Endurance: Money in the Bank

19“Ride lots.”  Eddy Merckx, Cycling Legend, advising young riders on how to become a pro 

One of the first to "ride lots"

20Logging mileage is the chief fitness goal for some during this period. The efficacy of periodized training long since proven in cycling, it’s necessary to work various energy systems. Cardiorespiratory endurance is necessary to produce the continuous aerobic energy in order to meet the demands of competitive road cycling.

Pro riders spend loads of time riding piano – imagine two fingers playing keys slowly back and forth with a long Latin pronunciation – that’s piăăăănōōōō. They also spend sufficient amounts of time in sweet spot aerobic training. Amateur cyclists are surprised at pro endurance pace, typically spending their more limited riding time at mid-range tempo. The difference is that pro piano is sometimes harder than amateur tempo (for the amateur!) Piano is old school Long Slow Distance – slow, sweating from the middle, able to discuss life with a training partner in full sentences. It has many benefits, including a well trained metabolism and increased oxidative capacity maximizing activity at the cellular level of muscle.

21Research has found shorter, more intense workbouts can resemble the physiological adaptations typical of endurance training. Yet there is no way around training time for certain goals. It’s like an incremental investment strategy that eventually earns you enough 22“interest” income to live on, allowing the principle balance for investment in other training intensities. Some have big bank, we all need some bank.

Prayer for Endurance

“So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” 23James 1:4

We are thankful for the time to ride a lot and a beautiful justification for staying within a lower zone. We confess we want to push gains which can only come consistently and incrementally. We ask for perseverance and fortitude to make a “deposit” that gains dividends in stamina.


Ponder Do I need more time or more miles? Affirm I can pick a training strategy which best suits my goals and situation. Watch as weeks of work on one system prepares you for work at the next level.

19Eddy Merckx’s reported advice to young riders wishing to become professionals. Eddy Merckx is the most victorious male bike racer ever. Belgian and bad-ass, his approach to training referenced here was bottom line: to get faster, stronger, better – RIDE! Eddy is considered to be the greatest cyclist of all time by many, except those who believe Fausto Coppi was the Champion of Champions. His long list of accomplishments includes: 5x Tour de France, 5x Giro d’Italia, 4x World Championships, 7x Milan-San Remo, 5x Liège-Bastogne-Liège, 3x Paris-Roubaix, 1x Vuelta a España, 2x Ronde van België/Tour de Belgique, 2x Giro di Lombardia, 1x Tour de Suisse, 17 6-day-trials. Annual training mileage during his heyday was about 35,000 kilometers (21,747 miles). www.indopedia.org Considered lengthy at the time, it’s now the starting range for elite road and endurance track cyclists.

20Base period fitness goals vary but begin with solid endurance and well-trained metabolism. The special mix of training included in winter are a coach’s confidential prerogative based on an understanding of an athlete’s specific needs and desires. In some cases, logging lots of miles, wouldn’t be the best use of the base period. If you’d like further advice on this feel free to contact me in a coaching capacity www.bethleasure.com

21“Research of Interest-High Intensity Interval Training Another Blow to Long Slow Distance Training (LSD)?” by Ken Kontor extracted from Sports Science Exchange Vol. 20 (2007) – Number 2 as reported in Performance Conditioning Cycling Volume 13, Number 3, Lincoln, NE.

22Dave Morris, an early researcher, utilizer, and innovator of powermeter data, is credited for explaining this concept to me. His favorite sermon, which I listened to reverently, was that with years in the legs, the biggest performance challenge was no longer endurance metabolism but power at higher intensities. His thinking on this was controversial in the years before new knowledge evolved into principles by tracking powermeter trends that are now widely practiced. So money in the bank means that you have freedom to work less on volume and more on intensity since the work necessary to have base fitness is cumulative and incremental with passing years. This point of “interest-earning” should be determined between you and a coach with contemporary knowledge of cycling-specific physiology.

23The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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