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Old 04-01-17, 07:58 AM   #1
potuz
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VO2Max flats vs hills

This question has come up before, including an extended answer (which I am not satisfied with) in stackexchange by Dr. Chung. But nonetheless I will ask it here in a different way for advice.

I live in a very hilly area and rarely train on flats. My power profile and CP curve shows that my FTP is more or less fine at 4,90W/Kg (I'm not aiming to be a pro, just your average amateur Joe) as is my VO2Max. My anaerobic capacity and sprinting sucks on the other hand, badly, even for the average amateur. This has been computed by several weekly 20' climbs and interval sessions always on hills (I take about 7-8% of Peak 20' power to consider for FTP). In particular, my Z5 sessions are typically 6x3' @ 117% with 3' rest + 4x2' @117% with 2' rest.
My Z6 sessions are 8x2'@130% with 3' rest + 8x1'@150% with 3' rest.

Looking at my annotations and RPE from these sessions I find the Z5 sessions waay easier, while the Z6 sessions have me crawling back home to cry alone in the shower until I recover.

Now I am visiting the Chicago area for a few months and this seems to be the opposite in every way to my town (I've heard the longest climb is a highway overpass) and have just started to ride. I tried a typical profile test including a few 20" sprints, 1' all out and 20' TT and my numbers came out more or less in line with the numbers I use to prepare my workouts so I was particularly happy to be able to attain more or less the same output for 20' than in the hills (a slight drop, but not much).

So next I went up for a Z5 session, decided to start with an easier session than my typical: just wanted to do 5x3'@117% with 3' rest plus one 6' TT. I could barely keep the power output at 115% for the first 4 intervals and by the 5th I was fried! I didn't even try a Z6 session. These were supposed to be the "easy" sessions!

So my questions are: should I keep the same targets for these sessions or should I aim for less?
Could it be temperature? (there's > 50F difference between the average temperature now here and what I was training a week ago home). Could it be altitude? (home is a hilly area, but it's on the seaside).

I am puzzled since I didn't suffer much in the 20' TT at 105%, but any effort above 110% is killing me!
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Old 04-01-17, 08:37 AM   #2
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If you're used to only laying down watts uphill it'll probably take you a little bit to get your power on flat ground more or less equal to what you are used to doing on climbs. I wouldn't get too bugged out by it, lower your target a bit and work your way back up to your normal range over a few sessions. It's really good race training too since you need to be able to light the afterburners on all types of terrain to be successful.
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Old 04-01-17, 08:51 AM   #3
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Your question I think is: is it harder to produce power in some scenarios than other? Why? And how does that affect training target?

I've posted this elsewhere on BF but: you know how Eskimos have 40 words for snow? That's how I've come to understand power production on the bike. You hear people say a watt is a watt and I think this is true on the output side. But on the production side, some watts come harder than others and exactly which watts are harder for any given individual depends on a lot of factors- physiology, flexibility, position on the bike, training, psychology, heat tolerance, etc.

I think in reality I have a bunch of FTPs- road vs TT bike. TT bike on a climb, on the flats, on a 1-3% downhill grade. They're all a little different and I know from training all these scenarios what's going to feel hardest and where I'm going to have trouble generating power.

Does any of this affect my training? Sort of. It does not affect my FTP, I just use one number even though I've come to understand the wiggle in that number. It does affect what I work on, especially if I know I have a race coming up the requires a type of power generation I'm bad at- in that context, I'll work on what's hard for me.

What you should do depends on your goals. If you're not racing and don't particularly care about producing power on the flats, keep doing what you're doing. If you want to generate power better on the flats, include more hard efforts on the flats in your training, and consider trying to train a faster cadence (since if you're having trouble on the flats, this may be a weak spot of yours).
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Old 04-01-17, 09:28 AM   #4
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Temperature could be a factor. Chicago is at 181m so elevation isn't. Your Z6 workouts should feel harder as you are doing them at higher intensity (IF) and stress (TSS) than your Z5, .956/146 vs .916/103 respectively.

Are you resting the same on the flats as on the hills where you're probably coasting back down the hill at 0W?

I don't think you can read much into one failed session. In general, it takes a little more mental discipline to perform at intensity on the flats, it's easier to bail on a given interval.
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Old 04-21-17, 06:39 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. After a few weeks of concentrating more on cadence than power I am starting to see some improvements. At least I can keep without hurting much the power output that I had in the hills. I suppose it was a mix of many things, but cadence must've been a big factor indeed.
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Old 04-21-17, 08:04 AM   #6
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I wouldn't disregard air quality as a factor anywhere near Chicago with the lake containing or slowly pushing the city air inland for extended periods. Second Chicago related issue is wind. It takes time to and energy you might not fully appreciate if focused solely on power output. On that note keep in mind you can't get aero in a crosswind.

Take a trip up to Lake Geneva if you don't have a tempestuous uncontrollable hate for rollers and short steep hills. I'd be happy to help you sort out a route of any length in the area.
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Old 04-21-17, 08:34 AM   #7
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it would be nice if you had a third way to compare. Smart trainer.
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Old 04-21-17, 08:38 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by potuz View Post
Thanks for the replies. After a few weeks of concentrating more on cadence than power I am starting to see some improvements. At least I can keep without hurting much the power output that I had in the hills. I suppose it was a mix of many things, but cadence must've been a big factor indeed.
Cadence is part of it but a lot is just that it takes a bit to adapt to doing that stuff on flat ground. It uses muscles in slightly different ways, you don't have gravity pushing against you, you probably are't getting out of the saddle the way you would uphill. It's just different. I'm glad you're seeing improvements!
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Old 04-21-17, 08:45 AM   #9
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It is normal for altitude, weather, time zones and even familiarity to change power. We noticed that big time with junior traveling and it is different in CO than in CA.
The PM wattage (yes we do have one) changed a lot and it became easier to use HR and feel. Still is.
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