Iñigo San Millán training model

Oh no, you have removed whole “magical” aspect out of it… do you tell me that I have to train a lot, and do hard work on the top of it? :wink:


surprising, isn’t it?

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I have my A event coming up in July. The event is 638 miles single stage unsupported event over a max of 3 days. It has 40,000ft of ascent , most it towards the western end.

The 5 or 6 hour ride isn’t epic , it’s my weekly bread and butter long ride. The long weekly ride tends to be 2-3 hours over winter, extends to 3-4 hours as we move out of winter, then extends to 5-6 hours as move out of spring. Once a month I’ll throw in a 10-11 hour ride / event.

I’ve only just started adding in the VO2 max work twice a week. Before that it was just once a week. I find that 8 weeks or so of increased vo2 max work is more than enough to get the gains for my A race without breaking my body.

I’ve tried to read the study but to be honest it might as well be written in Chinese as far as I’m concerned. In simple terms could someone please explain what the benefits are of completing a longish workout is without having depleted your glycogen stores? Does it just help with the recovery process or are their other benefits?

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I’m going to try and parse the opening paragraph in the Discussion section:

"Confirming our hypothesis, our data demonstrate that CHO feeding during prolonged endurance exercise does not alter IMTG and glycogen utilisation in either type I or type II/IIa muscle fibres. Moreover, we also present novel data on the subcellular-specific changes in IMTG content and LD morphology during exercise, in that we observed for the first time that IMTG content was reduced in both the peripheral and central regions of both fibres, an effect independent of CHO feeding. The reduction of IMTG content was a function of a reduction in LD number in both type I and IIa fibres, whereas a reduction in LD size was only evident in type I fibres. In accordance with similar absolute glycogen utilisation and depletion, CHO feeding did not attenuate activation of acute cell signalling pathways with regulatory roles in modulation of skeletal muscle mitochondrial biogenesis. Finally, CHO feeding improved exercise capacity in a dose dependent manner, an effect likely to be related to maintenance of circulating glucose availability and whole-body rates of CHO oxidation.

Here is my attempt, and as a caveat I have no actual training in physiology:

  1. Ingesting carbs (eating carbs / carb feeding) during long exercise does not change the amount of stored fatty acids and glycogen that are used as fuel.

In other words, you are going to deplete stored fuel in muscles (both fats and sugars), regardless of what you eat during exercise.

  1. Some first time technical discussion around the use of stored fatty acids in muscle fibers, and independence from carb feeding.

In other words, carb feeding does not impact adaptations leading to gains in metabolic fitness (adaptations that generate more mitochondria mass “mitochondria biogenesis”).

  1. Ingesting carbs improved exercise capacity.

Didn’t read enough to comment on this one.

Somebody with a background in exercise physiology should chime in and correct my understanding.


And I parsed it during a long and frustrating meeting at work.

Updated caveats: distracted and no background in physiology.

My take is that it supports what San Millan has been saying - that fasted rides don’t work.

fasted rides are not necessarily low-glycogen rides

  • training with low glycogen has generated quite some buzz over last few years
  • studies suggested that training low augments endurance adapation to a higher degree than exercising “fully loaded”
  • the most recent studies suggest (including this) that it is not necessary to train with low glycogen. Elevated signals for endurance adaptions seem to be the result of how low you end a session, not how low you are during the session
  • this may be one of the reasons why long endurance rides work

big caveat with all this train low literature, it’s always just about signals, not about how these signals get expressed. big caveat.


Many thanks guys. It’s made it a lot clearer. Looks like I might have wasted 3 years or so a few years back doing a lot of fasted rides.

