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Junk miles only exist in the 'time crunched cyclist' world. If you'd ride along with euro pros in the off season, you'd realize that most of the miles they do would be considered junk miles by folks here. They provide a base of fitness, keep your cycling enjoyable and keep winter weight off.
 

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Junk miles is when your riding is not following a training program defined using one of the existing doctrines.

(e.g. any riding that I do)
 

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If you are riding and its fun, those are probably junk miles
 

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How bout this for Junk Miles?

When you go to a race that you don't want to be at, just because 'you trained, you may as well use the fittness?'

When you skip a fun group ride or an adventure or a 'throw down Saturday club challenge' so that you can 'taper' for an event, and then flat out during the race? Junk!

trainer 'miles'? They are pretty junky in my estimation...

Any miles you do out of 'sense of duty' (unless you are a paid pro) rather than because you actually want to ride= Junk Miles..in my book.
 

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I lifted this off of this web site and feel it gives a pretty good definition of what "Junk Miles" are...at least in the context of training.

What Are “Junk Miles?”

  • Junk miles: Miles added into your training plan with no purpose other than to increase your mileage count.

The time spent on junk miles is usually some moderate pace riding, typically too hard to serve as a recovery ride, but not hard enough to really spark increased fitness.

It might seem like a good idea, but you really don’t gain anything from junk miles. They do nothing but waste your energy.

Exceptions To The “Junk”

Before you get too worked up, don’t confuse junk miles with endurance training and long rides. If you have a purpose for a particular long ride, then the extra miles would not be considered “junk miles.”

Here are a few exceptions to the rule:

  • Base training. Base training is a vital part of the periodized training plan where you do rather long rides on a consistent basis to condition your legs to the bike.
  • The endurance ride. Even during intense training, it’s useful to do a long ride once every week or two to maintain the endurance your built during base training.
  • Getting your butt ready. As well as building endurance, sometimes you need to put in some long rides to get your butt conditioned to sitting on a saddle.
  • Fun. If you want to go out on a long joy ride, it’s perfectly acceptable to make “have fun” the purpose of your ride!

I should also point out mileage is relative. A cyclo-cross racer who competes in 60 minute races on weekends may have some junk miles in their program if they are doing six hour rides every day. On the other hand, a stage racer needs to get used to riding six hours a day for weeks on end, so they would have a purpose behind each of their six hour rides.
 

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Another benefit of the junk miles is to make damn sure your bike is dialed in and fitted correctly. You don't want to find out that something is wrong 50 some miles into your road race.
 

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Fun. If you want to go out on a long joy ride, it’s perfectly acceptable to make “have fun” the purpose of your ride!

oh, great. I'm so happy I have been granted permission to ride for fun.
 

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jlandry said:
So... group rides are junk miles?
It all depends...

Are group rides part of your training program? If not, then maybe...depends on what you do in the group ride.

Are group rides fun for you? Then maybe not.

Do you follow a specific training plan? If not...does it matter?

I personally use group rides as part of my training plan. Most of our rides have sections in them where we are going very hard, sometimes they are much harder than races. So I use them for intervals as well as longer endurance paced rides since they are usually the longest ride of the week for me.
 

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jlandry,

Do you race? Are you planning too in the future? Are you following a training plan to get stronger for your local group rides? If all three answers are "no", then junk miles really don't exist for you. If that's the case, I'd put all this out of my mind and go ride and enjoy it.

All the talk about "fun" is kinda misleading too. Intervals are fun for some, not for others. A nice, conversational pace ride is boring to some people. The real question comes down to, do you feel your time on the bike is leading to your goals as a cyclist?
 

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Maybe the term "junk miles" (or my preference, "garbage miles") is inflamatory. Maybe some other phrase would better lend itself to illustrating the larger issue: cyclists tend to fixate on mileage, which is not a good thing. Most of us have jobs, families, and other interests; purposeful training bears much more fruit than just clocking miles. Once you're done training, don't fall in the habit of piling on garbage miles. Instead, get some rest and get a life.
 

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BeeCharmer said:
Junk miles only exist in the 'time crunched cyclist' world. If you'd ride along with euro pros in the off season, you'd realize that most of the miles they do would be considered junk miles by folks here. They provide a base of fitness, keep your cycling enjoyable and keep winter weight off.

Yep...in other words, junk miles are sort of like "base miles" when you should NOT be doing base miles:p If you are looking to be competitive during the race season, you should not be doing "base miles". Recovery rides can be similar base miles though...
 

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BeeCharmer said:
Junk miles only exist in the 'time crunched cyclist' world. If you'd ride along with euro pros in the off season, you'd realize that most of the miles they do would be considered junk miles by folks here.
Actually, for how much volume they actually do, this isn't quite right.

Sure, L2 for 2hrs is "junk;" but, L2 for 6hrs day-after-day is quality training.
 

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I think the phrase "junk miles" becomes much more important in situations in which your time to train is limited.

For runners, most people can only handle a certain amount of mileage. If your body can only handle 50 miles a week you are much better off making sure every mile you run has a specific purpose (including recovery). The junk miles are those that are run too hard to be recovery but too easy to have the effects of tempo runs, VO2 max workouts, etc.

For cyclists, I think the bigger limitation is simply time to train because the bike doesn't beat us up like running. If we've only got 8 hours a week to ride, you have to make the most of them. You won't be getting as much training benefit with the "not hard but not easy" time on the bike than if you really focus on recovering on days you need to recover and getting in quality workouts with your limited time.

Now if you've got 25 hours a week to ride, and can spend your time off the bike resting and doing other things to recover (like a pro cyclist), then you might spend a lot of time increasing volume and riding in that no-man's land of lots of upper zone 2/lower zone 3 riding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
"I think the phrase "junk miles" becomes much more important in situations in which your time to train is limited."

This sums it all up right here.
Great feedback from everyone, but this quote makes it all clearer now. :thumbsup:

BTW, there's some sweet training nuggets throughout this whole thread.
 
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