Turn It Up.

More Volume, that's what I want.
One of the many joys of being relatively unemployed is that I can "afford" to spend more time on the bike (but not much more than that).

Coupled with my overeating tendencies (don't get the wrong idea, I'm ~12% body fat, ~67kg), I still want more training volume to polish off those extra snacks, another serving of pasta and yes, please, I would like to see the dessert menu.

At the moment, I'm working on The Sufferfest's all-purpose plan that has me riding about 6-7 hours a week (plus 1-1.5 hours strength and same for Yoga).
As such, my longest ride in a block is around 2.5 hours (ISLTA longest session on the plan). So sometimes, I find myself, well, longing for longer.

I want to hit off on those 3-6 hour rides, good old quality time with myself, off-limits to the world, off the grid, not to be interrupted.

Sometimes, I just go on. I'll finish ISLTA and keep going for another hour. Other times, I might push on at Z1-2 for a while longer. I usually bring up another session like "Extra Shot" and reduce the intensity to ride it out a couple of times.
But, that's not a sustainable solution.

I, therefore, have started eyeing the more extended Sufferfest training plans.

It seems like the 200 Mile Graver Grinder is the most demanding in terms of time commitment with ~14 hours a week.
But, let's stick to the Road plans, and so the Hilly Gran Fondo looks nice with several weekend rides of up 4 to 5 hours each. These are classified as "outdoors," so to me, that means Zwift.
Problem #1: No incorporated Strenth (which I can add myself in and figure out).
Problem #2: I'm not sure that the Climbing GF Event is where I want to be at the end of this plan as a fitness goal.
If my focus is to improve my 4DP profile as a whole, this plan might not be 100% aligned with my goal. Rather, it might be geared towards Sustained Efforts (i.e. FTP) and Sub/Tempo work.
The Gravel plans seem much more punishing, but I've never ridden "Gravel" (does MTB count?), so I've no idea IRL, but I imagine that it's pretty close to Road, right?
Prepping for a 100/200 mile gravel race seems like a reasonable place to be if my goal to kick ass on Full Frontal.
Anyway, these are thoughts for now and actions for five weeks down the road, after having completed the current cycle and ridden the Tour Of Sufferlandria (Feb 15-23).

For now, though, I'm feeling the gains pouring in. Here are some highlights:

1. The Shovel - actually enjoyed it. Nailed each and every effort and had enough left in the tank at the end to give it a considerable sprint that was only ~30 watts lower than my 4DP record. Just to reiterate: this was the last sprint at the end of The Shovel. Previous times I was already struggling on the AC intervals. In fact, after the cool down, I went on to ride the Tour de Zwift Stage 2 (Innsbruck) for another 35 minutes and snagged the Intermediate Sprint best time.

2. A few days later, I rode "Who Dares" and went on to ride "Extra Shot," followed by skimming back for recovery.

3. The next day I had ISTLA on which I set my 1-hour power best (on SUF). Also, at 100% intensity, I crushed it to the very end - no cramps, no muscle failure, no interval left untouched by raw power and determination.

4. A couple of days later, on "Standing Starts," I was again only 30 watts away from my 4DP record - on the last standing start, I might add. It seems like the Neuromuscular buds are beginning to blossom.

5. 14 Vise-Grips - that's a funny one because I forgot how hard it is. Not that I didn't nail it, but I remembered it to be more like Revolver. I can do Revolver all day - at least that's what I tell myself while doing it. I can certainly do another 15-20 minutes of Revolver, if not more, at the given intensity. 14VG, though, is more demanding because of the length of the intervals and the difficulty in recovery. However, once past the 2-min effort, it's all downhill, so that's really the only tough part. The storyline is also great and motivating, seeing as I watched these races live and remember them in vivid detail.

All along, the Cross-Training is full steam ahead with the Strength sessions getting longer and longer and highly demanding. I finish those off in a similar state to a solid MAP session, only less noticeable eye bleeding.

Rest week is coming up, but before that, I'll be riding The Cure (haven't done this one yet, but looks just like The Chores, which I love), The Hunted (Endurance targets), and my beloved Blender. I always look forward to those last 3x4min FTP efforts on Blender - there's something about efforts like these, when the tank is nearly empty, that brings a smile to my face. I suspect it's the "mind over matter" state I have to commit to for completing these efforts. Yet, I always find that I have just that extra juice left to push all the way through, and then some.

Otherwise, the Tour Of Sufferlandria campaign coming along nicely. Do your part and click here to contribute:

*Why Zwift screenshots?! I complete all my training sessions on Zwift. I use The Sufferfest to play the workout and video and that's my main focus, but on another computer, I record the ride to Zwift. Here's Why:
1. I'm a Zwifter, have been since open beta
2. I like accumulating elevation, not just distance on my overall stats (no elevation in SUF)
3. I love the gamification (badges, routes, KOMs, achievements, missions, etc)
4. Sometimes it's more interesting (e.g. NoVid workouts)
5. I can compare my efforts with other's performance + social aspects
6. I can participate in the Zwift events I choose (e.g. Tour de Zwift) while still riding the SUF workout
7. Zwift is my "outdoors" and where I race
8. While it could be argued that SUF and Zwift are competing platforms, I don't see as such. SUF is my coach, Zwift is my road.