Workout of the Week: Spontaneous Efforts

Break out of the monotony of late season with spontaneous efforts on the bike.

Woman sprinting out of the saddle on a gravel ride
Photo: Pexels/Markus Spiske

This time of year, after doing a long season of highly structured work, we can start feeling robotic, stale, and a bit like we are going through the motions. So it feels good to give ourselves license to break out of routine and mix it up with looser, more spontaneous workouts.

For your next workout—based on what you have been doing in terms of duration of time at certain intensities—set the objective to accumulate approximately that same duration of intensity over a ride in a more spontaneous fashion.

For example, set the criteria to accumulate time at sub-threshold to threshold over the course of a ride in smaller increments of time. This is based on interval times you have been doing, so the goal time is relative to you. Say you’ve been training with Stephen Hyde’s 5x5s. To shake things up, you could split every 5-minute set at FTP into five 1-minute rounds, or two rounds of 2 minutes, 30 seconds. If riding with a partner, you can finish your session sprinting against them for designated sprint points. Or, instead of threshold, the increments can be VO2max (again relative to what you have been doing).

Another fun way to mix it up this time of year is chasing Strava segments: longer ones to simulate threshold efforts or shorter segments to simulate VO2max efforts.

Whether doing your own spontaneous efforts over the course of a ride or chasing Strava segments, you can dedicate a workout to one specific type of terrain—doing all of the efforts on either climbs or flats—or spice it up with spontaneous efforts over a variety of terrain.

WOTW: Spontaneous Efforts

  • Pick your workout: Threshold or VO2max.
  • Pick your terrain: Flat, hilly, climb, or varied.
  • Spice it up with spontaneity: Divide the work time into smaller increments, tackle a Strava segment, or add sprints to finish a group workout. Whatever you need to break out of the monotony.