Coaching Camps - Alpine-Cols


Coaching Camps

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  1. Paul Hatcher says:

    Great concise article and would endorse theses comments. I’ve only ridden it twice and am hoping that this year (2024) they sort out the feed stations so that there’s not the complete chaos of last year. Last year I made the mistake of not eating enough becase the feed stations were rammed and the gels they had were unpalletable (226ERS). So my limited supply of SIS gels soon ran out. So, I’d recommend you try and work out a strategy where you take enough of your own.
    The last feed station in Arta does have beer though 🙂

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Hi Paul – thanks for the comment and helpful insights!

  2. David Holmes says:

    Thank you for the breakdown of your day. I was on vacation from the US last year and did GFNY Vaujany which went up Alpe D’Huez. Wanted to come back for more and do the other major climbs. I’m signed up for 2024. Loved your breakdown of each section and strategies for success. I’ll utilize those as I embark on my training journey. Hope to have a good day. Maybe I’ll see you there! Thanks.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thank you David for your comments: much appreciated! I definitely should be there: look out for the pink jersey!
      Good luck with your training.

  3. Scott Lundberg says:

    Marvin – you are an inspiration to us all ! Thank you for being here to help us as well — I need to study the science more and implement as well

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thank you Scott. It’s my pleasure and passion! Great to have the feedback.
      Best wishes – Marvin

  4. Leonardo says:

    Very happy to see your recover, you are a great inspiratation !
    I am 48 now and I always ask myself how the future might look in terms of cycling capacity.
    You are the answer for that !
    Keep going

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thank you Leonardo, I appreciate your support!

  5. Sabine says:

    Très détaillé, donne envie de faire le camp en Mai. Par contre, je compte 27 semaines entre le 1er janvier et le 9 juillet, date de l’EDT et sur votre plan, il y a 28 semaines. J’imagine que la semaine 26 et 27 que vous avez mis en intensité 3 sont un doublon. En tout cas, bravo pour les conseils et merci.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Merci de votre retour Sabine. Bien vu pour les semaines, effectivement une coquille! Ce sera corrigée…
      Peut-être au plaisir de vous rencontrer au camp Etape du Tour en mai!

  6. Vincent says:

    Inscription ETD ok, plan ok (difficile de faire plus precis que celui ci), reste plus qu’à acheter un vélo

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Effectivement, difficile à s’entraîner sans un vélo !!! Faites le bon choix et bonne chance pour les mois à venir !

  7. Michael says:

    Very helpful summary of your journey Marvin. it helps me as I recover from my own, thankfully less serious, accident. Thanks

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thanks Michael, good to hear it was useful!

  8. Jürgen Kerstna says:

    Thanks for sharing. Great determination.! Best wishes for getting back!

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thank you Jürgen!

  9. Gene Raphaelian says:

    Outstanding article Marvin. You made what can be a complex topic simple and usable. Best of luck in your comeback from injury.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thank you Gene, much appreciated!
      Best wishes, Marvin

  10. Andrew Prickett says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences Marvin – really useful insight and I will certainly try use your advice to positive effect at la marmotte 2022.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thank you Andrew! You might also be interested in our latest video entitled “Achieve your best possible result at the Marmotte”:
      Come see us in the event village at Alpe d’Huez!

  11. Sean Edwards says:

    Great article. I’m entered for 2022 but can’t find much detail on the route. Your article refers to analysing the route in a separate later article. Is this published on your website as I can’t find it? Thanks

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Hi Sean
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry for the confusion concerning the route analysis. I will be talking about this in a Zoom presentation on June 16. I will send you the link a few days in advance in case you can join live. The recording will then be added to our YouTube channel.
      best wishes, Marvin

      1. Sean Edwards says:

        Thanks Marvin. I look forward to learning a bit more about what I’ve signed up for. Has the route been confirmed yet? There doesn’t seem to be any detail on the Official website?

        1. Marvin Faure says:

          Hi Sean,
          The organiser has told me the route will be on the website very soon. It will include the col de Champex but not the San Carlo. All the usual cols are included of course: start in Les Saisies, then via Chamonix to the col de la Forclaz, then the Champex, the col du Grand Saint Bernard, Aoste, the col du Petit Saint Bernard, the Cormet de Roselend and the final climb to the Saisies via Hauteluce.
          Hope this helps!

  12. Peter says:

    This is superb, just what I was looking for – practical and very much to the point. Thanks!

