Saturday, 27 December 2014

And so the whole miserable process starts all over again.

And so the whole miserable process starts all over again. Here's a quick recap of how I got from the end of the last post to this one.
At the start of 2013 I was racing fairly well, scoring points regularly in 3rd cat races and looking forward to a decent season of road racing and crits trying to get up to 2nd cat. Unfortunately, I had a serious crash in the NW Regional Road Race Champs and broke my right collar bone and suffered concussion and road rash. The injuries took me out of training for a couple of months and I knew that I wouldn't return to racing because I didn't want to continue to risk my health with a load of weekend warriors with no race sense or respect for fellow racers.
In Sep 13 I had a titanium plate fitted (the bone wouldn't heal itself) which also required a bone graft from my hip; a fairly major procedure which took ages to heal properly and kept me off my bike for another couple of months.
Dec 13 saw a job move and I suddenly had a lot less time than before and spent a lot of my spare time decorating my new house and only getting exercise by commuting to work a couple of times a week.
Anyway, with another job move and an expectation of more time on my hands I have decided to use my time to regain some of my previous fitness and get into MTB endure, cyclocross and maybe even the occasional Time Trial.
Blogging is hugely self-indulgent and time-consuming, but it's a good way to improve motivation by ensuring that personal failings are published and I am held up to public ridicule if/when I fail.
Pending a 20 min power test, I estimate my 20 min power to be around 285W (previously around 320W), though my short-term power is likely to have suffered most, so I'll set 5 min and 20 min targets.
5 min power: 380W (93% of previous peak)
20 min power: 310W (93% of previous peak)
Weight: 73kg
Once I get over my cold and my Xmas belly, I'll weight myself and complete a 20 and 5 min power test so I know how far away from my targets I am. In the meantime I need to finish off my Xmas chocolates and sherry and dig out my heart rate monitor.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Hour of Power on the Road

Had a day off yesterday because my legs felt quite tired after Saturday's 3 hour ride. I only had an hour to spare so rather than sit on the turbo I got out on the roads for an Hour of Power around my local loop. I last did this on 2nd March when I set a new PB of 313W.

The long rides of last week's training camp have affected the way I perceive time when I ride now; previously an hour felt like a long session on the turbo, now an hour on the road feels quite short and time seems to fly by.

I'd planned to set 275W as a base between the 450W+ 'bursts of power' but I was soon up to my old tricks and letting my power sit around 300W at base. After 20 minutes I'd averaged 311W and then I went on to maintain this out to 40 minutes when I started to flag a little. With 10 minutes to go my power had dropped to 308W average to I upped my game and even put in a couple of extra bursts in the closing minutes to get my power back up to a respectable 311W average for the hour, just 2W off my last session. Powertaps have an accuracy of approx +/- 1.5% so 2W is really neither here nor there.

Looking at the data, my HR seems a lot more stable and less peaky. This may just be a normal variation between different sessions or it may be a result of the distance and time of the training camp, time will tell. Average HR was 160bpm (163 last time), and NP was the same at 317W. So I probably haven't gained any fitness as a result of the camp, but I haven't lost any either!

Red = HR, Black = power

Saturday, 30 March 2013

3 hour hard road ride

After a fairly busy and successful road camp, I thought I'd have a couple of days off to recover to reap the benefits of the hard work. After all, the fitness improvements are realised through recovery, without recovery there are lots of problems; injury, burn-out etc.

I managed to get a free morning so I headed out at 0730 for a 60 miler covering a lot of the training camp roads. It was a lovely calm morning and the sun was slowly thawing the last of the overnight frost as I got to the main road and started.

I wanted to set a fairly conservative 270W for as long as I could maintain and I fully expected to be able to hold this for 3 hours as it was only 86% of my FTP and I'd had a lot of training and recovery recently too. The first hour was fine and I paced myself through the hills and kept out of the red so I didn't suffer too much later. At the turn I'd managed 271W and I was surprised to see my average speed at a healthy 18.6 mph despite the hills which normally reduce average speed, especially when there are so many potholes on them.

Throughout the ride I was very aware that I needed to keep eating and set a nutrition routine of a drink every 20 mins and something to eat every 40.  Hopefully I'd avoid 'bonking'.

After 2 hours I started to feel somewhat tired and my legs felt quite heavy, and it stayed that way until the end. The second hour had seen my average power reduced to 265W and the 3rd was a measly 245W. It wasn't a 'bonk' like I've had before, just a gradual decline in power but luckily it was on the flat on the way home. So much for the good intentions of 270W for all 3 hours!

I got home a couple of minutes short of the planned 3 hours so I stayed out until the clock ticked over the 3 hours at 58 miles at an average speed of 19.4mph. This was better than expected, especially as I'd done 90% of the ride on the hoods so I wasn't exactly trying to keep my speed up. By the time I got home I'd ridden for 3:05 without stopping, probably a record for me, and my back let me know it hadn't enjoyed it.

After the ride I looked at it on Golden Cheetah and realised that I'd set a PB for power between 90 mins and 3 hours, which is nice. Compared to the training camp rides, this speed and average power was above what we'd achieved as a group. For example, on day 6 a group of 9 of us achieved an average of 18.1mph at an average power of 178W (mainly due to the benefits of hiding from the wind behind other riders).

