After messing up my 4DP numbers a second time during a HM+FF Double week, I am looking for advice on how to rightly pace FF.
This is not my first FF test, it might be the fifth or six one, yet the last two have been a mess. After finding the workouts fairly comfortable I have decided to do a HM + FF Double week since I found it very helpful last year to get those HM Targets. Nevertheless, last time I did it I had to revert the FF values and even added and extra few watts to AC.
Two weeks ago I started feeling the gains and decided to take it easy to test again. Last Wednesday I did a successful HM with +3% MAP. Today I did FF and it was a complete mess again, I just reverted the values to last Wednesday’s HM results. I am actually finding it harder to correctly pace in Level Mode with the higher power targets and I am assuming my messing up FF comes from there.
Any advice? I used to love FF but I am starting to get frustrated…
@Reynaldo_Lopez We have all been there. Check out this thread and also search for Full Frontal in the forum and you will find a number of other threads in the topic.
For the 5 minute you should have some confidence about what you can hold for 5 minutes which you can get by looking at some of your MAP workouts and also your Half Monty results. From there try to push it up as much as you can without blowing up as you reach the finish.
For the 20 minute - same thing. Pace at what you are confident you can hold for 10 minutes and from there start pushing. Basically a negative split. In the second 10 minutes I try to go by RPE and also reference heart rate in relation to LTHR which you get from Half Monty.
I would also recommend the mental toughness videos. Often times adding just the right amount of positive chatter plus the right breathing will go a long way. The Tapers video has some excellent breathing techniques.
I will admit to being a level homer, and riding in level mode whenever possibly, as I think you get greater benefit from practicing gear ratios and the like, and it’s closer to actually being on the road, buyt may I make a suggestion?
You seem comfortable with your numbers, and what they represent, so I will suggest what helped me: try to ride a FF in ERG mode once. Manually adjust your target to what you feel you should be capable of, or (as I’ve done) just adjust for a quantifiable gain (like 105%, or 110%). Then ride it as a workout, in ERG using the #'s it generates for your targets.
The benefit of this, I found - beyond just demystifying FF - is that it takes the gearing and the “what comes next” OUT of the equation, and allows you to focus on your effort and pacing.
There’s nothing sacred about FF. As many have identified it’s all about pacing, which is a learned skill requiring practice. Think of this as “practice mode”.
Like was said by others, given that you roughly know your targets, do Open 30 in level mode and find out what your gearing should be for each section with a reasonably high cadence. It takes the guesswork out of it on the day. I normally only adjust my cadence on the day, depending on how it’s going
Another way to go about it: what went well with the earlier ones? And why? Can you reproduce these success factors?
This got me thinking, it might be time to get a training journal. I’ll start following that.
Indeed I will try Open 30 or 60 or do some workouts in Level Mode. To be honest I barely use level mode and today I felt my pedaling was ultra inefficient. Do you ever get that feeling that you’re burning yourself out, cadence and HR high yet the pressure is not on the pedal? That was it.
I would also recommend the mental toughness videos. Often times adding just the right amount of positive chatter plus the right breathing will go a long way.
I will give the mental videos a try as well, good suggestion. I knew I did bad in NM and MAP so I went into the FTP section already lost, only negative thoughts and no inspiration whatsoever. I guess no matter how many times we ride FF, we can always learn something.
It might be a while before my next FF, especially with spring and summer approaching but I’ll change tactics and practice and share my experience.
I totally agree with @genolan. I figure out the gear and cadence range for the reasonable range of expected outcomes for each interval ahead of time. I keep a cheat sheet in front of me and just adjust cadence to fine tune effort and power.
While I tested in an open ride too, I calculated my target gearing and cadence using the formulas underlying my KICKR’s power curve. A bit technical, but worked for me.
Finally, for the sprints and 1 minute interval, I also used Coach Neal’s advice from a podcast (which I can look up if you like, but don’t have handy right now). Here’s the bottom line.
For the sprints, start in a gear where you are near FTP at 85 or 90 RPM. When the sprint starts, don’t change gear, just push the cadence as high as you can over the 10 seconds or so that you have.
For the 1 minute, figure the gear where you will be near your target at 100 RPM or so. Then go all out for a minute. Expect to start over your target, fade, then maybe come back at the end. Try to keep the fade from dropping too much below.