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thank you Peter, we appreciate the feedback! Good luck for your training.

  13. Simon says:

    What an excellent informative article. I will be riding the Mallorca 312 bucket list ride this year. I don’t do Gran Fondos but have been on 16 week professionally design plan.
    I found this article very informative particularly the pacing and nutrition strategy as this was something I was struggling to get to grips with.
    Thank very much for sharing.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thank you Simon for your feedback: much appreciated. Were I to rewrite the article today, I would emphasise even more the nutrition. I consumed about 175-220 kCal/hr (45-55g of carbohydrates). Current guidelines are to push this out to 90g/h of carbs, or close to double (the pros sometimes reach 120g/h). Several researchers have shown that this can provide a clear performance advantage (in the real world), but it needs to be trained and practiced.

  14. Stuart Burt says:

    Two superbly written reports, Marvin, with wonderful supporting photos. You’re now in the ranks of Emily Chappell (“Where There’s A Will”) as a great endurance cyclist with writing skills to match.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      High praise indeed! Thank you Stuart for the kind words. I’m very glad you enjoyed the read: it makes the writing seem worth the effort!

  15. Larry says:

    Speechless. It makes my Haute Route (7) day event look like an afternoon ride. Beyond anything I would even consider. Take care

  16. Michael Grace says:

    Fantastic read Marvin, you are obviously a good writer as well as a (more than) good rider!

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thank you Michael for the kind words! Much appreciated.

  17. James Fsire says:

    A quite incredible and absorbing account pushing to the very limits of endurance. Utterly exhausting but what an achievement to finish at all!

  18. Larry says:

    Counting down the days, till we meet again !

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      We too Larry! It was great to have you with us.

  19. Guy says:

    Merci, des recommandations intelligentes et fort utiles

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Merci Guy!

  20. Chris says:

    I was to do my first CCC last month–but it was cancelled, alas! I’ll be looking forward to hearing about your training, your triumphant adventure in Corsica and, perhaps most of all, your post-ride debrief afterwards (what worked, what didn’t, what you’d do differently next time), which will be enormously helpful as I train for next year’s CCC Classic Alps route in August. Good luck!

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thank you Chris! Sorry to hear your CCC was cancelled – probably inevitable given the situation, but still disappointing after all your hard work. I’ll certainly be posting my rides at the Corsica event in October on Strava and will write up my experiences in a post here a few days after the event.

  21. Eimear says:

    Marvin, thanks ever so much for an incredibly honest, helpful and inclusive article. I appreciate the fact-based, scientific analysis alongside the inspirational tone. A definite call to action for the over 50 female one-dimensional cyclist!

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thank you Eimear for the kind feedback. It’s always good to know someone appreciates the post!

  22. Rodrigo Gonzalez Ortega says:

    Great experience Marvin! Thank for sharing it. We chat last year ending stage 1 PY. Cheers!

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thanks Rodrigo!

  23. Soulby Engelbrecht says:

    Marvin, it was a wonderful trip down memory lane reading this! Thanks so much for taking the time to put it together. As a less experienced rider, I always kept an eye on you. Hope to see you at a future event when time and money allow.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thank you Soulby for the comment: you didn’t do so badly yourself! Great effort!

  24. STUART BURT says:

    I stayed at the Hotel Tulip in Nizwa last year and rode from the hotel up Jabl Akhdar You are right that the first km up to the checkpoint is brutal. (You were fortunate in being in an organised event and thus did not need to engage in complex negotiations to be able to ride up the rest of the mountain.) I certainly needed to zig-zag a lot! It is stunning scenery.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thank you Stuart. Useful to know that access can be difficult.

  25. Tomas says:

    I was following Matt Fitzgerald 80/20 Polarized plan for multi sport (running, cycling) athlete. I was familiar with 80/20 guidelines and to my surprise majority of hard workouts were prescribed in 91-100% FTP (That’s Z3 in 5 zone model) and only a few in higher Z4 (102-110% of FTP) or even Z5 (above 110% of FTP).

    What are your thoughts on this approach to Polarized training?

