The race is over. You’re home looking at, analyzing, your power file and what do you and most people click on? Crit racers tend to always and sometimes exclusively look at their most explosive efforts. The 3 second, 5 second efforts usually are first. Maybe they even look as long as the 5 minute max for the day. Many of these racers don’t look deep enough to set up their training so it truly helps them become more effective racers.
Criterium racing is still an endurance event, despite our willingness to make it about explosive efforts. Any event lasting 30 minutes or even 90 minutes is definitely an endurance based sport. So how do we get better at riding for that long? The title tells you all you need to know…. Sweet Spot, all-day-long.
Sweet spot as an intensity level is a little bit below your Functional Threshold Power (FTP). Remember though, FTP is a trademarked term that correlates with a 20 minute effort after a 5 minute all-out effort, that correlates with a 60 minute effort. However, you don’t need a 60 minute benchmark in your athlete history to calculate an FTP. Hmm… Sweet spot is actually right at or a wee-bit below that second metabolic inflection point and it’s an intensity that many athletes can ride for a long time.
But digging one layer deeper we even find that sweet spot is really darned close to the absolute best that many athletes can maintain for the entire criterium. That’s because a 30-90 minute race is an endurance event.
To get better at sweet-spot training, begin short and sweet with sets 5-7 minutes long. Build to 3-4 sets of 10 minute intervals and maybe even all the way up to 2x 30 minutes. Do them outside on slightly rolling terrain or inside . Do NOT do them on ERG mode. Remember, you’re training for a specific sport and unless that sport involves a bunch of people riding in ERG mode, it’s not the most optimal training.
So go on and run yourself some sweet spot intervals. Don’t feel shy about admitting you need it for criterium racing. Unless you’re riding consistently off the front solo, we all need it.