A nearly month-long summer family vacation left me fairly out of shape at the same time that I wanted to begin a long Z2 base block. I couldn’t stomach riding those low wattages for months, so I leaned on the fact that V02 workouts usually help me gain fitness quickly. Instead of just sticking to endurance, I started doing this each week:
- A single 60min V02 workout
- 4 to 5 days (60-90min per day) of higher range endurance (ISM, talk test, ~70% max HR, yada yada…). Limited carbs.
- Total bike time of 6.34 hours per week (as much as my life allows). Hardly any rides over 90 min. Being away from work and family for more than 90min at a time is a rare treat, and not really an option for me.
The results have been very encouraging:
- The main goal of increasing the endurance wattage has been accomplished (199W → 233W, and still feels easy.
- Went from a V02 PL of 4.4 at an FTP setting of 300 to a V02 PL of 8.3 at an FTP setting of 310.
- With two kids in grade school, I ALWAYS get sick this time of year (perhaps I was fatigued from intensity), but not this time. I don’t feel fatigued at all.
- 82kg → 79kg
- Finished my 13th week of this without a single “recovery week.” I feel just as fresh and rested as I did in the first week, if not better. Improvement has been remarkably linear, and I don’t see any signs of plateauing - yes, I know that I will eventually, maybe soon. And it will have to end soon, as I have a surgery scheduled two weeks from now that will take me off the bike for a while.
Curious to hear others’ thoughts on this. Feels like this has been effective way to do base training.
Can you say more about what your VO2 workout looks like?
Started with ~1m on/offs for the first 8 weeks (San Joaquin/Ansel Adams variants).
Then moved to 3 min intervals for 4 weeks (~120% - Spencer +2 and more difficult ones) - changing it up just looking for variety and hopefully getting some new adaptations.
Did a 5x5’ workout today @ 112%-115%. Being conservative on the FTP setting, hence the high PLs. AIFTP wants it higher, but that’s based on ramp test data, which isn’t a great indicator for me.
I asked because over the fall I did a plan that was, like you mentioned, basically lots of Z2, with usually 1-2 workouts with some intensity, but it was usually a very small part of the total volume even on that given day. So, for example:
T: 90-120 minutes, with maybe 4x4 TE/TH and the rest Z2
W: 90-120 Z2 (possibly with a couple short sprints or short VO2)
TH: 90-120 Z2
Sat: 2-3 hours with maybe 5x8 Tempo or something similar and the rest Z2
Sun: 3 hours Z2
I did that for a few months and lost 10% of my total bodyweight (keto and IF, very low carbs and no ride fuel other than electrolyte tabs). I also saw my FTP sit mostly flat, even with the weight loss, and had very low fatigue. I took a few 4-5 day breaks due to travel and had one time that I pushed up the hours too fast. I’m extremely happy with the results and it goes against pretty much everything I was doing before (as much intensity as I could handle and lots of sugar). One thing I notice that you and I did very differently is that I’ve been sitting at the bottom of Z2 instead of trying to push it up. I do this to keep fatigue low but volume high.
I like what you did. Would love to stretch out a couple of the weekend endurance rides, but usually don’t have that opportunity. The lower endurance intensity is understandable since your total endurance hours are higher.
One of the keys for me is to never get to a state that I feel wrecked, which I could do, even with endurance rides, if I don’t fuel at all. I just fuel the minimum that it takes to make the endurance rides feel easy. I fully fuel the intensity day.
I like having the one weekly hour of intensity because I think it pulls up floor of what feels easy, and you can do all the endurance work at higher wattage.
But easily the best part of your week is the Friday description, ha! Don’t read that one too fast.
I won’t take credit for the plan structure, btw, I was following a Join plan.
Alas, intensity and buckets of carb mix have already stolen my heart. This foray into the cult of Z2 is but a fling, a temporary moment of insanity, if you will.
I’ve had a similar story. I posted a litle while ago about the influence of life stress and taking a 3 week break completely off the bike. My anecdotal experience is quite similar to yours.
I feel generally much better.
My energy is better.
My motivation is better.
My ability to absorb life is better.
I don’t think I’ve made any super meaningful increases in FTP, PLs, or PBs on the road.
But from where I was, to where I am in terms of enjoyment and general feeling is night and day different.
I might add that I’ve had some very positive comments from mates on the group ride that I’m looking in good shape, so that’s something!
I’ve also increased my duration to 12+ hours/week for the last 7 weeks in a row and I still feel amazing when I used to feel dead if I pushed far past 7.
Similar to Pbase, I’ve been keeping my Z2 quite low. I’ve followed the advice of a few influences over on twitter and I’m happy with that so far.
If there’s one thing I miss, it’s allowing myself to get out and do a good 3 hr tempo+ ride on sundays. I think I’ll test the waters and try one this week - weather is going to be perfect for it, wish me luck!
Very interested in all of this. My Olán just started on Monday after taking 3 weeks off the bike and all the SS work is alittle daunting.
My body typically responds really well to V02 workouts (and I prefer them over SS). Seriously debating canning my plan and doing polarized for the next 8 weeks.
After fracturing my jaw last fall, I couldn’t fuel enough to enable high intensity training for a couple of months. So I ended up naturally developing a plan almost identical to what you did, and guess what, I got stronger than ever, finally cracking 4w/kg and finally landed on the podium of my annual local gravel race that I use a measuring stick of fitness each year. All I did was slowly ratchet up the endurance ride intensity so I was eventually at “tempo” or higher zone for longer and longer. Hit so many PRs in training leading up to the race, plus I generally felt great physically and mentally.
In contrast, I switched up my training during the summer back to a TR plan, and let me tell you, when I got hammered by successive threshold and VO2 workouts during Specialty phase (leading up to my end of year event), I felt completely burnt and had to dial it back to what had been working earlier in the spring (“my plan”), but at that point I was ready for the season to be over asap.
That said, I’m sticking with what worked and not going to allow myself to get overloaded again. I am loving the 6ish hr per week with only about 1 hr being VO2 or threshold. Otherwise I’m just going to keep tapping away at high endurance/tempo and slowly crank it up over the winter/spring.
Steady rather than epic FTP improvements but overall I’m happy with my progress utilising HV Pol build.
I was certainly feeling fatigued during last week which coincided with a rest week and a week off work. Back to commuting today and a Vo2 max tomorrow and I’m pleased to have shaken off the fatigue.
I have found the subscribed threshold and Vo2 workouts are not hard enough and so far I have found the correct level of alternative workout which I’m able to complete and still be compliant while emptying my tank.
The weight is dropping off in a sustainable way although the rate of loss has started to slow. If I can tweak my diet to keep the .5/1lb a week while the FTP keeps improving is the initial aim. Although my overall focus is FTP and my view is any excess fat can be sorted during the summer. Oh and I’ve abstained from alcohol. So while my experience is anecdotal I believe every aspect has helped to move my training to a more sustainable footing.
My current thinking is to follow on with another 8 week build after this 2nd 8 week build block and then complete the masters rolling road race.
I’m not sure if 4w/kg is attainable by next Spring but it’s something to aim for and helps me stay off the wine and unhealthy food