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Hi Tomas
      My understanding is that the whole point of polarised training is to make the hard workouts VERY hard. I have never seen them prescribed below FTP before; more usually they would be prescribed at mininimum 105% FTP, where we are taking FTP as a proxy for LT2. If I was for some reason to do a workout at (say) 95% FTP I would make the intervals very long and the accumulated time to be more than 60mins. For example 3 x 30′ @95%FTP. There might be a good reason to do this and I wouldn’t want to second-guess your coach. But personally I would rather do sessions such as those proposed by Stephen Seiler in a tweet just 2 days ago (e.g. 5 x 8′ @110% FTP (3′ AR) or 9 x 6′ @108-110%FTP + 1 x 12′ @110% FTP (2’AR)). This seems to me more in line with the research, where best results seem to come from either training below LT1 (Z1 in a 3 zone model, approx. Z1 & Z2 in a 5 or 7 zone model) OR above LT2 (Z3 in a 3 zone model, upper Z4 and above in a 5 or 7 zone model).
      Very little training is targeted for the in-between intensities, in spite of the fact that most competitive events involve considerable time spent between LT1 and LT2. The exception would be when competing in non-targeted events as part of training or in the last few weeks before a major objective in order to rebuild race reactions, ability to draft at high speed, make breaks, close gaps etc. Doing intervals might prepare you physiologically for this but neglects the bike-handling aspects.

  26. Krispen Hartung says:

    Marvin – I am curious where you are on this. Everything still going well?

    Here is my update.

    I just started my 9th week of strictly following a polarized training plan. A few days ago I did a performance test and my FTP was higher than it has been in 3 years of plateauing. I produced a 5% increase from my highest FTP in the past. I also increased my training load (more Zone 1 time on top of the 2 VO2max intervals sessions a week) to 10-12 hours a week, and I’m now maintaining a weekly TSS that I could not possibly maintain doing sweet spot training at the same weekly TSS without burning out. I am also tracking my HRV and RHR, sleep, daily stress, etc, with WHOOP to ensure I am not over-reaching too much…so far so good. My parasympathetic system doesn’t appear to be freaking out yet and my body is rebounding by periodizing my plan into a 4 week cycle, 4th week with less interval work and volume. Feeling strong!

    I modified my plan a bit since the last time I posted here. I pushed my average weekly volume to 12 hours, across a 4 week periodization with the 4th week being a lower volume “rest” week. All my Z1 work is at 60% of FTP if longer than 2 hours (e.g, weekends). If 2 hours or less, I’m pushing to about 65% of FTP or a bit higher (e..g, weekday Z1 rides). I am still doing 2 Z3 workouts a week. I initially tried doing the Seiler prescribed 4×8(2) and 4×4(2) 108% of FTP workouts. Maybe because most of my race efforts are shorter distances and times on the track, not sure, but I had difficulties being able to complete the 4×8(2) workouts at 108% of FTP. My power curve has always been strong in the 5 min band. I could do the first two intervals, but could not finish the last two at that level. I settled with my first week’s Z3 workout as 6×4(2) at 108% FTP (I can even push higher than this if I am feeling strong), and my second one in the week is 4×4(2). That seems to be working well. I may experiment with 4×6(2) at some point and see if I can compromise between 4 and 8 min intervals at 108%FTP. As I get closer to my races in the season, I will keep the one 4×6(2) workout, but replace the 4×4(2) workout with Anaerobic 60 second intervals drills, and then as I get even closer to my races, replacing those with 10-20-30 second all out drills (e..g, Tabata, etc). My volume will also go down as I get toward race season, not 12 hours a week, because at that point I’m not trying to increase my CTL or fitness anymore, but maintain it, taper for races, etc.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Hi Krispen,
      Thank you very much for your post. It’s good to hear that you have broken through the plateau, and a 5% increase in FTP is very satisfying. Increased training load is certainly key to this and as you rightly point out that means you have to drop from sweet-spot to Z1 to avoid burning out. Excellent idea to track HRV, RHR etc. I personally use HRV4Training to track the same parameters. As you probably know there is some interesting research showing that people who use HRV as a guide get better results than those who just stick to the plan come what may.
      I’m not surprised you had a hard time completing 4 x (8)2 at 108% FTP. THat is one tough workout. It’s probably too early in the season.
      I’m not sure what races you do so what are their specific demands but if the changes you propose to shorter and harder efforts are representative of what you are faced with in a race, you are on the right track. Good luck!
      I’m not ready to post a personal update yet. I basically took November off (following Alan Couzen’s advice) and then didn’t train much through December due to an injury followed by a debilitating virus. I’m back on track (more or less) since mid-January but a long way down on where I wanted to be in terms of accumulated load. We’ll see how things are in April.
      best wishes, Marvin

  27. Patrick Murphy says:

    Nice article, I’ve recently begun training polarised after hearing and reading much of Seilers work.

