It's been a great year but this forum has me thinking about sustainable power...a lot

Anybody got any thoughts/experience about how to target…oh, I don’t know, let’s say 5 hour power? :wink: Or just generally, extended periods of sustainable power?

It’s been an outstanding summer for me…thanks in no small part to TR. 5 races, 5 podium finishes…including podium finishes (one victory even! gasp) in gravel 100 mile events. Something that has eluded me in the past.

As the focus moves away from the summer season and onto ‘what’s next’ many things that I’ve read on this forum about what power can be sustained for an extended period of time has really got into my head. Not that it’s a major topic on this forum but it’s one that really applies to what I want to do. That, along with my relative performance in the Hour Challenge earlier this year has convinced me I just really suck at sustaining a material portion of my TR MAP-test derived FTP. Even though that’s the thing I should most be targeting.

One thing the Hour Challenge taught me is that there are many folks on this site who can legit crank out their TR MAP-test derived FTP for an hour. Or at least come close. Ok, so maybe some ppl tested, completed sweet spot base (or something), then cranked out an hour at their previously tested FTP. An hour at even my first ever TR tested FTP was out of the question in my case. Seems like my TR MAP-tested FTP went up over 50W but my sustainable power moved up only a very little bit…which I think is not typical among TR users.

And really, given next year’s goals it doesn’t really matter if my TR MAP-test derived FTP amounts to 4x my bodyweight. It would be much better to hold a pedestrian 250W for 12 hours. Yikes. I could do some real damage if I could do that. So for the next little while I’m going to concentrate a lot less on increasing my TR MAP-test derived FTP and a lot more on closing the gap between that number and the power I can sustain for an extended period of time.


Following this thread. Moving to gravel racing as my main focus I am looking at ways to really crank out some good wattage for long periods of time. Some thing I am going to try this fall for a span of 8 weeks is put a plan together doing a lot of threshold work for 15-25 minutes and testing at the end of each 4 week period to see if I can hold maybe 85% of FTP over an hour and see if it increases and how much over the 8 weeks. Ok test first, then move through 3 weeks and test end of week 4 which will be the rest week, then move through 3 weeks and test again at the end of the week 8 rest week. Not sure how much of a response I’ll get in 8 weeks but just something I concocted up to try🤷‍♂️. The move into my off season.

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I have done it w/long tempo intervals. Check out Cumberland, Gibraltar, Polar Bear, Phoenix. I am sure there are others, but those are ones that come to mind. If you aren’t used to long intervals, you might want to start w/2x20 at ~85% FTP and progress them to 2x25, 2x30, 3x20, etc., until you can do the longer aforementioned workouts. Before you know it, you’ll be knocking out Polar Bear (2hrs 80-85%) no problem. Then, you just keep on going and going and going.


Honestly, the time when I was legitimately averaging threshold for over an hour was a couple of years ago when I was using a dumb trainer and racing on zwift. It was a bit of a process to get to that point. At that time I was doing 265 for over an hour. Unfortunately I lost all momentum when I got a nasty cold from my son and then have other life stuff. I haven’t really tried to do that since I got my Hammer and really got all in with TR, but I may try and incorporate that a bit more after CX season, because it was pretty awesome to be able to ride at that level for so long.


Thought about this a lot recently, and currently of the opinion (influenced by Frank Overton) that my approach is going to be regular interval work during the week, and then doing longer and longer sweet spot rides on the weekend.


Maybe stating the obvious, but I’ve found that long tempo rides are key to extending your ability to ride at tempo for 4-5 hours. I do a lot of tempo during “base”, basically working up to 5+ hour Saturday rides w np at lower end of tempo. Try to get in a couple more tempo rides during week. This kind of base fitness won’t win you any crits, but it’s a very good start for gravel racing or marathon mtb


If you are a WKO4/O5 user, given your goals, the two key metrics I would focus on are TTE and Stamina. Time to Exhaustion (TTE) is basically a measure of [short term] fatigue resistance - how long you can hold your FTP. When I reach a new FTP level, my TTE drops to low 30s. I then include in my training plan progressive intervals in zone. It’s similar to what @KickrLin described, except that all would be done at Sweet Spot (88-94), Threshold (95-99) and over/unders (95-105). The sweet spot work, for example, I started at 3x10 and progressed to 4x20 (my plan was to get to 4x30, but family travel got in the way and then I moved on to above threshold work). There’s a great WKO4 video on Fatigue Resistance. I consistently get my TTE to 63-65 mins executing the protocol. And where it plays out is in both long hill climbs and multi-hour events.

