Beginning to understand SS training? maybe? please let me know

SO I am in SS MV1 and for various reasons this is my second time in a row doing it ( I changed my race dates in the fall). So I had been increasing the difficulty of each sweet spot workout and am now up in the 9-10 range. After struggling to complete some SS and threshold workouts I now see that increasing the difficulty of each successive SS ride is a mistake. It seems to be the first ride of each week is a SS and the 4th ride each week is a threshold ride.

Is it the case that the first SS ride each week and the threshold ride are the “goal” rides of each week? Meaning the other 2 SS rides each week are a bit easier so you can really push your limits on the the first SS ride and the threshold ride 4 days later?

I feel kind of stupid with this question. I remember decades ago my older brother teaching me you can not go hard every day. I have heard that many times since from many wiser riders than me. For some reason I forgot this and possibly thought it was outdated. So someone set me straight and let me know if I am understanding the above.
Thanks in advance

My 0.02 on how I’ve been approaching SS this year, and how I use the plans, which I think is important context to answer your question properly…

As far as I’m concerned, TR plans break into 2 halves of the week. For me, I have a Tuesday-Thursday block which contains the main intensity for the week. An interval session on Tuesday and another on Thursday.

The weekend is basically a starting point for discussion. I might follow TR’s recommendations if I’m stuck inside, If I’m racing on a Sunday, Saturday might be z2 if we’re talking what TR might call a B race, might be harder if I have a stage race coming up or I’m in the middle of a block leading towards an A event. If I’m not racing, I’ll try to get a 3-4 hr ride in, I try and aim for one of those at least every fortnight / 3 weeks.

How that fits with your q on sweetspot…In 2 of those 3 scenarios, I’m doing likely 1 structured SS workout out of the 3 on offer. If you read the Sweet Spot Progression thread, you’ll get into the whole building out vs building up thing - and I use those principles to shape how I approach that workout, and how I might select alternates. Also, my own limiters and habits play a part - I tend to perform better with shorter intervals, and I also tend towards a high cadence, which I’ve proved to myself is not necessarily the most efficient at race intensities. An SS day is pretty much working on my weaknesses - physiologocial or habitual, not sure which.

So on a sweetspot day I try to:

  • slow my pedalling a little (for me, from a natural cadence of c.95 to around 85) and focus on the building out / muscular endurance side of the equation.

  • din into my head what sweet spot feels like on an RPE scale. I think there’s great benefits in honing my pace judgement to be had from paying really close attention here - it definitely helps me rein myself in during races.

Hope that helps!

Here’s a few weeks from stock* SSBMVI:

(Don’t worry about the absolute progression level values, just look at how they change.) Progression in TR plans happens by day of week, so Tuesdays progress from 5.6 to 6.1 to 6.3, Thursdays go 6.1 to 6.4 to 7.5, etc. The SS workout on Saturday is always “achievable” relative to the rides earlier in the week.

The key workouts are on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Wednesday is easy Z2, and Sunday is either that lower-intensity SS workout, or a longer Z2 ride per the Week Tips:

And if you’d rather keep things lower in intensity but longer in duration come Sunday, swap Boarstone for your end-of-weekend scheduled workout.

The goal rides are the two SS rides early in the week, and the threshold ride. The plan intentionally lowers the intensity on the Sunday SS ride.

*The stock plans build themselves based on your own progression levels when you look at the page, but the general shape and workout profiles are constant.

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If you’re following SSB MV1 plan as it’s laid out for you, as ellotheth mentioned above - note how the levels of each increase week over week… so you probably shouldn’t look to increase the intensity of each workout over and above the fact that the difficulty of the workouts are already increasing.

“Goal” workouts are covered well above also, and what I keep in mind is - go hard on your hard days, and easy on your easy days. Can only bury yourself day in day out for so long before it catches up with you.

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Its good advise and not outdated. You can find many comments here and around the internet about concerns with SS heavy plans like TRs.

In the SSB plans before AT, it was easier to ‘see’ the progression of Time In Zone because people didn’t focus on progression levels.

The original idea behind sweet spot training was to add ‘advanced aerobic’ to more traditional zone2 aerobic base training. The concept being that instead of riding 12-15+ hours/week doing easy aerobic work, you could scale that down to 8-12 hours/week of riding by swapping a sweet spot ride for a zone2 ride. And then you could organize training something like this:

Mon-Thur:

  • rest day
  • advanced aerobic SS day
  • advanced aerobic tempo day
  • basic aerobic zone2 day

Fri/Sat/Sun:

  • rest day
  • advanced aerobic SS day
  • basic aerobic zone2 day

There are all sorts of variations on that theme, one key point is the rest day before a hard workout. Another key point is a general principle of progressively increasing the amount of time in SS zone, either with longer intervals or shorter recovery between intervals (or both).

TrainerRoad’s variation dropped the time commitment even further and ended up (pre-AT) with an SSB 2 MV that looked like this:

where I added time-in-zone for the week and each workout. With those red notes you can clearly see week3 to week5 increasing SS time-in-zone (and TSS).

When AT was introduced, the plans were updated and one goal was to create smoother progressions. Another goal was to customize plans added to your calendar, by using your current PLs to automatically select workouts according to TR guidelines for that plan.

And when you couple that with 4 days of interval work, it sounds like you may be struggling to recover between workouts. One option is to drop down to 3 (or 2) days of interval work, and/or focus on only increasing time-in-zone (or PL) for the 2 workouts after a rest day. Another option is to just let AT help you try and adjust. Or the 2016-2017 Nate option of doing a year of repeating SSB over and over again, where FTP increases create the progression.

This is the art of coaching, and figuring out what works best for you.

this calendar hurts my eyes, soooo many intervals. When you mention “advanced aerobic” from sweet spot, that is a nice term, but it’s also very glycolytic, and endurance riding is much more effective.

I think the author of this thread @Tardis nailed it and his brother was right: don’t go hard all the time. Sweet spot is not easy, and it’s also not that great at actually making people faster aside from those who are newer to training.

3 x 20 sweet spot…so fatiguing, and this is a great way to start hating training after 12 months.

just my 2 cents!

Brendan

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That’s exactly how I feel.

Something that lots of people don’t understand about endurance sports is that a lot of it shouldn’t be too hard. Lots of the workouts you do should be totally manageable. The goal of SS (as @WindWarrior said) was just to be able to add more volume to a training plan with lower hours. It was not to push it to the max on every workout.

You should rarely find SS workouts a struggle to complete. They should be in the “this is uncomfortable but totally manageable” range.

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