July 28, 2019

Training preference: Enjoyment or Performance Benefits?


Imagine this.
There is this one afternoon where your friend and yourself are sat at your favourite café waiting on your usual long black and chocolate muffin. As you relax, you start to discuss the upcoming week’s training block and compare efforts and intervals on both your training plans.
Your friend invites you to ride with him to complete some specific efforts. You’ve done them before, but no matter how hard you try, you always seem to struggle on them. You hate those efforts.

It comes to no surprise that everyone has their fair share of likes and dislikes. Take me for example; definitely not a climber, the last thing I want to do is do long steady efforts. This had me thinking, whether someone enjoys specific interval sessions based solely on performance benefit, or they just enjoy doing it because they are physiologically good at it. (climbers enjoying longer efforts, or sprinters enjoying… sprints)

Personally, I prefer doing efforts that I enjoy/good at, therefore, adjusting my training plan accordingly.

Me – Puncheur
Favourite Workout: Anaerobic/Sprint style efforts.
Reason: Giving your absolute maximum for a short interval, barely being able to breathe, legs feel like jelly. Something about that that makes me want more.
Least Favourite workout: Long threshold efforts
Reason: They suck, for a long time.
Conclusion: I enjoy efforts that suit my physiology. ie: Anaerobic efforts.

I asked a couple of riders around the team to see whether my theory is accurate. Here are some of their answers:

Rylan – Climber/Driver
Favourite Workout: 4x 15min at 60rpm (90% FTP)
Reason: “Can be done on Zwift or on many local climbs. Notices improvement quickly.”
Conclusion: Rylan prefers workouts based on performance benefit.

David – Sprinter
Favourite Workout: Long rides through the hills with some long steady efforts included.
Reason: “You always feel exhausted and feel like you’ve earned your time collapsed on the couch being lazy”
Least Favourite Workout: “Doing VO2 efforts after a long base block.”
Reason: “They always feel way harder than they should. You know the power will come after a few sessions, but the first few are grueling!”
Conclusion: Enjoyment over performance benefits.

Daniel – Climber 
Favourite Workout: 3 Sets (3x 5mins at 100% to 105% FTP, with 2.5mins recovery)
Reason: “Done on a 4hr or longer ride. The Ultimate Gains!”
Least Favourite Workout: Long solo base rides
Reason: “Boring and lonely. ”
Conclusion: Gains! Gains! Gains!

Jason – Puncheur
Favourite Workout: 6x 1min Full Gas (Vomit Expected)
Reason: “Although it’s absolutely brutal, you can expect to have a Normalised Power of 90% FTP in 1 hour for only 6 minutes of effort.
Least Favourite Workout: Anything on the ergo.
Reason: Boring.
Conclusion: Performance Benefit + Physiological advantage = Enjoyment.

Listed above are just a few people who I’ve asked on what they think when it comes to training. The trend of people leaning towards preferring workouts purely on performance benefits over physiological strengths, thus enjoyment, leaves me and a few more the odd ones out. Perhaps there may be lessons to be learned here.

Is preferring to do the workouts you enjoy over completing workouts that give you the most gains a determent to increase performance on the bike?

Is choosing to complete workouts solely on gains beneficial for your longevity in the sport?

Tell us what you think. But until we get some proper research into this topic, all you can do put your head down and give your best 💪💪💪