Zwift Academy 2023 – Workout #2: Long | Fatigue Fighter

A few downers today to kick us off, but I promise it ends on a positive.

I missed my start time. I had this down for the 12 noon GMT set off, but due to rushing (reasons why in a second), I managed to miss the start by seconds and so had the choice of either waiting another hour for the next Group workout, or just doing this via the individual workout menu.

As such I did this one solo.

The reason I missed my start time is because, for once, I didn’t spend Saturday morning on the PC. No work.

And the reason for that is I had / still have an absolutely awful headache. It arrived on Thursday, but I worked through it and tried to shrug it off. I felt lousy all day on Thursday but piled on the paracetamols and tried to take it as easy as I could.

Weirdly, cycling seems to take my mind off it somehow. I don’t know why and I certainly can’t explain it, because if anything, it should seemingly make it far worse. Faster pumping blood, etc. But I’m no doctor.

Then the headache went away yesterday and I didn’t think anything of it. This morning it was back, with bells on.

I think it might be covid, albeit a fairly mild form. It’s certainly that kind of headache. Sharp, spiky, just above my right eye. No other symptoms, but it’s probably also responsible for my off / on sleep this week, making me even crankier than usual.

OK, whinging and whining out of the way, and into the day’s workout.

With the headache I wasn’t sure I would get through this, but I figured I’d give it a solid shot. Also time is running out, it was either today or tomorrow, and tomorrow I would prefer to go for a long walk instead. I need the fresh air and daylight.

The Longer variant of Fatigue Fighter is made up of four sections:

I hope you enjoy my crayon tier drawing skills.

The green bit is the warm up.

Pink, that’s a sort of mini version of Emily’s Short Mix

Blue is 4 x 4 minutes at FTP with a minutes rest between.

And then yellow… well, I should have circled that in red, because that’s where you spend the final 8 minutes.

Overall though, this one isn’t, in my opinion, as tough as the first workout.

OK, so the warm up. As ever on the Zwift Academy series, the warm up is fairly substantial. I didn’t fully check out the Shorter version this week because I opted for a more productive use of my time on Tuesday. However, in all three of the 2023 Zwift Academy workouts I have now completed, you get a full 10 minute warm up.

In the circled graph above, the 10 minute warm up is everything right at the start. You then get a 2 minute breather before doing 3 x 2 minutes at FTP.

In total, the green circled warm up section lasts 19 minutes.

After that first set of warmers, you get a three minute breather before it’s into 3 x 3 ramps.

As you’re feeling fresh, these shouldn’t be that taxing.

The first of three blocks gives you an additional 2 minutes @ 65% FTP to ‘introduce’ you to the set.

All other rest follow the same formula:

  • 2 minutes @ 90% FTP
  • 2 minutes @ 95% FTP
  • 2 minutes @ 107% FTP

And then a 3 minute recovery gap at 55% FTP.

The main thing of value in that first block of intervals was to give me a taste of what my target for the 8 minute effort would feel like. In my head I wanted to hit 250w or greater today during the 8 minute free ride.

That actually seems quite easy pre-ride, but the whole point of this one is to continually build up fatigue in the legs such that the final 8 minutes feels a lot harder than you might find it in isolation.

One thing that is highly noticable during this workout is how short the 3 minute recovery efforts seem to be. Time flies.

Before I knew it, I was into the third of the four of today’s sets.

On Tuesday I did 2x 15 minute FTP intervals, so I didn’t feel that bad about doing essentially 16 minutes with 1 minute breathers every 4 minutes.

The hardest part of that set was keeping to 90 rpm.

I had to fight not to go higher. But to me, 90 rpm feels just on the edge of grinding, and I was thinking if I slipped into the mid 80s I would be suffering. As usual with this kind of activity, the ability to find the cadence came quicker and quicker with each repeat, but holding it became proportionally harder.

