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Power Meter Better than Heart Rate for On Road Zone 2 Training?

Old 05-08-23, 09:55 AM
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A lot of folks here have mentioned RPE and and the conversation test. I want to explain why I feel that those metrics are likely less valid for me than they are for "normal" people without type two diabetes.

San Millan discusses the phenomenon by which it is common for diabetics to have collapsed zone twos. I think that's likely true of me. I have to maintain a very low level of exertion to be able be in zone two based on heat rate and I suspect that glycolytic energy production dominates throughout nearly all phases of my workouts unless I'm very deliberate about keeping my exertion levels low.

Consider some of my metrics:

1) My ramp test FTP comes in around 220 watts.
2) I suspect that my real FTP is closer to 150 watts, if I even have an FTP in any meaningful sense.
3) My zone two power output seems to be a paltry 135 watts which will shift to 115 wats over the course of a 90 min ride, presumably due to cardiac drift.
4) I can keep talking and breathing at levels of exertion that are much higher than my zone two power output based on heart rate.
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Old 05-08-23, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
Unmedicated T2 here as well, in remission as well.
Thanks for chiming in. I'm glad to hear from everyone but especially glad to hear from another T2D who is doing well. Congratulations.

How are you defining "remission"? Is it:

1) You have good blood sugar control without medication so long as you are careful with your diet. This seems to be what "remission" means for most T2D.

2) You have good blood sugar control without medication regardless of what you eat?

I'm the former but strive to be the later. That, not because I'm hankering for doughnuts and big macs but, rather, because that would signal the reversal of insulin resistance. Science hasn't yet shown that exercise can achieve this level of remission but, at the same time, it also hasn't shown that it can't. So I'm holding on to some long shot hope in that regard. Obviously, the exercise is wildly beneficial for T2D's either way.
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Old 05-08-23, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Harold74
I listened to the Coggan podcast over the weekend. That was an interesting counter so some of San Millan's stuff. My thanks go out to everyone who pointed me in that direction. Hopefully they get around to ironing out their differences at some point and it's not one of those "science moves at the pace of funerals" kind of things.

I'm torn as to whether or not I'm happy to know about the Coggan stuff. Rationally, this is where my head's currently at:

1) There's a pretty good change that all roads do lead to Rome as you and Coggan say but;

2) The zone two road almost certainly leads to Rome.

Given how badly I want to get to Rome, it make logical sense for me to stick with Z2. So, while it's a relief to feel that I can probably be less strict about zone two, it's annoying to know that I could probably -- but not certainly -- ditch zone two altogether and just go back to to the hell for leather 20 minute all out efforts that I enjoy much more than Z2.
I think what gets lost in San Millan's Z2 podcasts - he in no way preaches that Z2 is the only training that's needed.

The focus of his podcast is based on Z2 training and how he believes Z2 should be implemented. Not that training should be limited to Z2. He absolutely mentions the need for high intensity work but provides few details.

Both men are essentially saying +/- the exact same thing - except for how strict your Z2 days need to be.

Z2 plus high intensity is the autobahn to Rome.
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Old 05-08-23, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Harold74
Thanks for chiming in. I'm glad to hear from everyone but especially glad to hear from another T2D who is doing well. Congratulations.

How are you defining "remission"? Is it:

1) You have good blood sugar control without medication so long as you are careful with your diet. This seems to be what "remission" means for most T2D.

2) You have good blood sugar control without medication regardless of what you eat?

I'm the former but strive to be the later. That, not because I'm hankering for doughnuts and big macs but, rather, because that would signal the reversal of insulin resistance. Science hasn't yet shown that exercise can achieve this level of remission but, at the same time, it also hasn't shown that it can't. So I'm holding on to some long shot hope in that regard. Obviously, the exercise is wildly beneficial for T2D's either way.
For me remission =
Unmedicated normal A1c /BG's and the ability to have a bit of carbs from time to time with no spikes - but 98% of the time the diet is spot on.

