Does every second counts for the 80/20 ratio? | 80/20 Endurance

Does every second counts for the 80/20 ratio?

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    After reading your 80/20 Triathlon book, I wanted to start the training with the 80/20 system. First I calculated my bike power zones and did some foundation rides. But staying completely in Zone 1 & 2 is very difficult! I live in a big city and I need 20 to 30 minutes to get out of the city with my bike. In these 20-30 minutes (and the same time on the way back, of course) there a lots of traffic lights. I try hard to accelerate not too hard after these stops, but I always leave the low intensity zones for just a few seconds. Also when I want to stay in the mid to high region of zone 2, I sometimes end up in the zone X or 3 for a few seconds.
    I installed the 80/20 bike zones app on my Garmin Edge (with 10 seconds smoothing). And after a normal ride these frequent few seconds are adding up to several minutes. So a planned foundation ride with 100% low intensity turns into a ride with a considerable amount of high intensity.
    Furthermore, every time I get below the zone 1 bottom limit (which also happens very often riding in the city traffic) neither low nor high intensity time is being count, of course. This increases the high intensity ratio during that ride additionally.
    So after my last foundation ride of 115 minutes (110 minutes moving) I ended up with 76 minutes of low intensity power and 19 minutes of high intensity power, which is already 80/20 for actually a planned 100/0 foundation ride.
    My question is: Can I ignore those short peaks in the high intensity zones and count such a ride as a 100% low intensity ride? Or do I have to set way more smoothing in the app?
    However, if such a ride really counts as a 80/20 ride, I would not be able to do any planned moderate or high intensity rides at all and the 80/20 system would make no sense for myself.

    Matt Fitzgerald

    This is what we call a measurement problem:

    Is It a Real Problem or a Measurement Problem?

    Ask yourself, if power meters and heart rate monitors didn’t exist and you had to rely on perceived effort to gauge intensity, would you say that your long rides were done almost entirely at low intensity? If your answer is yes, then your long rides are in fact being done almost entirely at low intensity. Our gadgets do their best, but they’re far from perfect. When data disagrees with common sense, go with common sense.


    Ok, thank you. I indeed would say that these rides were low intensity rides.

    But these short power peaks during the acceleration (on a traffic light for example) can’t be (only) a measurement problem. Since one need indeed more power to accelerate, of course. So a few seconds in a high power zone during accerlation must be real. The question is actually if such short power peaks compromise the low intensity training or can they just be neglected if they are just a few seconds each time.

    Matt Fitzgerald

    “Measurement problem” doesn’t necessarily mean the measurement is inaccurate. It often means the measurement is misleading. Sure, due to the laws of physics, you’re applying more force to the pedals when accelerating from a stop, but do those efforts feel taxing, either while you’re performing them or afterward? Of course not. They feel kind if nice, actually. Common sense says to disregard those spikes; no ill will come of so doing.


    Yeah, I would just be concerned with the overall effort of the workout. Even on recovery runs, I might have to briefly sprint through an intersection. But that’s only a couple of seconds and not long enough to have any real impact or make the run more difficult.

    I used to watch my heart rate like a hawk. It got to where running wasn’t fun. So I altogether stopped looking at anything other than time or distance on the easy runs, except for after the fact. Not even worrying about power, pace, or heart rate. Just doing whatever feels easy. It’s been liberating not worrying about those things. It feels like the effort is always just right, and running is fun again. I know you’re talking about cycling, but I think the same principles still apply.


    Thank you very much for your answers. I am relieved. That’s actually what I thought, but I wanted to make sure I’m not doing anything wrong with the 80/20 training.

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