Whereas each of the 4 minute @ FTP intervals was followed by a 1 minute rest, the final 4 minute effort got the 1 minute rest and 2 extra minutes all at 55% FTP.

Helpful, but not a massive amount of recovery ahead of an 8 minute effort.

The final 8 minute activity of the day would be taken as a free ride. Basically do as best you can, using the gears and your legs only.

Out of the gate I went fairly spicy, sticking to about 260w and trying to creep up the on screen average whilst maintaining approximately 90 rpm.

The main thing I was keeping my eye on, other than the slowly ticking down interval timer, was my heart rate. Within the first 3 minutes I was into the mid 180s. Anything over 190 would see me back off. At least, that was the plan in my head.

At the half way point I was feeling decent. Confident. Not cocky, but not far off.

As such I spiked my effort to about 280w by dropping a gear and cranking it …

Only that kind of petered out after a further minute had passed. A bad plan. My heart rate was now up to 190bpm and climbing.

Somehow I clung on, my heart rate not dropping but by going back up a gear and ‘recovering’ at the pace I’d been at for the first four minutes, I managed to find something extra again to finish off the effort, which honestly I was super pleased with.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that probably wasn’t my all time 8 minute PB.

I saw 265w average tick on screen just as I passed under the finish arch.

All of that was seated.

And yeah, whilst probably not a PB, I would say it was a personal best all the same. I really tried, and I feel like I really pushed through right to the end, headache or not. Given everything with my physical form right now, I couldn’t have asked for better.

Anyway, ‘rest’ day ahead. A nice easy long walk, followed by a true rest day on Monday. Hurrah.

5 thoughts on “Zwift Academy 2023 – Workout #2: Long | Fatigue Fighter”

  1. Nice work on the ride!

    Workout 3 looks similar to workout 1 but with lots of fatigue loaded up before the freeride efforts.

    Not even going to try and get near best efforts for this one. I set a new 2 minute on a horrible hill this week.

    Local hill climb challenge series, got to the top of the hill. 5 minutes of being sat on the side of the road trying not to throw up before limping home, cycling is such fun.

    • Thanks – I think I tried to copy your effort if I’m honest, just not anything near as powerfully.

      Nice! Thanks for sharing the video, that was really cool. A bit like watching one of The Sufferfest videos, except I’m in my dressing gown and only sweating through being unwell rather than the usual body heat.

      Your bike lights are so strong, mine are seriously weak it seems.

      That’s really cool though. So is it a competition between you and your friends, or wider, like the local area? I’d love to get that sort of thing going round here actually, I might see if I can get something like that going when it gets into Spring.

      Do you have a Strava for that climb?

      I made the mistake of checking out the remainder of the workouts on Whats On Zwift … good lord. So yeah, #3 is basically #1 with fatigue, and then the rest all look suitably horrible. To be honest, I’m most looking forwards to the racing. The training is the most beneficial bit of Zwift, but the racing is by far and away the most fun for me.

  2. It’s organised by a guy whonis pretty well known on the local cycling scene here.

    This one is free to join and he sorted local cycling stores to provide some sponsorship for spot prizes etc.

    Basically just do the designated segment within the week and then add your time and strava link to a Google spreadsheet.

    This is the segment on the YouTube video.

    Still a few more to suffer through yet. The final stage is a group event, so get to suffer that one with onlookers, yay!

    • Holy Cripes. I knew it kicked up at the end there, most noticably so right at the top from the video. But I had no idea it was in the 15%+ stuff… ouch.

      It’s such a neat idea, I’m super keen on trying to get this going locally. Fortunately with it being almost Winter here it gives me a bit of time to think about how to organise it.

      What I’d really like is so way to categorise the riders. I’m all for everyone taking part and there being an overall leaderboard, but if I’ve learned anything from my Zwift weekly panning, it would be a lot more fun if you were able to compete against similarly capable riders. Might be a little ambitious for a first attempt at getting this out there though.

      Such a cool idea, really glad you shared this one. Good luck with the rest of the series!


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