This is a documentation of my personal test using the Polarized Training approach for a 4-week period. It is a simple attempt at using this method with no actual scientific documentation and lacks a full attempt to make this wide reaching. I want to try this process in contrast to my 3 prior years of using the TR SST approaches.
4-Weeks Prior to POL Test Period:
4-Week of POL Test Period (3 Build + 1 Recovery) & 1-Week with Ramp Test Follow-Up and Disaster-Half Workout (for Fitness Evaluation):
Wk 1 - Test & Work
Wk 2 - Work
Wk 3 - Work
Wk 4 - Recovery
Wk 5 - Testing
My TR Profile for Review of Workouts (if desired):
My 3-Zone chart based on 254w FTP and 185 BPM Max HR.
Week 1 Summary, Build:
- I did a solid Ramp Test (254w, my highest tested FTP ever) and it was at least in part due to performing it “blind”. I had a friend hold the phone and only tell me if my cadence dropped below my preference.
- There is an error in this workout. Claims to be 2 mins of recovery, but is only set at 1 min. I manually extended them to 3-4 minutes.
- The first 3 intervals were hard, and more work than I have done recently. I needed more recovery and bombed halfway thru the middle interval. I lowered Intensity to 98%, to approximate a 250w FTP. I did a bit better after that and finished the last 2 intervals at full time (4 min).
- I need to go back to shorter intervals (thinking 3 min) with equal rest time for now. VO2 Max intervals are my nemesis. I need to work on my mental game as much as anything as well as accepting that I can probably complete them at my tested 254w FTP. But I do wonder if that is fully true based on my age (almost 44) and general difficulty with VO2 Max work.
- I ended up reducing my FTP from 254w per the Ramp Test to 250w. I did this because of the difficulty I had in the Z3 workout above.
- I want to consider raising it back up to 254w, but I will review that after doing the Z3 workout at the beginning of next week and seeing how that goes.
- Performed with 100% Intensity. My typical goal is to do these long workouts with absolutely no coasting or non-pedaling. I aim to maximize the payback on this trainer time by not wasting even one second, if I can.
- I completed the whole workout with only one non-pedaling moment. I dropped my sandwich at 2 hours in and decided to stop and get it vs going hungry.
- I am mildly sore today without the major DOMS that followed the pre-POL period of the 4-hour day followed by the 2-hour day.
Week 2 Summary, Build:
- Changed to Mount Deborah per recommendation from Nate, and it was a perfect fit. The 1:1 work to recovery suits me well, and I was able to increase workout Intensity for most of the intervals.
- I shot for around 109% of FTP and felt like I worked hard, but not impossibly hard to the point of panic gasps at the end.
- I plan to increase intensity on the Mount Alyeska on Thursday to get a similar increase, but I will evaluate as needed since the intervals are 4 minutes (1 minute longer than last night).
- I ended up increase my FTP from 250w to 254w per the Ramp Test. I did this because of the solid completion of the Z3 workout above.
- I think the test was accurate, but the poor choice of the first Z3 workout lead me to question my FTP more than it should have.
- I will leave my FTP at 254w for the remainder of this testing.
- Did Mount Alyeska with it’s longer intervals. Took some effort and I wanted to stop short or backpedal more than once… but I stayed on it and finished with no breaks. Super happy to have nailed that and fought through some internal doubt.
- Did this outside since we had great weather and my friend really wanted to get off the trainer. Definitely not the consistent work I prefer, but it was fun to get out. I won’t lie though, because I really felt a bit shorted on the stress I get from a non-stop 4-hour trainer ride.
- I chose a slightly longer ride to make up for the shortage on the long ride the day before. Felt good, once I got going, but the legs were surely tired from the long ride already.
Week 3 Summary, Build:
- This one scared me a bit. I did the Mt Deb on the second week at my reduced 250w FTP (because I was worried about my reaction in the Z3 workout on Saturday in the first week). So this is the same as the first MT Deb, with my 254w FTP, and added 3 more of the 3 min intervals.
- I got into it and started ticking them off and did ok up until the end of the 6th interval. Slight breathing panic during recovery scared me (as happens sometimes). I pedaled through it and got into the 7th.
- I decided to backpedal at the recoveries (30 seconds with the workout paused) in the final 3 recoveries. I wanted to make sure I nailed the final 3 work intervals. I was able to get them all and got 30 mins in mid-VO2 Max, so I think I did pretty well with this one.