Example - my recent birthday dinner I ate the restaurant bread and 1/2 of their cheesecake dessert - and I did carb a bit up for my ride in the AM. Probably had upwards of 3-400 grams of carbs for the day (did ride 55 miles), my 1 hour PP was 110, 2 hour PP was 90. Before remission I would have been in the 4-600 range.

Normally I eat less than 40 grams of carbs per day, most of the time around 20 net. Can I eat more and not go out of remission? Not going to test those waters!!!!
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Old 05-08-23, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
I think what gets lost in San Millan's Z2 podcasts - he in no way preaches that Z2 is the only training that's needed.
I've listened to what he does preach very carefully and interpret that a bit differently. What I've heard him say is:

1) 80 / 20 Z2, even if your a non-diabetic.

2) For metabolic improvement, a minimum of four 60-90 min Z2 sessions each week as your top priority. Ideally five sessions. Add high intensity pretty much only if you've got time to train more than that. This is what he does personally, which I feel is telling.

3) High intensity / V02 max work is correlated to longevity but, apparently, it takes very little high intensity work to accomplish this. He says that the V02 max's of pro cyclists doesn't vary much during the year even when their training regimen does for this reason.

4) Something to the tune of "if you want to do some high intensity work for the rush of it, do that ride on the weekend in a group ride outdoors with your buddies".

I agree, San Millan doesn't recommend only Z2. That said, he very much recommends predominantly Z2 with high intensity taking a back seat that's so far back it's probably in a different vehicle.

Another thing that factors in for me is this:

5) Mechanistic explanations for why Z2 improves mitochondrial function -- and therefore longevity -- are available.

6) While V02 max does correlate with longevity, I've not heard any mechanistic explanation for it helping mitochondrial function. So it may not.

Given that T2D is the story of mitochondrial dysfunction cascading into blood sugar problems, cancer, heart disease, and dementia, I'm pretty focused on the mitochondrial function.

Do you ride with a continuous glucose monitor on? I do and have noticed an interesting pattern regarding Z2:

1) If I do high intensity work, I'll get a minor hepatic sugar spike that then comes down slowly. I think that this is the liver over reacting and the muscle cells under-reacting from an insulin usage perspective.

2) If I do Z2, I get no spike during the workout. Just a sexy, steady decline in blood sugar to very low levels. My BS will then ramp up modestly when I'm done working out. I take this to be my liver dumping sugar into my system still but at rate that my muscle cells can use it successfully. Then, when the workout ends, there's a readjustment period where my liver is dumping more into the system than my resting muscles are pulling out.

With regard to staying in Z2, the blood sugar data isn't much use to me in real time. Post workout, however, I feel that there is useful information there.
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Old 05-08-23, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
Both men are essentially saying +/- the exact same thing - except for how strict your Z2 days need to be
I think that there are some very significant differences in what the two men are saying. Consider:

1) Coggan repeatedly says that you don't need to oxidize fat to improve your ability to oxidize fat. This, effectively, means that you don't need any zone two to get the mitochondrial benefit of zone two. This is not all what San Millan says.

2) Both men rest their claims regarding strictly staying in zone two on the lactate clamping research of Mr. Brooks. San Millan says that lactate turns off fat oxidation based on Brooks' work. Coggan says that lactate not only doesn't turn off fat oxidation, it increases it a bit. I find the disagreement bizarre given that San Millan was mentored by Brooks and remains an active colleague of his. They co-author papers together still. If San Millan fundamentally misconstrues Brooks' core work, I would have thought that Brooks would have pulled him aside at some point to say "Dude, knock it off! You've gotten it bass backwards". At the same time, I don't have the background in physiology required for me to be able to question any of Coggan's statements.
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Old 05-08-23, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Harold74
I've listened to what he does preach very carefully and interpret that a bit differently. What I've heard him say is:

1) 80 / 20 Z2, even if your a non-diabetic.

2) For metabolic improvement, a minimum of four 60-90 min Z2 sessions each week as your top priority. Ideally five sessions. Add high intensity pretty much only if you've got time to train more than that. This is what he does personally, which I feel is telling.

