th interval….that is fine, you are ready and needing the extra distance.

Remember to really back off (as much as possible) the intensity/speed during your recovery period. Put the bike in your easiest gear, and just crawl along…..you want to see your power & HR drop as much as possible. After the 4th interval, do the final 5’ recovery period continuing to climb before you either:

  1. complete the climb to the summit, or
  2. turn around and head back home.

Enjoy!

Coach Mat


Week 7  – Diablo Challenge Training

After doing the usual extended warm up from Rudgear to Athenian school, pause for a moment at Athenian School, ride up the first climb, down the descent, and the following intervals should start from the left hand uphill turn immediately following the descent:

Workout type: 3 minute (‘) intervals with 1-3 minutes of recovery

You will be doing as many 3’ intervals as you can between the interval start area (after the initial descent) and the Junction. Intervals should be done at 110% of LT wattage, or just a few beats below your LT heart rate. Since this is a moderately long interval at a high rate of “work”, if going by HR, you’ll want to build into your target HR over the course of 30-45 seconds; otherwise, you risk overcooking yourself. Recovery, as usual on these workouts, will have you continuing uphill. Take between 1 & 3 minutes before starting your next interval. As soon as you’re ready after 1’, start your next 3’ interval. Do not wait more than 3’ before starting the next interval. If you are at the junction during the middle of an interval, continue the interval towards the summit until that 3’ interval is complete.

After you complete an interval at/near/through the Junction, take a recovery period of 6’ while continuing uphill. At that point, you have two options:

  1. continue doing 3’ intervals with up to 3’ recovery until the 3000 foot mark (you’ll probably be able to complete another 2 or 3 intervals)
  2. complete the ride up to the 3000 foot mark at 2% below LT wattage.

Once at the 3000 foot mark (just past Juniper Campground), the workout is complete. Continue climbing to the summit if you've got the legs and time to do so, or enjoy your descent.

This particular workout helps to improve your VO2max, which is your oxygen carrying capacity. Generally, increases in VO2max lead to faster performances.

Matt


Week 6 – Diablo Challenge Training

As it is now the beginning of August, it is time to extend our efforts on the mountain. This month, we will focus on the section from Athenian School (start line) to the 3000 foot elevation marker (just past the Juniper Campground pullout).

After an extended warm up of at least 20 minutes (more is better), stop briefly at the start line in front of Athenian school, and begin. This week, we’ll be establishing our baseline time from Athenian to the 3000 foot mark.

If you have your threshold wattage or heart rate zone already established, you’ll be riding in that zone during this workout. Remember, that for the majority of the ride, you should be riding at or near your threshold target. The exceptions to this will come when the road gets steeper, or shallower (e.g., through Rock City). At those points, do not focus on your threshold number, instead, focus on maintaining a consistent effort level (a bit higher on the steep sections, and a bit lower on the shallow sections). Sudden changes of pace (i.e., accelerations), will cause you to “burn a match”, and you’ll want to minimize the number of time you do that during the ride.

Rock City presents an interesting riding situation: during the Challenge, your best bet is to find a group to ride it with as fast as possible. During training, you’ll actually want to use Rock City to get a small bit of recovery, while simultaneously maintaining as much speed as possible. I will spend more time in future weeks discussing this vital portion of the mountain.

Once at the 3000 foot mark, you are done with this week’s ride. You may continue to the summit, or descend, as your time and legs permit.


Week 5 – Diablo Challenge Training

After doing the usual extended warm up from Rudgear to Athenian school, pause for a moment at Athenian School, ride up the first climb, down the descent, and the following intervals should start from the left hand uphill turn immediately following the descent:

Workout code: 3x12'x5-8' hill repeats

You'll be doing 3, 12 minute (') intervals with anywhere between 5 & 8 minutes of recovery between intervals. Recovery involves continuing to ride uphill, and should have the shortest recovery period you can manage after a 5' break; do not do more than 8' of recovery between intervals. Shorter recovery periods help your body learn to manage increasing lactate levels that occur during hard efforts, and are a key step to improving your overall time during the Challenge. Push yourself to do the shortest recovery possible within the guidelines.

Each interval should be at the following intensity levels:

  • If going by power, should be 110% of threshold (or FTP) wattage
  • If going by HR, should be about 3-5 bpm below max HR, or 2-3 bpm above threshold HR
  • If going by RPE (rate of perceived exertion), you should be at 8 out of 10


You should complete 3, 12-minute intervals at the above listed intensity without regard to your position on the road (very likely you'll be well past the junction). 

This ends the formal workout. Continue climbing if you've got the legs and time to do so, or enjoy your descent.

Matt


Week 4 – Diablo Challenge Training

This week, after the usual extended warm up, and ride up the first hill and down the descent, we'll be doing a different type of interval this week, namely 3x1-3' VO2max intervals. The plan is to do 3 minute (') intervals with from 1 - 3' of recovery between intervals, all the way up to the junction. Unlike last week where we paused going through the flatter Rock City section, this week, you'll be continuing your intervals through Rock City. 

Regarding recovery, this is, again, a variable recovery drill. You should give yourself a minimum of one minute of recovery between the 3' of hard work, and a maximum of 3'. Pretty much as soon as you are ready to do another 3' of work after 1' of recovery, blast off again. Intervals this week are at 115% of your LT, or FTP wattage. If riding with HR, build into your max HR over the course of about 1.5 minutes and maintain for the remaining 1.5 minutes. 

