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2009-10-30 10:00 AM

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Subject: climbing hills

my first triathlon is in february. for cycling training i've been making my rides mostly hills. warming up with climbing, middle of ride with huge climbing, and cooling down with smaller hills. it's fun because the hills are getting easier every time, but i'm wondering if this is a smart training technique or a waste of time. will getting my legs stronger by climbing make me faster on flat surfaces? my average pace has decreased by a few mph on my rides lately from going uphill so much. should i just stick to going fast on flatter courses? or mix it up with both? any advice would be greatly appreciated. i want to be fast for my race.



2009-10-30 10:04 AM
in reply to: #2489018

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Subject: RE: climbing hills
Hills are extremely important, but you should really be mixing up your training between hills and longish slow paces.
2009-10-30 10:07 AM
in reply to: #2489025

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Subject: RE: climbing hills
menglo - 2009-10-30 10:04 AM Hills are extremely important, but you should really be mixing up your training between hills and longish slow paces.


Good advice, as you need to get used to the constant pedaling of the flats.
2009-10-30 10:53 AM
in reply to: #2489018

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Subject: RE: climbing hills
Hills will definitely make you stronger and will help with speed on the flats. Too much hill training can lead to injury. Thus, balance your training with both hills and flats.
2009-10-30 4:01 PM
in reply to: #2489018

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Subject: RE: climbing hills
Oh man, I'm in trouble on the bike:

* I don't do any, "longish slow paces".
* Since I have no flats I'll never get used to, "constant pedaling of the flats".
* And apparently I'm destined for injury since, "Too much hill training can lead to injury".

Honestly, in my recent experience, crashing into the ground is what "leads to injury"...

Seriously, you'll be just as fit and prepared for your race by training on hills all the time as compared to riding flats at a constant higher average speed.

Unless you're riding 200+ miles per week. Gettting faster on the bike is all about just riding more miles, some hard, some easy, and everything in between.
2009-10-30 4:43 PM
in reply to: #2489949

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Subject: RE: climbing hills
breckview - 2009-10-30 5:01 PM Oh man, I'm in trouble on the bike: * I don't do any, "longish slow paces". * Since I have no flats I'll never get used to, "constant pedaling of the flats". * And apparently I'm destined for injury since, "Too much hill training can lead to injury". Honestly, in my recent experience, crashing into the ground is what "leads to injury"... Seriously, you'll be just as fit and prepared for your race by training on hills all the time as compared to riding flats at a constant higher average speed. Unless you're riding 200+ miles per week. Gettting faster on the bike is all about just riding more miles, some hard, some easy, and everything in between.


Imagine how much faster you would be if you rode more flats! Wink I hear ya on the "crashing leads to injury" and strongly advise against it.


2009-10-30 4:49 PM
in reply to: #2489018

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Subject: RE: climbing hills

If you love the hills, do all hills. 

We have a trigroup here that specialized nearly completely in long mountain hill climbs and doesn't do any flat long work for the hard portion of the rides. When we occasionally TT-style the return on the flat highway, the monster hill climbers destroy everyone on the flats as well. 

I know for the Tour De France etc., there is a difference between the fastest TTers and the fastest hill climbers, but for amateur triathletes, they usually correlate extremely well - fast on the hills, fast on the flats in a nondrafting TT-style ride.

At elite/pro pure cycling levels, there may probably be a lot more to optimizing your flat-land 27+mph aero tuck while deliving huge power to the pedals, but for amateur triathletes, there's no way you can go wrong with bike hillwork.

2009-10-30 4:56 PM
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Subject: RE: climbing hills
I have found that since I have soo many hills in my area I seem to save myself for them.  I outpace my riding buddies on the hills but they have no problems keeping up with me or passing me on the flats and downhills.  My speed on the flats hasn't decreased however it's not really increasing like I would hope.

Probably just a mental thing but  I may be over exerting myself on the hills.  I've notice my heart rate will jump to 165 on the longer hills but usually at about 145ish normally when I'm training.  Is this typical or am I trying too hard? 

 
2009-10-30 5:01 PM
in reply to: #2489018

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Subject: RE: climbing hills
I'm in an interestingly similar situation to the OP...

5 years ago I rode frequently, and trained mostly in an area with only a few long gentle slopes. Then 5 years of no riding. The last 2 months I have been riding again, exclusively in a hilly area. Last week I rode the original flatter ride again and destroyed the times I used to do it in...

There is no doubt in my mind that the tough hilly rides over 6-8 weeks have developed me far more than 6 months of riding the flatter area when I was 5 years younger! I know where I will mostly continue to train in future!
2009-10-30 6:32 PM
in reply to: #2490020

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Subject: RE: climbing hills
Gawaine79 - 2009-10-30 4:56 PM I have found that since I have soo many hills in my area I seem to save myself for them.  I outpace my riding buddies on the hills but they have no problems keeping up with me or passing me on the flats and downhills.  My speed on the flats hasn't decreased however it's not really increasing like I would hope.