    One point about 80/20 for a poster above, it’s 80% of sessions not 80% of time. Indeed Seiler has indicated that if you follow the 80/20 session split you’ll likely be nearer 90/10 on time.

    I’m currently doing a 9 week block, 2 weeks on, 1 reduced repeated 3 times.

    Mon: Rest or 60 minutes recovery (50% FTP)
    Tues: zone 3 (4×8) with 2 minutes recoveries
    Wed: 90-120 Zone 1, 65% FTP
    Thu: zone 3 (30/15) x 10 with 3 min recovery x 3
    Friday: 90-120 Zone 1, 65% FTP
    Sat: rest or Fridays session if I was feeling tired
    Sunday: 3 hours zone 1 again at 65%

    Not a perfect 80/20 but should create the same effect. I could potentially change one zone 3 to zone 1 but keen to see how this works for me.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Hi Patrick
      Thanks for the comment. Your plan looks good. If I was to change anything I would progressively increase the Sunday ride to 4hrs and even 5hrs. The magic happens after 2hrs, and there is no way to short cut this. The more you do after 2hrs the more adaptation you will get. Interestingly, your muscles will start to recruit the Type II fast-twitch fibres after 2-3hrs, even though you are at a very low intensity.
      Good luck!

  28. Krispen Hartung says:

    “But if we use % of time, then based on someone’s response below, that would appear to be more like 90/10, and after listening to an interview with Seiler last night, he alluded to this. But this is inconsistent with the WKO4 reports for polarization, which track to Zone 1 as less than 65% of VO2max, Zone 2 as between 65 and 85%, and Zone 3 as greater than 85% of VO2max. ????”

    Correction on this. WKO4 is not prescribing any % of time in the 3 zones above, rather it only defines the Zones based on VO2max. However, I did notice that in the last 2 weeks where I have been applying the polarized plan with 2 Zone 3 workouts a week, and 4 Zone 1, that WKO4 is showing me in Zone 1 90% of the time and Zone 3 at 7% of the time. So, this is promising and allows me to track my polarized training with some more rigor, by workout, week, month, periodized phase, year, etc.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      My understanding of Seiler’s research and recommendations is to aim at an 80/20 split on the basis of time spent working out, not time spent in zones. The total workout time is easy to count in Z1; Z3 workouts are counted as 100% in Z3 no matter how much time is actually spent in Z3. To give an example, 2 workouts done as follows would respect the 80/20 rule: 4h Z1, 1h HIT (15′ Z1 – 8 x [3’Z5 – 2’Z1] – 5’Z1). In practice of course the HIT workout is no more than 40% in Z3, depending on the time spent warming up, recovering between intervals and warming down, but this is ignored. A supporting reason for ignoring it is that your metabolism remains high during the recovery periods.
      I would take the 80/20 rule as a rough guideline based on the best practices of the outstanding athletes Seiler has studied rather than an absolute rule. It might be worth looking at how these athletes varied the “rule” over a season.

  29. Krispen Hartung says:

    It strikes me as odd that Seiler et al all used % of workouts in zones vs. % of time in zones across a given range of training. It’s seems somewhat imprecise and can lead to all sorts of absurdities when trying to develop a week-based plan over time. Firstly, unless we are doing 2 workouts on some days, 4 Zone 1 workouts and 1 Zone 3 workout would be 80/20, as would be 8 Zone 1 workouts and 2 Zone 3 workouts (who is going to do 10 discrete workouts in a week? Not me). Or this forces us to entertain the notion of half workouts…absurd. Secondly, by following the 80/20 rule as % of workouts, I could technically do 4 30min Zone 1 workouts in a week, and 1 90m Zone 3 workouts. That meets the 80/20 criteria, but doesn’t exactly seem to exemplify the intent of a polarized plan. Third, WKO has put a lot of resources into creating custom charts to track polarization by VO2max. They don’t use % of workouts, but % of time. So we have some incongruence here in terms of analysis and measurement. Am I missing something here and being totally absent minded? (Senior Moment). Am I misinterpreting the 80/20 criteria?

    But if we use % of time, then based on someone’s response below, that would appear to be more like 90/10, and after listening to an interview with Seiler last night, he alluded to this. But this is inconsistent with the WKO4 reports for polarization, which track to Zone 1 as less than 65% of VO2max, Zone 2 as between 65 and 85%, and Zone 3 as greater than 85% of VO2max. ????

