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Triathlon Training Minneapolis

“He went medieval on us”

For better or worse, I live in Minnesota. This means I’m surround by people, some of them my students and clients, who have been raised to believe that they cannot give feedback to others. Being from Detroit this is a new concept for me. I grew up in a work environment where if someone thought you were a $#!tbag, they’d say, “Hey, you’re a $#!t bag.” Here in Minnesota I rely on message boards, gossip, and the occasional overheard conversation to get feedback on my coaching. One such conversation was in the men’s locker room of a corporate fitness center where I lead spin classes and coach a triathlon team. From a row of lockers behind me, one of the participants in my spin class was asked how class went. His deadpan response was, “He went medieval on us.”

How awesome is that? Normally I look for visible queues like limping or vomiting to know when I’ve taken a spin class a bit too far. But not this day. Actual participant feedback. Awesome.

If any of you care to participate in the “medieval” session, the work set is listed below with an explanation of what everything is below that.

WARM UP (10 – 25 min)
5:00 – 15:00 easy spin
5:00 5 x :15 spin ups on 1:00


Sequence I (16 min)
2 x 1:30 cadence progression
3 x :30 :15 hills + :15 easy spin recovery
1 x 1:00 easy spin recovery
2 x 4:00 cadence progression
3 x :30 :15 hills + :15 easy spin recovery
1 x 1:00 easy spin recovery

Sequence II (8 min)
1 x 1:30 cadence progression
2 x :30 :15 hills + :15 easy spin recovery
1 x 4:00 cadence progression
1 x 1:00 easy spin recovery

Sequence III (6 min)
1 x 2:30 seated hill
1 x 1:00 standing hill
1 x :30 seated hill at the same tension as the standing hill
1 x 2:00 “top the hill” and all out sprint to the finish

WARM DOWN (5 – 10 min)

5:00 – 10:00 easy spin

The entirety of the above is choreographed to the soundtrack to Les Miserable if you hit play at the start of the third set of spin ups.

As you can see it wasn’t a long session. I only have the folks in the room for 45 to 55 min depending on when they saddle up. So here’s why I did the different sets:

1) This was a Thursday. I also teach Friday. This means I can’t totally nuke everyone’s (and my own) legs on Thursday. Back to back quality sessions are straight from Jack Daniel’s playbook, so don’t look at me like I’m nuts. To go hard but be able to recover quickly I use high cadence work to hit Zone 4/Threshold-type work, as opposed to hills which tend to take longer to recover from.
2) Spin Ups: Very short (5 to 20 second) sprints. I use them at the start of every session as prep for the harder work that is to come. They do for cyclists what “strides” do for runners.
3) Cadence Progressions: Start at a reasonable cadence. We started at 80. Were this a group of experienced cyclists that number would have been 90. At regular intervals increase the cadence without changing tension/shifting gears so that your work intensity increases. This can be done on a spin bike or on your own bike on a flat road. Last :15 is an all out sprint.
4) Sequencing: I always like to descend the time of each work set, whether it be in the pool or in spin class. The mental aspect of “if I just did 16 min, for sure I can do 8” is a good little mind game.
5) Hills in Sequence III: Yeah, I know I said no hills on day one of a two day back-to-back quality session. I finish every single class with a climb and sprint to the finish. It’s tradition, not physiology.
6) Total work time at Zone 4 (aka aerobic threshold) was a 25 minutes depending how aggressively you increase effort during the Cadence Progression sets. That’s fairly textbook. Perhaps it was the short rest periods that caused the one participant to declare this one “medieval.”
7) Les Mis reference: There is zero truth to the statement above. I’m just hoping someone doesn’t make it this far down and actually suffers through a threshold set on the bike trainer while listening.

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One Response to “He went medieval on us”

  1. Victor says:

    I just read Jacks story. I’ve only had the opportunity to ride twice, being that I live 4hrs away. On each of my rides i have met the niscet people from all around Cali. The SJBP is what Unity is all about. The Birds have welcomed us Fluffy Old Timers lol! Making sure we didn’t get lost or fall too far behind. Im a country girl born n raised and in the process of relocating to San Jose. I have to admit that the SJBP is one of the best things I have to look forward to. Take some time and join us for a ride. Talk about a natural high, this ride is so addicting.