Am I just a bit soft?

Today I did a Zwift race, best effort yet, I stuck with the lead group (D grade) for 3/4 of the race and just as I start thinking I might be a chance with a sprint, the pace went up on a small gradient and I was gone.

Only thing is, I had ~1000 watts of MPA left in the tank according to Xert…

So what gives; am I just soft? Should I have dug a bit deeper to try and cling on at the risk of cracking?
Is my Xert fitness signature actually way off?
Are there other factors at play Xert doesn’t measure?
Power meter pedals outdoors vs Smart Trainer indoors?

Other context:

  • I didn’t completely ‘crack’ but felt if I pushed more I’d ‘crack’ very quickly and lose more places recovering
  • Heart rate was in the high 180s maybe even a 190 at the time (I’ve usually got a max HR ~200)
  • It was warm-ish but aircon and fans on
  • My status beforehand was blue, but had been lots of riding leading in
  • I still got off a sprint; suggesting the amount of MPA is somewhat close

Bad day (doesn’t sound like it, given you felt motivated to attack), wrong signature or indeed too soft :slight_smile:

I’d see how it goes next time. Then, or alternatively already before, I’d try to confirm some points on your power curve. If you see it’s not possible, I’d work with support on establishing a correct signature.

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I don’t think this is evidence of softness or an incorrect signature. I race cyclocross with a power meter and rarely have a breakthrough during a race, even when I have a great race. If I do have a breakthrough it normally happens early in the race and may just be because I have a stale power signature. I think you made the right race strategy choice to try to avoid cracking completely.
I think it is unlikely to get a breakthrough at the end of a race because of being fatigued from efforts early in the race. It looks to me like you actually got pretty close to a breakthrough. Getting a breakthrough after difficulty goes up should feel harder. I think this will also be affected by how trained you are (how many stars). What was your difficulty score by the end of the race?

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Build the foundation and work on your aerobic base, try to improve (lower) your HR when in and around LTP and below i.e. ~Z2 and below, the odd longer threshold effort helps this too, see how fast you can get the HR to recover after an intense short burst (plenty of good workouts in Xert for that); overall try to increase your Time:Intensity (dose) ratio to gradually and in a manageable way increase TL. Final thought work on mental toughness and durability, impossible to quantify but you’ll know when you have it - in a race think everyone else is in pain too!

Thanks for the suggestions.

On breakthroughs, the sprint at the end of a Zwift race seems to be the most consistent way for me to achieve a breakthrough historically. Not too worried I didn’t hit it that time, more why I felt on the limit when Xert was saying I should be able drop 600 watts for 30 s & therefore not be dropped.

To test your toughness during a high intensity day (when blue/fresh) consider substituting a Hardness Test workout starting at the lowest level (02).

This is the type of effort you need to master in order to improve your racing capabilities.
The ability to draw down MPA repeatedly and at longer durations.
Look for similar charts on your high intensity days. Consider the MPA drawdown line and difficulty (shaded portion of chart) before choosing. If you struggle with longer intervals above TP try workouts with short repeat sets (like the red spikes above).
I don’t know what Goal you have configured but your Planner shows Polar Rouleur for many of your HIT days. If you want to try a harder workout with the same focus use Filter to display Pure or Mixed specificity for Rouleur workouts. Again, note the MPA drawdown and difficulty shading before selecting.

As your TL increases consider moving up the Hardness Test ladder (03, 04, etc.) and see how far you can go. Failure is to be expected. If unable to complete in AUTO mode, switch to Slope mode and do your best. You’re going to improve even if you fail tough workouts.
The key is a sufficient increase in TL over time with escalating intensity and of course adequate recovery. For races your goal is to improve your ability to draw down MPA, recover (as much as the pace allows), and repeat.

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Pay attention to Difficulty as well, and what your Diff was at when you made efforts. Also, even a small dip in MPA takes effort. I used to think I had to touch MPA for something to be hard.