  30. Krispen Hartung says:

    Thank you! Fortunately, I am a user of WHOOP, which tracks HR, HRV, RHR, sleep, stress, and fatigue 24 hours a day. I’m really liking it so far and its making more accountable on my recovery and sleep. It’s a fascinating product and service.

    On another notes, I have been search and searching, and I am really surprised there are not more formal training plans out there on the polarized model. TrainingPeaks has a handful, but they are shorter plans….I’m talking a base to race 20+ week plan, ideally for us masters. I basically had to create my own

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      I’m not sure that many people (amateur riders) have bought in to the polarized model yet. At first sight it doesn’t make sense, and the Z1 rides feel like a waste of time. Not many Type A personalities have the patience for it.
      My view on standard training plans is they are a bit like off-the-peg clothing: you are lucky if they fit. They can provide a good starting point if you know how to adapt them to your own situation, but most people don’t have the time or ability to do this, nor to make the changes needed after unexpected set-backs.

  31. Krispen Hartung says:

    Super interesting! Thanks for sharing. Polarized training and research seems to be in the air, because I too have been doing the research and just recently put my 2019 polarized training plan together in TrainingPeaks. I’m a 51 year old masters cyclist, mainly track, and I was at one point time seduced by STT, and realized by experience that it simply wears me down and forces me to spend too much time in the stress zone, thereby not allowing me to ever recovery, adapt, and obtain gains. It basically keeps me in this “in limbo” state of fatigue and fitness.

    A few notes and some jewels I found along the way

    – At the end of this comment, I have listed several scientific studies (a few more commentary), just as reference to what I’m basing my thinking on.
    – WKO4 has a whole set of charts and reports that allow you to analyze your workouts or at any duration of training based on the polarized model; I also created a few custom charts that basically show columns for each of the zones and the % I am spending in each, by % of MX HR, FTP, and VO2max.
    – Finally, TrainerRoad’s head coach provided a nifty tool that allows you to plug in your RHR, MHR, LTHR, FTP, weight, etc, and it will calculate both your HR and FTP based polarized zones, plus prove some tools to create your weekly plan – that is here:

    Because I can handle 2 Z3 (polarized Z3) workouts a week, and need to in order to maintain my fitness to race on the track, I have settled on a 9-10 hour a week plan. In order to build periodization into the polarized plan and generate a “slow boil” from base to race, I have structured my Base, Build, and Specialty phase as shown below, with the intent of getting close to simulating he high intensity efforts required to beat my competitors in a 20-30 second sprint to the finish line, but also maintaining the prior longer time intervals that I also use during a race. So this is more like building a layered cake, vs. moving from one mutually exclusive phase to another.

    BASE 1 (8 weeks with 5.5 hr Zone 1 recovery weeks every 4th week)

    MON: 30 min Zone 1 workout @ 60% of FTP as warm up before strength training in gym
    TUES: 60 min Z3 workout: 4×4(2) @ 108% of FTP sandwiched inside warmup, Z1, and cool down (this is one of the standard Seiler workouts)
    WED: 90 min Zone 1 workout @ 60% of FTP
    THURS: 60 min Z3 workout @ 4×4(2) @ 108% of FTP
    FRI: Day Off
    SAT: 2.5 or 3 hr hr Zone 1 workout@ 60% of FTP
    SUN: 2.5 or 3 hr Zone 1 workout@ 60% of FTP

    BASE 2 (5 weeks with 5.5 hr Zone 1 recovery weeks every 4th week)

    MON: 30 min Zone 1 workout @ 60% of FTP as warm up to strength training in gym
    TUES: 60 min Z3 workout: 4×8(2) @ 108% of FTP (another one of the standard Seiler workouts)
    WED: 90 min Zone 1 workout @ 60% of FTP
    THURS: 60 min Z3 workout @ 4×4(2) @ 108% of FTP
    FRI: Day Off
    SAT: 2.5 or 3 hr Zone 1 workout@ 60% of FTP
    SUN: 2.5 or 3 hr Zone 1 workout@ 60% of FTP

    BUILD (5 weeks with 5.5 hr Zone 1 recovery weeks every 4th week)

    MON: 30 min Zone 1 workout @ 60% of FTP as warmup to strength training in gym
    TUES: 60 min Z3 workout: 4×8(2) @ 108% of FTP
    WED: 90 min Zone 1 workout @ 60% of FTP
    THURS: 60 min Z3 workout: 2×30 / 3×20 / 3×10 Sprint Intervals (anaerobic)
    FRI: Day Off
    SAT: 2.5 or 3 hr Zone 1 workout@ 60% of FTP
    SUN: 2.5 or 3 hr Zone 1 workout@ 60% of FTP