At the junction, pause for up to 10' (less is better), and then do at least two more 3' interval periods. If you've got more in you, continue upwards! As always on this series of trainings, the recovery periods take place while going uphill. You should be in your easiest gear, and really going slowly in order to bring HR and watts down. 

Enjoy the descent, and pat yourself on the back for another good week of work!

As always, please feel free to e-mail me with any questions that arise.

Matt


Week 3 – Diablo Challenge Training

Last week we did some short intervals designed to improve our VO2max and enhance our ability to tolerate lactate. This week, we will stretch ourselves in several different ways: each interval period will be longer, and we will do 30 minutes of “work” vs last week’s approximately 13 minutes of  hard efforts.

This week’s workout:

The shorthand version: 3x10’x5-8’ hill repeats @ 105% of LT.

Warm up between 30-45 minutes while making your way over to the start line at Athenian School. Pause for a moment (just as you would at the Challenge) before starting the next effort.

Ride hard (no specific wattage or HR target) over the initial hill, and get through the descent section safely. Our work will begin at the left hand uphill turn immediately following the descent section.

From here to AT LEAST the junction, you will be doing three 10 minute (‘) hill repeats with recovery ranging (at your choice) between 5 & 8 minutes. During your repeats, you should be riding at slightly above your lactate HR & wattage. For those riding with HR, you should be about 1-2 bpm above your lactate threshold HR. For those riding with wattage, you should be at 105% of your LT wattage (e.g., if your LT wattage is 250w, this workout should be done at 260-265w). If you are riding based on FTP (which is related to, but different than LT), you will again be riding at 105% of FTP.

During the recovery period, you will continue riding uphill, and use the lightest gear you’ve got, and really bring down the effort. You need to do a minimum of 5’ of recovery, and a maximum of 8’. As soon as you are ready for your next 10’ hill repeat, after the 5’ minimum recovery period, do your next interval/repeat. The goal over time with these workouts is to continue to decrease your recovery time so that you can do longer and longer sustained efforts.

For many of you, you will be in your third 10’ interval when you pass the junction. Continue past the junction toward the summit until your 3rd repeat is completed. At that point, this workout is over.  Enjoy your descent if time limited, or enjoy the ascent to the summit if you’ve got time/legs for that to happen.

(For clarity’s sake, repeats and intervals are the same thing)


Week 2 – Diablo Challenge Training

Last week we established baseline times for the Athenian to Junction segment. This involved dosing out your (hard) efforts over the course of 25-45 minutes. This week, we will start to do some focused interval training to improve our VO2 max capacity.

This week’s workout:

Warm up between 30-45 minutes while making your way over to the start line at Athenian School. Pause for a moment (just as you would at the Challenge) before starting the next effort.

Ride hard (no specific wattage or HR target) over the initial hill, and get through the descent section safely. Our work will begin at the left hand uphill turn immediately following the descent section.

From here through the pay booth, you will be doing one minute (1’) intervals with 1’ of recovery between efforts. Since these are relatively short efforts, you will need to do them at an intensity above your (sustainable) threshold power. If riding with watts, try these at 135% of your threshold (or FTP) power. For example, if your threshold wattage is 200w, ride these at 275w. If riding with HR, these efforts should be just below your max HR; on a 1 – 10 perceived effort scale (10 max), these 1’ efforts should be at an RPE (rate of perceived exertion) of “9”.

When in the 1’ recovery period, continue uphill, use the lightest gear you’ve got, and really bring down the effort. Since you’ll be going uphill, you will not get a complete recovery, and this is what aids in developing your VO2max (which I’ll say more about in future weeks).
 
At the pay booth, you will stop paying attention to watts/HR until the 2000 foot sign. Through this section (Rock City and beyond), which is the flattest part of the entire course, you will be focused on maintaining as high a speed as you can maintain without blowing up. Your RPE should be between 7 & 8 through this section.

At the 2000 foot mark, resume your 1’ intervals until the Junction. Make sure that you complete another 3 – 1’ intervals before stopping at the junction……even if you have to continue uphill to complete your 3rd interval.

That’s the end of this week’s workout. Enjoy your descent if time limited, or enjoy the ascent to the summit if you’ve got time/legs for that to happen.


Have fun out there!
Coach Matt


Week 1 – Establishing a baseline time

This is one of the more straightforward weeks. After a solid warm up of at least 30 minutes, make your way over to the start line, which is just past the Athenian School on Mt. Diablo Scenic Blvd (SG Road to us locals).

Take a momentary pause, just as you would on the day of the Challenge, and start off. You are aiming for the fastest time you can manage to the Junction. Remember though, this will be between a 30 & 45 minute effort for the majority of you, so pace yourself. Use the flatter sections to increase speed without spiking your HR or watts. Try to stay seated on the shallower sections of road, stand if the road gets steeper, or if you find yourself losing momentum. Keep your effort steady; spiking your effort will burn a match, and you want to minimize how many matches are burned.

If you have a lap or interval timer on your bike computer, mark a lap/interval at the following times:

  • Start, 1000 foot marker, pay booth, 2000 foot mark, Junction.
  • Using these markers will allow you to track your progress over the coming weeks.

Once the ride to the Junction is over, you are free to ride further up the mountain, or descend and ride elsewhere. Be sure to note down your Average HR for the Athenian to Junction section, or, if using power, your NP (normalized power) if you have it, or Avg power if you don’t. We’ll be using your HR or power data in future weeks to guide the intensity of upcoming workouts.

Have fun out there!

Coach Matt