Polarised Training, A Key Component of the "Smart Athlete"
Recently I was amused by the title of a Strava ride completed by a friend of mine, which went something like this; "same hard effort, same slow time........". Now the title is relevant for two reasons;
The move towards greater polarisation of training has been gaining momentum in sports science for almost a decade and there is now no denying the evidence. Less than 15% of your total training load (TTL) should be performed within your threshold zone. The rest is distributed in the zones either side of threshold. The key for all athletes is to identify their true effective training zones (ETZ) through comprehensive assessment. Only then can one know how and when the training loads should be allocated within the training plan.
Finally, not all athletes with the same threshold have the same ETZ, so where FTP can be a useful gauge of progress, it is ineffective for determining training dose and timing, only a comprehensive assessment of your physiological profile can do that.
So if you truly want to make progress with your riding, please try to avoid ego-based groups where the only goal seems to be "go til you you blow" and get yourself a qualified assessment. There is an old adage in distance running that goes like this; "you don't train for a marathon by running marathons". The same goes for cycling, you simply cannot boost your threshold by continuously training at (or near) threshold.
It's time to employ some smart athlete thinking and get on a plan that is built around he science and ensures you get a positive result from all the time, effort and money you invest.
Brian Bubba Cooke
Exercise Physiologist, coach & cycling tragic for 30 years. Love the freedom, reward and sense of achievement that one can only experience in our amazing sport.