Large amount of base hours before winter

I do not know if this belongs in beginners and basic tips or training concepts.

So I am becoming a fair-weathered rider and really hate the cold, my feet never can take it below 40 outside. With the DC area starting to cool off I want to put more time in on the bike before the darkness and cold sets in and I have to retreat to the basement to do the trainer. I am not a huge fan of that kind of riding. Is it wise to just pile on the hours until about the middle/end of November in zone 1?

Right now I have really been riding zone 1 since I did a trip to Mallorca last May with Intervals ICU showing 85 percent of my time low heart rate training. My focus has been more on losing weight due to getting sick from Covid and my inability to not cram food as if I was still racing/riding like I did before I became a dad. I weighed 265 (6’2") and am now down to 220 with a goal of around 180 (DEXA scan said I have a lean mass of 155) by next April/May for another Mallorca trip. I got the go-ahead from my wife to be able to ride up to 20 hours before the holidays. As of right now I am doing about 8-12 hours a week almost exclusively around 190-210 watts with a hr average of 130 (max 191) and was thinking of stepping it up a few hours more each week till I hit 18-20 hours. I am in a position with work/family life where I can actually get out. When the winter purgatory happens start doing longish intervals at the 78-82% max heart rate with max hours on the trainer with a weekly overall total of 8-10 hours(one long ride of 3-4 hours if I can muster that on the trainer) until end of february. Then start doing some Threshold work when the days start warming up and I get closer to my goal of riding great up Sa Colabra and possibly doing some local races. Along with that, I will probably bump hours up too.

I used to race with my best 20 minutes being 380 watts and could ride a few hours over 300 watts and a sprint around 1500, but I would be burnt out by the end of May because I started 2x20s and a lot of threshold work in December. Right now I cringe at the idea of getting my HR above 150-160 except for the occasional group ride I do on an e-bike because I can cheat and not go all out. This is a new approach for me in training a lot of slower miles and really do not like riding a lot in the 150 hr range I used to ride in all the time.

Does my plan sound ok, or is it doomed for failure?

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Sounds great.
You can already add those 82% intervals to burn a little more fat and train your IIA fibers.
Also replace one of your z1 rides by a z2 ride.

Do you mean zone 2 in the traditional model(5 zone) or the 3 zone model? I assume you mean zone 2 thats not the grey zone(5 zone) I have been reading about. Haha. Yeah I don’t know if I am not doing myself any favors riding in the standard zone 1 range a lot, even on the shorter rides but I am doing a lot more volume. Just trying to do this smart and not be cooked like I have in the past.

Indeed, zone 2 out of 5

I totally agree with this as long as motivation is strong and you are excited to ride the bike.

e-bike is a great idea.

Thanks for the reply. I am probably have more frequent breaks in winter of going on hikes and screwing around with the kid if it means not doing a 1 hour ride on trainer. I am trying to treat it as a marathon and not a sprint. Think a lot of others have the same problem. Think I have seen so many come and go in cycling. I tell people most have a 5 year shelf life in the sport before hanging it up.

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pedalnaround- sounds like you are a great candidate (as anyone is) to go polarized trianing. FastTalk has done an extensive deep dive into what this is and the long term benefits. All your easy rides fall into the polarized 3 zone model: zone 1 easy 80% or less max HR, zone 2 81-88% max HR and zone 3 90%+ max HR. This time of year and into full on winter you could do 1x hard session of 4x4 or 4x8 with 2 min RBI. When it is full on winter move that to 1x every 10 sessions. Adding in some zone 2 work at tempo/sweetspot is totally acceptable. I would shoot for a mix of about 70% zone 1 easy sessions, 10-15% zone 2 sessions and 10% zone 3 hard sessions. When March rolls around change the mix to 80% easy and 20% hard sessions. I personally love this model and it is easy to administer and follow as long as you stay true to the definintion of polar which is extreme opposites. HR is the main guide knowing that the associated power should illicit HR activity of the 3 zones, from a power perspective I like zone 1 at 50-70% FTP, zone 2 75-88% FTP and zone 3 90%+ with the focus on 95-115% FTP on the hard interval days. For example, 4x8 at REP of 8-9/10, these need to be HARD and target 110/115% FTP knowing you will have power decay as you move across the interval, they key is getting HR to 90% and then settling in for duration of the interval. I see athletes power decay down into low threshold at 90-93% but HR is at 94% and that is the “strain” you are wanting. O
ver time you will increase your MSLL and be able to hold higher power for the 8 minutes. I hope this helps you out.


