Showing posts with label heart rate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label heart rate. Show all posts

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.

Friday, 8 March 2013

20 minute power test

It's been a long long while since I last did a 20 minutes power test and I really really hated it. I needed to do one, and as I have been lazy and done nothing for the last 2 days I felt like today was the day!

Considering I have recently set a 1 hour PB I was expecting to do at least as well as the 331W I achieved last time, so I set myself a target of 335W. Things started off rather well, I felt in control and had averaged 340W for the first 10 minutes, HR slowly rising to 172 bpm. At this point I started to feel quite powerful and I forgot the most important rule of a successful test; pacing. Between 10 and 13 minutes I averaged 345W and like an idiot, I knew what was going to happen and did nothing about it. I purposely wasn't looking at my HR so I didn't notice it creep up to 175 bpm, but I did start to feel the effect and my power started to drop off after 13 minutes.

HR=Red, Power=Black

By 15 minutes I was in a world of hurt (point A) and by 17 I was seriously considering stopping, sweating profusely and breathing very heavily. At 18 mins (C) I was in tatters and had to shift gear to be able to keep any power so I took 30 seconds to recover and prepare for the final push. HR dropped a little and the clock ticked down, at 19 mins signalling the final push to the finish, averaging 400W for the last 30 secs.

At the end I was completely spent and had to climb off the bike and kneel on the floor, breathing heavily for a full 2 minutes before I was recovered enough to stand up again.

The good news is that I increased my 20 minute power from 331W to 335W since the last test, using the same equipment and conditions. The bad news is that this could just be variations between the 2 tests. I am also very amazed at my ability to do stupid things (go off too hard) and hard things voluntarily (work so hard I can't stand up). If I was being chased by a bear I don't think I could have tried any harder.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Road Ride with intervals

Had a day off yesterday so I wanted to do something hardish on the road. I settled on trying to do 10 intervals of 360W (115%) x 3 minutes to get a total of 30 mins above 360W. I've got some good flat straight roads that I can use so it's like being on the turbo just with a bit more traffic.

The first 2 intervals were quite easy and the third was curtailed by poor timing which meant I found some red traffic lights. The next interval was the first of 5 up the the same strip with the 5th getting an extra minute to make up for the shortened interval, and then the last ones were on the way home.

HR (red) never got above 170bpm and power was relatively well controlled but did tend to drop off towards the end of some intervals because I was getting tired from going off too hard. The best interval was the one shown as number 13, a nice even effort throughout, but real life isn't as controlled as these intervals so I'm happy to mix it up a bit more as long as I achieve the average power.

It was actually quite a hard workout but it would be better if I could do it with less of a break between intervals, but the roads don't allow it due to traffic. As I get closer to racing I need to do more of this with shorter breaks and some harder intervals thrown in too.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Road Session

Felt good when I got home from work and, motivated by the sunshine, I decided to head out onto the road for a mixed interval session. There's also a local Strava segment I wanted to attack.

The first interval was 2 mins at 400W which felt quite easy, then I did a 3x350W and a 30secs x 530W which felt very straightforward with a nice controlled heartrate. These were really just preparations for the Strava segment so I had a couple of minutes of easy riding before I got to the start point. Unfortunately, I chose a bad day for this segment with a slight headwind all the way along it but I thought I'd still have quite a good chance as it's a shortish segment. I was SO wrong. Although I gave it everything and averaged 415W for the 2:53 it took me to complete it at an average speed of 24 mph, I was still 21 seconds of the KOM for the segment. This is a ridiculously lousy result and one I'll have to do again. The KOM averaged 27.2mph so I 'm guessing there was something going on there.

Anyway, once I'd recovered I did another 4 of the same segment targetting 360W+ for the roughly 3 minutes it took to complete it, then did some 300W intervals on the way home including a 10 min one which drained me of my remaining energy and I was pleased to get home and warm up.

Average power for the whole ride (including 2 minutes picking a motorcyclist up after he fell off) and lots of soft pedalling between intervals was a fairly respectable 230W and I used approx 1100 kCals and covered 23.5 miles at an average speed of 19.2mph.

Friday, 22 February 2013

2 Hours of Power

I've been suffering from some early starts this week so I haven't felt like doing too much on the turbo in the evenings. I got a lucky break on Wednesday and was home early enough to set up for an Hour of Power. I last did this on 13 Feb and did a shortened 54 minute version so I needed to do full hour this time. Last time I suffered around 38 minutes and I had to back off for a while to be able to recover then complete the session. I was well motivated and keen to get the whole session done...

