Improving endurance question

I have what is OK to me metrics for short duration, but when I push for longer duration meaning both say 10-15 minute power duration, but also meaning for very long (multiple hour) rides I find my ability to sustain effort is very limited and though it is not a bonk the power I can maintain in say hour 3 or so is about 50-60% of FTP.

So the big question is now that I am transitioning into the winter training season and onto the trainer more and more and my likely long endurance workouts will eventually either be fat biking of XC skiing, what is the best course of action to improve my endurance for next season. thx

@scooter, few questions for you.

What are your metrics for short duration?

How have you attempted to improve long duration power in the past, or is this the first season you will be focusing on that?

Will you be doing any other activities along with XC skiing and fat biking this winter season? Or mostly indoor trainer rides paired with ski/fat bike?

Hi Ryan, thanks for the questions. Which durations are you looking for ie 5 sec, 5 minute power?

Well I was following some guidance last winter that clearly did not work out. I noted early in the season my repeatability/ endurance in group rides was not where it needed to be for the group I ride in. WHat I want to do is work at getting it better over this fall winter so that next year I can start off with a better situation instead of chasing fitness.

The XC-ski, fat biking are on weekends and are longer duration but lower intensity vs 2-3 x 1 hour sessions/week on the trainer. So the intense workouts are usually on the trainer the longer but lower intensity is the fat bike or ski.

I hope this helps inform a suggested approach.

@scooter, I’m asking about your particular short term metrics, specifically what you identified as OK metrics for you in the original post, just out of curiosity. I’d like to see what you already selected and currently monitor.

So you’ve identified your repeatability / endurance was not where it needed to be. Are you considering those two abilities as manifesting in the same weaknesses, or are you seeing specific deficits related to each of those individually? It might help, if you haven’t already seen this one, to check out Dr. Seiler’s video on The Holy Trinity: How to Monitor Training as that goes into both of these - durability (sounds like what you’re talking about when you say endurance) and repeatability. Just as you’ve selected your short-term metrics, this should help you identify how you will monitor progress for long duration efforts.

In terms of preparation, I think your general approach is solid with the longer duration/lower intensity on the weekends when you have the time, and then your 1 hour sessions during the week. Not knowing how you’ve arranged the training in the past, I would use those weekday sessions to do some quality sub-threshold work, and these two could be great options for you:

5x5 minute intervals

4x8 minute intervals

And on the weekends, maximize your available time. Fat-biking is a great way to enjoy outdoor riding, so if you’re monitoring heart rate you can easily track your intensity to ensure you’re putting the right load on your body. These resources may help with the long steady distance (LSD) rides (bonus, you can still use these principles when you’re XC skiing):

The Importance of the Long Ride

How Steady Should your Long Ride Be?

What Exactly is a Long Steady Distance Ride?

Lastly, if you can incorporate some strength work, I would suggest that (ideally 2x per week, doesn’t have to be super long, even 30 minutes is worthwhile per session) as this can help prepare the body for more serious training later on.

Ryan, thanks a million for your very insightful answer. What you have said reinforces some of what I was thinking. The winter before last I did 2 gymn sessions per week but because of XOVID that was off the table last winter. I think that both some high intensity longer duration intervals along wioh some strength and flexibility work will help but hearing it from an outside source is great reinforcement. Thanks again for you thoughts and help.

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Hi scooter,
You mention a percentage of FTP, but no heart rate. Therefore we don’t know how hard it is for you.
Are you in zone 2 (out of 5) when doing those long rides?

Anyhow, sustainable power is the result of a good aerobic base (zone 2 and some 3 training for 80% of your time) and intervals at 90+% of heart rate.

Without the intervals your endurance will be very good, but your sustainable top end power can be improved. Try to extend those top end intervals while starting and a comfortable duration.

my heart rate range is relatively narrow, max at about 180 and average 130-140. I think though you are correct I need to work on doing longer and shorter intervals over and over to gain the ability to repeat them and not become totally gassed.