We had our first sprint workout last Thursday at 10 am. 7 Stanford cyclists plus myself attended. I know many of you can't make the scheduled time. Let me attempt to demystify sprinting slightly. You don't need me to lead these. I have done this for many years and I will make them all slightly different. This is important as your body will adapt to any workout that does not change and it will stop improving.
If you have not done any 100% efforts in a while, or possibly ever, your fast twitch muscles will be detrained. They will become trained fairly quickly but you have to do efforts that are 100% or really close to 100%. So, if your absolute maximum power output is 1000 Watts, you need to do repeated efforts as close to 1000 Watts as possible. Climbing Old LaHonda at 300 Watts will not work. At 1000 Watts, all of you muscle fibers are firing. At 300 Watts, apporoximately 30% of your fibers are firing. You might think that if you rode near your AT, which is where you are on a hard climb, then some muscle fibers will fatigue and you will then use the others. This is slightly true but the supply of ATP is too low to fire all of your fast twitch muscles and you will have a lot of lactic acid fairly soon. The only way to train all of your muscle fibers is to make the effort really hard but it is fine to keep it short. Length of effort is one thing I tend to vary in the sprint workouts. But, the duration is almost always between 10 and 20 seconds.
So, if you can't make the sprint workout or just prefer a different time or perfer to train alone or in a different group, that is fine. Do efforts of 10 to 20 seconds in length. Do some in the saddle and some seated. Do some in small gears to force you to spin and some in bigger gears to develop strength. Recover almost completely between efforts. For 10 seconds efforts, 3 to 5 minutes is enough. If the effort gets to 20 seconds you will need more recovery but you won't take it.
There was a question last Thursday about what you can do to really make your sprinting better. To answer this, I 'll summarize the typical training of a track sprinter. You do sprint efforts 2 to 3 times a week. You do weights, which in this context means heavy leg work such as squats, about twice a week. You do not ever run a single step. You cut your road miles way back. Maximum road ride is under 2 hours and only on flat terrain. Training volume is a speed killer. Your sprinting will imporve but your endurance will drop off so much you won't be able to hang on in a crit. Forget about a road race. This is not what we are trying to do with our sprint training. You can improve sprinting a lot with very little impact on your other cycling by doing one sprint workout a week.