    SPECIALTY (12 weeks with 5.5 hr Zone 1 recovery weeks every 4th week)

    (This phase runs past my first few races, which are normally not my A races. I may reduce volume depending on my fatigue from races, but I will not stop my Tues and Thursday interval workouts)

    Alternating Week 1

    MON: 30 min Zone 1 workout @ 60% of FTP as warm up to strength training in gym
    TUES: 60 min Z3 workout: 4×8(2) @ 108% of FTP
    WED: 90 min Zone 1 workout @ 60% of FTP
    THURS: 60 min Z3 workout: 3:3×3(1) @ 140% of FTP (all-out efforts)
    FRI: Day Off
    SAT: 2.5 or 3 hr Zone 1 workout@ 60% of FTP
    SUN: 2.5 or 3 hr Zone 1 workout@ 60% of FTP

    Alternating Week 2

    MON: 30 min Zone 1 workout @ 60% of FTP as warmup to strength training in gym
    TUES: 60 min Z3 workout: 4×8(2) @ 108% of FTP
    WED: 90 min Zone 1 workout @ 60% of FTP
    THURS: 60 min Z3 workout: 3:8x20s(10s) Tabata Intervals @ 170% FTP
    FRI: Day Off
    SAT: 2.5 or 3 hr Zone 1 workout@ 60% of FTP
    SUN: 2.5 or 3 hr Zone 1 workout@ 60% of FTP


    The training intensity distribution among well-trained and elite endurance athletes

    What is Best Practice for Training Intensity and Duration Distribution in Endurance Athletes? (Stephen Seiler)

    Polarized training has greater impact on key endurance variables than threshold, high intensity, or high volume training or

    Six weeks of a polarized training-intensity distribution leads to greater physiological and performance adaptations than a threshold model in trained cyclists

    Polarized training has greater impact on key endurance variables than threshold, high intensity, or high volume training

    RIP Threshold Training


    Smarter Training (Joe Beer)'s-WHITE-PAPER-2016-Smarter-Training.pdf

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thanks Krispen for a great post.You have invested a lot of time to understand the approach. Your training plan makes a lot of sense. As always, expect the unexpected and be ready to make changes over time. If you are not already doing so, you might want to consider using a HRV monitoring aid such as HRV4Training to guide you on when to go all out and when to take it easy. It’s not because the plan says do an HIT session that this is necessarily a good idea on the day.
      I wish you luck!

  32. Gerry says:

    Hi Marvin
    nice article. I am a hobby cyclist 56j old. Since I am a number guy (engineer) I bought a powertap 8 years ago. For 4 years I do strict polarized training. In summer ~6 hrs a week in winter 3hrs. Before that especially in younger years almost every ride was an attempt to set a new record on the training lap. I.e. almost pure threshold. Since I do polarized I am equally fast as 10 years ago. I train less and I am less thrashed after training and able to enjoy life afterwards. Even after intervals.
    I would never go back to threshold training.
    By the way .. intervals are 20% sessions not time. Time is in the range 5-10%. And I do them mostly 4x8min @110% Ftp with occasionally 6×4′ and 2×10×1′ variations. So high intensity is only 20-30 min roughly once a week. Low intensity is slightly below 2mmol lactate. This means 70-75% Hf max. That is by no means doodling around. It takes concentration and permanent slight pull also downhill. A 2-3hr ride at this speed is definitely tiring.
    Regards Gerry

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Hi Gerry,
      Thanks for the comment: a great contribution to the polarised discussion.
      I agree with the point you raise about how to calculate the relative percentages spent training high vs. low. This wasn’t clear to me when I initially wrote this article back in March. Since then I have heard confirmation from Stephen Seiler that the percentage split published in the research is calculated by session time and not interval time: in other words a one hour HIT session with (for example) 20 minutes at high intensity would be counted as one hour and not 20 minutes.
      A related development is in the use of heart rate variability to decide when to do the HIT sessions (or perhaps more importantly, when NOT to do them). See, for example,
      I have absolutely no relation with these guys but I find the research interesting and I am experimenting (on myself) with their app. I’ll post my thoughts in a few months time.

