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Sweet spot only for a half?
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Hey all !
I have a half in mid October. In lockdown and offseason I did TrainerRoad sweet spot base high volume one and two mixed with easy running only. As a result I had a healthy jump in ftp and felt very strong. From there I have moved into the mid volume half distance build. This incorporates v02 with threshold and although less tss a week, it’s much harder. As a result I’m going backwards - coupled with one harder run a week now and swimming a few times a week out of lockdown, My bike isn’t progressing and I’ve actually had to drop my ftp to get through workouts.
Has anyone successfully ridden sweet spot and below (for say, 8hr weeks) for half ironman with great success ? I found that more doable and could recover. I’m struggling with v02 intensity As well as threshold added in along with more running and swimming. And the season in the Southern Hemisphere hasn’t begun yet. I can get speed workouts with group rides and practice duathlons On occasion if need be but my own home training is cooking me when I’m adding higher intensities on the bike.
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [IamSpartacus] [ In reply to ]
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No, I am Spartacus. [Sorry, love that movie].

I'm also doing the TR Half IM plan atm, and also found the introduction of VO2Max work challenging. Especially as it moved to 3 min intervals - by the end of the 2nd interval I felt like puking. The jump from Dade-1 to Shorthoff+1 just seemed too much.

What I did was substitute in some VO2Max workouts with 2 min intervals, and add in an additional 45 min VO2Max workout later in the week, for a couple of weeks. (Currently chlorintined, so substituted this for a swim workout). 4 VO2Max workouts in a couple of weeks gave a definite bump in fitness, and made VO2Max work far more tolerable.

TR's Coach Chad had some notes about putting together some VO2Max work at https://www.trainerroad.com/...tp-boost-plan/6875/4
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [mcalista] [ In reply to ]
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4 v02 max interval workouts seems like death in two weeks when trying to do swim run haha

What I found interesting was trainerroad half iron build is littered with v02. Yet speciality phase has next to zero 🤷‍♂️.

I have 10 weeks left till my half. I peeked at the half iron speciality phase high volume and noticed it has next to zero v02 max.
I have a few duathlons and can group ride for higher end bike work in the lead up

Should I kick around for the next two weeks then start the half iron speciality even tho I sucked badly and didn’t make any progress and am burning on the half build? The build is now finished but I guarantee no improvment. Why does the speciality high volume half look so much easier than the build? Seems a lot of sweet spot and distance specific ?
Last edited by: IamSpartacus: Aug 9, 20 0:16
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [IamSpartacus] [ In reply to ]
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When you describe your typical tri course do you say:
A. It's got repeated 2-8 min long hills that are super steep and require 108+% of FTP over and over and over
B. It's got about 56 miles of riding around or at the 75-90% FTP

If you read what you wrote """""This incorporates v02 with threshold and although less tss a week, it’s much harder. As a result I’m going backwards - coupled with one harder run a week now and swimming a few times a week out of lockdown, My bike isn’t progressing and I’ve actually had to drop my ftp to get through workouts."""" you've identified several issues.

Just bc it's harder doesn't mean it's better = hence why you're going backwards
Add in a harder run and swimming = your training load is suddenly too high for your fitness level
You've had to drop your FTP to get through workouts, especially if it's threshold work = your FTP is lower then you think it is.

If you, or anyone reading this can't ride 2x20 or 4x15 at FTP you're FTP isn't as high as you think it is.

Finally, is your run improving? Sometimes that trade off is worth it (if you answered no, you've got another issue that needs to be addressed)

Brian Stover
Accelerate3 Coaching
Insta Twitter

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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks guys

The half is busso. Pancake flat. No spikes at all in bike power I guess.
Specificity is key I guess !
Back to tempo/ sweet spot it is.
Our local club has a few duathlon races in the lead up to our own tri season which runs in conjunction. I’ll use that as speed work.

My run is going quite well actually ! I’m happy with that part.

I’ll drop my ftp a little and go back to sweet spot and hopefully I can absorb the workload this time
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [IamSpartacus] [ In reply to ]
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IamSpartacus wrote:
Thanks guys

The half is busso. Pancake flat. No spikes at all in bike power I guess.
Specificity is key I guess !
Back to tempo/ sweet spot it is.
Our local club has a few duathlon races in the lead up to our own tri season which runs in conjunction. I’ll use that as speed work.

My run is going quite well actually ! I’m happy with that part.

I’ll drop my ftp a little and go back to sweet spot and hopefully I can absorb the workload this time

I have to say, as much as Busso is pancake flat, there are a fair few 180 degree turns on the bike course that do require some surging to get back up to speed. Coupled with the potential wind as well as the overtaking opportunities, it is not as easy as a straight out and back flat course.
I think specificity is key....as you say.
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [Amnesia] [ In reply to ]
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Amnesia wrote:
IamSpartacus wrote:
Thanks guys

The half is busso. Pancake flat. No spikes at all in bike power I guess.
Specificity is key I guess !
Back to tempo/ sweet spot it is.
Our local club has a few duathlon races in the lead up to our own tri season which runs in conjunction. I’ll use that as speed work.

My run is going quite well actually ! I’m happy with that part.

I’ll drop my ftp a little and go back to sweet spot and hopefully I can absorb the workload this time

I have to say, as much as Busso is pancake flat, there are a fair few 180 degree turns on the bike course that do require some surging to get back up to speed. Coupled with the potential wind as well as the overtaking opportunities, it is not as easy as a straight out and back flat course.
I think specificity is key....as you say.

Practice out-back turns then. Don’t treat it like a crit or the start of an individual pursuit.

I use VO2 in TT (right or wrong) over rollers to hold the downhill speed over them. If I paced those the same, you’d lose lots of time. Actually starting the effort before you start slowing.

Perhaps that’s a reason to itch the VO2 a little. But ftp is too high or overall load for the three sports if you can’t hit the numbers. I run but don’t swim. I tend not to mix hiit on two sports same week. Just me.
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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desert dude wrote:

If you, or anyone reading this can't ride 2x20 or 4x15 at FTP you're FTP isn't as high as you think it is.


I'm curious about this, and it extends to my confusion in general about sweet spot and HR/power/RPE. Answering your question, I can 100% do it, but I'd have to dial back for a day or two before, and fuel/hydrate properly, and dig deep, a race level effort.

Is that what you mean? Or is the sort of thing I should be able to get up from my desk and just bang out, and without going too deep in the hurt locker? And do it again tomorrow, same deal? If so, mine is too high.

To me this relates to confusion I have about sweetspot, which I mostly identify by RPE/HR, my power is different from week to week, as I don't want to end up in the wrong zones. I TT at 180bpm, and I try to keep my sweetspot 150-169. If I creep over, esp too early, I dial down power ... somedays I'm at 80% of FTP, others 90. I do 3 or 4 X 20 on 2 mins rest and could do it multiple times a week. But I see articles saying SS is 95%, which confuses me. Doing a 60-90 mins of that a couple times a week would take some htfu.
Last edited by: buzz: Aug 10, 20 6:44
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [buzz] [ In reply to ]
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I think SS intervals like those you can do a few times a week, every week if your FTP is set correct. That’s my understanding anyway.

the world's still turning? >>>>>>> the world's still turning
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [buzz] [ In reply to ]
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buzz wrote:
I'm curious about this, and it extends to my confusion in general about sweet spot and HR/power/RPE......I can 100% do it, but I'd have to dial back for a day or two before, and fuel/hydrate properly, and dig deep, a race level effort.

Or is the sort of thing I should be able to get up from my desk and just bang out......?

...confusion I have about sweetspot, which I mostly identify by RPE/HR, my power is different from week to week, as I don't want to end up in the wrong zones. I TT at 180bpm, and I try to keep my sweetspot 150-169. .....somedays I'm at 80% of FTP, others 90. I do 3 or 4 X 20 on 2 mins rest and could do it multiple times a week. But I see articles saying SS is 95%, which confuses me.


Couple of things here and I'm going to jump around in my answer a bit, probably.

If you look at the wko/TRWPM training levels I believe tempo is 76-88% FTP, sweetspot (SS) is 88-95% and FTP is 95-105%. Physiology is on a continuum. When you're on the edge of a training level such as 93-97 or 103-107% you're working both levels

It seems that you're using your hrm to check/dictate your power efforts. The problem with that is if you live in southern AZ, FL, DC etc it's hot as fuck and/or humid right now. Why would this matter?

Your HR for the same ride is going to be 5-10-15 bpm higher than in cooler and/or drier conditions. Your cardiac drift (or decoupling if you're trying to be cool, don't be cool kids it's not cool..at all) is going to start to drift sooner and drift to a greater degree than in cooler/drier conditions due to environmental factors. Layer in caffeine, sleep or lack of, fatigue, stress etc and of course your power numbers will be different week to week if you're basing it off HR. They aren't going to be 15w different though, maybe 4-8w.

I tell my athletes power/pre then HR. The question I'd ask is do you think changing your thinking to how does my PRE/HR stack up to previous recent efforts at this power and not the other way around will lead to better results?

Think about power as what you're doing (objective observation), PRE and HR (subjective observations) as how stressful it seems. This and your power numbers will also change as duration, physiological stress, environmental stress increases. Your 30 min peak power when you've ridden for 30 min then knocked out a 30 min effort will be higher than when you're 3000 kJ & 4hr into a ride. In the latter example your partially dehydrated, glycogen depleted etc

Given that FTP is a range from ~95% -105%, remember physiology is a continuum and today's 95% may be harder/easier than tomorrow's, this is why even though it may be harder, you're still getting benefit. let's say your 95% is 250w. If you downgrade that to 85% (or around 225w) bc your hr/pre is higher than normal the question is are you still getting the same training stress? I'd argue no and I could make an argument for yes with a caveat.

No: you're targeting a workout to increase your FTP at 95% but downgrading to 85% may not be enough training stimulus to increase your ftp.You need to do work ~FTP to raise it. If you downgrade that to 85% I can argue yes bc now to do the same amount of work in kJ you've got to ride longer. That should make sense bc at ~250w you're producing more kJ per minute than at 225w. Extending duration at high levels of work is a very powerful training stimulus. The question becomes which is better for raising FTP? Higher watts or longer duration? (ahh that classic exercise physiology conundrum)

The answer depends on where you are in your season, what you're trying to do/accomplish, where you're strengths/weaknesses are etc. If you can ride 2h @ 85% but only 30 min @ 95% then reducing your watts to increase FTP doesn't make sense. Increasing the amount of time you accumulate at FTP makes sense even if you're breaking that into 6x7 min of work vs 3x10 min of work.

If you can't ride 75+ min @ 85% then extending the duration or total time of SS intervals may be a very effective way to increase your ability to ride higher watts for longer. Success at half and IM racing relies on on being able to do this and not have it ding you too much on the run. You can think of the opposite of this as your classic over biking scenario.

In my years coaching the number of athletes who came to me for coaching or consults with an FTP that was too high outweighs those who had a FTP too low by at least 10 and probably 15 to 1.

Why would that be?

Shorter tests tend to lead to higher FTP numbers. The shorter the ramp test the higher the number. If you do a ramp test w/ :30 increases you're going to get a (much) higher peak wattage to calculate FTP from vs a ramp test where the ramps are 4 minutes. Most online platforms have very short tests to determine FTP.

Remember the definition of vo2max is an increase in workload with no corresponding increase in o2 consumption. o2 use plateaus. O2 utilization increases lag increases in intensity.

One thing I postulate is the reason why triathletes like SS training so much is bc their FTP is too high. Their threshold work is closer to vo2 work. If their FTP was set correctly the SS work they do is actually more like threshold work.

If you (try to) do 3x16min @ 100% FTP + 3min ez and your FTP is too high that's probably more like 3x16 where you do the first one, fail about 10-12 min in the 2nd and sooner in the third and/or need much more rest then required. That seems like a lot of failing for set that's somewhat hard yet the only reason is bc of the cumulative amount of time at FTP not the watts assigned.

I also postulate, and this seems to hold up extremely well in my athlete population when they onboard, that most people could knock ~ 10w of their FTP and see better results.

If you made it this far I hope that helps

Brian Stover
Accelerate3 Coaching
Insta Twitter

Last edited by: desert dude: Aug 10, 20 12:07
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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gosh that's a helpful answer thanks!

just to circle back to where i started, you said if your ftp is correct you should be able to go to 2x20 (i assume on 2-4 min rest between). i wondered how "hard" that should be. i can do it, but i'd have to take an easy day before, and it would be a deep "shoot me now" effort.

should it be that hard?

i ask because i'm always a bit mystified about how "hard" certain efforts should be. i say this as a tt guy with some good results. but i get confused by training talk.
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [buzz] [ In reply to ]
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buzz wrote:

gosh that's a helpful answer thanks!

just to circle back to where i started, you said if your ftp is correct you should be able to go to 2x20 (i assume on 2-4 min rest between). i wondered how "hard" that should be. i can do it, but i'd have to take an easy day before, and it would be a deep "shoot me now" effort.

should it be that hard?

i ask because i'm always a bit mystified about how "hard" certain efforts should be. i say this as a tt guy with some good results. but i get confused by training talk.


No it should not be that hard. Remember, FTP is the power that you should be able to hold for about an hour. So, holding that power for 20 min in each rep (and only 40 min total) should not be that hard. If you're barely hanging on after 20min....you're FTP is probably 5-10% too high.

When I start a threshold effort, I ask myself if I can hold "this" for the entire set duration (eg, 2x20+rest...so 45 min). If not, then something's wrong with me or my FTP.
Last edited by: Tom_hampton: Aug 10, 20 12:34
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [buzz] [ In reply to ]
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if you have to take a easy day the day before and if it's a "deep shoot me now" effort my guess is your FTP is too high.

This is also why there is a range of 95-105% for FTP training. You don't always have to be on the high end.

One way to know for sure it do a 30-50 min really hard effort. Subtract some small % of that and that's going to be ~ your FTP

Better yet is if you have some shorter FTP tests to compare it to.

I'll still stick with the # of people with FTPs set too high much > # of people with it set too low

Brian Stover
Accelerate3 Coaching
Insta Twitter

Last edited by: desert dude: Aug 10, 20 14:04
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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desert dude wrote:

This is also why there is a range of 95-105% for FTP training. You don't always have to be on the high end.


This is one of the key things that has finally sunk in over the last couple of years. I think I've finally settled on holding back to the lower-end instead of trying to stretch the higher-end. Holding back 5w this week...and knocking out the workout is better than pushing +5w and cutting the last rep by 5 minutes (or whatever). If its too easy (as judged by follow-on work the rest of the week)...you can always creep up a little next week. But, crushing efforts always seem to have bad downstream effects that are worse than whatever upside there might be to the "extra 10w".

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I'll still stick with the # of people with FTPs set too high much < # of people with it set too low


I think you meant ">> #".
Last edited by: Tom_hampton: Aug 10, 20 12:42
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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desert dude wrote:
if you have to take a easy day the day before and if it's a "deep shoot me now" effort my guess is your FTP is too high.

This is also why there is a range of 95-105% for FTP training. You don't always have to be on the high end.

One way to know for sure it do a 30-50 min really hard effort. Subtract some small % of that and that's going to be ~ your FTP

Better yet is if you have some shorter FTP tests to compare it to.

I'll still stick with the # of people with FTPs set too high much < # of people with it set too low

Is there a reason not to just do 60 minutes all out, other than it's hard (and finding a good course outdoors can be a challenge)?

Mike Sparks


I have competed well, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [Tom_hampton] [ In reply to ]
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Good catch, I did mean > Changed and thank you!

Yeah people get wrapped up in the numbers. It's definitely a paradigm shift to realize this is one of those times where more isn't always more

Brian Stover
Accelerate3 Coaching
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [Sparks] [ In reply to ]
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Sparks wrote:
Is there a reason not to just do 60 minutes all out, other than it's hard (and finding a good course outdoors can be a challenge)?