3) High intensity / V02 max work is correlated to longevity but, apparently, it takes very little high intensity work to accomplish this. He says that the V02 max's of pro cyclists doesn't vary much during the year even when their training regimen does for this reason.

4) Something to the tune of "if you want to do some high intensity work for the rush of it, do that ride on the weekend in a group ride outdoors with your buddies".

I agree, San Millan doesn't recommend only Z2. That said, he very much recommends predominantly Z2 with high intensity taking a back seat that's so far back it's probably in a different vehicle.

Another thing that factors in for me is this:

5) Mechanistic explanations for why Z2 improves mitochondrial function -- and therefore longevity -- are available.

6) While V02 max does correlate with longevity, I've not heard any mechanistic explanation for it helping mitochondrial function. So it may not.

Given that T2D is the story of mitochondrial dysfunction cascading into blood sugar problems, cancer, heart disease, and dementia, I'm pretty focused on the mitochondrial function.

Do you ride with a continuous glucose monitor on? I do and have noticed an interesting pattern regarding Z2:

1) If I do high intensity work, I'll get a minor hepatic sugar spike that then comes down slowly. I think that this is the liver over reacting and the muscle cells under-reacting from an insulin usage perspective.

2) If I do Z2, I get no spike during the workout. Just a sexy, steady decline in blood sugar to very low levels. My BS will then ramp up modestly when I'm done working out. I take this to be my liver dumping sugar into my system still but at rate that my muscle cells can use it successfully. Then, when the workout ends, there's a readjustment period where my liver is dumping more into the system than my resting muscles are pulling out.

With regard to staying in Z2, the blood sugar data isn't much use to me in real time. Post workout, however, I feel that there is useful information there.
I guess it depends on where "Rome" is on a personal level. Z2 seems like great road to take for what Rome is for you and your goals.

For me its 90/10 or 85/15. Personally, I'm attempting to see what my ceiling is in terms of performance. My Rome is my physical performance limits.

I'm kind of all or nothing that way. Went from doing all forms of cycling in my 20's with power lifting - then to being a drunk 340# diabetic blob - with nothing in between. Fit to blob.

I figure this latest version of all or nothing is much much much better than the 340# blob version.

And I agree 100% about Z2 and fixing things on the cellular level. Been doing it for close to 4 years now with great results... just never was as strict as ISM prescribed. Never heard of him unit recently...
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Old 05-08-23, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
Can I eat more and not go out of remission? Not going to test those waters!!!!
This is what I've garnered through my training:

1) My average numbers are good throughout a day / week / month.

2) If I eat well, the spikes are within the good range for a diabetic if not the normal range for a non-diabetic.

3) If I make a dietary blunder, I bring the spike down much faster than I used to. It becomes a thing that's resolved in a hour rather than twelve hours.

4) If I go to Five Guys for a burger and fries, that will generate an epic spike which will leave no doubt that I am still, very much, not "normal" metabolically.
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Old 05-08-23, 11:00 AM
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I have one more Z2 observation that I feel is important.

Is Z2 some magical place to be, per San Millan? Maybe, maybe not. What Z2 does do for me, however, is allow me to greatly increase my weekly training volume. When I was doing all high intensity work, my capacity for recovery would only allow me to train every second day and, once a week or so, I'd need two days off to fully recover. I read someplace that you can recover from a Z2 workout in as little as eight hours. And that seems to be true for me. This has allowed me to go from training three days per week to five or six days per week. Sometimes I even take advantage of this to do indoor in the morning before work and then outdoor in the evening.

I've definitely seen some benefit from doing Z2 work since I've switched to it but that may have more to do with having doubled my time in the saddle than Z2 being a metabolic Shangri-La.

I suspect that this logic is old hat for serious cyclists who routinely work structured training programs. It's new for me however.

