Was all my VO2 max work a waste of time?

I finished my A event earlier this week, a 110 mile solo ride with 14,500 ft of climbing. There were 5 major climbs varying from about 50 minutes to 2 hours 15 minutes long. I did the Climbing Road Race Plan on the advice of TrainerRoad support, which had me doing A LOT of VO2 max work in the specialty phase. I was targeting an IF of .65, ended up with an IF of .61 (probably could have gone a little harder on the climbs, but wanted to make sure I didn’t fall apart on the last climb). Looking at my power data after the ride I spent a grand total of 2 seconds at VO2 max which makes me wonder why I spent so much time doing workouts I hated. Would I have been better off doing longer Sweet Spot and Threshold workouts? I enjoy those much more. Would I have been better off doing a Gran Fondo plan? Or were the VO2 max workouts the best prep even if I didn’t actually ride in that zone?

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(Note the last three.)


How did the ride go and did you increase any areas of fitness leading into it? I think that you not getting into Vo2 during the ride makes a lot of sense - it’s was a long event and you had to pace yourself.
Could you have been better served by having Gran Fondo or even 40k TT as you specialty phase…probably.

I think the Rolling Road Race, Climbing Road Race and Criterium should just be used by cyclists that are actually training to race or you want to crush the local group ride.

Unless you are responding to attacks all you really need it to put down some steady power for length of your event. So maybe you did.

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They were worse than useless.


How so?

” Would I have been better off doing longer Sweet Spot and Threshold workouts?”.

The basics of endurance training have not really changed during the decades. The base is built doing a lot of easy work and then tweaked doing some harder efforts.

“The workouts you hate are generally the ones you need to do” - All Coaches

You need a variety of stimulus to optimise physical adaptations. Some hard work, some
steady and some easy.

Execution also requires planning and practice. In Ironman training a target 0.65 is common. Best Bike Split can be a useful tool in planning your target power for different gradients.

Nutrition also needs practice, I’d get through a shedload of water and carbs on such a route - how did you do?

You might want to look at the full distance tri plans (bike only) next time. They train you for 112mile/180km bike whether it’s flat or climbing, for consistent power out out rather than the on/off power of bike racing.

Around 4500m of climbing is a lot though - how many long climbing rides did you do in prep?

A common misconception. Even though they end up with same work at the end these two are wildly different in delivery.


Yeah but how were those 2 seconds? I bet they weren’t as bad as they would’ve been :thinking:.


Seems like the advice to use the Climbing Road Race plan was “off”, for a target event that’s all about repeated, very long sustained efforts, with no need to attack / cover attacks / follow wheels etc.

For similar type of target events, I use Gran Fondo for Speciality phase, but then very heavily tweak the Speciality (and somewhat tweak the preceding base & Sustained Power Build phases) using workouts selected for their specificity to the efforts I’m actually training for:

For the SS90 workouts, I try to build up to those with more sustained and longer durations, eg. 1x 40, 1x60, 1x75, 2x40, 1x90, 3x35.

It’s a shame TR doesn’t offer a Speciality plan that includes this stuff. It’d probably be useful to quite a lot of people training for big events with repeated sustained climbs, or for those like me on multi-day or multi-week trips where climbs in the 45m-2hr range will be occurring day after day, and so in order to remain freshness over the trip, the climbs will often be performed in the tempo-sweetspot range. Based upon people asking about this kind of thing here, my hunch is this type of plan would be useful to more people than some of the more road race-oriented plans!


MAP workouts raise ftp, seems beneficial to me


Only doing one type of training for an entire season or build up Luke likely lead to a plateau. I think you can have an area of focus (like long sweet spot or threshold efforts for those long climbs) but riding and working on all zones probably more ideal.

But periodization of training is key. Want to build or peak towards something if you have a goal/event

But IMO, that’s where a human coach is ideal. Will set the right focus but choose workouts to have you park appropriately for your event and strengths/weaknesses. TR can only
Just adapt their framework to your “levels” but it’s giving you generic framework of how they build to an event.

I also disagree with what they call V02 training and how it’s used in their plans but assuredly doing some structure even if not ideal is better than just “riding”. Take what you learned and try to plan your training yourself next year. Only way we can learn is from “failure” (which you for sure did not. Just maybe didn’t optimize). If all of these Ai or canned programs were ideal human coaches wouldn’t exist.

I remember Chad saying almost these exact words when the AI was announced. Someone (maybe Nate?) said something about not needing a coach in the future and Chad replied that there will always be a need for a human coach.


How many seconds of VO2max would that same power profile have resulted in, had you not (presumably) “raised the roof” by increasing your VO2max? Training VO2max is a moving target.


Just because you train v02 max doesn’t mean you should try to ride there in that zone if the event doesn’t cal for it (answering the OP more than you). Targeting suprathreshold on a climb longer than 10 minutes seems folly

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I would easily have accidentally accumulated minutes in VO2 over that duration, especially with turns that go up.

So, well done there at least.

I continue to think that TR needs better notes on the the specifics of their training plans so people can pick more intelligently… or at least notes so that people know why specific workout profiles are being assigned. It undermines trust in the training plans when you think you should get one thing and get a different thing.


Nate walked the comment back… but not for workout choice. Problem is, a lot of TRs workouts are nonsense. Some of them are pretty good.

But OP would’ve been better off on a different plan altogether IMO. Fondo, etc.

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Maybe you would have been better with the Gran Fondo plan but it’ll probably contain VO2max stuff too. My simplistic understanding is that VO2max raises the roof (your FTP, etc) and training in other zones reinforce it and stop it falling back in. By the sounds of it the VO2max sessions have raised your roof helping you more comfortably do the ride at a lower intensity. Well done on a good ride :clap:


I feel the need to say this, as it keeps coming up, but the OP didn’t say that he had a problem with V02 stuff, he said

I think the two operative bits here are “LOT of V02” (so he’s not querying that V02 is needed, more the amount of V02 that was required … is it three workouts a week ?) and Specialty, specialty is supposed to prepare you for the demands of the race that you are doing, for the demands of the race he described, I would expect V02 in the Build phase in order to

but surely the specialty should be more sustained ?