Unfortunately, my body decided otherwise. The good news is that I was disciplined at achieving the 275W (90% FTP) baseline and 450W bursts and that I lasted longer before I failed than the last time I attempted the Hour of Power, the bad news was that it was the start of a complete failure and I was unable/unwilling to complete the hour even though I knew I really needed to. My HR wasn't excessively high, peaking at 171bpm so I'm not exactly sure why I seemed to be suffering quite so much. Obviously there are daily variations in performance, but this seems like a fairly fundamental failure to perform rather than just a weaker performance.

Today I decided that I'd try the Hour of Power on the open road rather than suffering in the heat and boredom of my kitchen. I had quite a hard day at work yesterday, including getting a bad dose of CS gas, and several glasses of wine last night, so I thought I might be lining myself up for a big failure.

After a short warm-up (it was too cold to be riding too slowly) I got on with business. Above is the 60 minutes ignoring the warm up and cool down. The good news is that I managed to complete it. I had a bit of a brain-dump after 6 bursts and I forgot to do the 7th on time, so I threw in an extra one as soon as I realised and accepted that I'd have less time to recover before the next one. Heart rate was similar to the turbo session, peaking around 171bpm but I just felt a lot better throughout the whole session and never felt like I was going to fail. For the bursts I was standing for 20 revolutions as a practice mini-sprint and there's a lot more variability on the baseline as a result of corners, traffic, junctions etc.

The excellent news is that I was consistently above the 275W baseline and my bursts were well above the 450W targets too. As a result I managed a 60 min average power of 296W (equal to my second best ever recorded power output) and at the end I was even able to surge to 312W for the last 6 minutes, though I was pretty knackered at the end. The 60 mins of hurt had a relative intensity of 0.949.

So, overall a very good day to get me over the bad turbo session earlier in the week. It's also clear that riding this on the road MUST be easier than on the turbo, possibly as it was cooler and possibly as it was possible to to the bursts out of the saddle rather than seated on the turbo. I'm sure the wine didn't help, but maybe, just maybe, that's the answer!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Sunday Morning Road Ride

After Friday's fun on the road I made the effort to get up early and get a longer ride in today. The sun was up by 8am, shining brightly trough the morning mist, and after a bowl of cornflakes and a cup of tea I was ready to go, immediately hit by a cold blast of air as I opened the front door. When I set of it was a chilly zero degrees (C) and I was dressed for something a bit warmer than that, but I really couldn't be bothered to go back inside and change.

For the first hour I set a brisk tempo pace (90% FTP around 275W), just enough to feel like it's on the border between comfortable and uncomfortable with an average HR of 159 to match.

The ride was a nice mix of rolling terrain and steep hills and a couple of times I embarrassed myself by having to change down to the smaller chainring (34T!!). I wasn't trying to smash the climbs so I changed gear accordingly, but on a hard day I would have been able to all of the climbs in the big ring (50T) except Dalby Bank, which is a b'stard.

After the first hour the temperature had increased and I dropped down into the beautiful village of Hovingham and then home via Brandsby and Crayke on more terrible Yorkshire roads. It really is a matter of time before somebody dies as a result of hitting one of the many massive potholes.

I was lucky to not fall off on ice on Dalby Bank which just seemed to appear once I started climbing. After 15m I was just wheel spinning so I had to walk 50m or so to clear the slippery bit and try not to get hit by a wheelspinning car slithering its way up the 1-in-12 climb.

By the end I was pleased to finish the ride and get into a hot shower and have a hot coffee.

The rest f the week looks like turbo sessions, but as I'm starting work early and not getting home until 6pm I don't know how much enthusiasm I'll have.

Totals for the day:
Distance - 45 miles
Ave power - 245W (incl the first hour at 275)
Ave speed - 18.3 (including some ice walking)
Calories - 2160

Friday, 15 February 2013

Road Session

After a day off from training I was really pleased to drive home in glorious sunshine because it meant that I could finally get out onto the road again. The North Yorkshire roads are made of cheese and are dangerously maintained by a bunch of incompetent idiots with little funding, so it was nice that they were dry enough to ride on without sinking up to the hubs in all the puddles.