Probably just a mental thing but  I may be over exerting myself on the hills.  I've notice my heart rate will jump to 165 on the longer hills but usually at about 145ish normally when I'm training.  Is this typical or am I trying too hard? 

 


You've actually explained the phenomena yourself. Your lower HR on the flats means you're going less hard on the flats. Hence, your friends can hang with you.

Get your HR to 165 on the flats as well, and I suspect your friends will be struggling to stay with you if you're dropping them cold on hills at HR165. 
2009-10-30 7:14 PM
in reply to: #2490133

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Subject: RE: climbing hills
agarose2000 - 2009-10-30 5:32 PM
Gawaine79 - 2009-10-30 4:56 PM I have found that since I have soo many hills in my area I seem to save myself for them.  I outpace my riding buddies on the hills but they have no problems keeping up with me or passing me on the flats and downhills.  My speed on the flats hasn't decreased however it's not really increasing like I would hope.

Probably just a mental thing but  I may be over exerting myself on the hills.  I've notice my heart rate will jump to 165 on the longer hills but usually at about 145ish normally when I'm training.  Is this typical or am I trying too hard? 

 


You've actually explained the phenomena yourself. Your lower HR on the flats means you're going less hard on the flats. Hence, your friends can hang with you.

Get your HR to 165 on the flats as well, and I suspect your friends will be struggling to stay with you if you're dropping them cold on hills at HR165. 


Another possibility is just rider weight difference. A light rider doesn't have to produce as much power as a heavy rider to get up a hill. Therefore, the light rider can be faster up the hill but less powerful.

On the downhills the heavier rider would be favored by both his higher power and his weight.

On the flats, since weight doesn't really matter, the heavier rider will be faster due to his higher power.


2009-10-30 9:58 PM
in reply to: #2489018

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Subject: RE: climbing hills
It depends how long your hills are and what grade they are. Is your target race a similar elevation profile to what you are training on ? If so then don't even worry about it.

However you can train different energy systems by focusing in specific intensities over specific durations.

Improving your threshold requires sustained output at your "threshold" zone (I only use quotes because there are so many ways to define threshold, and many different coaches emthods of testing and naming zones.

If your hills are short and take only 3-5 minutes to climb, even if you crush it up the hills, you are only hitting a certain energy system (anaerobic and VO2 max). In order to really add depth to your training you would benefit form doing sustained "hard" or "threshold" efforts of 12, 15, 20 minutes or more. The classic workout for threshold efforts is 2 x 20.

So while hills will make you stronger and faster, you will reach a plateau at which point, doing hard sustained even efforts on flats or slight inclines will and yet another component of trainig to help increase your threshold.

2009-10-30 10:05 PM
in reply to: #2489018

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Subject: RE: climbing hills

if all you have are hills then ride hills.  I wish I had huge hills to ride.  I live around rolling hills and when I did a flat sprint I avg 3mph faster than my normal routes (point being you will find out how fast you are when the road gets flat).

Buy a trainer if in doubt.

2009-10-31 8:39 AM
in reply to: #2489018

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Subject: RE: climbing hills
I'd love to be surrounded by hills to climb...where i live, there is one hill....the bridge to S.C. Other than that it is flat, lowlands.....I end up dying on the hills when we do rides with big climbs.
2009-10-31 8:46 AM
in reply to: #2490650

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Subject: RE: climbing hills
Don't listen to the "too much hills can lead to injury"... it's how you ride the hills that can lead to injury, but that's true on the flats as well... keep you cadence at a reasonable rate and try to vary the hills a bit, no need to seek out the steepest hills each and every time.

Riding hills will make you stronger (not only as a cyclist, but also you do get a stronger core from riding hills....), but with that it's important that you also do some speed works on the flats to really get the benefit of this additional strength.

Climbing is one area of cycling that is very much a mental game... you've probably noticed that lots of people almost fear the climbs and those are usually also the ones that drop back (and it's nothing wrong with that, just inexperience most of the time). Someone that likes hills and looking forward to them usually is pretty good at them, but that doesn't mean it's the strongest cyclist. The longer the climb the more important experience becomes, pacing is cruicial, but also how to varying the climb. Some have to mix standing up/sitting down, other can sit and just spin forever.... either one is good and it's just personal preference.
2009-10-31 11:28 AM
in reply to: #2490656

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Subject: RE: climbing hills
audiojan - 2009-10-31 7:46 AM
  • ..but with that it's important that you also do some speed works on the flats to really get the benefit of this additional strength.

  • I pretty much agree with everything you wrote but this is something that I don't really understand. I live in the mountains on a significant hill. Everything I ride is either up or down, but the grades vary. Because of the terrain, my riding is basically hard efforts when climbing, then much easier high cadence efforts when descending.

    What I don't understand is how my hard efforts while climbing are any different than a hard "speed work" effort on a flat. One difference I can sorta see is that I do alternate standing/sitting on climbs which most people don't do in tri bike legs. But when I was younger and racing pure time trials, I was out-of-the-saddle quite a bit because it was faster for me. Also, even "high cadence" Lance was standing a lot during the last TdF time trials.