  33. Ben says:

    Great read! Thank you! I have been reading and researching about Polarized Training for a while now and have also implemented it as my training plan. What seems to be confusing and conflicting between papers and reviews of the polarized training plan is the 20/80% training rule. Some say 20% of your training sessions should be in Polarized Z3 and 80% of your training sessions in Polarized Z1. Others say 20% of your overall work time should be 20% L3 and 80% L1. The two are very different, but which is correct as people seem to be interpreting the study in two different ways?

    I have been using the model as followed:
    Day: 1 – 1hr30 with 5x8min L3
    2 – 2hr L1 with max 5sec sprint every 20min (high end of Zone 2 power)
    3 – 3hr L1 with max 5sec sprint every 20min (Mid Zone 2 power)
    4 – 1hr30 with 3sets of 8x 40/20s (40sec is max effort)
    5 – 2hr L1 with max 5sec sprint every 20min
    6 – Day off or super easy 1hr spin
    And then repeat
    I may change the L3 workouts now and again though to save too much repetition. If an L1 session needs to be shorter than 2hr then i may tap into my lower Zone 3 power, as using the L1/2/3 polarized model chart allows upper L1 to go into your lower Zone 3 power.
    My sprint power is up by 214w, 5min is up by 47w, 8min up by 30w and my 20min by 18w. After 4 months. And on the plus side, my weight is down by 2kg!! Giving me 4.7w/kg @8min and 3.91w/kg @20min. That is a fairly nice return on averaging 11-12hrs a week.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Those are great results Ben, well done. It shows that your plan is working. You will find that after a while you will need to change the plan to provide a different stimulus in order to continue your progression.
      To answer the question on how to calculate the 80/20 split: this is not a magic number, but has been shown to be empirically true for many elite athletes. I have also seen 90/10. In practice, some athletes respond more to low volume/high intensity, whereas for others it is the opposite. This could explain the difference. More on this from Alan Couzens:

  34. John Hill says:

    Chapeau Marvin!!

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thanks John! It was as thoroughly enjoyable as a ride can be when you are going all out…

  35. Jürgen Kerstna says:

    what is not clear to me is how to count recovery time between reps. I have searched and some sources (can’t recall which ones) say these should be included in high intensity time. So that 6 x [4’Z5 – 2’Z1] high intensity time is 24′ not 16′
    What are your thoughts?

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Hi Jürgen,
      I have always taken the warm-up/cool-down and rest periods to be excluded from the high intensity time. This is in line with what I read in Seiler and Tonnessen’s paper “Intensity and Duration in Endurance Training” and makes sense to me. Recovery time is variable and not standardised in intensity so it makes little sense to include it. However, I’m not sure if researchers are always consistent on this point and they do not always clearly define it in their papers, so there may be exceptions.

  36. Tony May says:

    Thanks Marvin, very useful. Will now set these up on Zwift (customised workouts) for me, Nik and Lucas to follow … thanks!

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thanks for the feedback Tony – good to hear the workout designs are useful for you. Enjoy!

  37. David Lloyd says:

    Nice review. Are the clincher rims tubeless compatible? Mavic has been a bit of a leader in MTB application of tubeless but less prominent in road. Will be interesting to see what happens with wheel technology once disc brake uptake becomes more widespread and endorsed by UCI for the pro peleton

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Hi David, these wheels are not tubeless compatible at present. Maybe so in a future version.

  38. Vitaliy says:

    Any long term durability concerns?

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Not in my experience, my P1 pedals have been working fine for the past 14 months.

  39. Jürgen Kerstna says:

    Can’t imagine anything more motivating than this route. Very nice commentary, too. The game is on!

  40. Alysoun says:

    love your posts Marvin. Really helpful and very understandable. Thank you

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thanks Alysoun, really glad to be of help!

  41. Timo Espo says:

    If not having a power meter, one can do a FTP test with a Wattbike at local gym
    (At least here in Helsinki, Finland we have several possibilities, and at municipal pools and gyms id´s free of charge 🙂 )

  42. Davo Ruthven-Stuart says:

    Cheers guys,
    Very helpful.
    Looking forward to catching up in a few weeks,
    Best wishes

  43. james ginn says:

    What percentage of riders fail on the Haute Route ? It would seem that one needs an FTP above 200w and a BMI of under 22 to be sucessful on this ride.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      James, in 2015 the DNF (Did Not Finish) percentages varied from 12% on the Pyrenees to 17% on the Alps. The causes are multiple of course and include illness and injury as well as inability to stay the pace. I don’t have the data for the reasons not to finish. My guess is somewhere around 10% are due to lack of sufficient preparation. There are probably another 20-30% that managed to finish but would have enjoyed the experience a lot more had they been better prepared.

