Combing sprints or intervals with longer zone 2 rides?

Hi all, new to the forum, first post.

I’ve been reading about the benefits of long zone two rides and I’m starting to include these on the weekends. My plan is to combine these with intervals, zwift races and short strava hill segments during the week.

My question is: do I spoil the zone two training effect by including sprints or (shorter) intervals during my zone two rides?

This would be partly to make the rides more fun, but also to get sprint training into my training, as during the week I’ll be focussing on longer intervals - 1 minute plus.

Examples: 3-4 hour zone 2 ride with 6*15 second sprints with loads of rest in between through out the ride? Or going for the odd Strava segment (1 to 5 minute hills)?

Welcome @Deej. Sprinkling in a few sprint like efforts periodically isn’t going to ruin your Z2 ride unless you are piling on excess stress your body does not need. An example from the TR catalog (although much shorter than 3-4 hours) is Pettit +1 which is a great ride. One thing to keep in mind is that you want to evaluate your overall TSS when completing these rides. I would stray away from the 5 minute Strava segment efforts you mention during a Z2 ride like this depending on the context of your overall training plan/week. Those types of efforts would be good for a VO2Max workout day rather than a Z2 day.

That being said, if you sprinkle in 1 or 2 efforts in the 5 minute range over 4 hours and have heaps of “recovery” between, your’e unlikely to do any damage and these efforts can keep your legs sharp for subsequent workouts as long as you aren’t digging any holes you can’t climb out of. Also because of how time in zone works you wouldn’t really be taking away from the point of a Z2 ride all that much as long as this isn’t a fasted ride. The only way of knowing that is learning to listen to your body.

At the end of the day, just do what keeps you happy and on the bike, within reason.

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I read somewhere that an anaerobic effort takes you out of fat burning and into glycolysis and then it takes some minutes (10-15) to get back to fat burning. So, if the goal is to increase fat burning capabilities on a 3 hour ride, it might be better to do some intervals at the beginning or end and then do the rest of the ride in Z2.

Some riders like to do their intervals in a fatigued state to simulate the end of the race so you can do your 2-3+ hours of Z2 and then finish with a 20-30+ minute effort on a climb or with some intervals.

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Thanks @AJS914 @bloya89 both make sense to me, and very helpful.