Another important metric of fatigue resistance is Stamina. Stamina is a measure of fatigue resistance, but over multiple hours - how flat your PDC tail is. It’s on a scale of 1-100. Typically mid season when I set a new FTP (or more accurately, when WKO4 determines a new modeled FTP), my stamina will drop to mid 70s. It’s not scientific, but I get it back into the 80s through long, hard rides (50-100mi/ 5k-12ft). Last Saturday, for example, I PRed a local 102mi/11k century to 7hrs (age 61) using the above approach.

If you are so inclined, Allen/Coggan/McGregor’s Training + Racing with a Power Meter is an excellent resource (in addition to the WKO4 video(s)). Chapter 13 has a very useful section on Fatigue Resistance (although there’s lots of prior material in the book that you will need to understand to make that section useful for you).


and direct link to download the slides presented in YouTube video:

Good stuff. Anyone can benefit from applying the base/build/specialty principles outlined in slides 21-37. You don’t need the WKO software or Training + Racing book. I haven’t been cycling that long, to my eye these are established training principles presented from Tim Cusack’s point-of-view. Every coach will have their own spin on applying it.


What I was going to suggest as a target.

Pioneer +3 = 45 minutes at 95%-100% (1 hr workout)
Cumberland +2 = 60 minutes at 90%-95% (1.25 hr workout)
Phoenix +2 = 75 minutes at 90%-95% (1.5 hr workout)
Polar Bear +1 = 105 minutes at 85%-90% (2 hr workout)
Gibraltar +2 = 105 minutes at 90%-95% (1.75 hr workout)

Bump up intensity 3%-5% if you want to get closer to FTP.

Other options include time trial simulations like the Dunderberg and Unicorn families. Or pick a long SS workout like Marcus Baker or Wright Peak and bump up the intensity around 9%. That should get you near FTP.


do the 40k TT specialty plan.


I’d recommend stacking sweet spot work progressively. I did SSB and GB HV last winter and got a good FTP boost but lacked sustained power for longer efforts. Started spending more time in SS and ended an 8 week block pushing .85 for north of 4 hours (~280 @ 320 FTP). I’d typically do a 2+ hr SS interval workout and then tack on a ~1.5-2hr Zwift ride at SS intensity to keep things interesting.

Even with a couple bouts of sickness this spring and early summer and less sweet spot, the muscular endurance is still there from long rides. Just did ~250NP for 6hrs a couple weeks ago (Avg was ~230w but 9k ft of climbing in 115 miles will do that…). I do still plan one SS interval session with a 1.5-2hrs TIZ each week or every other depending on the block.

Currently on the fence about getting back on TR before the pricing window closes tomorrow because I didn’t find a plan that suits my needs and keeps me engaged for these high volume (not TR HV) blocks.


Numbers are from memory so might be off…During his SmartStop years maybe just prior…Eric Marcotte did an average of 285W for 8 hours. I know a little of what he was doing back then and all I can say OMG! Totally blown away at the amount of tempo/SST before and after interval sessions. No letting up. Always pushing the pedals hard.

250W average for 12 hours is mind numbingly huge. Best of luck! Just make sure you are really really stable on that machine. Stay up with the core.

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Thanks everybody, for several solid ideas. I feel like there are some tools in the toolbox now, for sure.

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this thread, and your earlier hour challenge, have me thinking of going for the Cal Triple Crown or maybe even the Thousand Mile Club in 2020… I will get the jersey in the next year or two!

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This is fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

This is a topic of high interest for me. And I’m just as “confused” on how to prepare for these long events when ridden competitively. Will post more on this later, just wanted to share this as this is related to the “fatigue resistance” presentation above (same author). Must admit - I came across this presentation a long time ago - and I always struggled to make practical use of it.

Later more on my personal take …

Sounds pretty good to me! If you pay attention to it, what does your heart rate do during such a workout? Not in absolute numbers (although that if you care to disclose) but just in terms of % drift from the beginnin of SS to the end of the SS workout.

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I don’t pay super close attention to HR but the drift is maybe 5-10%. I typically see high 140s to 160ish depending on how close to threshold I am. My max is ~190.


Something that helped me massively in being able to put down power for long periods of time outside, and especially in competition when you can’t always set the pace, is to work a lot on flexibility and core strength. Good foam rolling and resistance band work really helps reduce the onset of fatigue.


every time I do Polar Bear +1 notifies me that my estimated FTP went up. :hot_face: