Help me understand this focus + Interval Target

Hi,
I’m right in the middle of the base phase. The training advisor is giving me this

How do you guys interpret this advice?..intervals of 2 hours at 234 watts?..that seems a bit crazy.

Thanks

That is your outdoor free ride advice if you decide not to select a structured workout to ride indoors or outdoors.
In this case ride very slow and easy (2:00 hour endurance focus*) with irregular intervals at around 234 watts. Or take a rest day since you have a surplus.
See this thread for details – Xata free ride recommendation - General - Xert Community Forum (xertonline.com)

*IRL you can’t ride that slow outdoors unless you happen to live on salt flats :smiley: , but you can keep focus in the 20+ minute range (endurance) if you are diligent about starting out slow and avoiding all surges and steep grades.

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Thanks Ridgerider,

I have a couple of follow-up questions:

  1. Why is this interval target not used in any of the recommended workouts?
  2. Looking at the focus link you provided, it says:

It represents that longest duration you would be able to sustain for the Interval Targets shown

I read this as the system predicting that I can ride 2 hours at 234…I don’t think this makes any sense, with a Threshold Power of 242 at the moment. Is this a glitch in the system?

Thanks

For outdoor rides with that sort of advice, I try to use the interval target as a ceiling for intensity, so in your case I’d try and stay below 234w as much as possible. I think the numbers that the system provides are based on what the system theoretically thinks you can do if you are completely fresh and devoid of any fatigue from everyday life. In practice, this isn’t really going to happen.

You can look up what Xert thinks you can do in the Power Duration tab of your last activity.

It seems to be a bit optimistic for the longer durations, for me the longer the duration the more absurd the values seem but then again I’m no good at anything (riding related :wink: ) but given that I’m best with short efforts. So maybe for the long distance specialists the short effort estimations seem absurd, I don’t know.

It represents the point on your power curve that is the focus for today’s training.
Go to Xert - Power Duration (xertonline.com) and hover over the dots to see your watts at each defined point based on current signature. In this case the closest dot will be the 2 hour point. That is the predicted watts you could ride at until complete collapse.

When you free ride to focus there are actually an infinite number of ways to arrive at a particular focus point depending on how diligent you are and the route’s terrain. You will understand this better when you learn how to free ride to a lower focus point such as 5 or 6 minutes. Those are harder rides with lots of yellow/orange/red interval efforts. Anything close to 20:00 minutes focus or above is considered a slow/easy endurance ride (lots of blue/aqua). That is where the power curve starts to flatten out.

Also consider riding outdoors will take you longer to reach the same XSS goal as a structured indoor workout. Loose unstructured intervals outdoors may take 2+ hours versus rigid intervals for 90 minutes indoors. XSS while coasting = zero. The same holds true for any Focus field changes. The number only changes when strain is occuring.

Outdoors endurance –

Indoors endurance –
IndoorsChart

If it’s beautiful outside and I have the time, I head outdoors and consider the ride to focus advice.
If rain is forecast or I don’t have extra time to spend, I’ll select an indoor workout.

You will notice the recommended workouts are all rated Endurance activities even though they may include intervals that fluctuate in green while some even tap yellow. Xert will recommend both easy and “hard” endurance workouts. The thumbnail charts tells you that at a glance what’s what. However, select View Details then Workout Designer and look at the intensity ratio in the XSS column below the chart. They all accumulate low intensity strain.

Specificity is also a factor in Focus but that is another topic. :wink: For a deeper dive into the concept of Focus Duration listen to podcast #21.

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That works well for Endurance rides (20:00 minutes and up) but once Focus Type moves into 10-minute range or lower I think it’s best to consider target watts as a rough minimum.
The closer you hug that target the longer it takes to drive down focus. Stronger riders may handle that fine, but I need to punch it down when the advice calls for 4, 5, or 6 minute Focus.
TTE is a good indicator of what you can handle if you monitor that field during the ride.

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Thanks a lot for your response. Here’s my main criticism of the system in this case:

The information I got in terms of focus and target interval is not actionable and does not affect my outside ride. I already have a target xss, time for the ride and know that I’m in base, so getting this 234w target + 2 hours adds absolutely anything but confusion.

Furthermore, looking at the recommended workouts.

I see no relationship between the training advice (focus, target interval) and the workouts, except for the XSS.

How do you think, in this case, the focus and target advice HELP the rider that already knows:

  1. He is in base phase with what this entails in terms of power zones.
  2. Has a target of hours per week and a budget of hours for each ride
  3. Knows his target XSS

I would say It doesn’t help, but it does create unnecessary confusion. Would like to hear @ManofSteele take if possible.

Thanks

Recommended Focus type: Endurance
Recommended XSS: 122 (though you already have a surplus, so this is definitely optional)

Answer: Accumulate 122 XSS at an endurance pace :slight_smile: In general, I’d recommend LTP as an upper limit for endurance-focused rides.

A more technical answer to your question… For endurance-focused rides, the exact duration/intensity of the intervals isn’t vitally important, since (at this time in the Xert model) all XSS below TP is pure LOW XSS. This is why the recommended workouts wont have intervals that perfectly match the recommended free-style interval power, since any combination of interval power (below TP) & duration will still result in 100% Low XSS.

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I understand this and I also watched the riding to focus video. What I’m unclear about is when to do these intervals.

The short answer is whenever you have recovered enough for the next interval. :smiley: (terrain and traffic permitting)

For an endurance focus (20:00 minutes and higher) you are into it as soon as you hop on your bike. Start out too fast and you’ll drive down Focus during your warm-up and have a tough time raising the number back up (slow and easy, constant pedaling required).

For 10:00 minutes and lower focus you can begin “training” as soon as you like after your warm-up. Then try to maintain the focus target as often as practical until you reach your XSS goal.
Terrain and traffic will factor in, but you’ll get into a pattern soon enough.
TTE/TTR fields guide your recovery intervals but once you learn this process RPE can be useful. No need to constantly watch your head unit.
Both the work and recovery intervals are random lengths depending on the watts you manage to hold and the erratic nature of power outdoors.

Here’s my ride to 5:00 minute focus on Wed this week –

The result was Difficult Mixed Puncheur Ride at 4:22 Focus, but I went longer than the XSS goal and harder more often towards the end of the ride. Also, don’t be surprised if the deeper post-ride analysis on XO differs a bit from the Focus value you achieved watching the data field on your head unit. You got the desired training effect. :+1:

My interpretation is that you need to judge when the system is giving you useful information and when it’s not. Look at my case, completely useless focus/target. At some point it will make sense. I’m giving Xert the benefit of the doubt and keep using it til at least june, It’s cheap enough and the other features are cool enough to forgive these rough edges.

Why would (for example) 20 minute intervals (or even total time, spread over a longer ride) at your two-hour power not make sense? That’s around sweet spot in other approaches

I think there is some value in increasing the intensity during base - you’ll see that in base phase it’s always ‘endurance’, but the focus duration does reduce i.e. power increases over time

And the XATA suggestions do have intervals around your two-hour power, don’t they? Admittedly not all long, but done to keep difficulty down (if you’ve time, why do 90 XSS with 60 minutes of sweet spot when you can do 90 minutes of a bit easier riding)

It totally makes sense, but that’s just a personal decision, the system is not suggesting anything like that…it’s just saying:

Interval Target : 234w
Focus: 2hours

Whatever one does with this info is subjective, there are infinite possibilities, in a way that it might as well say nothing.

Why does a two hour interval at 234 watts “seem a bit crazy” to you? I assume 234 watts is at or near your LTP. In my case, when the system recommends a focus of two or three hours the Interval Target wattage is identical to my LTP. If this is also true for you, then doesn’t that make sense for a long base ride?

Well … yes. But unless you are on one of those “time crunched athlete” plans with lots of tempo, then base miles are all feel anyhow.

MPA doesn’t shine when you are noodling along for hours on end during base phase.

It makes sense when it’s time to tap into everything you have for a given moment - bridging up, attacking the pack, catching a move, sprinting for a prime. It seems to be remarkably accurate at predicting the extent to which you can express your fitness at a given moment. Not only does that make sense, it’s a valuable tool as long as your signature is accurate.

Your assumption is wrong LTP=203, TP=243

This is what I would expect, but not in my case. This is the gist of my query.

Those numbers looks fairly normal to me. My LTP:TP is ca 80%… and 2 hour power is 90% TP so also above LTP.

Again, focus duration is just where on the power duration curve your interval would be, not the length or even total time of the intervals

I wonder if, doing an LSD 120 would not be a workout perfectly matching the recommendations ? 2h of ride with easy pace, and lots of short intervals matching the intensity required ?

Thank you. Helpful as always.

So taking it to the next step, I have my TTE set at 230 and my TTR set at 100. Trying to hit a focus of 10: 00

How long do you ride each hard interval? Until the TTE hits zero? Then bring TTR back to zero and rinse and repeat?

Trying to understand this before the outside season starts up again in earnest.

It helped me to watch Scott’s video several times especially after I had tried the procedure on the road. Keep in mind he’s not showing the rest-in-between segments with TTR going close to zero.
The work interval duration is based on how long it takes to close in on the target Focus number. That is the stop point. It’s variable and depends on the watts you are hitting (at or above the target watts).
You are not letting TTE go to zero. That would wipe you out between efforts. :wink:

Scott’s video shows an example targeting a 5:00 minute Focus point. That is much harder than a 10 minute focus point. Notice he doesn’t get down to 5:00 minutes immediately, but each subsequent effort gets closer. Once you reach your target (or thereabouts) you end the interval and recover. Then it’s a matter of maintaining the target focus by driving the number back down after each recovery against how much it crept back up during the recovery.
Repeat the cycle until you reach your XSS goal for the day.

Just the opposite occurs with an endurance focus ride. You start out easy and stay easy watching Focus and not worrying about recovery intervals or TTE/TTR. If that comes into play you are pedaling way too hard. :smiley: