Endurance...how does it make you faster?

As a certified car and motorcycle nut I fully support this analogy and I thinks that it’s right on.

I don’t think that is correct. I remember discussing the half-time of changes in mitochondria with training and detraining in ex phys, and IIRC it was a matter of days.

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okay maybe mitochondria no, but things like capilarization, i think is yes. I’ thinking stuff like this:


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I thought the number of marks meant the “density” of the response?

Sorry, I can’t think of a better way to say it, but isn’t the chart supposed to be read as indicating the effect of a “unit” of training (e.g., TSS)?

But wouldn’t capillaries have to change just as rapidly? What would the point be of rapidly growing more mitochondria if you couldn’t feed them with oxygen?

BTW, I don’t the article you cited is correct. The reason we discussed the rate of change in mitochondria in class was to explain rapid changes in lactate threshold.

interesting point, but i don’t see why they would necessarily need to match each other. Like one of them is literally just proto-organelles dividing, the other is an actual structural change.

But, fair point about glossing over these things / speaking in generalities. Jogging my memory now and you’re definitely right about the mitochondria part.

And, which article, the Couzens one? I’ll grant you that article traffics in plenty of generalities too.

yeah, that’s the context of the table. the problem is, what is the “given unit?” 20minutes of zone 2 doesn’t do a lot, but 5 4-minute intervals at 115% would do a whole lot.

600 hours of zone 2 over the course of a year would do a lot, however. 2400 hours over six years would do a whole lot.

I have (almost) that very scenario. Last summer all I did was high volume/long Z2 rides (~18hr/wk); the previous winter I was full on into SPBHV (~10hr/wk). The 15 weeks of Z2 work increased my FTP by 8%; the 5 weeks of Threshold increased my FTP by 7%. But…as we all know, there are lots of things which make up FTP, so face value similar gains but also very different gains.

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Endurance is the basis of everything.

Just FWIW, but last year I did SSBHV and then a long block of progressively longer SS interval work. I got very good at going “kind of” hard. Great power for 3-4hrs but no top end.

This season I’ve ridden lots of Z2, some tempo, and a little bit of hard work, mostly unstructured by racing on zwift. Freshened up for a few weeks as a break in Jan/Feb and set new PRs from 5sec-4hrs.

I’m planning a VO2 block and some top end work closer to target races, but I’m becoming a believer in a more varied base/build with a foundation of Z2 and lots of “stuff” sprinkled into long rides vs longer set power interval work. I find it less fatiguing mentally and physically too.


Because longer rides…in the 3 - 6 hr range build slow twitch fibers and really pack them with mitochondria. Of course It takes MUCH longer to build “power” this way because slow twitch fibers don’t contract as fast as fast twitch fibers. Because these long, slow twitch rides serve to really pack the fibers full of mitochondria it actually improves Vo2 max by an increased ability to use oxygen and an increased ability to recycle lactate before it reaches the bloodstream…meaning that the cycling takes place strictly within the muscle itself, providing much higher fatigue resistance than fast twitch fibers…which are really tapped by Z4-Z5 workouts.

Vo2 workouts “should” really only serve as a peaking tool around targeted races or as top end maintenance (reduced sessions)…since a base of fitness based heavily on Vo2 is a fragile one…because you will have less fatigue resistance in longer races…which means that your FTP won’t matter for very long if it is based almost exclusively on Vo2 work, which really primes the glyocolytic engine BUT with the detrimental effects of increasing the amount of lactate that is produced. Do this too much and your FTP will fall due to the inability of a poor aerobic base to cycle this increased lactate production (VlaMax). This often happens to cyclists who race too much and thus slowly erode the aerobic base they started with at the beginning of the season. Once this happens in earnest, their performances can stagnate or become poor as time goes on.

You are really trying to find a balance between fat metabolism and glycolytic metabolism…a balance suited to the type of racing you like to do. That said, personally I would err on the side of a larger aerobic base than a heavy diet of Vo2 work but that will also depend on how much time you have to devote to cycling.

Finally…a substantial aerobic base will make it MUCH easier to absorb the rigors of Vo2 and upper Z3/Z4 workouts…as long as you make sure and maintain that base throughout the season.


I can 100% guarantee this statement from personal experience.

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I’m doing a 50 day cross country tour this summer. Question is, should I do all Zone 2 or throw in some intensity? I can’t wait to see how I am afterwards.

Coach Chad said this very same thing on the Podcast. If I remember correctly, he said that even your sprint requires an endurance contribution.


Did you start both phases with the same base ftp?

It would also be really interesting to see to what extent these improvements are complimemtary.

I’m also working on high z2 volume for the first time atm to see how my body responds. You’d have to assume it’s quite individual as well.

For fifty days I’d be surprised if you ended up doing much more than zone 1. I think that your circumstance might be one of the few that justifies Traditional Base but if your route was very hilly then maybe Sweet Spot Base High volume.

There was a study last year that looked at the limits of human endurance, specifically what output you could maintain indefinitely. Ironman duration triathlons in this context were seen as 'sprints"! The limiter turned out to be how much food you could absorb rather than how much power you could put out. Working backwards for an 80kg person doing an 18hr day your power output was under 1W/kg. Remember this is for 18hrs/day for ever.

Z2 phase: 250w
SPB phase: 285w

I also went from 250w to 285w doing SSB (8 weeks?).

Not only is response going to be entirely individual, but also unique. You’ll have a different response the second time than the first.

As to the OP’s question, just read this:

  • The aerobic system acts like a vacuum cleaner, sucking up all the bad stuff that is produced by the anaerobic system. The stronger the vacuum cleaner the more anaerobic work can be done.
  • The stronger the aerobic system is, the more anaerobic energy can be sustained over the course of a race.
    …a relatively high aerobic capacity will help the athlete repeat high level training with less stress on the body

I did SSB MV1, and found that the volume was a little too much for this 66 yo at that intensity. . Currently Doing a modified SSB MV 2 with 3 SSB w/o per week and one 3+ hr endurance ride- currently indoors, but outside as soon as the weather improves. I did 10 + hr /week over the summer doing a polarized plan, at that intensity, I can handle the volume.

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Based on my my experience crossing the US (averaged 115 MPd for 30 days), Lots of zone 2 worked just fine. try for back to back 4-6hr rides on weekends and biggest days during the week that you can manage. Most of my training weeks leading up to the cross country trip were 20-28hrs of riding and it set me up to have fun and not suffer from fatigue on the trip.

I’ll finish SSB in time to start “going long” I’m doing a more leisurly pace, with most days in the 60 to 80 mile range, and just a handful of 100 mile days.

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