Last edited by Harold74; 05-08-23 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 05-08-23, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
Fit to blob.
I've never been overweight in any statistical sense and I thought that I was plausibly "non-sedentary" because I've always been a gym rat. In the gym, however, I was 90% resistance training because I like that much more than cardio. I've come to feel that, in the absence of pretty serious endurance training, one really is "sedentary" no matter what else they are doing. That, because it's all about the mitochondria it seems. So I was "sedentary" all of my adult life in this sense. And it's landed me in a difficult spot re T2D and all of the potential downstream stuff.

If you haven't already, I highly recommend Peter Attia / Gerald Shulman on A Master Class on Insulin Resistance: #140 - Gerald Shulman, MD, PhD: Insulin resistance—molecular mechanisms and clinical implications - Bing video. That is the way. I guess 25% or ripped, college students test out to be some degree insulin resistance if they are sedentary. Out in gen pop, it's 88%. The prevalence of it is nuts. Basically everybody had diabetes, they just don't know it yet.

Last edited by Harold74; 05-08-23 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 05-08-23, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Harold74
While V02 max does correlate with longevity, I've not heard any mechanistic explanation for it helping mitochondrial function. So it may not.
It is interesting to see what Coggan says about VO2max training (level 5) and mitochondrial function, which I assume is based on data. From his "more checks are better" chart at each level:

Expected physiological/performance adaptations resulting from training at levels 1-7
  1. no checks
  2. two checks
  3. three checks
  4. four checks
  5. two checks
  6. one check
  7. no check

So, according to Coggan, mitochondrial production is equally sub-optimal at zones 2 (endurance) and 5 (VO2max), and if your goal is to increase mitochondria, you should be doing more levels 3 and 4.
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Old 05-08-23, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
It is interesting to see what Coggan says about VO2max training (level 5) and mitochondrial function, which I assume is based on data. From his "more checks are better" chart at each level:

Expected physiological/performance adaptations resulting from training at levels 1-7
  1. no checks
  2. two checks
  3. three checks
  4. four checks
  5. two checks
  6. one check
  7. no check

So, according to Coggan, mitochondrial production is equally sub-optimal at zones 2 (endurance) and 5 (VO2max), and if your goal is to increase mitochondria, you should be doing more levels 3 and 4.
So, would that be on the basis of per unit time spent in that zone?

If so, then zone 2, with it's measly two checks would blow zone 3 and 4 away since you can spend so much more time riding there over the course of weeks and months without creating excess stress and recovery time.

Point is, you can't discount the time factor and what is sustainable vs. non-sustainable. So many people get burned out on sweet spot plans.
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Old 05-08-23, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
So, according to Coggan, mitochondrial production is equally sub-optimal at zones 2 (endurance) and 5 (VO2max), and if your goal is to increase mitochondria, you should be doing more levels 3 and 4.
Those checks represent benefit per unit of training time https://velodynamics2.webs.com/traininglevels.pdf so 10 minutes at level 2 provides the same stimulus for mitochondrial production as 10 minutes at level 5, but of course much more time can be spent at L2 than L5. Where the tradeoff between increased time and increased stimulus happens depends, but answering that question is what led to the concept of a sweet spot.
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Old 05-08-23, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Steamer
So, would that be on the basis of per unit time spent in that zone?

If so, then zone 2, with it's measly two checks would blow zone 3 and 4 away since you can spend so much more time riding there over the course of weeks and months without creating excess stress and recovery time.

Point is, you can't discount the time factor and what is sustainable vs. non-sustainable. So many people get burned out on sweet spot plans.
Unclear if those check marks are linear, or if they are time-based. Andy only couches them with some "it depends" wording:

