Welcome to my week 9 “Build Me Up” (BMU) training log.
About this Series:I’m journaling my way weekly through Zwift’s “Build Me Up” training plan and calling out tough workouts, minor bugs, and Zwift feature suggestions along the way. For your reference, my FTP is set to 321W, as detected by Zwift’s ramp test at the start of the plan.Past weeks: Week 1 // Week 2 // Week 3 // Week 4 // Week 5 // Week 6 // Week 7 // Week 8
Until this week, I had completed every BMU workout I’d attempted… on the first try! But this week saw the workout that broke me. Was it the workout, or was it my own form on the day? I think mostly the latter. Read on for more…
Heading into my 9th week of BMU, I was pretty proud of myself for having completed all the workouts thus far… and without cheating*!
* Yes, I’ve skipped two pedaling drills workouts, which some readers think are rather important. I wouldn’t say they’re worthless, but I would say when doing a big plan like this, for me it was better to get outside and get off the trainer instead of doing those workouts. Gotta stay sane. Also – I’ll admit I haven’t always hit the cadence or position targets in some workouts… so there’s been a bit of cheating that way. But I’ve always completed the intervals at the required power, without pausing the workout or lowering the FTP bias. Those are my “rules”.
I’d completed every work attempted thus far. But all that ended with this Mosaic workout.
First, the workout had a VO2 block which was harder than anything I’d done before, because the “recovery” intervals were at 210W (zone 2) so my legs weren’t just spinning easy and letting me get more complete recovery between intervals. I paused the workout after the 4th set so I could spin easy and get my legs under me for the final VO2 interval.
This was followed by a set of intervals alternating between 1 minute at FTP (320W) and 1 minute at high zone 2 (240W). Heading into the workout I didn’t anticipate this part being very hard, but the VO2 intervals clearly wiped me out, and I pulled the plug after just 2 of the 10 1-minute FTP intervals. There was no way I could complete this workout today.
This is where I blew up
Was I tired from riding the day before? Was I getting sick? Is my FTP set too high and this workout finally pushed me to the limit? I’m not sure. But I decided to take it easy the next day, in hopes of tackling this workout later in the week.
Getting back into the saddle after Saturday’s fail, I just hoped my legs would feel good enough that I could complete this workout. I had a lot of questions, though. Had the workout difficulty ratcheted up quickly in week 9, and I couldn’t hack it? Was I getting sick, as evidenced by Saturday’s failure? And even if I wasn’t sick, how would my body handle this crazy workout, which consisted of 3 sets of 20 “microbursts”: 15 seconds of hard effort followed by 15 seconds of recovery?
This wasn’t going to be the fun sort of Circus. More the Circus of nightmares!
I’d done 30/30s before, usually two sets of 10. But 60 15/15s, and at some very high wattages (some were 200% of my FTP, or 640W)?! 15 seconds may not seem like much, but if you tally it up over 60 repeats that’s 15 minutes spent at an average of 488W.
That’s a lot of work.
The first set of 20 was tough but doable. The second set started out hard, but got easier as we went along, basically following my fatigue so it was steady suffering. The final set was terrible, especially the 2x sprints at 640W near the end. I gutted it out, but I was on the rivet for sure.
15 seconds never felt so long.
I put this one at the top of the list with the hardest workouts so far. It didn’t help that I felt a bit asthmatic during it, wheezing during hard efforts and feeling like I didn’t have full lung capacity. Not sure if that was seasonal allergies or what, but I’m hoping it clears up soon.
It wasn’t just hard because of my breathing, though. I tied my 2023 power curve PRs for 9:45 and 39:00 with this workout, so the effort was high… and spikey!
With a name like “Malevolent”, I knew this wouldn’t be easy. This workout could be summarized as “sweetspot + surges”, except the evil twist is that the surges get closer and closer together as the workout goes on, making the final few minutes much harder than the first!
This workout was the largest chunk of hard effort without recovery that I’ve encountered so far in BMU, with the main workout being 41:15 of continuous sweet spot (90% FTP or 290W) with 7 1-minute VO2 surges (115% FTP or 370W) mixed in.
This seemed pretty crazy going in, as the longest sweetspot intervals I’d done yet were 2x 20-minute blocks separated by several minutes of recovery. But I was able to do it, even if that last 3-5 minutes was tough. And I got a power curve update for 2023 as thanks for the effort.
This 90-minute workout was the easiest workout of the week, even though it was a longer one. The intervals just weren’t very taxing – I think my max heartrate for this workout was in the low 160s, and I probably averaged somewhere in the mid-140s.
