Thin Air is a completely different activity now

I know there’s been discussion of tweaking activities, in the new app, but this isn’t a tweak. The first 15 minutes of FTP section, and I think all the map sections are about 6% lower than before, but the main 35 minutes of FTP work is ~12% to 13% lower! That’s gigantic. This is a completely different workout, no longer described well by its ominous title. The original was a real test of FTP. It had you within less than 10 percent of actual FTP as averaged for a full hour, and that included the warm up, so it was definitely extreme, no doubt. It had you in the red for 15 minutes nearly straight. In the new one, I just spent a good bit of time in zone 3 and even a couple of minutes deep down into zone 2 in the main block. In the standing sections around the 35 minute mark I can’t keep the cadence in erg mode because there’s too little resistance at the new power levels. I guess the solution is just to not keep the cadence, ok. Anyway, I was almost never above LTHR, and not even holding vert close to it very long.

Overall, I actually still like it and I’ll probably even do it more often, but I do miss the old thin air, and given the 3 part change, it’s not simple to get it back just by mashing the up button or even tweaking the 4dp adjustments.

The first time I completed thin air after getting a reasonably established ftp I was amazed at how well GVA knew what I could do when I was almost certain I couldn’t, providing just enough glimmer of salvation to torture me into not quitting, and I guess just mashing up on a ride that is now balanced differently will not achieve that easily. It’s beat me before, and yet I have beat it before too, which was quite rewarding

Maybe it’s possible to bring back a “classic” mode?

Overall, the new (now 3rd) app is good. The new content is good. Although for me, I still like The Sufferfest vids the most, and look forward to new ones.

2 Likes

From the original description:

“The plain and simple fact is that sometimes to stress your FTP you need to spend more than 20 or 30 minutes riding near your FTP.”

That’s what it was. It’s not what it feels like now.

1 Like

Hi there @Still_D
a couple of things came to my mind when reading your post:

  • First: If smashing yourself in a workout by just riding at the edge of “man I’m toast” is your thing, you really should try the ProRides. You will love them.

  • Second: If workouts getting you along that thin line between “I can’t do that” and “how glorious I feel not having quit on this one” but at the same time not expect these workouts to be that hard, I have two suggestions for you: Give a try to On Location: Dentelles de Montmirail and to GCN Aerobic Endurance. These are devious.

  • Third: You can still experience the full Thin Air suffering in the Mash-Up It seemed like Thin Air. Mash-Ups have not been altered in 4DP goals.

  • Last but not least, I think everything on SUF sessions is now being “too easy” is said by @Coach.Neal.H in his post on that topic.

5 Likes

Hey Sir Holger, re:

I’m not sure if this is the case for everyone or if some of the adjustments were made based on your individual 4DP metrics. When I look at Thin Air the profile has the MAP bits above my FTP which makes sense but when I look at It Seems Like Thin Air, many of the MAP bits are actually right at my FTP.

I agree with everything else you’ve said :slight_smile:


  • Third: You can still experience the full Thin Air suffering in the Mash-Up It seemed like Thin Air . Mash-Ups have not been altered in 4DP goals.

Thanks for trying, it doesn’t check out. In fact the power targets are even lower in the Mashup, which it must be because it’s over a 2 hour workout. I thought maybe you meant the MAP to ftp ratio is the same, but that’s not true either. Maybe the mashup is the same as the prior mashup, but it’s not the same as the prior Thin Air, and of course it isn’t built into an hour workout with a warmup and cooldown anyway, so I’ll pass.

If smashing yourself in a workout by just riding at the edge of “ man I’m toast ” is your thing

I wouldn’t say it’s “my thing.” In fact I didn’t do that workout at 100% real often. But it was what Thin Air was, and it was great thing to do once in awhile (certainly not every week) and a very motivating one. (edit: and where I could see where I really was in a more fun way than the tests)

The problem with all this stuff of making every workout as something you’d do any tired Tuesday, is well, that’s fine, but many of us have been doing these for years and we have mental and physical expectations that we can use to prepare for a particular workout and to judge how we did on it. I compare my average heart rate at the same power level on a workout from a year or two ago. It’s changing horses in mid stream.

Basically, adding new stuff is great, but removing old stuff tends to get some grumbling, of course. And these are completely different workouts. It’s not a tweak. It’s a replacement. Just the audio/visual is the same.

Also, below max, the exact power profile probably isn’t as important as if you’re working near max. So if you do the former more often, it seems to me good to have the profile tuned for max, and then you just dial it down usually. Doing the opposite doesn’t work as well I guess.

4 Likes

I just figured that mash-ups are unchanged from the cited post of @Coach.Neal.H where he states

There are 24 SUF workouts that were not changed in any way, but 23 have been adjusted (not including any mashups in either of those counts).

But I have not checked that myself.

3 Likes

And the pro rides are completely different. I’m not looking to be worn out by chasing gear changes. I want to be worn out by pedaling, and preferably with the same experience I’m familiar with. Unfortunately I don’t have super high end trainer that can handle instant erg mode power changes flawlessly in quick succession. Still, I may give them a go, but it’s clearly a separate issue from Thin Air which was basically a time trial workout with a bit of over-under intervals in it.

Anyway, I do appreciate the suggestions.

2 Likes

FWIW, I’m not in the least bit fussed by ANY of the tweaks/changes/replacements. The videos continue to be engaging, make me smile and laugh sometimes, are tough enough to seriously challenge me and still require a degree of mental effort to not dial them down at certain times. Maybe this is a function of my sustained weakness or maybe I just have a high tolerance for and adaptability to change.

I kinda understand where you’re coming from @Still_D and my only suggestion to people looking for a “classic” mode or a return to the old targets is to ride the vids in level mode to RPE.

5 Likes

Ok. I get your point, even if I don’t feel the same way. I myself have used SUF and SYSTM always with a training plan from the plans library because these plans are the feature that tricked me into Sufferlandria and kept me here. That’s why I trust in the coaches’ decisions on how they create workouts and schedules. I also would never complain about now being able to finish Nine Hammers
Anyway, I hope you will find some new go to workouts to challenge and test yourself in the way you prefer.

3 Likes

Yeah, that particular workout was a work of art in its original form and was clearly thought out very carefully originally. It wasn’t just just “let’s slap some multipliers on some sections to get a normalized power in a ballpark.” Again, the standing parts are clearly just not even right now.

I don’t think most people are comfortable standing, and doing 90 rpm well below their ftp, and that’s not how it was designed originally. It was brilliant even before it had 4DP. Now it’s just any other sub-threshold/almost-sweetspot ride with a few brief efforts. You could change a bit here or there and it wouldn’t really matter.

4 Likes

Oh, and 5 bonus SUF points are being awarded to both of you for a respectful discussion. They can be exchanged at any time for a session of Half is Easy, Extra Shot, or Long Scream.

10 Likes

Wait, what? You’re describing TA here right? Not 9H?

Edit: I also 1000% agree that I still like the Sufferfest vids the most and look forward to new ones. With the On Location series a close second (Sir Mike retains some of the SUF humour)

I think a lot of the perception of difficulty depends on how hard you truly smash yourself in the Full Frontal 4DP test. With my 4DP metrics (which really were all at my absolute death limit!) I could never get anywhere near completing Thin Air at 100%. I haven’t attempted the new version, but it sounds a bit more realistic for me and would certainly not be a walk in the park for me with those kind of reductions.

4 Likes

@Holger1980 Definitely - same for me!

2 Likes

I am scheduled to do Thin Air next week for the fourth time. So we will see. I did ISLTA last week for the fourth time, and it was the same as always.

1 Like

The Thin Air part of ISLTA was always reduced from how Thin Air used to be. I think some of the MAP targets in it were also changed to FTP based targets, but I might be wrong on that. It’s not surprising as Thin Air was hard enough, never mind after doing ISLAGIATT first!

2 Likes

Glen.Coutts:

Wait, what? You’re describing TA here right? Not 9H?

Yes, Thin Air. My point is just once you take a workout low enough, it’s all the same, like the inspiration workouts. Ok, it’s not quite down there, but the sequence of efforts doesn’t seem to be as relevant now.

It’s not an interval workout, and it’s now not a TT kind of effort either. It’s more like just some exercise, with ups and downs to wake the legs up a bit.

3 Likes

I might make another thread about controls. The up and down keys reset all the 4DP adjustments instead of just rescaling them all. With a combination of pre-setting 4DP tweaks and hitting the up arrows once during the workout, I could get it real close to original.

ediit: I suppose if I bothered I tweak my personal 4dp before the workout and then use arrows. Kind of a pain though, and easy to forget to put it back.

I think a lot of the perception of difficulty depends on how hard you truly smash yourself in the Full Frontal 4DP test.

Every challenge is different and hits people a little differently. FF is one definition/measure of FTP but how that translates to TA isn’t gauranteed to be the same in all people, even with 4DP wizardry. So I can give you a little room for argument here, but not this much. My average power went down to 85.5% of my previous go at this!!! I’m not sure how that adds up from the numbers I posted (based directly on the apps side by side). Maybe I went to level mode briefly in my previous effort, but anyway, we’re talking somewhere around 13% at least for the bulk of the work. There’s no possible way I can do 13% over my estimtaed FTP for an hour if actual dinasaur was chaising me. I would be eaten.

I think I know my ftp pretty well. I haven’t done test in awhile, but I know my LTHR very well from experience. It’s pretty well defined for me and agrees with the tests. I also know power at my nominal LTHR very, very well, as that has nothing to do with how hard you try. My FTP is presently set at that power. So the resulting heart rates from a hard ride should correspond at least vaguely. That’s basically what half monte gives you, although I can find it other ways. I’d also say that TA itself serves as real proof of FTP at actual long riding times, as the description claims, and sure that’s maybe not quite the same as estimates/definitions based on shorter times.

And as I said TA barely ever had my actual HR over LTHR, and had it more than 20 bpm below that for 3 minutes during what should be the hard work part, an under in the over-under, but not a recovery.

But what’s more I don’t ride it in a vacuum without other reference points. I just did Who Dares the day before and the high efforts are designed to be almost right at ftp, just a couple of watts lower, and I had my HR right bang on my LTHR on those efforts, and even had serious drift above that for the last set, because I’m a bit de-trained right now, which should have been a real bad sign actually for hitting TA the next day, and yet… TA was an absolute walk in the park that barely pushed LTHR.

tldr: I’ll give you classic TA being 3% too hard possibly, useful near the end of a training before a new test maybe, or even instead of one, but this reduction is astronomical. Some sustainable workouts are nice, and I’d highly welcome adding more sweetspot rides other than just the way out, but Isn’t it a bit boring if the only thing that really pushes you hard ever is the test?

1 Like

An interesting take and a thoughtful read on things. It WOULD be boring if the only thing that ever challenged you was the test. That is NOT the case for me. It might be that my weakness is sustained efforts and anything with an interval over 5-6 minutes at threshold kicks my a$$. One of the worst is Defender, but Angels and Attacker, Who Dares and the like I find really really push my limit (don’t even talk to me about Long Scream or Extra Shot).

That said, I do like climbing (odd as that may seem) so I’m sorta kinda looking forward to when Thin Air comes up next in my plan.

2 Likes