Ironman cycling workout to help regulate your heart rate and effort
Ironman cycling workout to help regulate your heart rate and effort

Ironman cycling workout to help regulate your heart rate and effort

Ironman cycling workout to help regulate your heart rate and effort

Today Ben Rudson shares the cycling workout that he feels has given him the biggest gains on his Ironman bike.

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BRAD BROWN: Welcome onto The Kona Edge. It’s great to have you with us. Thanks for joining us once again. It’s time to head back to Canada to catch up with a returning guest. Benjamin Rudson joins us now.

Benjamin, welcome onto The Kona Edge, thanks for joining us today.

BEN RUDSON: Thanks for having me again.

BRAD BROWN: Benjamin let’s talk a little bit about your Ironman bike. We haven’t spoken about it at all. You mentioned when you first got into the sport of triathlon, you did all your cycling training on an indoor trainer. You didn’t have a bike and you loaned your dads bike for your first triathlon.

How would you rate your Ironman bike, out of the 3 disciplines now? How would it be? strongest, weakest, in the middle?

Starting on an indoor trainer with your Ironman Bike

BEN RUDSON: I’d say it’s probably my weakest, to be honest with you. I’m a strong runner and happy with my running level. My Ironman swim, as I talked about previously, it’s got a lot better but I’m still making some improvements. The Ironman bike is where I’m really going to have make some changes. I need to  find some improvement to break that barrier in that aspect of the sport.

BRAD BROWN: Does that excite you or does it depress you?

BEN RUDSON: I’m excited about it. I’ve put out some great results and to be frank with you, this year, training for Mont Tremblant and Kona, was the first year I took cycling seriously. As I mentioned, 2014 when I first started the sport of triathlon, I started on an indoor trainer. It was an indoor spin bike at the gym. Ill-fitting and all that.

The importance of riding the correct size bike

2015 I was riding an ill-fitting bike that was 2 sizes too small for me, a hand me down from my dad. I think that year I did more riding miles than I did cycling miles which is ridiculous. So, it’s not prescribed by the way, I wouldn’t recommend that. Unless you really want to hammer out the run.

This year I started taking cycling more seriously and I’ve seen huge gains come in my cycling. I think there’s a ton more at the tail of it. For my body type and my body shape, I think I can be an elite cyclist and I’m excited to see my progression going forward.

BRAD BROWN: And that is quite exciting because the Ironman bike is the longest of the 3 disciplines. So, if you can pick up big gains over time on the bike, it would really improve your overall performance.

Ironman Bike – The one discipline you need to be strong in

BEN RUDSON: It’s going to have immense gains. If you look at the top athletes, what separates the best from the worst? The Ironman swim is obviously important to get on that lead pack. But you’ve got to be a great cyclist. That’s the one common ground. Look at all the top pros, they’re all phenomenal biking, low force on all these Ironman splits and that’s common. You don’t see too many guys riding 4:40, 4:30, and winning Ironman’s.

BRAD BROWN: Benjamin, what are you struggling with on the Ironman bike now? What are you working on?

Finding your potential on your Ironman bike

BEN RUDSON: Unlike my swimming episode, it isn’t an issue to sit on the bike for an hour. I think it’s just a matter of getting those miles in. I’m still new to the bike. It’s still a very new thing for me. Last year I got about 6000 or 7000 kilometres in. The year before 2000 and before that I didn’t ride at all. So, I think just getting out there. Getting on the bike and getting those good hard sessions in. At this point that’s the right road and the right progression going forward.

BRAD BROWN: What do you think has given you the biggest gains on the bike since you’ve got into the sport?

Big gains with surges on your Ironman bike training

BEN RUDSON: If I had to bring it all down to one cycling workout, it would be my workout called surge protector. This is a workout that I like and I think it’s incredibly valuable for anyone. Whether you’re long course or short course. Basically, how it works is, as I mentioned before, we tend to do a lot of steady state cycling workouts. 20-Minute stiff framing tempo without much variation to heart rate and I think that debilitated many athletes and doesn’t allow them to find their potential.

Adapt on the go with Ironman bike heart rate

Be it swimming, biking or running, we don’t get to push our heart rates up there and we don’t learn how to recover from that. When you’re racing, you’re typically not just sitting out there pushing at a steady state effort. In the ideal world, you’re going to have to deal with people hovering in front. Staying out of the drafting zone, hills, excitement of fans cheering you, and getting caught up on the emotion.

Being able to adapt your heart rate on the go and being able to recover from big efforts, is critical. So, on surge protector, how it works is you’re typically, it’s variable, you can customise it to however you want. But a typical structure for me, is a 15-minute or 20-minute tempo cycling workout and you’re going to be riding at a steady tempo effort just like you were if you were in a race. Ideally, you pick random moments, but you’re going to pick 8 to 10 random surges of 15 to 30-seconds.

Persisting on those brutal Ironman bike sessions

Then what’s going to happen is there is going to be a surge, you’re going to get out of the saddle and give a couple of quick pumps, you get back onto the saddle and hold an above FTP effort.  Above 15 to 30-seconds. After that, instead of going back to recovery, you’re going to recover at that tempo. So, essentially going from tempo to these surges, then back down to tempo. This is a brutal session.

I run a lot of the athletes through it on our Queens triathlon team here at school and it just kills everyone. If you do it properly you’re really going to feel the burn. Especially by the end and you’re going to start to hate whoever is calling out surge all the time. But it’s so valuable, even if you’re not racing. You may think it might be more of an IQ workout where you’re trying to stay on the lead bike pack. But even for Ironman and Ironman 70.3 racing, it’s still valuable to be able to get your heart rate up and get it back down. And watch your heart rate recover.

Recover on Ironman bike surges not on downhills

Being able to put out that steady effort and recovering from those surges. I think I see a lot of times in these races where athletes will come up to a hill and they will spike their wattage, which isn’t recommended but they do that.

Then they crest the hill and soft pedal and recover going down. Apparently, we all end up doing that although it’s not advised. So, being able to mitigate the effect and the impact that these surges and power have, is incredibly valuable.

BRAD BROWN: Brilliant. Well that sounds amazing. Would you say that’s your favourite cycling workout? Or is there one that you enjoy more than that?

BEN RUDSON: I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite cycling workout.

BRAD BROWN: But it’s your favourite when it’s finished.

Add variety in your cycling workout

BEN RUDSON: Exactly. Looking back on it, it’s my favourite cycling workout. That would say, nothing beats it. I was fortunate enough to live out at a training camp this summer and do some long rides in the Rocky Mountains. Those were long, steady climbs but man, some beautiful scenes. Nothing can beat that. But if you’re looking to balance that out with some good high level, and good bang for your buck cycling workouts, nothing can beat surge protector, in my opinion.

BRAD BROWN: It sounds brilliant. Benjamin, thank you so much for your time once again here on The Kona Edge. Much appreciated. We look forward to getting you on to talk about your strong one. Your run. The next time out.

BEN RUDSON:  I can’t wait. Finally, it’s something I can be excited about.

About Us

Brad Brown is a 40 something age grouper that dreams of one day qualifying for and racing on the big island (He may have to outlive everyone in his age group though).

Morbidly obese in 2009, Brad clocked in at 165kgs (363lbs) at his heaviest.

He's subsequently lost a third of his body weight on the way to a half Ironman pb of 5:06 and a full Ironman pb of 12:21.


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