HR spikes and never comes down too easily, what plan to choose?

I have been riding with a power meter and a smart trainer for almost 4 years now and I haven’t been doing any structured training. I completed the century specialty phase(low volume) last fall with 100% compliance. Now I have completed SSB LV 1(100% compliance) and currently in the 2nd half of SSB LV 2.

Coming to my issue, I live in Nova Scotia which has a rolling terrain. The climbs are not so long but they are short(30 seconds to 1.5 minutes long) and sometimes steep. My FTP is 293w(3.9w/kg) and I am 19 years old so I have a max heart rate of 206 based on my latest ramp test. My heart rate in my zone 2(power) is usually around 130-150(indoors) and 140-155(outdoors). On outdoor endurance rides, I usually average around 145bpm to 155bpm. The reality is that it is not possible to stay in zone 2 while riding outdoors as the terrain forces me to push pretty hard on climbs. Taking an instance of approaching a climb, I am approaching the climb while in zone 2(power) where my HR is around 145-155bpm and when I start pushing close to my FTP, my HR spikes up to 170+ bpm. I don’t remember explicitly training for short bursts so could this be the issue? Oh, and what build phase/plans should I follow? I am stuck between all three build phases as all of them address the short bursts component. My goals are to improve my average speed outdoors, reduce the HR spikes and nail those 3+ hour rides without much fatigue.

The plans which I thought of are(format: base phase->build phase >specialty phase):-

a) SSB LV1 + LV 2 -> Sustained power build -> century
b) SSB LV1 + LV2 -> General build -> century
c) SSB LV1 + LV2 -> Short Power build -> Crit specialty

Do I also need to work on my aero position? How big of a difference it can make in having a higher average speed outdoors? Lastly, I rode with other riders and noticed that they don’t shift into the smaller chainring when going up a short climb. Instead, they usually grind their way through. Is this normal?.

From what I understand of it, it sounds like you’re on the right track with base phase. As you increase your base aerobic abilities your body returns to a lower HR faster and more consistently. Perhaps look into aerobic decoupling to make better sense of it (see https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/how-to-use-aerobic-decoupling/ ) Short sharp efforts like what you’re talking about tend to ramp up the HR and take longer to recover. If you’re hitting them over and over again, your body will find it hard to get back into a steady state (your Z2 HR).

As for training, I would think option B will be most useful. General build will have more VO2/anaerobic work, which it sounds like you’ll need.

As for getting aero, yes. You’ll be surprised how much being able to hold an aero position for longer and longer durations will make a difference in average speed.

As for powering through short climbs vs shifting into the small chainring, that may be down to personal preference. On climbs of less than 2 minutes, I’d probably power over it (out of the saddle) if it was the only one, but multiple climbs like that would put me in the red pretty quick if they’re frequent.

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From that article, our heart rate keeps spiking to keep up with high power outputs which makes sense now. I guess I will go with option B then and getting aero is somewhat uncomfortable for me because I have never tried that before.

As for climbs, there are multiple short climbs and if it is something like 4% or more then I might have to shift to the small chainring. One thing I noticed is that it is very easy to go over your FTP on outdoor climbs as opposed to zwift climbs. Thanks for the reply!

How long are the climbs as far as duration and how frequent are they?

As for getting aero, TR is a great place to practice. If you have the time, I like doing rides like West Vidette, Birch, Black, Homer’s Nose and (of course) Baxter. I don’t really follow the cadence drills, but spend the mini blocks in different positions (in the drops, hands on the tops, aero tuck, out of the saddle, etc.) As you get used to holding the position, you can build up to longer and longer times in aero. Because they’re low enough intensity, you can focus just on position.

The climbs occur every 2 to 5 kilometers and they range from being 4 seconds to 10 seconds long with an average gradient of 4%.

When it comes to indoor endurance rides, I mostly join zwift group rides as I rarely get the motivation to do solo endurance rides. Since I am drafting others on zwift, I don’t feel like getting aero(just a psychological aspect). As of now, I am practicing the aero position on the planned workouts.