Rebuilding plan - From gran fondo to Zwift racing

Hello everyone!

All of the gran fondos that I meant to do this summer have been canceled and I’m just about to enter build phase next week for the first time. I was thinking about changing my current plan to better suit Zwift racing… which is probably the only kind of racing that I’ll be doing this year :sob:

Should I leave it as is until next year or should I work on something else that better suits the new racing style? Would it be better to work on my weakness while I can?

Please let me know if similar posts exist, I didn’t find any.

Cheers from Italy.

I’m sort of in a similar boat (we all are, I suppose) but with road racing. I’m new to Zwift racing this week and I can certainly see the appeal! I will remain a TrainerRoad user as I believe in their training plans, workouts and progression, but am enjoying the “distraction” Zwift provides when trying to get in 90+ minute sessions day in, day out on the trainer.

I was just getting into a mid volume specialty phase when all this started to go down and switched to high volume sweet spot I. I’ve switched in a couple sessions here and there with a Zwift race. Most of the races are pretty short so I’m either doing some sweet spot work before or after (or both) the race. Those short races offer lots of super high end work, so I’m sort of getting a fairly balanced training plan than just the sub-threshold bias that the sweet spot plans offer (especially the high volume ones).

One thing that is different this go around of sweet spot training for me is that it isn’t coming after an offseason break where my FTP dropped, so I’m doing all these sessions at higher power. Hopefully it translates into results this Fall (and on Zwift right now!).

Good luck!

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One of the great things about zwift racing is there are so many and so many types. You can pick ones that support your current training goals, you can pick ones that favor your strengths, do some that favor your weaknesses, long ones, short ones, etc. And if you find races can get a little too intense there are some hard group rides and fondos that end up being pseudo-races. The power ups (and courses) also differentiate from real world and you can try some out-of-the-box tactics. And if it doesn’t work there is always the next race to try it in.

In terms of formats:

  • Group start races are the ‘standard’ race. So pick a course that contains the type of efforts you want to practice. 20+min - pick a course that goes over the big Innsbruck climb or the Epic KOM or up Alpe de Zwift, 5+ min - pick a hilly London course or the Volcano climb, 1+min - forward KOM, some of NYC, Richmond.
  • Cat / Mouse races start by group, D first, then C, then B, then A, and the goal is to work together with your group to chase down the group in front of you. These are a lot of fun and less cut throat as you really needs to work together to move as fast as possible to pull back the group in front of you and hold off the group behind.
  • Time trails - if you want to blast out a steady 20 - 60min, go for one of these. The new format starts riders off every couple of seconds so there are rabbits to chase and also you can be the rabbit if that motivates you too.
  • ‘Masters’ races - Don’t think they are slow because they are grouped by age group instead of wkg. These races might be harder, but there is an interesting tactical difference if you get into a group with people in different age brackets and depending on the composition of the groups in front of and behind you.
  • Group rides / races - There are some events that start as group rides and have a finishing race segment. There is time to warm up and chat and ride at the proscribed power level before everyone gets unleashed at the end.
  • Fondos - Fondo events now have race categories, but you can also do the group ride portion and there will always be a high pace group to try to stick with. There aren’t really attacks, but there is a hard group ride attrition effect that slowly occurs during the event.

Length:

  • Short (20ish min or less) - There seem to be a lot of these and I find them really hard. They are just flat out. I recorded my highest ever 5 min power in a race that was 11min. I thought it was going to be easy. How wrong I was.
  • Medium (20 - 75 min) - Plenty of these around. I’d pick a course that suits the kind of efforts you are trying to replicate.
  • Long (75+ min) - Mostly on the weekends, there are some long races you can find. KISS has a race on Sunday that depending on the course can be 2:15 - 2:45 for the As. If you want to rack up 180TSS in a little over two hours or spend 2 hours averaging sweet spot, this is the race for you. There are also some longer climbing races on the weekends on Saturdays and Sundays if you want to get in some long sweet spot or threshold efforts.

If you haven’t done a build phase before, I would run through it just for the experience. I’m sure it will have a positive effect on zwift racing. Try a race or two and figure out if it makes sense to either augment your training plan or replace one of the workouts. I would also experiment with different courses. I’m a light TT-style climber but in the past did courses that do not suit me as they force me to work on my weakness and were also an opportunity to try some out-of-the-box attacking. Until I tried them I would not have thought a flat course would have been any fun to race on.

I would check out zwiftpower and search the events. You can filter to just races and then also filter by the duration and the amount of climbing and usually find something that fits your needs. It might not be when you want it to be, but there usually is something.

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I’d like to thank both for your answers.

@Craig_G this information is gold, especially the route suggestions to fit the type of effort you’re after. It will be easier to swap some workouts with Zwift events in the future.

My main doubt is… should I now go for SBMV or GBMV? Plan builder had selected sustained power… but that was meant for the gran fondos :sob: I am trying to understand where my weakness lies, but looking at the W/Kg Coggan chart I see a flat line… So I guess that due to my “amazing :joy:” 255W FTP (to be retested on Tuesday) and 70Kg they may all be weaknesses.

So sustained power or general power build? :thinking:

Personal opinion of a random dude on the internet is I would go sustained power build every time. Anaerobic conditioning can be done relatively quickly. Improvements to endurance and sustained power take longer and I think are more applicable to your cancelled Fondos. For real world riding and zwift, it never hurts to be able to sustain more power. :slight_smile:

Even for Zwift races where the selection occurs on a short 1-2 min climb, I rather have a higher FTP than well developed anaerobic system. The anaerobic condition helps in the climb and maybe a little after and possibly with repeatability. The higher FTP helps with the lead-in, as you’ll be further under threshold, it helps on the climb as you’ll be less over threshold, and it helps after as you’ll be further under threshold and can recover better.

My power profile is not flat and I am much better at 5-20+min efforts. If we were the same wkg, did a race with a big climb and got to the end together, you’d have a much better chance of beating me than the other way around. Just depends on your perspective, either you are equally weak or equally strong across the board. I’d lean towards the latter view.

One caution I would mention about zwift racing is to pay attention to your body and don’t over do it. I dug myself into a hole a couple of times prior to embracing the structure of TR with too much zwift racing. Its a lot of fun and I found that I would sometimes go too deep and do too many races and build up too much fatigue. But it is also a lot of fun and a zwift race was where I learned for the first time what it was like to really go deep.

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Same here. What do you think is best, keeping mid volume plan and switching a workout to a race or changing to low volume and add races?

Its one of those where there is no set perfect answer. Personally I find that I’m good for a solid workout, such as 2x20 with a 20 second attack every 4:40 (so you get four attacks within the 20 min efforts) or a 10@95/5@100% x2 workout and two Zwift races. The rest of my work has been longer endurance rides or recovery. If I wasn’t racing twice I’d do two workouts.

You need to see how you recover, how hard are the races, etc. Like if you’re constantly above threshold its going to be a lot harder then if you aren’t. Sorry its not the best answer but its best to play around with it.

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