No reason.
In the end I don't really think it matters if you do 45, 50, 60, 65 or 70 min. The #s are going to be pretty close +/-2 & at most 4w for most people.

When I rode a mid 56 minute 40k last year I wasn't worried about that last 3.5 minutes and how it would have impacted my FTP.

If I had ridden 63:55 I wouldn't have worried that I was 3:55 beyond 60 minutes. I would have been sad that I rode > 60 minutes for 40k and maybe thrown my bike into oncoming traffic, after I removed my head unit of course bc data!, but I wouldn't have worried about the 3:55 having an impact on my FTP one way of the other.

Brian Stover
Accelerate3 Coaching
Insta Twitter

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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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desert dude wrote:
Sparks wrote:
Is there a reason not to just do 60 minutes all out, other than it's hard (and finding a good course outdoors can be a challenge)?


No reason.
In the end I don't really think it matters if you do 45, 50, 60, 65 or 70 min. The #s are going to be pretty close +/-2 & at most 4w for most people.

When I rode a mid 56 minute 40k last year I wasn't worried about that last 3.5 minutes and how it would have impacted my FTP.

If I had ridden 63:55 I wouldn't have worried that I was 3:55 beyond 60 minutes. I would have been sad that I rode > 60 minutes for 40k and maybe thrown my bike into oncoming traffic, after I removed my head unit of course bc data!, but I wouldn't have worried about the 3:55 having an impact on my FTP one way of the other.

Makes sense, and seems consistent with my personal experience, except the throwing the bike part.

Mike Sparks


I have competed well, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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desert dude wrote:
When you describe your typical tri course do you say:
A. It's got repeated 2-8 min long hills that are super steep and require 108+% of FTP over and over and over
B. It's got about 56 miles of riding around or at the 75-90% FTP

If you read what you wrote """""This incorporates v02 with threshold and although less tss a week, it’s much harder. As a result I’m going backwards - coupled with one harder run a week now and swimming a few times a week out of lockdown, My bike isn’t progressing and I’ve actually had to drop my ftp to get through workouts."""" you've identified several issues.

Just bc it's harder doesn't mean it's better = hence why you're going backwards
Add in a harder run and swimming = your training load is suddenly too high for your fitness level
You've had to drop your FTP to get through workouts, especially if it's threshold work = your FTP is lower then you think it is.

If you, or anyone reading this can't ride 2x20 or 4x15 at FTP you're FTP isn't as high as you think it is.

Finally, is your run improving? Sometimes that trade off is worth it (if you answered no, you've got another issue that needs to be addressed)

Thank you

Thank you

Thank you

Actually saw an olde youtube Tri guru state you should do 3x20 at 10% above current FTP. 😂

Can’t make this stuff up
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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again very helpful, thanks.

i always thought i could read it off 40k tt race effort but that's a VERY hard effort. so i should use a lower number. and that helps me understand what ss means a bit better.
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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desert dude wrote:

Remember the definition of vo2max is an increase in workload with no corresponding increase in o2 consumption. o2 use plateaus. O2 utilization increases lag increases in intensity.

If you made it this far I hope that helps

Really good read, and appreciated, thanks.

The bit I've quoted interests me, because I recently spoke with a good friend (& long time very good cyclist). He had a heart scare this year, and as a result, had a multitude of tests. In his words, the Vo2 test indicated that he could go 3-4 times longer at Vo2 max than any other person they had tested (elite & non-elite). Have you ever heard of such a thing?
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [NAB777] [ In reply to ]
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NAB777 wrote:
Really good read, and appreciated, thanks.

The bit I've quoted interests me, because I recently spoke with a good friend (& long time very good cyclist). He had a heart scare this year, and as a result, had a multitude of tests. In his words, the Vo2 test indicated that he could go 3-4 times longer at Vo2 max than any other person they had tested (elite & non-elite). Have you ever heard of such a thing?