@Fpike you have confirmed my thought process on starting the training distribution going into next year as April approaches. There is no way of knowing what races I want to do, so as of right now it is pretty generic. I may hit a zwift race on the trainer to help determine my true ftp right now. Intervals ICU and XERT have it around 280-290. I rode 235 watts yesterday for an hour and was still considered 70% of max hr. Wish that wattage meant I was riding fast but only doing 18 mph average (220lbs). So I am not quite sure if I could really hold that for an hour as I have not pushed myself the past year with a focus of trying lose weight and gaining saddle time. I used to love doing 2x20s, but hearing about the greater gains of 4x4/8’s sound very appealing. I listened to the Hunter Allen episode on using power and I am guessing as a coach, there is a bit of watching both power and HR numbers. I know @steveneal talked about 3x20’s 78-83% hr tempo on the Faster podcast. I like that approach because it will help get me used to sustained efforts.

The one thing that I think that never gets talked about on Fast Talk is the longevity of cycling and life with this kind of training. Right now if you listen to The Drive with Dr. Peter Atia, he is really focused on how beneficial zone 2 (traditional 5 zone model) and doing some zone 5 work every now and then is showing long-term gains. He is focusing on only doing 2 plus hours a couple of times a week. His goal is not to compete anymore, but to make it to his 90’s. Funny how there is a lot of overlap.

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@Fpike this seems like some good advice for building base. Lots of Z2 (5 zones) with some weekly harder session. I want to try to start with 4x8min’s. I already now I would struggle to hold that 8min’s at 110% (maybe only the first). But if I follow your advice, it is no problem to go lower (95%) as long as HR stays above 90% max HR?
Maybe I should start first with a goal of 4x8min at 105%, and see what HR and power will do over the intervals?

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You are on the right track, polarized training is more riding off of “feel” and the strain of the efforts, this is where the 90+% max HR comes in. I personally execute the 4x8 with a hard start, say 1-2 min at 110-120% FTP, then I settle in and mentally focus on going as hard as I can for the remainder of the interval, I laxer in on my HR and allow power to fall hwere it may knowing the power decays especially in the last interval. The other important part of this workout is the 2min RBI (rest between intervals). This helps develop your capacity at higher intensities and there is a better anaerobic contribution vs aerobic on your energy systems with the very short rest, it is like doing one big 32min effort! Specifally on the power, I prescribe these to athletes at 105-115% FTP with the clarity of power decay, HR at 90+% max, once you get to 90% you are golden and then you just hang on giving a really hard effort- 8/10. Hope this helps and happy training.


I got an e-bike for a very similar reason. I do some group rides with some friends in a Community Cycling Club. Slow on the Flat then they try to hammer it up the hills. I switch the motor off on the flats so I’m just riding a heavy bike and my HR is in Z1/2 then switch it on as they go up the hills to keep my HR under control. I also use it if I need an easy/recovery ride as I can go on the moors around here and still keep the intensity way down. I love it.


The thing that has always bugged me about riding with a group of people is that whenever we get to a hill they punch it so hard and then the rest of the ride they want to ride super easy and I am the one who wants to keep it a constant pace, and they will tell me to slow down on the flats. I just tell them I am doing the same wattage on the climb as I am doing on the flats. Having an Ebike I just do whatever I want now. It really is a great tool to have as I can ride with most people as easy as I want to ride.


Great solution!
I ride with eFriends for the same reason :slight_smile: