From Cookie Monster to Endurance Athlete Part 2

Part 2 of the Cookie Monster's journey into Zone 2 training.

Posted by Vaughn Pretorius

"'Without data, you're just another person with an opinion',"

W. Edwards Deming.
Image 1

Structured training:

After determining my Zone 2 and threshold number in November 2022. We had to structure my season around my main aims and target races for 2023. This is where we have to zoom out and look at the Macrocycle.

How can we structure my training for me to be the best physically possible at the right time.

We structured my season into 4 phases.

  1. Base training Zone 2 focused
  2. Build phase (Race structured intervals)
  3. Race Focused phase
  4. Off season (Recovery)

These 4 phase of training all connect. A higher level of fitness and performance in a season is determined on how well each phase is accomplished. In a nutshell, a good base training phase will allow for a higher and more intense build phase before the main race focused phase. Which will allow you to handle a higher level of stress in races.

With all the hard work done before the race focused phase TrainingPeaks represents Fitness (CTL) will reduce as training turned into a structure of racing twice a week and recover on the days in-between.

Training peaks macro season

TrainingPeaks represents Fitness (CTL) in blue font and the blue line (in the Performance Management Chart)

How does this come back to Zone 2 training?

As Dr Jon Baker described it to me, "The bigger your base, the higher your can build up the pyramid (CTL fitness)"

In early 2023 my base phase was a slow and steady progression to teach the body to burn fats and adapt. As I have started my base phase again in September 2023 after my off season, we can see my CTL has increase at a faster rate than last year. This is due to compound fitness from the pervious season and my body being more adapted to training more affectively.
What we should see next season is a much bigger base phase which in turn will allow for a bigger build phase and a higher level of fitness when it comes to the race focus phase.


Supercompensation is the adaptive response of our bodies to a training. As you train, you become fatigued but by recovering from that training stimulus and getting the balance right, you will compensated to deal with that training load and intensity.

Each individual will have their own optimum level of exercise and recovery to increase their base fitness level over time.

Having the right structure to your training monthly and yearly will allow for fitness improvements over time.

This supercompensation doesn't happen over night or within one week of training. This process takes time and will compound on pervious season of training. This is why consistency is key when training.

This graph below represents a couple of moths of training and recovery phases. But this is also the same fundamental structure used above in the Performance Management Chart with CTL.

How has Zone 2 training affected my 2023 season:

  • Adaptation takes time.

Below is a comparison between 11 months apart of a 60min Zone 2 consistent ride around the Inner Circle of Regent's Park.

Both rides where kept at zone 2 heat rate and effort:

  • Power has increased by 22Watts.
  • Speed increase of 3.6km/h.
Z2 Start of season

60mins at Zone 2 data. Resulted in average speed increasing and average power increasing in Zone 2.

Z2 End of season
  • Zone 2 training allows you to do a higher volume training with less muscular fatigue.

Average hours trained per week on the bike was 13:20:42. It is easier to recover from a Zone 2 rides than high intensity efforts in Zone 4/5. Due to less muscle fiber break down and muscle glycogen stores being used. This meant I could increase the volume of training over this season without burning out or suffering from over fatigue.

This has resulted in:

  1. ImprovedVO2max
  2. Increase fat combustion
  3. Increase lactate clearance
  4. Increase FTP
  5. Increase mitochondria density
TP Duration per week

Duration of training on the bike from 1/12/2022 - 18/08/2023

Screenshot 2023 11 08 084127

Midlife Cyclist Talk Series: Jon Baker

About the author

Vaughn Pretorius, Bike Fitter

Bikefitter and customer service. Vaughn loves racing his Pinarello and is a great sprinter. Originally from New Zealand he is enjoying racing in London and he spends most of his time riding his bike. Vaughn's speciality is working with male and female racers, who are interested in using bike-fit to ride faster, more efficiently for longer.

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