It's possible they did the test wrong or he's a genetic freak or both or somewhere in between. Most people are going to be able to hold a true vo2 effort for somewhere between 5/6/7 minutes and 10/11/12 minutes. I suspect the closer you are to a world class athlete the more likely you are to be able to go longer at well above FTP efforts and the more often you do such efforts the better you will be at such efforts, assuming your sport demands such a thing.

IMO the disconnect on the athlete level is they do a bunch of 2 -3 and maybe 4 minute long vo2 efforts, (it seems that's what a lot of online training platforms seem to push), and expect to be able to push their FTP up by gigantic watts. Then that platform has them do tests as short as 3 minutes and no longer than 20 min to determine their ability to do work for 50-70 minutes.

It's a short test (usually done well above FTP), your teaching to the test (lots of short, well above FTP intervals) then calculating FTP. Now said athlete goes out and tries to do intervals that are repeated 10-30 min blocks, race a 40k or try to throw down in a half and have failure after failure and they don't understand why.

Brian Stover
Accelerate3 Coaching
Insta Twitter

Last edited by: desert dude: Aug 11, 20 8:00
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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desert dude wrote:
NAB777 wrote:
Really good read, and appreciated, thanks.

The bit I've quoted interests me, because I recently spoke with a good friend (& long time very good cyclist). He had a heart scare this year, and as a result, had a multitude of tests. In his words, the Vo2 test indicated that he could go 3-4 times longer at Vo2 max than any other person they had tested (elite & non-elite). Have you ever heard of such a thing?


It's possible they did the test wrong or he's a genetic freak or both or somewhere in between. Most people are going to be able to hold a true vo2 effort for somewhere between 5/6/7 minutes and 10/11/12 minutes. I suspect the closer you are to a world class athlete the more likely you are to be able to go longer at well above FTP efforts and the more often you do such efforts the better you will be at such efforts, assuming your sport demands such a thing.

IMO the disconnect on the athlete level is they do a bunch of 2 -3 and maybe 4 minute long vo2 efforts, (it seems that's what a lot of online training platforms seem to push), and expect to be able to push their FTP up by gigantic watts. Then that platform has them do tests as short as 3 minutes and no longer than 20 min to determine their ability to do work for 50-70 minutes.

It's a short test (usually done well above FTP), your teaching to the test (lots of short, well above FTP intervals) then calculating FTP. Now said athlete goes out and tries to do intervals that are repeated 10-30 min blocks, race a 40k or try to throw down in a half and have failure after failure and they don't understand why.

Thanks for that. I think he held Vo2 max for 15 minutes.. My concern was for his health & that maybe the testers missed something, because it looked for a while that he needed a pacemaker due to an abnormally low resting HR. He has since been advised that he doesn't need one, but will be checking in with the docs every few months.
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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [NAB777] [ In reply to ]
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NAB777 wrote:
Thanks for that. I think he held Vo2 max for 15 minutes..

His team should just drill it from the gun, ride the bunch down to a handful then launch him off with 10-12 minutes to go. Send a teammate with him to work for as long as they can and then he's on his own.

Or have him launch some crazy long attack from the begging to whittle it down to a break away FTW

Brian Stover
Accelerate3 Coaching
Insta Twitter

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Re: Sweet spot only for a half? [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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desert dude wrote:
In my years coaching the number of athletes who came to me for coaching or consults with an FTP that was too high outweighs those who had a FTP too low by at least 10 and probably 15 to 1.

Quote:
Shorter tests tend to lead to higher FTP numbers. The shorter the ramp test the higher the number. If you do a ramp test w/ :30 increases you're going to get a (much) higher peak wattage to calculate FTP from vs a ramp test where the ramps are 4 minutes. Most online platforms have very short tests to determine FTP.

Quote:
One thing I postulate is the reason why triathletes like SS training so much is bc their FTP is too high. Their threshold work is closer to vo2 work. If their FTP was set correctly the SS work they do is actually more like threshold work.

Quote:
I also postulate, and this seems to hold up extremely well in my athlete population when they onboard, that most people could knock ~ 10w (ETA - 10%? ha) of their FTP and see better results.

just wanted to quote all these little nuggets of gold separately to add emphasis.

Accelerate3 Coaching https://accelerate3.com/
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