As we move out of winter into springtime it means one thing. Stepping away from the turbo trainer and riding more outdoor intervals. Now if you have been doing a lot of indoor sessions on the turbo over the winter you will know the control the turbo gives you when performing different types of intervals be it Tempo, Sweet spot, Threshold, V02 Max or even Anaerobic Capacity intervals (although hopefully not too much of the latter in the winter!)
Now when you go outdoors and try execute the same intervals you soon find out it’s a different ball game. No longer can you rely on that trusted ERG mode on your smart trainer. Instead you have to battle with different types of road surfaces, concentrate on avoiding potholes, navigate other road users and numerous other distractions.
The best way to deal with this is to plan where you are going to do these lovely intervals.
In the TrainingPeaks screenshot below you can see a threshold hill session a client of mine performed last Summer. They were assigned 10 minutes intervals at 100% FTP. On the chart you can see the target wattage in blue and their actual wattage in pink. Their wattage shows a consistent steady output, this is the right way to perform intervals with a power meter. While it might not be as perfectly consistent as when using ERG mode on a trainer you can see the efforts are paced well across every interval in the set.
During the interval, use your real time power data to adjust the effort based on your power output and wattage zones. A steady effort produces a nice consistent power output over the course of the interval as shown.
You can see the effect the session has on their heart rate. There is a slight lag compared to their power. Starting off too hard at the beginning of an interval is a common mistake. Especially for cyclists relying solely on heart rate alone. Make sure to avoid going as hard as you can at the start of the interval in order to get your heart rate up as quickly as possible. Always keep in mind the delay between power and heart rate.
In terms of location this was a hill session so choosing somewhere is pretty straight forward. Find a hill that is long enough for you to complete the set and then descend for the recovery.
When it comes to outdoor intervals on the flat then it becomes more difficult. The best option is to find a suitable stretch of road with as few disruptions as possible. The less built up the area the better as there will be less chance of your session being interrupted. There’s every chance you may need to ride up and down a stretch of road several times to get the best run at completing your intervals. That’s fine, just make sure you’re careful and watch out for traffic when you turn around to go the opposite way.
If you want more assistance in nailing your outdoor interval sessions then book your free consultation with Blackzone Coaching today.