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Training Camp

After a winter on the turbo I was grateful to ba able to have a week off work to run a training camp in the wonderful Yorkshire countryside. Fortunately, while much of the rest of the country suffered from blizzards, we only had occasional snow showers despite the strong easterly winds and near-rfreezing temperatures.

I split the riders into 3 groups according to ability (and training objectives) and planned routes accordingly.

In the week I rode 368 miles (86 on the longest day) in 22 hours and climbed 15,200ft (5,750 on the same long day).

I'm hoping to have gained some endurance by riding further and longer in a week than I previously covered in 3 weeks of turbo work. Average intensity was only 0.699, so it wasn't a constant beasting, and riding in a group of 8-9 means there's a lot of time off the front in relatively easy power zones.

This was my third camps and again I noticed that the first day seemed to weaken my legs, the second day really hurt them and on day 3 I was quite weak. After a recovery day (due to weather) on day 4, I felt quite strong for the rest of the week.

Hopefully a couple of days of recovery will allow my body to convery the effort into fitness and I'll feel some real benefit. Maybe I need another 20 minute power test to see if it made a difference.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Revolver Road

Next in the series of indoor sessions completed on the road is Sufferfest's Revolver, essentially 16 1 min intervals at 133% FTP (400W for me) with 1 min recovery intervals between. I've done it a couple of times on the turbo and it gets a bit challenging around the 12th interval. Today I planned to do 2 sets of 10 intervals and hit a Strava segment in-between, the one I failed to beat yesterday.

HR=red, Power=black

The first bunch of intervals went well but started to grate a bit towards the end, but I was regularly exceeding the target 400W and regularly around 420W. HR was always under control and the first 20 minutes averaged 290W (xPower 314W and NP 340W).

A short 6 mins recovery later I was lined up getting ready to hit the Strava segment start point (traffic lights) at full speed. It started well, but I caught the second set of lights and that killed my overall time but I did knock 20 secs off my previous best time and I moved from 6th to 5th. I'll have to keep trying.

The second set of intervals was done on busier roads so they were a bit more disjointed and I had to do an extra one because the 4th one was stopped short by traffic and extend the 8th as I caught traffic lights near the end of it. At the end of this set of 10 I was spent and pleased to stop, achieving just 399W with a lot of grimacing on the last interval.

As sessions go, it was quite interesting to do a turbo session on the road and I seemed to suffer less than the indoor version. It's quite a simple session too, so easy to remember.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

20 min power test on the road

After my painful 20 minute power test last week, I wondered how an outdoor 20 min test would compare to an indoor one, and I took the chance to find out today. By taking the 2 tests so close to each other I have hopefully minimised the effects of increasing or decreasing fitness between tests, and I also felt well-rested for both.

The headline is that I averaged 340W for the 20 minutes, compared to 335W for the indoor test, BUT the following things were different between tests:

Bike - I was using my stiffer race bike
Effort - I was too exhausted to stand up at the end of the last test, today I was just exhausted
HR - My peak HR today was 171, on the indoor test it was 178. 178 is very high for me, 171 is quite common.
Warm-up - for the indoor ride I did a proper warm-up. Today I just went for it from the front door.
Backing-off - due to poor pacing indoors I was unable to maintain my power output and had to back off. Today the pacing was better.
Cooling - outdoors was very cool today and I had the equivalent of a 20mph fan. Indoors I didn't use a fan (see previous post about me being tight).

The plot from today starts off with the 20 min power test. Compared to the indoor test there is no collapse in he second half so I'm pleased that the pacing was better today and that the 2 sets of traffic lights I caught (at 4 and 14 mins) didn't affect me too much. My HR rode quite steadily too and never maxed-out, which is quite surprising.

I think that if I could do an outdoor power test without traffic, potholes and lights I could probably stretch to 342 or 343W.So, it appears that outdoors I had more power available and I didn't suffer so much. I expected this to be the case, so it was nice to see. But, even if I had achieved 342W this would equate to a mere 2% improvement over my indoor figure which I find quite surprising.

After a 4 min rest I then did 50 mins of tempo riding to get some miles into my legs. At the end I tried a Strava segment that continues to annoy me. There are 3 sets of traffic lights on it and I hit EVERY SINGLE ONE and I always do. To get the KOM I'd need to time the lights and work out the best time to start to make sure I hit them all on green, but I'm not that sad. Yet.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Road ride with a couple of Strava segments

I decided to brave the freezing Yorkshire wind to do an 80 minute road session before the forecast snow arrived this afternoon. It was all very pleasant, music blasting as I dragged myself into the 15 mph wind, holding my power and letting my speed drop off as a result. At the turn I picked up a serious tailwind and struggled to keep my power up because I was running out of gears on my compact chainset.

Using the wind I attacked 2 local Strava segments that are usually into-wind, and smashed them as a result, earning 2 KOMs. It's just cheating really, knocking 45 seconds off my previous best with less power. The 2 segments are clearly visible towards the end of the ride when my HR rises.

Quite a fun ride despite the big puddles. Average power had been in the mid 280W until I got to the segments, but I let it drop off so I was rested before each.

With the forecast poor weather I think I'll be back on the turbo this week and hitting the Sufferfest vids for some sweaty pain.