    Climbing is one area of cycling that is very much a mental game... you've probably noticed that lots of people almost fear the climbs and those are usually also the ones that drop back (and it's nothing wrong with that, just inexperience most of the time). Someone that likes hills and looking forward to them usually is pretty good at them, but that doesn't mean it's the strongest cyclist. The longer the climb the more important experience becomes, pacing is cruicial, but also how to varying the climb. Some have to mix standing up/sitting down, other can sit and just spin forever.... either one is good and it's just personal preference.

    IMO, you're exactly right with this. Climbing is very mental and pacing/gear selection is paramount. I had almost come to the conclusion that I actually liked my tri-bike for climbing. And I do here on my home routes. But I've since learned that it's only because I know the climbs so well that gearing/pacing is a no-brainer and therefore not having good access to the shifters doesn't matter. But when I take the tri-bike to a climb that I don't have dialed in, the tri bike shifters are beyond annoying.


    2009-10-31 2:22 PM
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    Subject: RE: climbing hills
    Yea good advice. The hills are usually about 6-10 minute hills and I've seen some people with weight differences but my training partner is about the same size as me. Thanks for the tips. I will definitely add some high threshold speed sections on the flatter sections.

    I'll probably start doing a 10-15 and then move up the 2x 20's



    Edited by Gawaine79 2009-10-31 2:22 PM
    2009-11-01 2:21 AM
    in reply to: #2490791

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    Subject: RE: climbing hills
    Breckview, It's actually very simple... and don't get me wrong, if you would do only hard efforts in the hills you will get fast just because of additional muscle strength. Combining this with speed work on the flats will get you even faster though... for one, you will engage slightly different muscles due to the body position in relationship to the ground on the flats, and my doing speed works on the flats, you will teach your body to engage these muscles as well in the total power generation. Two, adaption to speed; 300W might be 300W whether that is in hills or on the flats, but 15MPH in the hills is not 25MPH on the flats... your power output might be the same, but how you ride and being affected by the wind resistance is definately not the same. Just like any thing else, you get used to how the bike handles under you in different speeds and terrains.
    2009-11-01 10:00 AM
    in reply to: #2491565

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    Subject: RE: climbing hills
    audiojan - 2009-11-01 1:21 AM
  • ..for one, you will engage slightly different muscles due to the body position in relationship to the ground on the flats,

  • Yeah, I think there's some truth to that. Even though the grade may only be 3-5%, that is slightly different in terms of position than a pure flat.

    I think another issue is that my definition of "hills" is probably different than the norm. One hill I ride daily takes 45 minutes to climb and others around here are 1+ hours long. My "warm-up" hill is ~200' over ~1 mile. I carry some speed into it and then ride it exactly the same (stand/sit+gearing) every day. If my entire ride were like that (short hills), I could see how that type of riding would not be ideal for training flat TT courses.

    but 15MPH in the hills is not 25MPH on the flats...

    I don't think I agree with that. On a constant grade hill that I could ride 15 mph, I think would be exactly like 25 mph on the flat except for the (very) slightly different position due to the grade. Further, I think the training is better because on that grade you can't coast without losing speed which would probably require a gear change. On the flat you can ride 25 mph and still loaf here and there.

    I do think the mental aspect of riding fast would not be trained properly. (IE. if you're going to try to ride 26 mph in a TT, generally you'll have had to do some 25 mph averages in training or your mind just won't let you ride that fast.) I take care of that with a flat TT course I ride periodically that is 65 miles away down in Denver.

    I do not buy the "getting used to constant pedaling" thing for flats. Miles are miles and training hills is harder. (I trained to a high level on the bike in a flat area when I was younger.)

    My normal ride here is about 55 miles with 4k feet of climbing in three sustained climbs. When I ride a flatter 70.3 bike course it feels very easy in comparison even at a significant effort. (I averaged 24 mph in my last HIM and came off the bike feeling perfect and wishing I'd pushed harder). If "constant" were bothering me I'd just shift into a higher gear and stand for a while which is faster for me anyway.

    Edited by breckview 2009-11-01 10:06 AM
    2009-11-01 10:07 AM
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    Subject: RE: climbing hills
    Obviously, we going to agree on certain things and not all... I have based my opinion on the knowledge and experience I have, and I'm certain you have as well. To me, that is the beauty of BT, it's perfectly ok not to agree with everything as we are all to one degree or other Beginner Triathletes (or in my case, Duathlete....).
    2009-11-01 10:26 AM
    in reply to: #2491778

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    Subject: RE: climbing hills
    audiojan - 2009-11-01 9:07 AM
    Obviously, we going to agree on certain things and not all... I have based my opinion on the knowledge and experience I have, and I'm certain you have as well. To me, that is the beauty of BT, it's perfectly ok not to agree with everything as we are all to one degree or other Beginner Triathletes (or in my case, Duathlete....).


    Add to that the always present fact that everybody's different and what may work for me/you, may not for others... Thanks for the great discussion. My opinions tend to waver on this subject. I agree that BT is a great place far different than most of the internet.


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