- This went very similar to the first Z3 workout this week. I got through the same number of intervals as the “normal version” of this workout before deciding to take a 30-second backpedal to recover.
- I did back pedals in the final 3 recovery intervals. I did this again to make sure I could fully complete the work intervals and that worked.
- You can see the HR increase and cadence decrease in the progression of the work intervals. That shows my fatigue.
- I used the same reminders “hard days hard” and “this is the last hard workout this wee” as motivation to help me push through the final minute of the last 4 work intervals.
- These may be around a 107% of my FTP and not high VO2 Max work, but they still take some effort and focus to finish each time.
- Something went very off the rails on this workout. I don’t have conclusive answers, but a I suspect incorrect power data is the likely culprit. The RPE and HR for that indicated power was well over what it should have been and not what I had intended for that ride.
- I should have stopped mid-ride and re-calibrated the trainer, but I had it in my head that I would get “over the hump” somehow. But that never happened, unfortunately. I fully recognize that it is not a shining example of a “proper” long and easy ride. It is what it is, despite wanting it to be better, so I have to go with it for now.
- I selected this ride as a basic step up in power from the prior Vogelsang and outside rides. Additionally, I set it to 101% in attempt to increase the TSS for the week. I ended up dropping the Workout Intensity around hour 2. I did this in attempt to “recover” from what was more RPE and HR than I should have had. It didn’t really help even after Hitting a low of 97% for a while.
- I ended up finishing at 100% and just accepted the fact that I had screwed up this workout.
- The intensity ended up higher via RPE, despite what the power shows. Thinking back to the objective of these long rides, it’s to stress the aerobic system and muscle fibers in particular ways. I likely over-performed and stepped above the goal zones. I know I really strained my system overall, but likely not in the way that is intended.
- I was dreading this workout on the heals of the mishap in Longfellow. This workout is essentially a 2-hour version of Longfellow, with nearly identical power intensity. So I didn’t know what to expect.
- I did the 10 minute warm-up, and then calibrated the Kickr 2017 in TrainerRoad. I did this because I suspected bad power data in the prior workout.
- I started a new session of Boarstone to run the whole workout, including the full 10-min warm-up again.
- I figured the excessive work from yesterday would lead to big fatigue and make this workout as bad. Fortunately for me, that was not the case.
- Amazingly (or perhaps not) RPE and HR were right where they should have been. Things felt “normal” and easy again, even at the same power levels that put the hurt on my in Longfellow. This seems to be a reinforcement that I likely had bad data the day before.
- I have no idea why the data would have been so far off yesterday. I did not load/unload my bike or make any changes to the bike/trainer setup in any way. It sits fully prepped all of the time. Room temp was similar on both days and not excessively hot (thanks to my fans and open window).
Week 4 Summary, Recovery:
Week 5 Summary, Fitness Evaluation:
Ref Info: (Weekly hours over the last year, from Strava)
Super short summary:
I like the feeling from long rides and plan to do them more in the future.
VO2 Max hard workouts around 108% FTP worked well for me.
I need to do some higher effort anaerobic workout as the sister to the VO2 max for variety and to stress systems differently.
I think the change in stress distribution was good for me, even though it’s far from conclusive from my stats.
FTP change was minimal, but I hit some PRs after my recovery week and did some really solid rides.
Overall, a good test and worth trying something different. I will take these basic notes into my new season of TR that starts after THX giving.
Adding more short notes.
I don’t have a hard summary. I finished my POL period as planned but don’t offer a firm conclusion for a number of reasons.
- My experience may or may not be applicable to any other rider. I never planned to make a strong claim of failure or success.
- The thread was sharing my experience and maybe help share info that is confusing about how POL might be planned and applied. But there aren’t many prescriptive plans out there, so I made mine up as best guesses. I can’t begin to say my experience was even “correct”.
- I only had a short window of time and made a 4 week effort. In all honesty that’s too short to make any call.
- I completed the POL period and planned to follow with SSB for direct, personal comparison. Bit I got sick before that and ended up with 3 weeks off the bike. So my planned comparison kinda died.
Overall, it was a great experience and the biggest takeaway for me was the value in the long and easy ride. I plan to include a couple every month based on what I gained from them, even while following the regular TR plans.