Difference in race and workout performance

my races have a quite predefined structure:
We sprint at the race start for 20-25 seconds with at least 8w/kg directly followed by roughly 2.5 minutes with at least 4w/kg followed by a technically demanding downhill (XCO) part for 1 minute with some power spikes in it but mostly 0 watt, then some flat part with power spikes at again 3 - 4 w/kg for a minute and then the same without the initial sprint. All that 7 times.
While I do ride 4.5 w/kg 7times regularly within my training schedule (once a week) at an RPE of 8, I can’t maintain that power at all within races as I suffer so much from the initial sprint or maybe other circumstances.
“At all” means that I am able to hold 4 w/kg for the first uphill-section and then that power decreases strongly each lap down to 3.6 w/kg on the uphill parts which is rather SweetSpot for me with an RPE of 9-10.
My heartrate within the races also doesn’t drop really, but stays in an orange to red zone the whole time (35 minutes) .
I’ll integrate decreasing intervalls for the first repeat of my intervals now in my workout and “recover” on downhill trails as 2 possible solutions but maybe there are also other suggestions and maybe also some explaination why that happens. Basically I guess I go too deep and too long in the anaerobic zone at the start and I have no spot in the race where I really can recover from that.

If I’d be able to perform like I do within my intervals I’ll always be within the fight for the win, but the way I do perform I am at the end of the bunch

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sounds like you’re racing quite the hard races and seems like you’re performing on a high level. So kudos to that.

To your question, I’m sure others are more qualified to reply, but I have to share an anecdote: we have a local XC loop that is roughly 20-30min - depending on your fitness level. The course is relatively flat, has pedally bits and a downhill sections with berms and pump track like features. If I go full gas on the course my heart rate stays elevated troughout this loop. We are talking around lactate threshold HR and up to HR Max. XC is taxing on your cardiovascular system, even if you’re not pedalling. There is no real recovery in XCO I’d say. So just keep training and hitting the gym to strengthen your core and upper body so the downhills become less taxing and you can recover a bit more. good luck to you and keep on rockin’ :call_me_hand:

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Thanks for the kudos :slight_smile: Also feels hard indeed. I just investigated a bit, and it seems what I am looking for is FRC capacity, especially as other races I do, don’t even have such a predictable stable effort like my described uphill, but there it goes 10 seconds fullgas > 3 seconds 0 W… all the time.
What I therefore wonder is, if I train my anaerobic capacity by hard 30/30ies or e.g. the Megantic workout - would I then increase the average power I can push for a very short time for a few times or would I then be able to push those surges more often (which is where I am after)?
So what I am after is priorily not more power in the red zone but being able to go in the red more often

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I’d be keen to know if you just started racing these types of races. They are very demanding and you will be pushing it the entire time just like cyclocross races, so I am not surprised you’re in the orange/red.

Not sure what your training looks like leading up to these races, but normally you’d start mimicking the race efforts in your training leading up to the season.

From personal experience racing cross, at the beginning of the season, I could barely breathe in the first few races. They were HARD! But as I got more into the race season my body was able to assimilate the race efforts better and grew accustomed to the hard efforts off the bat.

I would also recommend really looking at what lines you want to take on the course when you pre-ride so you are saving as much energy as you can. Getting a nice warm-up pre-race and really working on your weak spots. There are lots of gains to be made on a race that doesn’t require power output haha.

With a bigger Functional Reserve Capacity, I would imagine both: Being able to hold a higher power above FTP for the same duration as well as being able to hold the same power you currently can do, but for longer. You also would perhaps be further away from task failure (as you have more glycogen left in your tank), so this could reduce RPE as well.

With those 30/30s (and principle of specificity), I would imagine these workouts could perhaps be a better (more specific) way to be able to push into those surges more often than e.g. 3m on and 8 minutes recovery. With only 30s of recovery, these intervals can train your aerobic system alongside as well.

For progression, you could try to first be able to hit the duration above FTP that the event demands (I would imagine for this event that adding more and more 30s intervals would perhaps be better than increasing the duration (e.g. 30s > 35s)), and then perhaps decrease the duration of the resting intervals or even increase the intensity during the recoveries (although I have limited experience in these types of events, so I am not sure whether this way of progressive overload is most optimal or not).

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Had my 4th race of that type that year and last year a dozen or so, but by getting deeper into the season, the initial start phase gets tougher not the other way round as my competitors get better. Generally I tried to never mimick race situations as my previous coach prevented that habit. His approach that we shall train our physical systems and not mimick situations as that was outdated in science. I did some anaerobic build and lactate tolerance intervalls after my base-phase before the races indeed. Something like 10x (1 Minute 5.5 w/kg followed by FatMax at 2.9w/kg for 4 Minutes) but that didn’t really help. And after the last race that I prescribed above I could clearly see that with what I am normally capable of riding at a VO2Max-tempo quite often, I would have clearly won but I could never ever do those numbers as I suffered so much from the start phase.
So I am basically after, if I shall skip the starting phase altogether (or just go for a 5 second effort) and then ride my tempo or/and to train my lactate tolerance in a more race mimicking way


I wouldn’t stress w/kg, It has little meaning unless you’re going up. W/kg doesn’t win races.


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You could perhaps try to design a workout where you indeed try to implement the alternative strategy you are mentioning at the end, not per se to repeatedly train by mimicking the race situation, but more or less as a way of testing yourself beforehand. You would only have to do this once in a while as a sort of benchmark. Perhaps this is more where your strength (potential) could be.

We went up :slight_smile: 15% gradient avg indeed , that’s why I was stressing it. And within my race categories we have massive weight differences with athletes from 35kg to 70kg, so absolute numbers would be not so reasonable :innocent: