Zone 2 woes - discomfort and boredom

After a month training with a coach, I am hating riding more and more. Outdoor Zone 2 rides (at the moment 1 a week, 5hours plus) are boring, uncomfortable and making me question why I do it. Interval sessions I use TR as a platform. Riding by feel previously gave me only minimal, “normal” discomfort and I felt I had my saddle, shorts and other setup nailed. Now I can barely sit down after a long Z2 ride because of the increased pressure on the bum. It’s making me miserable. My coach says this is “normal” and to stick with it, but I’ve gone from using the bike as a mental health machine to have fun on to viewing it as a dreaded chore. The pain is increased pressure on contact points due to less power going through the pedals. I have had two bike fits with Steve Hogg-trained bike fitters and generally previously was really comfortable. I’m training for a 500k ultra next year using a power meter for the zones.

Those who have successfully (or not) followed a polarised approach with a coach before, did you have a similar experience? Did it improve once your FTP increased over time?



This sounds like a bike fit issue, not a Z2 issue.

You should be able to ride comfortably for many hours with no discomfort in Z2.

Can you post some pictures of your fit?


Hey @LittleAl20, I am sorry to hear about your discomfort on the saddle… That is no fun.

It wasn’t clear in your post if you’ve had a bike fit on your current setup. As @Power13 mentioned, it does sound like a bike-fit setup issue.

While we all experience a “sore bum” after our first big ride, it shouldn’t be something that consistently happens if you’re actively training. Definitely look into a bike fit and maybe a different saddle or size to make sure it accommodates your sit bones properly. Most bike shops have a measuring device that can tell you what size saddle you are.


Additional saddle or hand discomfort from lower power Endurance / Z2 rides is an issue I have had and seen for others.

  • The lower pedal force vs harder efforts is a key aspect. Spinning at a usual cadence (like 80-100 rpm) at these lower powers can lead to more loading on the bottom and hands that higher power efforts. I often resort to lower than usual cadence for these rides outside. That lower cadence leads to higher downward force in order to hit the same power target. This changes the loading on our sit bones but also hands to a degree from the “upward” counterforces that come from the higher pedal force at lower cadence.

  • Mixed with this I recommend adopting a deliberate standing strategy. I get up around 30 seconds every 5-10 minutes outside. Obviously relieves the saddle forces, but also changes loading on the hands. These alterations in position and forces are quite useful IMO.

  • Also keep in mind that we are usually traveling slower at these efforts. The “backward” pushing force we experience from wind resistance is lower in these efforts than harder workouts too. I have long suggested that the change in force also leads to changes in contact point loading on the hands and seat. It can be important to recognize this difference and is what I use the two prior tricks as a means to counter the change in forces.


Excellent advice, thank you. Actually I had been trying to increase my cadence as that is seen as less fatiguing, but I will switch back to my usual 75-80 and see if that helps.

That first tip is gold. I remember hearing somewhere that one way you could tell someone was an experienced randonneur/randoneuse was by their really low cadence.

Also @LittleAl20 I completed a 320 mile ultra last year only doing TR low volume, 3.5hrs/wk…


Great to know, thanks!

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Did you work up gradually to 5+ hour zone 2 rides or is that a big jump in duration for you? When does the discomfort set in? Although it sounds like it may be a fit issue, if this is a big jump in duration it could also be that your body hasn’t adapted yet.

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No, I have a lot of all-day bikepacking experience but seems like I was riding all day in Zones 3-4, and somehow coping. It did cross my mind I might be testing way low for my FTP which may have skewed what my Z2 is/should be.

Like most stuff, it’s good to use a mix. I still do some cadence work in the 90+ range, but most of these long rides is lower for the comfort aspect and I personally like this type of LC work as a side-benefit.

  • For reference, most of my usual workouts are in the mid-90’s range, while my long Endurance rides outside are in the 75-80 range.
  • And I take hills as a common option to stand and do cadence in the 50-70 range to keep variety as well.


Lots of great advice already. I just want to add that it’s really important to continue to enjoy the ride and not dread every time you swing your leg over the saddle. It might need a little more time or a better fit or changes in your technique, but if you continue to do the work in a way that you dread, you will start to question the goal. There has to be something meaningful in your comment that Z2 for 5 hours is torture and Z3/Z4 for the same period was joyous. Something is definitely off.


How has your coach determined where you Z2 is. Is it based on a % of your FTP or from a proper reasonably long duration lactate test which shows the point where lactate starts to rise. If it’s the former it could be way off.

It sounds like a coaching issue to me. The only way that riding in the same position for the same duration should lead to new/more discomfort is if you’re spending too much time “locked in” to one position, pedaling against minimal resistance.

OP, even during a so-called “zone 2” ride, it’s okay to get out of the saddle periodically, or even (gasp!) sprint out of a corner or up a little hill. It won’t diminish the training benefits, no matter what your coach might claim.


Given that there is no universally-agreed-upon definition of “zone 2” OR lactate threshold, you’re more likely to be off basing things on lactate.

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Not for all day you weren’t.


Can we not turn this thread into yet another mind-numbing discussion as to what Zone 2 is or is not? It doesn’t have anything to do with the OP’s issues.

There are plenty of threads out there to rehash the discussion…


I wouldn’t think the difference in pressure would create this much discomfort in Z2 compared to Z3.

Is anything else different between these Z2 ride and your "all day bikepacking’ rides? Do you spend more time in the drops? Stand up on more climbs? Stop more for the views or snacks? Use chamois cream or different bibs? etc…

Unless these Z2 rides are really more like super soft pedaling Z1 then there should be sufficient pressure on the pedals so not be just completely jamming your sit bones into your saddle.

This is the problem that self coached amateurs have. Experts in the field whose knowledge and experience we respect, disagree on many things that would appear to be fundamental. Inigo San Milan & Alan Couzens swear by lactate whereas yourself and Kolie Moore don’t seem to bother with it all.
Kind regards
Confused of Standish.

Different bike and saddle? My bikepacking buddies ride Brooks leather saddles.

I agree with Cog, you can’t ride z3/4 all day. I was thinking Z1/2 when you said all day bike packing.

This sounds primarily like a fit issue rather than a power level issue.

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I think the real question to OP is how much were you riding before this coach and how much do you do now? Were you just not really training much now you are, relatively speaking? Also, you’re up for this 500km ride, which will be in zone 2! Lol so you better learn to love it!!

Here’s my data from July: 8-9 hours per week with 2 structured workouts per week. I ride ‘easy zone 2’ when I’m not doing a proper structured workout, which is quite intense. Prob called ‘polarized’ but I programmed it myself. Your zone distribution should look something like this. You’ll get results if you stick with it to build the engine. But like others said, maybe there’s something wrong w the approach bc riding zone 2 isn’t ‘easy’ unless your pinned to the bottom of the zone or doing something weird.

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