Mary Austin = Struggle Street

Why do I find Mary Austin absolutely nails to complete. Manage to complete it but had to stop before the last two intervals.
Background = 300 FTP. Cycling for over a year now. Just started indoor training with TR. Previous riding was anywhere between 350-500kms a week with 800-1000 TSS.
What does me struggling with this workout tell me about what I need to get better at.

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It tells you you need to get better at belonging to a large group of people who’ve all been ass whooped by the infamous Mary.

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Unknown

:rofl:

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Okay, okay! Enough joking around…maybe…

From the workout description:

Threshold workouts like Mary Austin target both muscular endurance as well as lactate tolerance

Hopefully that should be a big enough hint what you need to get better at.

Also, I think a lot of people don’t think of workouts in the right way. They aren’t something to complete or accomplish as an ends, but as a means to train that certain aspect. It’s nearly 60min straight @ 100% FTP – that’s gonna be rough for anyone! You do Mary Austin to get better at muscular endurance, not because you want to get better at doing 60min 100% FTP intervals. You do Mary Austin to get better at lactate tolerance, not because you want it to be easy. Mary ain’t never gonna be easy!

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Yes… In all seriousness, it should be tough/hard but doable if you’re willing to suffer. Anything with an IF >=.90 is going to be serious work. On good days, you will suffer. On not so good days, you will really suffer and perhaps need a backspin, a pause towards the end. <-- This is not a failed workout!

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First, 10 minute blocks around threshold is gonna be hard. If you haven’t done many 15 or 20 minute sweetspot intervals recently, it going to feel like a long time and very fatiguing. Second, as a matter of mindset, the first 6 minutes of each interval are really the hard part. The last 4 should almost feel like recovery. Your HR may stay elevated, and legs keep burning, but it’s objectively getting easier. Third, make sure to keep your breathing controlled. Sweetspot and below I don’t really have to pay attention, but when I hit threshold getting a handle on my breathing makes a big difference. Fourth, try and keep your pedaling action clean, smooth, and efficient. And lastly, make sure you’re fueling for these high intensity efforts. I don’t need to fuel explicitly for many TR workouts, but learning how to identify the ones I need too is a process.

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Make sure you don’t go into it overly fatigued. Have proper fan, nutrition, hydration, and music. Bring your A game because MA is a biatch. It took me 4 tries in 4 years to nail it.

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I see it coming up on my schedule. Given I have yet to complete any 90 min over/under workout without grunting, standing, stopping, backpedalling, I have chosen to replace it with the 60 min version. We’ll see how it goes.

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I gotta say I LOVE mary austin in all its forms. I feel there’s a direct correlation for me. I do mary austin, I get stronger. She hurts so good and keeps me coming back for more. Just tried norman clyde this past friday, can’t say which I like better but I think they both have the same benefits. Complete this workout properly and the gains will come. I agree with @gcarver that the way down feels like recovery, which is funny to think that threshold and 95% are considered recovery in this context.

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Please, someone, correct me if I’m wrong, but as I understand standing is not an issue in a workout. the only time is not recommended is during the RampTest

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Nothing wrong with it. Makes the workout harder over the long haul, but I stand very briefly periodically throughout a lot of workouts just for a little butt break.

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500km per week? That’s crazy for someone so new.

What was the composition?

Ah crazy Mary… Took me almost a year to finally complete it… fitness and freshness needed to be very high in order to nail it, AND, i think i was over-reaching the previous year with my FTP setting. Finally “grew” into that FTP and was able to complete it.

I believe Nate has said numerous times that Mary Austin and Broken Finger are true “FTP validators” from a performance standpoint… if you hit it, “time to re-test!” and/or bump up your FTP by a few watts or a % or two.

To your question about what it tells you about what to get better at? IMO it’s that your FTP is your FTP… your Maximal Lactate Steady State (MLSS), but that it varies and can extend across time, or your Time-To-Exhaustion. Some people it’s FTP @ 40min, some @ even 70min. What do you need to improve? Basically, actually riding AT threshold for longer periods of time. We measure and validate our FTP based on our ability to complete a variety of %-of-FTP workouts that target different abilities and systems… M.A. and Broken Finger target threshold and supra-threshold work. It’s not V02 and it’s not SweetSpot… so, riding actually AT your set FTP and turning that into your operational/functional MLSS is a trainable performance goal & metric.

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I think the way you approach these workouts mentally makes a big difference.

I’ve found recently that I’ve nailed a bunch of the workouts (including MA) that I thought were going to be brutal, but really struggled through ones I thought would be a cruise.

MA is hard because it’s longish intervals involving a stretch above threshold. So, I guess you could say you need to get better at such intervals, but those are supposed to be hard. If they weren’t hard you did them at the wrong setting. Finding a really hard workout hard doesn’t mean you’re deficient in something specific.

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Should I do MA ERG mode or non ERG mode or does it matter? I did not complete last weeks work out Palisade finished 3 out of 5. Terrified doing MA on Sat. Need all the help I can and see how much I can do. Feel if I use ERG mode, when my cadence drop, it is impossible to recover the remaining interval.

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I would do MA in ERG mode. Personally I do all of my TR workouts in ERG.

If you have a good idea of your cadence range, you can really measure your effort and not get dragged down. I aim to increase my cadence by two RPM per step on the way up, and vice versa on the way back down. This does mentally help me to start recovering from the effort.

Good luck :+1:

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I often find on these that self selecting a sustainable cadence is best - and as it ramps up as @PusherMan says you should try increasing on the way up and on the way down but on the way down I wait until I feel the lesser resistance and bring it down slowly - I found that if I ease off too much too quickly it’s easier to bogged down and have to bring your cadence up again. So I try to smooth it out and adjust slowly. You kind of have to endure the burn and realise that relief will come …

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This is the ‘Make or Break’ element to workouts of this nature. Once you’ve accepted it mentally, it does get easier.

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Mary Austin is the best. If you ever need a workout to convince you that 95% feels like recovery, coming down on the backside of one of these intervals will do it.

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OMG. I did it after dragging and terrified this workout for the past week. I totally agree manage the mental side of it was more than half the battle. I kept telling myself I could done these intervals for running, I should be able to do it on the bike ( I’m new on cycling but had been running for a couple years). This really helped me get through majority of the intervals. Just before the last interval, I had to back paddle for a couple min as the one minute recovery not able to clear my lactate build up. But I recovered the last 8 min and finished strong. Carb loaded the day before and also before workout, and tool a GU gel at the half way point. Not sure if all these all helped or not but I wanted to be prepared. So glad I’m done with this workout and now move on to next week’s workout Leconte with some context of what I could tolerate.

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