• Mark

Pyramid Endurance Session

It was dry this morning, the sun was out, a gentle breeze and the temperature around 6c at 9am, a good day for a bike session. Despite the good conditions I was nervous about today’s session as it was the return of what my Coach calls ‘Zonal Endurance’.


Today was a reduced session time wise (110 minutes), as it’s the first one of this training block. After a warm-up you ride at the prescribed effort for the prescribed time. After this the effort goes up, again for a certain time and this continues until you reach the top level of effort and then you replicate this but reducing your intensity until you end the ride with a cool down, hence the name ‘pyramid’.

I was nervous as I found these not just physically challenging, but also mentally challenging last year. It’s hard work getting to the top of the pyramid, but even harder to hold the prescribed efforts as it reduces down the other side of the pyramid. I eventually got there last year, but today I was nervous about the possibility of not coping with it mentally. This and a bit of concern about the knee added to the nerves.

The session went well apart from the temporary traffic lights that interrupted my flat loop that allows for consistent power throughout each lap, only one left turn at a junction where you have to back off. It’s a great loop, but only 7km long, so even today it meant going around six times!!

The effort at each level is a percentage of your FTP (Functional Threshold Power) until you reach your FTP power, or slightly above. This pretty much represents your lactate threshold. Heart rate could be used, but not as effectively. Of course, before being able to set the effort for each level of the pyramid you need to have completed an FTP Test to establish your Functional Threshold Power. This workout is great for improving endurance, lactate threshold and mentally getting used to the discomfort of pushing yourself to achieve the adaptations and performance improvements required.

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