Being a glutton for punishment, today was my second attempt at the Zwift Academy 2023 – Group Workout #1. Only this time around I opted for the Longer workout, as opposed to the Shorter version which I ‘completed’ on Tuesday.
Going into this one, I thought the only difference was a 20 minute tempo effort completed after the equivalent work to the Shorter variant.
But that isn’t the case:
In many ways, the Longer version of this workout is easier, simply because the gaps between blocks are longer.
That’s not to say that either of these workouts are easy. Far from it. I would say they are extremely challenging, and if this sets the tone for the rest of the 2023 Zwift Academy then we are in for a really tough time.
But I do think having a longer gap between each section of this workout makes it ‘easier’ to put in a better, more prepared performance.
Also, having already done the core of this workout on Tuesday, I knew full well what to expect.
The focus for me today was still on the 2 minute effort. Or … efforts. There’s two of each.
However between today and last Tuesday I have done quite a bit of research into how an effort like that should be tackled.
On Tuesday I made a pretty fatal mistake in the first of my 2 minute efforts: I was out of the saddle and practically sprinting from the off. No wonder I blew up after the first minute.
The second big mistake I made was to try and hit my previous all time PB – 380w. I have no idea how I ever hit that, as right now I am nowhere even close. It’s almost like that was another person.
So today I had a much more realistic target of approximately 1.5x FTP – or to put it into concrete numbers, 340w (at an FTP of 235w). I am aware that 1.5x my FTP is 350w… but if the mind doesn’t believe, the body cannot achieve.
Frankly 340w would be a win.
And today I was going to aim for a lower cadence. Last time I went out trying to hit 100rpm+ which I believe is a bad idea. I know more theory now, but have practically no lower cadence training in the legs to fall back on. That will come over time.
Interestingly no matter how much warm up or pre-effort riding we did seemed to feel like it would be enough, knowing what I knew.
And sure enough, after that first 30 second effort I was not in a happy place.
But, I managed to put 100w on my Tuesday effort, which feels absolutely nuts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that was my first effort. My second effort was nothing to write home about. I think I peaked at 630w for about 5 seconds and faded away, finishing at exhaustion.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the Shorter and Longer workout variants comes in the gap between the 30s and the 2m efforts.
In the Shorter version you get 6 minutes.
In the Longer, you get 10.
That’s a pretty significant difference.
Somewhat disappointingly it didn’t translate into that much of a difference in the result. I managed 335w today, versus 332w on Tuesday. I only found this out when looking at the stats for this post. I had my 30s effort better on Tuesday, and my 2m far better today.
But that’s not what the raw numbers say, at all:
What I can say is my effort today was far, far more controlled.
And both today’s efforts were fairly consistent. The second was definitely weaker, and the fade more noticeable, but compared with Tuesdays the difference was night and day.
For me, it’s an improvement.
There’s so much I can do with the lower cadence knowledge. I know I’m weaker there, and so I have something painful, but useful to work on. Feels like a result.
After that it was a 20 minute tempo effort.
To be honest, that went by without a hitch. The on screen messaging was saying about if your heart rate goes up, it shows fatigue. Mine seemed to rise steadily to 165bpm and then sit there for about 18 minutes. I did some breathing exercises several times which got it down to 160ish, but when I stopped them it went back up naturally to 165bpm.
I think that felt so like a standard SST session it didn’t phase me at all.
Anyway, glad to have checked this one off. A definite tough one. No idea what lies in store for Stage 2, but I will find out on Tuesday.
The plan is probably going to be to do the Shorter variant then, too. Maybe that’s how I’ll play out November?