Winter is coming, gotta think about base period

Winter is coming, time to start pondering how to structure next season’s base period.

For me base period is all about working on fatmax. For the last 3 years or so two main tools from my toolbox have been used:

  • high volume, low intenstity (>20hrs/week)
  • fasted rides

This will have to change next season.

W/r to high volume I’d say I’ve hit a plateau. I made most gains after the first year (yes, you improve even your high intensity capabilities from just riding more … but this was only true in the first year). And I don’t think it is necessary (anymore) given all the hassle that it requires to fit this training into life.

w/r to fasted rides. Well, don’t really see a benefit. Yes, can ride for hours without eating but I can’t really say that my performance at race pace over long distance has improved. After sieving through the literature this does not surprise me. Fasted rides are popular because they are easy to implement. However, the observeved desirerable effects are quite marginal.

Hence, given my literature review fasted rides will be replaced by real “train low” approaches, e.g. in my case low-(muscle) glycogen training. This is the only method where you see quite significant effects on the target variables. I target two days a week for this.

As always at this time of the year I ponder having done a met test/spiroergometry again. Check my fatmax. However, is it actually necessary to know this value exactly? How variable is it?

Once again sieving through the literature. Intra-individual variability seems to by high. Furthermore, lab-fatmax does not seem that optimal for training prescription, there is actually a wide range of intensity where fat oxidation is (near) maximum:

Hence, no need to nail a certain wattage religiously. Markers like nose breathing should be enough. And going slightly above does not seem to be so bad either but is helpful for the fun factor.

My general outline for season 2020 is largely based on my pro-training analysis presented in the various threads here. Yes, “you should not copy pros’ training” but I think I’m old enough to put the information into context of my situation. They build turbo diesels, I want/have to build a turbo diesel. The same methods should be applicable. And their way of training just looks like a whole lot of fun to me …

Outline for base (Nov-Dec/Jan), weekly structure, order of days will have to be flexible because of life:

  • 1x Intensity (I’m old, have to work there year round)
  • 2x endurance rides at AeT (with efforts into tempo) [may be coupled trail running/cycling sessions]
  • 2x endurance rides below AeT (low glycogen)
  • 1x rest day, 1x active recovery (or endurance ride/run)

Could you possibly give more details on the workouts you will do and maybe some trainerroad examples? I have found your analysis and training approach highly interesting. What is your expected time commitment?

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20 hours :flushed::flushed::flushed::flushed:


Due to medical reasons I’m stuck in a perpetual Base period until cleared to do otherwise. Your above prescription is what I’ve been doing for the past 3+ months. It works. It is, as you said, kind of a hassle to try and fit in all the hours but after a while, all those hours all of a sudden add up to something special.

I also do fasted weekend rides simply because I can; and because racing is null and void for the time being, I have no need to go past the realm of health into carbcentric performance. Fasted rides still serve me well.

After listening to a few Endurance Planet podcasts, I’m actually entertaining the thought of <gasp!> running.
Yes, it would have to be trail running cuz if I’m gonna run, it’s going to be in undulating nature and not on a GD flat sidewalk! I’ve also read that running could perhaps make one a more efficient cyclist, or at the very least, not make one less efficient. Change of pace for a mental break.

You’ve a very agreeable approach. :+1:

Copycatting you:
Outline for Base (All Year), weekly structure, order of days will not be flexible because of life:

  • 2x long endurance rides at/below AeT (fasted/low glycogen)
  • 3x mid endurance rides at/below AeT
  • 1x active recovery (or trail run)
  • 1x day off
    (+~5hr commuting/wk @Z1/Z2)
    = 20-24hr/week

But lets get one thing crystal clear – there is a 'UGE difference between doing 20hrs in the warm sunny summer vs 20hrs in the cold dark winter. Why so much dark?!? Just. Kill. Me. Now.


After spending a year listening to the Podcast and reading various threads on this forum, I’ve also settled on my winter training plan.

SSB LV1 with an additional endurance ride which will hopefully be outside and duration will be 2.5/3 hours. I will also add one additional VO2 max/sprint session. I’m looking to keep these short and sweet. Something like Black. Intensity but a reduction in fatigue.

I’m also going to dial in my on-bike nutrition. It’s only in this past year that I’ve truly had this facet of riding double underlined.

This leaves me with two rest days. One of which I will do nothing more than walk to and back from work.


I’ve come come To a similar conclusion and plan, mainly due to listening to Steve Neal on the Flow Cycling podcast. I’m retired and don’t race so the hours, weather accepting, aren’t a problem. 1 question though. How are you going to endure your <AeT rides are actually muscle glycogen depleted?


Not really complicated in this phase. I must admit I don’t use TR workouts (still a paying subscriber though).

What I’ve gathered from my pro analysis is that it does not really matter so much how a single workout looks like. For intensity I will do anything at or above threshold. Really depending on how I feel and modality (indoor vs outdoor).

AeT rides with tempo intervals: just ride at AeT and throw in some tempo efforts. My main training goal until July 2020 is to be able to ride for 4 hours at 310W within a 6 hours period. A clear progression is something I’ve been missing in recent years. To much block training.

And the low rides: simply ride for 4 hours easy.

“low” rides will be scheduled for days after the intensity day or one of the (long) AeT/Tempo days. No carbs after these and only an omlette for breakfast before the “low” ride.


If that was a crit, you’d lap me at least 100 times! :tired_face::rofl:

Same here

I’m planning on doing the same thing with VO2MAX and above because it sucks getting back into that type of training later on.

Nice post. :+1:

re: w/r to fasted rides…

There’s kind of two parts to these, which are almost always (wrongly) considered separately. Most people do fasted rides in hopes of increasing fat utilization, but fat only burns in mitochondria, and fasting is one of the more pronounced instigators in increasing mito activity. You could just fast w/o riding and you might get the same effect (IDK). The other part is LSD/Z2 endurance exercise which also increases mito activity, and thus fat utilization. However, you don’t have to do these fasted in order for that to happen. I do both together just to squeeze the most outta my situation, but I doubt I would do any kind of higher intensity/performance focused training in a fasted state.


My base plan (now until 2020) is for all my trainer rides to be Z2 (but not going above 75% maxHR) and Z3 (but not going above 83% maxHR as per the Steve Neal program).

My outdoor rides will either be Z2 (with some fasted starts) or club runs that will inevitably involve a few tasty hill efforts to remind the legs what high intensity is from time to time.

Plus weight training if I can find a suitable trainer to show me how to lift without injuring myself.

Then switch to a more polarised Z2 / vo2 build plan sometime in the new year.



60-120 minutes depending on time available.

Z2 outdoor rides and club runs will be 3-4 hours.

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w/r to fasted rides I was actually sort of disappointed/surprised to see how weak the effect on "fat oxidation infrastructure (e.g. mitochondrial biogenesis, intramuscular triglyceride store, enzymatic “machinery”, …) is. Things got worse when I saw that the majority of studies were run with obese, untrained or only “active” subjects.

Low glycogen training is in a whole different league. This is why I will ditch fasted rides, not worth the bother.


Interesting. Maybe I’ll cook up an omelette before heading out to Windsor tomorrow then!

Do you eat low-carb on the ride as well? Or is the low-glycogen all about the state you’re in when you start?

Great thread. Does anyone have any experience adding x country skiing to the winter base mix? I’ve never done it. Downhill all winter long, but am thinking of adding 1x a week long xc session.

@sryke from your research are VO2max session 1X the best path to maintaining FTP? Or some other modality?

This is a good read (if you haven’t already):

I partake due to health and exercise restrictions; if I was still in competition mode, I most likely wouldn’t be wholly on the bandwagon either.

It’s also going to be rough trying to do a lot of Z2 work on the trainer vs outdoor hours (I’m not doing 6hrs in the dark and rain!). Any thoughts? Switch to a kJ metric instead of time? HTFU? :man_shrugging:


I had been doing all of my 3 hr rides fasted until Coach Chad’s comments about fasted rides causing increased cortisol production. Having retired from a very stressful career, that’s one thing i don’t want. Especially since the only place I carry unnecessary fat is in the abdomen which is a marker of too much cortisol, (or beer, but I don’t drink).


Interesting. Is there a podcast # associated with CC’s cortisol commentary?

I’ve had just the opposite reaction to doing long fasted Z2 rides as my only training. Completely dropping my 15 lb love handles (abdomen fat) and substantially decreasing the activity of my sympathetic nervous system (cortisol production). Not sure this would be the case if I was continuing to hammer out VO2max sessions week after week (which also causes mucho increased cortisol production). As well, long endurance rides, be they fasted or fuelled, naturally increase cortisol production. All you have to do is eat when you’re done to return to a neutral state.

One more thing for me to read up on!

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Podcast 219 I think. Maybe you would have improved more by fueling 5 hour rides instead of doing them fasted? Nobody will ever know. For my own anecdote, for 5+ months I was hammering (semi-structured) sweet spot and ad-hoc vo2max for months, lost 15lbs and reached highest fitness level ever. Ate a metric crap ton of carbs and protein, was lifting too and gained muscle. Is there any (non-bro) science to promote that? Not that I know of.

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