Confused with this OverUnder Interval

My day started at 6 AM yesterday and went at break-neck speed until 9:30 last night. That is when I finally got on the trainer to complete my workout for the day. This is when the rubber meets the road for training. It is when you make the choice to climb on the bike even when everything else about you says no.

To make matters worse for me, it was the dreaded OverUnder Interval. I don’t dread it because it is really really hard. I dread it because I never know if I am doing it correctly. Well, I plan to nip this in the bud. I’m asking you, the reader, to help me understand this workout that confuses me so much.

In the Time-Crunched Cyclist Plan the OverUnder Interval workout is described this way…

OverUnder Intervals are a more advanced form of SS Intervals. The “Under” intensity of is your SS [224 – 234 watts] range, and the “Over” intensity is your CR [249 – 260 watts] range. By alternating between these two intensity levels during a sustained interval, you develop the “agility” to handle changes in pace during hard, sustained efforts. More specifically, the harder surges within the interval generate more lactate in your muscles, and then you force your body to process this lactate while you’re still riding at a relatively high intensity.

The book goes on to read…

To complete the interval, bring your intensity up to your SS range during the first 45 to 60 seconds. Maintain this heart rate intensity for the prescribed Under time and then increase your intensity to your Over intensity for the prescribed time. At the end of the Over time, return to your Under intensity range and continue riding a this level of effort until it’s once again time to return to your Over intensity. Continue alternating this way until the end of the interval.

I get further confused because the instructions then say…

OverUnder Intervals always end with a period at Over intensity. Recovery periods between intervals are typically about half the length of the work interval.

Okay, so last night my plan called for me to do 90 minutes averaging 117 – 190 watts including 4 x 6 minute OverUnder intervals with 5 minute rests between intervals. I will admit that due to my desire to get in bed before midnight, I cut the overall length to 60 minutes. However, I did the OverUnder intervals… at least I think I did.

4 x 6 min. Over/Under (2U,1O) with 5 min. RBI

4 x 6 min. Over/Under (2U,1O) with 5 min. RBI

Here is what my session looked like…

  1. 10 minute warmup (134 watts average)
  2. 6 minute interval
    1. 2 minute Under (237 watts)
    2. 2 minute Over (275 watts)
    3. 2 minute Under (240 watts)
  3. 5 minute RBI
  4. 6 minute interval
    1. 2 minute Under (238 watts)
    2. 2 minute Over (274 watts)
    3. 2 minute Under (239 watts)
  5. 5 minute RBI
  6. 6 minute interval
    1. 2 minute Under (237 watts)
    2. 2 minute Over (277 watts)
    3. 2 minute Under (240 watts)
  7. 5 minute RBI
  8. 6 minute interval
    1. 2 minute Under (241 watts)
    2. 2 minute Over (268 watts)
    3. 2 minute Under (240 watts)
  9. 10 minute cool down (174 watts)

“So,” you ask, “What is the problem?” Well, the problem is that I don’t know if I am doing this correctly. Basically, my thought is that each interval is 6 minutes long. It is supposed to have alternate between 2 Under and 1 Over. However, it is also supposed to end with an Over. So…. how do you alternate?

Then there is the time question. Are these intervals supposed to be 2 minutes for each or 6 minutes for each? In other words, am I supposed to do 6 minutes at SS / 6 minutes at CR / 6 minutes at SS with a 5 minute RBI? So, instead of the total time being 6 minutes before the rest it would be 18 minutes.

That would put my workout — with just intervals — at about 82 minutes. My reason tells me that there is no way to warm up and cool down and do this longer approach within 90 minutes. So, I assume that I am doing things correctly.

Then again, the workout (at least at this intensity) doesn’t seem to be pushing me that hard. It makes me wonder if I am actually “develop[ing] the ‘agility’ to handle changes in pace during hard, sustained efforts.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not that excited about the longer session. I hope I am doing these correctly!

Oh, and then there is that question of how do you end up with an Over when you are supposed to alternate and you have only 1 Over to work with? I just didn’t let that confuse my brain and ended on an Under each time.

I have this workout again on Saturday — only it is supposed to include 120 minutes at EnduranceMile average. I would actually have time to complete the “longer” OverUnder during that session. Can someone help me make up my mind before then?