cycling · fitness · Zwift

Zwift academy workout 2: Sprint!

It’s October in the Zwift community and time for Zwift Academy.

What’s Zwift academy? “Join the world for Zwift Academy—our epic annual training program—where we share the road to ride, race, run, and reach new goals together.”

I’ve joined the Women’s Road Academy. You complete the academy by completing all 12 events: 8 workouts and 4 group rides OR races. I’m out to complete Zwift Academy but top riders are taking part in order to compete. See How you could land a pro contract with Zwift’s talent search program.

It’s recommended that you complete the workouts in order for maximal benefit but my work schedule comes way first. My outdoor gravel riding took second place this past week. And so Zwift came third. Hence, I found myself with time to ride at the time that the second workout was scheduled as a group workout. (I can go back and do #1 solo when I have some free time.) Generally I think they’re more fun as group workouts.

The second workout is all about sprinting. There’s a long warm up, followed by 4 short (6 second) seated sprints with lots of rest in between. These sprints don’t “count.” They’re there to prime you for the two longer efforts at the end, a 10 second and a 20 second maximal all out sprint. Again, there’s lots of rest in between sprints. You can see the spike-y sprint efforts on my ride report below.

Read about workout 2 and watch the coaching advice here.

Here’s a description of the workout: “A good sprint is the icing on the cake. You could be an excellent climber or a strong Time Trialist, but you’ll find it hard to win without a good sprint. This workout tests how strong your sprint is, and what PEAK power you can do over 10 and 20 seconds. Having a powerful sprint is about hitting that 10sec or 20sec effort to the best of your ability– leaving nothing behind as you empty the tank. With an effort so short, there’s no room for mistakes. Today we’ll make sure your muscles are PRIMED for you to hit PEAK powers in this session. 3x sub-maximal 6sec sprints begin this process of neuromuscular activation, followed by a maximal 6sec sprint. All sprints should be performed seated in the saddle. We then move onto a MAXIMAL 10sec sprint, which can be done either in or out of the saddle, followed by a maximal 20sec sprint. 5min recovery between maximal sprints to allow for maximal rest, allowing for replenishment of your phosphocreatine and recharge of your anaerobic system, which is also used in the longer sprints.”


competition · cycling · fitness · racing

From DNF to podium, oh, Zwift

I had a odd night on Zwift recently.

I was scheduled to do the Monday night race that my team organizes. Fine. I did a short 5 km warm up. All good but then the race began and the speed was not something I had any hope of maintaining. Wowsa.

Zwift starts are brutal at the best of times. Unlike real road races there’s no gentle rolling away from the start. You’re in danger of losing the group right off the bat. But usually things settle down.

Reader, this race did not settle down. I hung in there and stuck with the front group of women for first 10 km of the Monday night race and then decided it was too long, too fast for me. We were averaging 40 km/hr and I was dying with 30 km to go so for the first time in a Zwift race I pulled the plug without completing the distance.

DNF time.


I was already warmed up though and I still wanted to ride so I browsed my activity options on the Companion app. I might have opted for a fast social ride if one was happening but there wasn’t one. Instead, I saw that a 7 km sprint race was about to begin. I love sprinting. It’s kind of my thing I quickly hopped over to the sprint race and sprinted away. In that race I stayed with the front group with energy to sprint all out at the end.

I came third! Woohoo! The joys of a really good warmup. And knowing your strengths. And knowing when to bail.

My total for the night was 22 km. One DNF, one trophy for my virtual trophy case.

(An aside: Part of the problem and the explanation for what happened in the first race is with the women’s category. I’ve worried about this before. For all riders there’s A, B, C, and D groups based on power and performance. The idea is that you race with people with whom you’re competitively matched. It makes amateur racing fair and fun. There’s also a women’s category and the women’s category contains all women regardless of their power. Lots of the women race in the B category. I’m currently a D but “almost C.” I should race with the D group. That’s the category I won in the Sprint race after bailing on the Monday Night Madness race. Why did I race with the women? That’s the topic for another post. But the short answer is I’m trying to support women’s racing and help out my team and we benefit from having riders in the all the categories.)

A gold trophy, from Unsplash