OverUnder done right

Last week I shared my confusion with the OverUnder Interval session. I had a fear that I was getting off to a bad start by doing the workout incorrectly. I wanted to make sure I had it figured out before the workout came up again.

Thanks to Low Cadence readers and the co-author of the Time-Crunched Cyclist (Jim Rutberg), I got my answer. I was able to complete my Saturday workout using the proper instructions. That doesn’t mean that I did a very good job, but it was more “correct” than the initial ones.

So, how do you correctly complete the OverUnder Interval workout? Let Jim Rutberg explain…

A 6min OU (2Under, 1Over) means the first 2 minutes are at your under intensity, then 1 minute at your over intensity, 2min under, and finish the interval with 1min at your Over intensity. You can think of OverUnders as a cycle of Under then Over. In this case, 2U + 1O gives you a 3minute cycle and you’re doing it twice. A 9min OU interval with 2U + 1O is three cycles of that 3minute unit. A 12minute OU with 1U + 1O is 6 cycles of a 2min unit.

Ahhhhh, That explains where I was going off. When I read the prescription for the workout, I saw that it called for 2 Under and 1 Over in a 6 minute period. I assumed that meant I was to do 2 Under intervals and 1 Over interval. If that was the case in 6 minutes it would mean that I would do 2 2-minute Under intervals and 1 2-minute Over interval. (2 minutes x 2) + (1 minute x 1) = 6 minutes.

What the 2 and 1 stood for was not how many intervals, but the time of the intervals. So, 2 minute Unders and 1 minute Overs. So, to get 6 minutes you would have to have the equation: (2 x 2 minute) + (2 x 1 minute) = 6 minutes. Of course, that would also allow me to alternate and end the session on an Over effort.

What did that look like?

SteadyState and Climbing Repeat zones with wattage (click to enlarge)

SteadyState and Climbing Repeat zones with wattage (click to enlarge)

The primary problem I had was that I was watching a movie while doing this workout. My mind wasn’t always on what I was doing. I think it shows in the precision of these intervals. For instance, you can see I actually did 3 Unders and 3 Overs for a total of 9 minutes. You can also see I exceeded the zones on most of the efforts in that first interval.

It wasn’t until the last one that I seemed to get things down right.  Here is the proper way to carry out the OverUnder Interval workout:

  1. 2 minute Under at 233 watts (zone: 224 – 234 watts)
  2. 1 minute Over at 270 watts (zone: 249 – 260 watts)
  3. 2 minute Under at 233 watts (zone: 224 – 234 watts)
  4. 1 minute Over at 272 watts (zone: 249 – 260 watts)

While the Over efforts were above the prescribed zone, I don’t feel too bad about that. The intention of the intervals was met and now I know how it works. I’ll be ready for this important interval workout going forward. I want to give a special thanks to Rodney Dender and Jim Rutberg for their help.