  44. james ginn says:

    Usually the BMI gives a good indication of your hill climbing ability.if your BMI is greater than 21 you would have problems with the Haute Route.

    1. JM says:

      BMI is misleading. A rider 5ft 11 and 81kg has a BMI of 25+. Could have a w/kg of 3.4. Shouldn’t or wouldn’t struggle to finish.

  45. Silas says:

    Great write up Marvin, Thanks for the info!

  46. Chris Hope says:

    Great read, my heart rate has already increased, looking forward to getting together in 2016.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thanks Chris, train well through the winter and see you stronger than ever in 2016!

  47. Graham Walters says:

    Scares the Hell out of this rider. Great review guys, honest, but reassuring. No false beliefs in the magnitude of what lies ahead. Can’t stay, got to get back to training…thanks Marvin

  48. Kazim says:

    thanks for the detailed analysis. looking forward to riding in the camps and in haute route with you.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thanks Kazim, likewise, looking forward to it!

  49. John Elliss says:

    Nice point sharing.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thanks John! Do you have any to add?
      all the best, Marvin

  50. Graham Walters says:

    Hi Marvin, i’m from Australia and have booked in to complete the HR Alps (Bucket list stuff) and would be interested to get as much advice as I can. Not able to attend a camp but would welcome suggestions based on what information I could give you. I Understand the rational behind the hands on coaching so I can understand if this is not possible.

    I started a discussion a week ago (9/4/2015… Doing the Haute Route Alps in 2016……) in regards to tips for training and have received some very good advice that has reinforced what I beleived was the way to go with my training. Please feel free to reveiw.

    Look forward to talking with you.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Hi Graham,
      Thanks for getting in touch. Let’s plan a call to look at the options. I’ll send you an email to agree a time.
      best regards, Marvin

  51. Chris Hope says:

    Great advice, I discovered climbing out of the saddle with you last year on the training camp, it made a huge difference over the 7 days on the Haute Route. Keep up the good work and see you in August.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thanks Chris, looking forward to it!

  52. John Steward. Alps 2012, Pyrenees 2013 says:

    From my experience at Haute Route, I think these observations are spot on. I would add 3 more-fueling during the ride, pacing through the week and recovery tactics each night. Also need to be smart about shipping your bike. Every year I saw people on poor fitting replacement bikes due to not traveling with a spare $15 derailleur hanger. It can be very hard to find the right one in the 24 hours before the race if yours gets damaged in shipment. Best of luck to all

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thanks John – you are absolutely right to add these three (or rather four) points, we couldn’t agree more.

  53. Kazim says:

    looking forward to ironing out these issues with you guys in a few days!

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      We too – see you very soon!

  54. Stuart Burt says:

    An interesting and very readable review, Marvin. In the opening quote, did you mean to say “Ageing is first and foremost an attitude”?

    I want to read this book!

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thanks Stuart for pointing out the typo! Now fixed 😉

  55. Richard says:

    Inspiring! Happy new year. Richard

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thanks Richard! Hope your training is going well 😉

  56. Chris Hope says:

    Hi Alpine Cols, great descriptive Yannick, sounds amazing and what a challenge, cant wait. Will see you hopefully next year for a training weekend. Chris

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thanks Chris – we look forward to seeing you again! Train hard in the meantime 😉

  57. Alex says:

    On gravel? I hope the mavic boys are going to be on hand to help with the punctures?

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Yes Alex, as always Mavic will be there! But there’s no particular reason why you should puncture more on gravel: glass and sharp stones on tarmac are a bigger danger than the rounded stones you usually have on gravel. Our advice for any of the Haute Route races is make sure your tyres are new and reputed for their puncture resistance. It is not a good idea to go for lightweight tyres: you risk losing far more time than you will gain.

    2. Marvin Faure says:

      UPDATE: we have now learned from the race director that the final stage will in fact NOT go over the col des Glières. So no worries for the gravel road! We’ll publish an update with the final route as soon as we have the details.

  58. Alysoun says:

    Nice one Marvin. You are so determined and an incredible inspiration to many that you WILL get back to form.
    Remember to keep enjoying the journey. x

  59. Stuart Burt says:

    Wonderfully written, particularly the ‘reverie’ section.

    1. Marvin Faure says:

      Thank you Stuart!