A major adjustment of tempo endurance training is an increase of the heart rate at the deflection point so that a higher percentage of VO2 max, can be sustained for a long time without a significant increase in lactic acid content.
Intensive interval training can not entail any increase in deflection pulse. Long intensive endurance training, 65 to 75% of VO2 max and trainings around the deflection point, at 80 to 90% of VO2 max, for 15 to 30 minutes, do that.
East German rowers were in the 80s world summit. Their training consisted of 80 percent workouts under 2 mmol lactate, so very quiet training. Before that they trained much more intensively, often with the race intensity. Also in that period they performed strongly, but they made, year after year, no progress any more. After changing the training through more quiet endurance training instead of the highly intense interval workouts they noticed that they continued to improve during the following years. Moreover, they were less vulnerable to injuries and overtraining. It was difficult to convince the rowers to train less intensively. Brutal training which athlete goes to the extreme give him afterwards a good and satisfied feeling. The feeling that he has done everything. He will be rewarded with high rankings. To break through that should have a coach with trust and superiority.
What is the reason that runners from Kenya are so dominant in the middle– and long distances? How do they train? They train twice a day. They almost never train interval, but they train intensively. The training in the morning, 8 to 15 kilometers, goes with an intensity of 70 – 80% of VO2 max. In the afternoon they run another five kilometers, but 80% of this training was made with a high intensity of 90% of the VO2 max. The other 20% they run very quiet. Kenyans train undoubtedly tough, but they never do interval training over 100% of their VO2 max. They improved by longer running with high intensity around the deflection point.
Should a rider never do intervals? Intensive interval workouts don’t boost aerobic capacity and the deflection point and they hurt. Research shows that these workouts reducing the maximum oxygen consumption by the reducing the amount of training that can be supplied and by the excessive acidification that has a negative effect on the utilization of oxygen in the muscle cells. The adjustment of the muscles takes place under the influence of an increase in the duration and the distance and not by an increase in the intensity.
Aerobic interval training just under the deflection point are very effective. The focus should be at intervals of 10 to 20 minutes at a lower intensity or intervals of 4 to 8 minutes on the deflection point. The recovery blocks between the intervals should not last more than two to four minutes at intervals of 4 to 8 minutes and 5 to 6 minutes in the longer intervals of 10 to 20 minutes.
High intensity intervals are of little importance in the preparation of an endurance athlete. The focus should be on long training blocks. Not the large numbers of short training sessions where you give full, but the longer blocks you can sustain well have a positive impact on your performance.
So in preparation for the cycling season will hardly be trained in short, intense intervals. During the racing season, as there are many races to be driven, it is during the races that the riders do more than enough short intensive intervals.