I read the threads similar to this topic but none answered my question directly. So here goes.
Last year my summer training plan was:
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - vo2 1-1.5 hrs
Wednesday - endurance 1-1.5 hrs
Thursday - 1-1.5 hrs sweet spot/tempo
Friday - rest
Saturday - 2-3 hours endurance/tempo
Sunday - 2-3 hours endurance/tempo
I saw very strong gains. By the end of the season I was the fastest I have ever been despite a brutal drawn out covid infection in June (2 weeks before my A race )
I am tentatively planning on doing the same thing, but considering doing a 4-5 hour ride on Saturdays and making Sundays a much shorter 1 hour recovery ride or another rest day.
Right now I am inclined to do the same as last year because I saw great gains and 2-3 hour rides are my favorite rides. That said, I am willing to sacrifice a little fun for one summer if it will lead to better performance at my A-race (a 6 hour gravel race).
Anyway, what would you do?
2-3 hour ride both saturday and sunday
4-5 hour ride saturday and a recovery ride/day off sunday.
Yes, I could for sure try it out to see how it affects me long term. I do a good job with fueling so maybe I am too worried with how tired I might feel Sunday. I always felt fine on Sunday rides last year so maybe an extra hour or two on saturday would be fine.
I would add a 1-2hr endurance ride on the Friday if you can, or extend all your shorter weekday rides by 30mins, or both. Firm believer that adding more volume will drive more adaptation, than manipulating current volume.
I’d keep doing what is the most fun to you and easiest to fit into your day. The endurance gains come from total volume, so moving one hour from your Saturday ride to your Sunday ride will likely not change much.
There might be a benefit from longer single rides, but I would maybe just schedule that so that every 2-4 weeks, you do an extra 1-2 hours, without shortening the other ride. For example, once a month you do 2.5h on Saturday, and 4h on Sunday. That will both increase your longest ride and your total volume.
To throw another spanner in the works. A. I’d definitely add a longer “smell the roses” ride. Especially if you enjoy it, it’s not boring and maybe it can be social. B. I’d also substitute a threshold ride in. Maybe something like.
EDIT: I find threshold harder than Vo2, if you’re the same and something like this is appealing, I’d consider switching the Vo2 and threshold workout so you’re more rested for the more challenging workout.
It is my understanding that most adaptions come from total volume and not as much from the length individual workouts (given they are not too short). But long workouts can provide specific training depending on your goals (including mental preparation, learning to fuel right etc.).
My personal experience is that 4-5 rider hour rides requires one to be much very vigilant about the correct fuelling and recovery compared to 2-3 hour rides which I find way more forgiving (even done on consecutive days).
My terminology will be a little off, my understanding one of the benefits from the long ride is ‘endurance’ adaptations to intermediate muscle fibers. Basically as you exercise at z2ish effort level your body is cycling through slow twitch muscle fiber groups and as the duration increases and the slow twitch fibers progressively ‘fatigue’ your body will start to engage intermediate fiber groups. When this occurs is going to depend on a variety of factors and training.
IMO, depending on ones training age, the 2-3 hr ride might be fine to get increased aerobic adaptions. But at some point its not enough stimulus to fatigue those slow twitch fibers and to get the desired stimulus and adaptions one is going to need to push out the duration of the long ride. The goal being more mitochondria, more mitochondrial enzymes (for fat metabolism), etc in the slow twitch and intermediate fibers.