I was a little hesitant on how to phrase this question, and hope it doesn’t devolve into another sweet spot vs Z2 thread, although I wouldn’t be surprised. And all of this is n=1, so I was really hoping to get more input. My training has stagnated this year and I’m not sure exactly why, but have some ideas for which I expect to get supremely roasted. Z2 just doesn’t work for me.
Let’s go back to winter 21/22, around November. Cross is over, I’ve taken a nice break, and I’m ready to get training. I work between 70-80 hours a week, which means I get between 6-8 hours on the bike. So what do I do? Sweet spot, and lots of it. Sticking with 90% of FTP, I simply did longer and longer intervals, working my way up to 4x20 and 3x30. I started with 3 workouts per week, then 2 per week with the longer intervals. The rest was easy riding, usually only an hour max per ride. I did this until Feb, then did a 2-week VO2 block, a recovery week, then some more sweet spot until end of April, when I transitioned to some threshold work. Road racing season was my best ever. I was hitting new PRs left and right, and my FTP had gone from 320 to 340 over the winter on the training above. But better than that, I had 3 wins and another two top 5s.
Fast forward to the most recent winter (22/23). I jumped on the Z2 bandwagon. But still with only 6-8 hours I had to train, I wasn’t sure how effective it would be. But it sure was mentally easier. I could hop on Zwift and ride for 1-2 hours. I tried to get in longer rides, but with my schedule and other life responsibilities, even hitting 3 hours on the weekend was difficult. So come April 2023, I was just not where I wanted to be. FTP was around 320-325, and I felt like I had no pop. And this racing season confirmed my fears. I had terrible results, either finishing off the back, or just not having anything left at the end. My best finish was 17th.
Now obviously there is more to the puzzle. But just looking at my winters, I had way better results with sweet spot. My thinking is that 8 hours per week of Z2 just isn’t enough to get any results. So I’m leaning towards going back to sweet spot this winter. Sweet spot was tougher mentally, but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle. And come spring I just felt way more prepared and itching to race.
So I guess my overall question is: with 8 hours per week, is sweet spot a better option for base? I feel like sweet spot has fallen out of favor or just gets sh!t on recently (here included weirdly). Everybody is doing Z2, or just “ride more” which isn’t an option. Or am I just out of luck with 8 hours per week?