What is a training zone? I had a conversation with an athlete about Zone 3. He said “My rides this week have been focused on building endurance in my new zone 3 that is sustained power between 175-200 watts” and 2 days later he commented “Definitely dragging today after two mornings of trying to build endurance in my new zone 3. Legs were drained for sure”
I followed up with him letting him know that zone 1-2 builds endurance, the ability to sustain your effort without fatigue. Zone 3 is referred to as the “gray zone” by many, it is the race zone for 70.3 (pending an athlete’s experience) and is the zone that builds strength during big gear efforts and climbing hills = strength/endurance and not the zone a beginner athlete should try to sustain for longer periods of time before they build endurance in Zone 1-2.
That fact that he felt so tired due to pushing zone 3 efforts is confirmation that zone 3 is not his endurance building zone, at least not yet. And, training in zone 3, feels easy until it does not, so the purpose becomes less on building endurance and recovery and not on pushing the threshold. I like to think of Zone 3 as half marathon, half ironman effort so there is a time to add it to your training, not when you are in the beginning stages of building endurance like he thought he was. The idea behind training with specific training zone guidelines is to give you an idea of how hard or how easy it is and being careful not to always train comfortably hard, Zone 3 fits the comfortable hard description. There is a time and a place for each training zone.
Build endurance with skills and aerobic fitness, primarily, zone 1-2 which will improve aerobic capacity and you will improve your ability to maintain a faster pace for a longer period of time.
The primary driver of success in training is to understand the intent of the workout, to develop self-awareness and the ability to manage what the day throws at you. Training is Not One Size Fits All. There’s no single formula that works in every situation. Rather, every approach I consider the athletes current fitness, event type, and time available to train.Success is not about doing a bunch of great workouts. What is takes to put together a personal best = smart training, great mindset, optimal weather, perfect nutrition and impeccable execution. As a coach, what matters to me is the athlete’s consistency of training and communication so I can create training volume for each athlete to make adaptations
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