Question: I'm confused about long early-season rides. Should I include intervals and other hard efforts during this training? -- Paolo H.

Coach Fred Matheny Replies: During long rides in late January and February, it's fine to bump up the intensity occasionally. But doing specific interval workouts isn't necessary.

Let your intensity increase naturally on climbs or into headwinds. When banking foundation miles, the terrain and your mood -- not a predetermined schedule -- should determine when you pick up the pace.

Don't overdo it, though. You're still in the process of building fitness.

Here's a good rule of thumb: When you finish a long early-season ride, you should feel like you could turn around and cover half the total distance again.

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