Finally, Coach said that almost everyone can do FF in level 1 or level 0. The lower levels have less power difference between gears so it’s easier to fine tune cadence. I did it in level 1.
Not quite - the power resistance increase is not linear with respect to cadence/“speed”. The change in power resistance varies from one trainer to another (each one has a different power resistance curve) and on the level/incline chosen. The resistance factor is a low exponential curve. Here it is for the Wahoo KICKR:
@Saddlesaur I guess it depends at least somewhat on your trainer. There are two problems with your power calculation (although the second might depend on the trainer you are using). The first probably more important.
The problem that applies to all flywheel trainers (and probably some others) is that power during accelleration is MUCH higher than power at steady state. That’s because it takes a lot more power to get the flywheel spinning faster than to maintain it at whatever speed its already at. Consequently, because you will spend much of your 10 seconds increasing your cadence (i.e. speeding up the the flywheel), power during the 10 seconds will by much higher than the steady state power. This is easy to demonstrate to yourself. Put the trainer in level mode, pick a gear and spin at a constant cadence, then increase your cadence by 10 points and level off. You’ll observe power spiking up and then settling down (at a higher level) as your cadence levels off. Bottom line: you’ll the best results if you pick an initial cadence so that you can accelerate hard for the full 10 seconds.
There’s also a problem with your calculation of steady state power, although that depends on the trainer and it might be right for some trainers. Many smart trainers have power curves in level mode that try to mimic power requirements of riding on a hill outdoors. The KICKR (which is what Coach Neal was talking about for somewhat obvious reasons) is like that. It’s power curves look like this:
Those represent a formula of the form: P = av^3 + bv where a and b are suitably chosen constants (chosen by Wahoo) and v is non-accelerating velocity. (As you already know, velocity is directly proportional to cadence if you stay in the same gear.) The av^3 term represents the impact of air resistance. Since the force of air resistance increases with the square of velocity, the power required to offset that force (and maintain constant velocity) increases with the cube of velocity (P = F* distance/second = F * v). So for many trainers, like the KICKR, power at steady velocity increases much, much more than the ratio of velocities. The bv term represents the force of gravity given the slope of the virtual hill. It also includes the effect of rolling resistance. As the level increases, the b constant increases too because more gravitational force pulls you down the hill (as opposed to into the ground).
For the KICKR at a 50/19 gear ratio, here’s a table of cadence to steady state power in level 1:
While I didn’t show it, the higher the level, the more the results look like yours (becuase ‘b’ gets higher and ‘a’ doesn’t). But its far from directly proportional even at very high levels.
Bottom line: if you were start in the 50/19 gear in level 1 at, say, 85 RPM and accelerate past 120RPM after 10 seconds, your average power will is likely to be far higher than 478W. Of course, you should pick gears that work for you after some experimentation. But understanding the principles of how acceleration effects power (as described in #1) will help you avoid picking too high a gear to start. The key is to be able accelerate hard for the 10 seconds.
I have to admit it, but I “cheat” for my FF’s and they become not so bad.
Cheating isn’t quite right, but it’s doing something that helps my head.
Since a FF is done in level mode - not ERG - I do a my FF’s while also doing a big Zwift race (e.g. a race/ride with several hundred participants). I time the start of the 5 min MAP test on FF to be at the exact same time as the start of Zwift race. In other words I start my FF exactly 20 minutes 23 seconds before the start of the Zwift race. This lets me use the first ~20 minutes of the FF as a warmup for the Zwift race. The Zwift race starts and I’m off racing AND doing my 5 min MAP test at the exact same time. This will usually put me in the front group of the race, often off the front on my own. When the 5 min test is over, I drift back in the pack, but because I’m doing this in a big event, when the 20 min FTP test starts (5 min after the MAP test), there are still lots of people around me and I can use them as carrots to see how many I can catch during the 20 min of hell.
To do the above, I run SYSTM and Zwift simultaneously on my laptop. SYSTM is configured to record my HR, cadence and power and also set it up as the Trainer Control. Once I start the FF, I switch the workout mode from ERG to Level Mode (level 2 works for me, you might have to experiment to see what level works best for you). I then setup Zwift to read power, HR and cadence, but NOT control the trainer. I use an ANT+ dongle for the SYSTM connections and BT for the Zwift connections. I’m sure there are other setups that would work, but this is how I’ve got it working.