How to plan a long endurance ride in Zwift

I wanted to share with everyone my 3 hour “endurance” ride from today. I figured my workout could be helpful for others to duplicate / modify.

Today was a free ride for me with targeted zone durations. Tomorrow I have a horrendous workout, so I knew going into today that I needed to do the absolute minimum in order to have a shot at getting through tomorrow’s 4 hours sufferfest.

Here are my personal stats:
Submax = 244 - 266w
Low Threshold = 312 - 330
VO2 = 409 - 486

Targets for today.
40’ @ 244 - 273w
20’ @ 312 - 330w
5’ @ 409 - 486w

I ended up at about 245w average for the day. So the low end of my submax threshold. At the end of the ride the stress on my quads and tendons is MUCH less than when I use to do this ride at 245w steady. Right now I can feel the load spread around my entire leg (front and back), hip-flexor and glutes. The knees are not sore and I don’t feel any unusual stress on my tendons. AND, I actually accomplished something and worked on zones that are useful in a race. Low submax is not useful in any race except for stuff like Kanza and ultra stuff - 12 hours +. But even then, I would not train for those races by doing 8 hours submax. I did that in 2016 and 2017. It sucks and lead to injury.

Check out my workout below. I basically broke everything up into 10’ efforts with 5’ of recovery in-between. This was a blender of high power, low power, high cadence, low cadence, standing, seated across the targeted power zones. You guys can make up these efforts yourself, or maybe @Coach_Theia can suggest something. It’s taken me 1 full year to transition from 245w steady for 3 hours to something like this. This workout was hard enough that I actually got a workout, but not so hard that I cannot go much harder tomorrow.

For you “grinders” out there who love the 3 - 5 hours steady - I really encourage you to consider changing how you do endurance rides. Ask yourself, how does endurance pace (steady) for that long really improve your cycling? When I first transitioned from grinder to how I train today, it was super frustrating. I sucked at the variation. It wore me down very quickly. I could not ride as long and got super tired. It takes months or years to change. But since I’ve made the change, I’ve gotten so much stronger. I can cover attacks on the road like never before, especially after 3 hours in the saddle when people are starting to get tired.

If you do the a long endurance ride on Sunday, you can add in these intervals with the group. Just go off the front, and regroup. But remember, don’t go so hard on Saturday, that you can’t do real efforts on Sunday.

Maybe Theia can suggest a 3 hour endurance ride that people can try.

I wanted to add that I did not come up with these concepts on my own. I’m abbreviating what I’m learning from someone who is MUCH more experienced and has years of training and racing experience. If it was not for his help, I would still be doing 245 steady with knee and tendon pain.


I don’t suppose you have this as a Zwift file you want to share? :wink:

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I actually made it up on the fly - sort of. It’s just 10’ efforts with 5’ rest. Here are some of the efforts

(7x) 10" full gas then 10" @ 500, rest 1’ - all standing, 80+ RPM
(2x) 3’ seated Z2-3 @ 90RPM, 2’ standing Z3 @ 60RPM
(3x) 2’40" seated Z2 @ 90RPM, 1’ standing Z3 70RPM, 20" seated Z5 100 RPM
(10x) 50" seated Z2-3 @ 80RPM, 10" seated Z3-4 @ 100 RPM
(2x) 2’ seated Z2-3 @ 80RPM, 2’ standing Z3 @ 60RPM
(2x) 30" standing Z5+ @ 80RPM, 3’ seated Z3 @ 80 RPM, 30" standing Z5+ @ 80RPM

I might have the zones wrong a little. It’s hard to translate my stuff to the std zones. But you can see it’s ALL over the place. Here, there, up, down, low, high…

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No Endurance Lab workout scheduled for today, so I just went out to try to do some “semi-structured” stuff with lots of variation. Unfortunately, the cadence from my powerhub is not very accurate at higher numbers, so you can’t really see that variation, but I threw some of that in, along with some single leg stuff, sprints, a bit of standing (which I dread–TT bike on the trainer makes it really awkward). Anyway, good stuff.


nice job!

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Agree with Drew’s comments. When I prescribe endurance rides, I always include variations in the description for the ride so that the athlete is NOT riding steady, on the same gear/cadence for long periods.

When I don’t prescribe power zones to work on, I recommend the following cadence changes according to the terrain:

Flats: 85-90 rpms
Hills/climbs: 50-70 rpms seated or standing
Downhills: 100 rpms to gain speed then 80 rpms to maintain
Headwinds and steady inclines: 80 rpms