This isn’t seasonal. It is a noticeable change in my upper legs over 8 months of consistent zone2 training. I’m tall and don’t have particularly large legs, not like guys that built leg size via squatting. Mine are on the right side of this pic from last week:

Back in 16-17 my weekly cycling was 6.75 hours/week vs 7.75 hours/week now, but much higher intensity training back then (avoided zone2 in 16-17). FTP peaked back then at 280 vs ~260 now without having done many intervals to raise FTP. Legs are larger, gained over 2" between then and now, and gained almost 1" after I stopped heavy lifting for hypertrophy in August 2020. Those are the numbers, biggest difference between then and now is more z2 (and tradeoff is more time per week). And I’m four years older at fifty nine now, not exactly an age known for peaking athletically :wink:

Elevated signals for endurance adaptions seem to be the result of how low you end a session, not how low you are during the session

In that case it would seem that starting with reduced glycogen levels would indeed be beneficial. You would only need to ride for (say) 2 hours instead of (say) 4 hours to end the session equally “low”

Hey folks, I too have been doing a lot of zone 2 work, I’m a distance runner and I try to get in two zone 2 sessions + one interval session every eight days or so. My max heart rate is around 193bpm, and I tend to do my zone 2 sessions between 160-163bpm, which puts me right at 1.8mmol, as measured by my Lactate Plus monitor.

My question is more around easy running though: I’ve found through measurement that if I’m averaging 145bpm on a run, my lactate levels are consistently at 1.5mmol. This seems way too high, despite 75% of max heart rate being considered in the “easy” zone by most coaches. For people who train by lactate, what do you do your easy runs at? Should your lactate levels be higher than baseline (say ~0.9mmol) on/after an easy run?

Starting low requires withholding carbs from the previous session. I see this critical, too many indications for a negative impact on bone health. May be an option for a 2-a-days (which I do often myself) but everything longer may lead to underfuelling and its associated negative consequences. This seems like chasing the last 0.5% but missing out the other 99.5%. If time limited I’d rather up the the intensity and recover well after each session. And do this more frequently. In the end there is no substitute for volume. Empty your tank frequently, reload it frequently. And this is just one mechanism for why volume works. You have the mechanical aspect as well. It’s simply the number of contractions and the associated shear stress in vascular system that contributes as well.


One can’t stress this enough!
Of course we are all motivated and we are interested in training principles and what kind of training / stimulus may be optimal for us / for our situation / for our current status and aim. And - a week has so much more hours than we train (and work) and so in our recovery time we read and write in forums like this one here.

That’s all fine as long one doesn’t lose him or herself in trying out all these things on a repeated basis every two days and to chase some gospel. No - it should purely be used for entertaining ourselves and get information and new impulses all the while we trust the process and just ride quite a lot. And do it consistently. Don’t chase fads… ^^

Just seen this on Twitter that seems to indicate that in certain circumstances, training fasted may give the same or slightly better results than carbing up. The study was in active but untrained individuals so would be of more interest to anyone starting training for the first time.

Hummm, interesting…

I recently started to play with HRV Logger (plus Polar H10) and measured my LT1 at roughly 212-215W (sigh, much much lower than you…) at 131bpm and it felt like work at the higher end, just like you, quite a job for the lungs!
I wanted to verify it on the road a bit and I did a 4h ride on a rolling terrain with aim to shoot at just below 200W and at least 100rpm, the higher the better. And maybe that was the combination of both at the same time, constant watts close to the LT1 ceiling and higher cadence than usual, but after 3h, it started to feel labourus and I was rather fatigued.
I don´t have a lactate testing (besides, what do you use please?) so I was checking Alpha 1 levels on my phone in the HRV Logger - it stayed nicely above 0.75 for most of the time, except some steeper climbs in the end of the ride…
All in all, I think this model is really usable as a very high Z2 training and I will try to gradualy add time… hoping I am not going to dig a bit too deep :slight_smile:

My first outdoor test was actualy rather promising, I got less than 1% of artifacts and the overall HR + RPM was nicely in line with Alpha 1 values… but I think a really steady tempo is key there…

Hi all, yesterday during my long ride, as I was checking my HR constantly, I was thinking about manualy correct the Garmin zones - as I tried to stay on closely, but below LT1… and it got me thinking that HR zones on my Garmin doens´t correlate much… it is set up like:
Z1: 88-104 (grey)
Z2: 105-122 (blue)
Z3: 123-139 (green)
Z4: 140-157 (orange)
Z5: over 157 (red)
I am rather visual and I like those colours (that are showed on my Garmin), so I would like to set them up according to my 131 LT1 - what would be your advise hot to set it?
I am thinking about intensity up to LT1 as “green” so lowest values grey, blue 90-? green ?-130, orange 130-156 (supposedly my LTHR) and orange above?
Any thoughts?