Interval Training 2 – for Mountain Bike

Interval training is best described as – short bursts of intense activity interspersed with rest or recovery. It is a means of over loading our bodies for a short period of time to achieve fitness gains.

For example, after a 10 minute warm up:
• 1 minute “hard” pace (high intensity)
• 1 minute “easy” pace (low intensity)
• Repeat hard – easy efforts 10 times
Cool down 10 minutes.

During the early and peak seasons of the training planner (from week 9), interval training is used to develop aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Because it is quite stressful to the body, no more than 2 interval sessions / weeks are done and those new to mountain biking should only do 1 session / week. Interval training is not done any earlier in the programme than this, as a good base level of endurance is required first. Also, because of the high intensity of interval training, too much, too early in the season can cause burn out.

Interval training is the final boost towards peak fitness as it develops burst speed for short sharp hill climbs and the sustainable speed needed for a  MTB Marathon Series or endurance event. Our bodies are being trained to better tolerate the accumulation of lactic acid and also become more efficient at clearing it away. This will therefore help to delay the onset of fatigue.

In the training planner, you will see that there are two types of interval training described – long and short intervals.

Long Intervals
Long intervals are excellent for building aerobic endurance and should be performed at a moderately hard but sustainable pace – you shouldn’t be going flat out. These sessions are particularly good for those new to MTBing, but more experienced riders can use both long and short intervals.
E.g. – week 9 – Regular MTBer

Warm up 10 minutes
• 6 minutes moderately hard pace
• 3 minutes steady cycling at low intensity
• Repeat 4-6 times
Cool down 10 minutes

Short Intervals
With short intervals the work time is less but the intensity is greater. You should aim to cycle at flat out pace. It is an excellent way to develop anaerobic capacity as lactic acid clearance improves and you will be able to maintain faster speeds for longer. Short intervals at this highest intensity should be avoided if you are new to MTB.
E.g. week 9 – Regular MTBer

Warm up 10 minutes
• 2 minutes hard pace
• 3 minutes steady cycling at low intensity
• Repeat 4 – 6 times
Cool down 10 minutes.

Progressing your interval training sessions
As you progress through the 4-week cycle, the number of repetitions can be increased to make the session harder.
For example:
Start week – 4 repetitions
Build week – 5 repetitions
Push week – 6 repetitions
Recovery week – no interval training

Other ways to progress the interval session are
• Increase the duration of each repetition
• Reduce the recovery of each repetition
• Repeat the same session but uphill

Interval sessions are excellent for quick after-work burns on the bike, as they are quality workouts that take relatively little time. Treat them with respect though – don’t do too many and avoid a high intensity session the day before your long endurance ride. You will need plenty of recovery time and a good meal after one of these workouts!

A decent HRM with the ability to upload and analyse your workout will let you comprehend the link between knowledge of what has been don and how it effects the body … I use a Suunto t6 and Movesount analysis which also has a great training effect mode …. check out my review on the site by clicking the tag …

iphone app or garmin/suunto gps for running.

fancy dress breast cancer run

if you’re thinking about starting to use a GPS to track your runs you’ve probably heard about Garmin’s wrist-watch type GPS units like my 405, Suunto’s T6C and some of the new iPhone applications. Both options are great, but there are some things you should consider before you spend your money.

Ease of use: while running
looking at your wrist is a lot easier than using your iphone esp if you are mainly checking pace and heart rate.  iPhone applications need to conserve battery life and also need to make sure that being in a pocket doesn’t cause accidental keystroke input – a sweaty leg works like a finger as well. So most apps dim the display and lock the input. A Garmin GPS won’t dim the display or lock the input. The wristwatch format is much better for use while running.

Battery life
Using the GPS feature and display on an iPhone uses the battery very quickly. Most of the iPhone GPS applications claim to get 3-4 hours of battery life (see comment below – states up to 7 for some) but this entails switching off 3gs and wifi. By the time you get home the battery is nearly dead. My Garmin ForeRunner 405 records data for more than 4 hours on an mtb ultra-marathon. If you “go long” you’ll want battery life that goes as long as you do. Garmin wins again. *since this I have an Edge 305HRM dedicated for bike use*

Garmin fitness GPS devices can be used with accessories including a heart rate monitor, a bicycle cadence monitor, and a footpod for indoor use. I haven’t seen any fitness accessories for the iPhone yet. The HR ones always seem to be using the mic on the iPhone so no ease of us there. The new one I previewed earlier HERE might be great (when it comes out)

The iPhone applications are getting more sophisticated, and are not far behind Garmin (except for HR). I set up the display screens on my Garmin 405 like this:

Main 1:
Time (running)
Average Pace

Main 2:

HR graph

Screen 3:
Time again
Last lap pace
GPS accuracy


Defined workouts

I haven’t seen any iPhone apps that allow you to create pre-defined workouts to guide your runs. I generally don’t use mine on the 405 but you can ….

Training log Software
The iPhone apps work with web-based training log applications. Map my Run has some nice features and their iPhone application works very well. Garmin GPS devices come with Garmin Training Center and also work with motionbased, garmin connect, and many of the web-based applications.

If you already own an iPhone 3G/3Gs you’re in luck. and their iMapMyRun iPhone app are both free (for the basic service). You can get started using a GPS to track your runs by downloading the iPhone app and signing up for the service. Trails / walkjogrun / MotionX are all good – I’ll go through them all another time. Motion X, Runkeeper and Runmonster are the best app I have used on the iPhone

If you don’t own an iPhone 3G/3Gs and are serious about logging your training (runs) get a Garmin. (or Suunto / Polar)

The bottom line
I’m a big fan of the iPhone and am in most cases a strong proponent of web-based software. I’m also serious about my training and want to take advantage of of the full capabilities of the GPS technology. For me, there’s no question, Garmin is much better than the iPhone for GPS Running. The iPhone advantage in price (if you already own one) is an important consideration. If it was only HR training/cycling without the need to export tracks then I would get a Polar HRM but that’s a whole new post …….. (not anymore)

NEW * A review of some other running apps for the iPhone




NOTE – I have since got into more robust HRM analysis and sold the 405 to a pal and bought a Suunto T6C …. the best of both worlds. Compatible with mac, good HRM software like Polar and a gps like the Garmin ….

U=I have reviewed the Suunto T6C here now at