This workout has two blocks that feel like actual work (eg, legs burning, hard breathing):
FTP intervals: 2 minutes on, 1 minute off, 6x (18 minutes total)
Microbursts: 20 seconds on (130% of FTP), 40 seconds off, 8x (8 minutes total)
The big question is, was this workout easy enough that I’ll be able to bang out Mosaic tomorrow? Only one way to find out…
After failing to complete this workout on Saturday, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intimidated to tackle this the following Thursday… especially after having completed BMU workouts on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday!
But I’d felt strong all week, and couldn’t see any way to put this workout off for another day without messing up the whole plan schedule. So I decided to tackle it, even though I doubted my chances of success.
I tried to set myself up for success. I turned the air conditioning on, lowering the room temperature and keeping it from getting too humid. I also brought snacks so I could keep taking in carbs during the long workout. Lastly, I fought with my mind to keep a positive “Can do” mindset. It was a battle!
When I began the VO2 block, I could tell my body was performing better than it had on Saturday. My heart rate felt more controlled and seemed to be recovering better. On Saturday I had to pause the workout before completing the 5th interval, but today I knocked out all 5, no pausing! Here’s what my heart rate looked like for the VO2 block on Saturday vs Thursday:
Chart by Visualizer
Note: S1=start of VO2 interval #2, F2=finish of VO2 interval #2, etc
Next came the 1-minute over-unders… 1 minute at FTP, 1 minute at 75% FTP (240W). Repeat 10x. This is where I gave up after 2 reps on Saturday… but I was able to push through and complete the whole set today!
Then it was time for the final set – “flavor #3” as Coach Shayne described it. This was 6 sets of 5 minutes at 85% (275W) and 1 minute at FTP (320W), repeated back to back with no rests. That’s 36 minutes of hard work after 80 minutes of hard work!
After finishing the first 6-minute set I thought, “There’s no way I can do 30 more minutes of this.” But then I finished the second block. And on the third block I realized that, while my legs felt achy and tired, they were able to hold the needed power. I just had to be willing mentally to keep pushing, even though I so badly wanted to hit pause, spin out the legs, then knock out those final intervals.
So I kept pedaling. And miracle of miracles… I made it to the end! Mosaic completed, with no FTP bias adjustments or pauses. And a bump in my 2023 power curve:
I was super stoked to have finished this workout after failing a few days earlier. This was the most mentally challenging workout of the program so far for me, especially after it blew me up the first time. I was flying high and energized the rest of the day!
Despite my left foot wanting to cramp as I walked around afterward, I drove down to the local pizza joint and treated myself to several slices of combo for lunch. And a Pepsi! The conqueror’s reward.
My reward pizza. I only ate half!
Looking forward to week 10, there are two workouts with captions I question:
Exemplar: says it’s “One of the most challenging workouts in this plan.”
Exigent: says it’s “One of the hardest workouts in this plan.”
Neither appears to be close to the hardest workouts in the plan – particularly Exemplar, which is just a 60-minute sweetspot workout. Perhaps these workouts will tell me to ride big blocks in the drops at 60rpm or something silly like that… but in terms of power requirements, the captions for these just seem off, which makes it hard to trust the captions for other workouts.
This may have been my toughest week yet, but only because I started on an off day and had to repeat the big Mosaic workout.
Week 1: 274 TSS
Week 2: 343 TSS
Week 3: 363 TSS
Week 4: 212 TSS
Week 5: 312 TSS
Week 6: 358 TSS
Week 7: 430 TSS
Week 8: 217 TSS (not counting my outdoor rides)
Week 9: 388 TSS (not counting the failed Mosaic workout)
I think each week of BMU features a key “cornerstone workout” and another which doesn’t really need to be done, so I thought it might be useful to call those out each week, in case your schedule is tight. For week 9, here are my picks:
Key Workout – Circus: Hard to choose just one key workout this week, but I settled on Circus since it focuses on the microbursts that will be featured in upcoming weeks, too. If you don’t do this workout, you’ll probably fail on Week 10’s “Baffling Beau”.
Throw Away – Melange: This one felt like a few different workouts combined in order to keep me busy on an easier day. Which isn’t a bad thing, I suppose! But if I had to pick one workout that didn’t feel super targeted or effective for the week, it would be Melange.
Week 10 is next, and its 5 workouts add up to 441 TSS, making it the biggest week so far!