"Table 2 lists the primary physiological adaptations expected to result from training at each level, although these will obviously be influenced by factors such as the initial fitness of the individual, the duration of each workout, the time taken between each interval effort, etc."
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Old 05-08-23, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
So, according to Coggan, mitochondrial production is equally sub-optimal at zones 2 (endurance) and 5 (VO2max), and if your goal is to increase mitochondria, you should be doing more levels 3 and 4.
I'll check out the check list. As always, it's a made more complex by Coggan's Z2 not being the same as ISM's Z2. 7 level / 6 level etc. ISM's Z2 may have things in common with Coggan's Z3
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Old 05-08-23, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Unclear if those check marks are linear, or if they are time-based.
In the original article (2001!) linked above, he makes it clear they're time based.
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Old 05-08-23, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by ZHVelo
What is wrong with being slow up climbs? If you do a zone 2 ride you do a zone 2 ride.
Some climbs are simply too steep to stay in Z2. Where I live it is full of steep punchy climbs where you would stall out in Z2. Even with a compact chainset with a 1:1 gear. It simply isn't practical without resorting to using my mtb with massively lower gearing.
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Old 05-09-23, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Harold74
I've never been overweight in any statistical sense and I thought that I was plausibly "non-sedentary" because I've always been a gym rat. In the gym, however, I was 90% resistance training because I like that much more than cardio. I've come to feel that, in the absence of pretty serious endurance training, one really is "sedentary" no matter what else they are doing. That, because it's all about the mitochondria it seems. So I was "sedentary" all of my adult life in this sense. And it's landed me in a difficult spot re T2D and all of the potential downstream stuff.

If you haven't already, I highly recommend Peter Attia / Gerald Shulman on A Master Class on Insulin Resistance: #140 - Gerald Shulman, MD, PhD: Insulin resistanceómolecular mechanisms and clinical implications - Bing video. That is the way. I guess 25% or ripped, college students test out to be some degree insulin resistance if they are sedentary. Out in gen pop, it's 88%. The prevalence of it is nuts. Basically everybody had diabetes, they just don't know it yet.

I've watch many Attia videos - great stuff.
Sedentary is one thing, but our modern diets and genetics are another. 10's of thousands of years we lived without processed food, added sugars in everything, HCFS, even readily available fruits and fruit juice. And for much of that time, people were not doing tons of Z2 work...

My T2 started in my late 20's. I was an avid cyclist and gym rat - I also subscribed to the heavy carb loading theories of the day. Mass amounts of carbs - and my symptoms began. I forget the guys name - but he was big proponent of carb loading when he trained elite athletes. Now he's changed his tune and thinks he may have created a bunch of diabetics in the process.

I'm from Vikining lineage. My ancestors lived off meat, fat and limited grains, sugars and fruits. My body just isn't capable of handling the modern diet. And my dad plus both of my sisters are diabetic...
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Old 05-09-23, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Harold74
A lot of folks here have mentioned RPE and and the conversation test. I want to explain why I feel that those metrics are likely less valid for me than they are for "normal" people without type two diabetes.

San Millan discusses the phenomenon by which it is common for diabetics to have collapsed zone twos. I think that's likely true of me. I have to maintain a very low level of exertion to be able be in zone two based on heat rate and I suspect that glycolytic energy production dominates throughout nearly all phases of my workouts unless I'm very deliberate about keeping my exertion levels low.

Consider some of my metrics:

1) My ramp test FTP comes in around 220 watts.
2) I suspect that my real FTP is closer to 150 watts, if I even have an FTP in any meaningful sense.
3) My zone two power output seems to be a paltry 135 watts which will shift to 115 wats over the course of a 90 min ride, presumably due to cardiac drift.
4) I can keep talking and breathing at levels of exertion that are much higher than my zone two power output based on heart rate.
Have you experimented with a lactate meter?
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Old 05-09-23, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62
Have you experimented with a lactate meter?
I haven't but I've been eyeing that up pretty hard. I'm in the research phase presently. Which unit would be best for home use, what the costs will be and, most importantly, what I'll do with the data if I get my hands on it. Diabetics have wonky lactate levels apparently. Very high at rest etc. As such, lactate stands to be another metric where I'll probably test out quite differently from normal cyclists. Lactate testing is a bit expensive too so I want to have some confidence that the information will be useful to me before I invest too heavily in it.

I already wear a continuous glucose meter which, sometimes, feels like a Harold-Sucks-o-Meter. In some respects, I do not welcome a second one of those.
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