Tips for pacing over/unders outside?

I am doing pretty well with pacing my outside rides, except with respect to over/unders. I had Reinstein yesterday. I seem to be able to pace the over intervals okay, though I often end up over the power target on the earlier over intervals. Where I am really struggling is the unders – I find maintaining 95% challenging. I either have a tendency to go too hard or two easy. Just sitting right at 95% is something that I am finding quite difficult.

Any tips for pacing these? I have 5s power on my display and am thinking of adding average power too.

Usually for outside workouts they give you a target range, as long as you stay in that range I wouldn’t worry too much.
When I warm up before something like that outside. I’ll do a 3 minute effort at 95% to see what my cadence and RPE is. Other than that, look at the ranges they give you for each interval. Every “energy system” is a range and being a little under or over isn’t that big of a deal, IMO. You’ll get better the more you do them outside.

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They do give me a range and that’s what I’m having trouble staying within unfortunately. Even though it is a 20w range, it is still giving me fits.

I would start riding some 94-95% upper sweetspot / lower threshold intervals outside to get the feel. Then pick O/U that fits an outside route such as the criss-cross surge style like Mesachie et Al.

Or ride traditional 95/105 inside in resistance mode and shifting to tune in on the number of clicks needed to (assuming the outside terrain is fairly even in gradient).

However - I don’t think there’s is any magic in doing something hard for a minute or two and then something almost as hard for the same amount of time. The workout protocols are simply a way to make the indoor riding a bit more interesting and outside I would rather ride at threshold, and let the gradient differences decide over vs under (but still making sure not to drift too far away from target).

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Maybe try finding an alternate with longer unders and shorter overs. 3minutes under and 1 minute over.

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This makes a ton of sense to me. I have McCadie +1 scheduled for this week and it would be far easier from at least a pacing standpoint to aim for my FTP of 269 for 12 minutes than to try to alternate between two ranges in 1.5 minute increments. One of my beefs with the protocols for the outdoor rides is that they seem to include features of the indoor rides that are designed to make things on the indoor rides more interesting but those features just make the outdoor ride experience annoying.

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I’d say/ask:

  1. Are you doing your indoor sessions with ERG mode? If so, change it. Try to achieve the power targets by yourself, it’ll help you a lot in pacing.
  2. Don’t worry too much if the difference isn’t that big, we aren’t machines.
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If you use a filtered power reading during your workouts it’s more difficult to stay in zone as you are always late with correcting intensity. With an unfiltered value you can make instant adjustments to your effort and get a more precise result.

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I’m actually doing all my rides outside – I don’t own a trainer.

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Lucky you

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It can be tricky to get them right at 95% on the dot, but if you’re within ~10ish watts of the target, that’s usually a good goal that I like to aim for.

Personally, I like to use no averaging/smoothing for my power – just the raw, instant number. I find that really helps me dial into the intervals I’m doing right in the moment.

Don’t worry if it takes a few seconds to settle into the “under” part as well once you come off of an “over” – that’s totally normal!

Finally, I’d consider what stretch of road/terrain you’re riding on to make these go as smoothly as possible. A flat road without any interruptions or a climb that lasts at least as long as your efforts are supposed to be would be ideal. If there are a lot of rollers on your route, it can be difficult to maintain a steady power target if you’re dealing with the ups and downs of the road.

Hope that helps! Remember that you’ll get better and better at pacing these kinds of efforts the more you practice doing them. :slight_smile:

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I wouldn’t stress it too much. If you are going a little too hard or a little too easy on the unders, it all works out in the end. Possible you just can’t match the gearing to the effort or something as well, I have that issue on some workouts.

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Normally I would agree with this, but I think over unders are designed more to force you to work over Threshold, but then not to back off too far forcing you to ride with a slowly clearing ‘burn’

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I don’t think I have this option in my Element Bolt – the closest I see is 3s power.

I have an uninterrupted 3 mile climb with only one dip where it flattens and I lose 11 ft according to Ride With GPS.

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I have a BOLT as well – if you go into your settings and select “Power” → “Power (vs avg total/lap)” you’ll get instantaneous power. If you look under “Power” → “Avg Power/Time” the lowest you can get is 3s.

Might be worth playing around with – you can always change it back if instantaneous power is too noisy for your liking.

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Over-unders are much easier to execute outside if the overs are 110+% and the unders are 85-95%. Thats pretty easy to execute are relatively flat terrain.

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Totally. Same goes if you’re doing them in sim mode on Zwift. That higher amplitude makes it much easier.

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I do all my training outside too… VO2 max & threshold typically on my street which is 2.4 mi @ 6%, & most sweetspot on a fairly flat closed circuit which has a bit of a commute for me. Accept that there will be some natural variation. I use a Lezyne head unit for power (1s, 3s, lap avg), cadence, interval time, & a few others. I dual-record between that & my phone in a frame bag, visible so I can glance at it for the interval target, cue sheet, & the graphic which I can glance at for a reminder of whether (& when) I’ve been slacking off or doing hero pulls. :rofl: It also gives me the tones for starting & finishing intervals, which is incredibly helpful when I’m gassed.

I agree with both these points. Over-unders aren’t a “feature”… they’re a different stimulus. But I agree with you that traditional intervals are mentally easier to target on roads open to the public whilst being a small “vehicle” & needing to prioritise safety. But then those sloping intervals like Fang Mountain, yeah they’re a nuisance on open roads so I swap that out for another o/u workout. Eclipse series with very minor fluctuations, I’d think we get the same stimulus from traditional block intervals like Tray Mountain.
If you’re finding the frequent changes on short blocks of work mentally challenging, have a look at the Emerson series, which has longer over & under blocks.

In the beginning I was completing the overs feeling that horrid burn & dropping the bundle when the interval ended because “oh, I can ease off now”, but I was sometimes dropping as low as 70% for a few seconds & struggling to return to 90-ish percent. The best thing I found was to remind myself near the beginning of an under, “no, this is still threshold”, to try to hold the overs target for a few more seconds, then I could ease off slightly. The psychological effect of hearing the three high tones then the low tone brings me back to around the lower target anyway.

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Super helpful, thank you!

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I had Mcadie +1 on Sunday and this helped a bit. But still pretty frustrating trying to pace these outside. I have one more threshold workout in the plan and I think I’m going to swap the over/unders for a workout of the same level that has long suprathreshold intervals.