After a gentle warm up I tried to regain a local Strava segment which some local scrote had stolen off me a couple of months ago, and I'm pleased to report that I managed to win it back with a time of 2 mins 30 and an average power of 395W. This is quite a low power for such a short interval but I struggled to get the power down for some reason. The road is obviously different to my turbo which seems to give a constant resistance rather than the variable resistance of real-world riding.

Then I did a couple of 340W intervals (6 mins then 4 mins with a short rest between) starting each with a big dose of power and then settling down to achieve the average, and I was really feeling it towards the end of both of them but it was lovely to be outside and getting the benefit of the cooling air to control my heat build up. It's easy to get used to having sweat running into your eyes and down your face if you do a lot of indoor work so it was a pleasure to finish the ride dry and warm rather than soaking wet and boiling hot.

After another short rest I settled in for a 40 minute interval at 275W (90% FTP, sweetspot) over a gently rolling triangular route. I think I've lost quite a bit of efficiency as a result of doing a winter of static turbo sessions so I made a point of sticking in a single gear and giving my legs a good work out and making them work hard by varying cadence rather than sticking to my favoured 86rpm. There are quite a few power peaks and troughs associated with corners and the slight hills and I also noticed that I put out the best power on the long into-wind leg because I felt that I had more to work against.

I think that's only my 4th or 5th road ride since I started this blog. Now that the nights are getting lighter I'm going to make more effort to get out on the road more to complement my kitchen turbo torture sessions.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Hour of Power - nearly

Today I did a shortened version of the infamous 'Hour of Power' devised by Bill Black. It's based around 60 minutes at a solid 90% FTP (for me 275W) with 15 sec bursts to 150% FTP (450W) every 2 mins and 45 secs. In the hour you should complete 20 bursts and 20 tempo intervals between.

There are lots of variations of the ratio of power but I looked at 90/150 and thought it would be achievable although I only planned to do 54 minutes as part of a 60 min workout. I'm going to add another 3 mins until I get to the full 60 plus warm-up and cool-down.

It started off well enough until I got to the 12th burst (the big red A) when I suddenly felt pretty crappy and was happy to back off and recover for 45 seconds or so. This also ties in with my highest HR and not being able to achieve the 450W burst. Luckily my HR strap was working today so it's easy to see that my HR was nowhere near it's 175 LTHR and only up to a measly 167-170 for the 6 mins leading up to the A. I know from experience that I usually suffer if I stay in this HR zone for too long so I'm not surprised that I hated it today, though I'm always cautious to not look at HR during the workout because I don't want it to make me think about stopping when I get up to these levels.

After the A I seemed to settle down a bit and just had a bit of weakness immediately after the bursts and then I did the last burst as an all-out 30 secs at 400W. And then I was done and beaten by Bill.

Next time I won't do anything different except stick to the 275W intervals and add another interval to take it up to 19 bursts. The time after that will be 20 intervals.

Overall stats for the 54 minutes:

Work done - 945 kJ
Average power - 290W
Average HR 160
Relative Intensity .93

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

60 mins around 310W

I last did this on 3 Feb and quite liked it even though it gets tough towards the end. After a poor night's sleep and a crappy day at work I was in 2 minds whether to do a workout to day or not, but I guilted myself into it knowing that I need to keep working hard to gain/maintain fitness ready for the race season.

The session went almost exactly as before until my Garmin Premium HR strap started to play up after 35 minutes. I don't have a lot of luck with these and they normally fail after 4-5 months and this one was no different. I was unable to complete the 4mins x 320W interval at around 46 minutes and instead converted it into 2 intervals of 2 mins at 320W with a short recovery in between. I think my HR data at this point was correct as the recorded 167bpm is usually where my body starts to whinge and moan about the effort and I start to think about quitting.

The last interval is 1 min all-out. Today I managed 445W and I felt very ill and light-headed at the end.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

60 mins around 310W

Had a recovery day yesterday, did a bit of shopping, took some photos, drank a couple of glasses of wine, relaxed.

Today I wanted to work on intervals around 310W (FTPish) with shortish recovery intervals between as a result of a poor performance on Friday's 2x20 session. For some reason, and it's not just me, starting the second 20 of a 2x20 seem extraordinarily hard so I wanted to work in that area for a while.

About a month ago I devised the following interval set (with a 2 min recovery interval between each one) with 37 mins at or above 300W so this was the first time I'd tried it:

6 mins x 330W
5 x 300
4 x 320
3 x 310
5 x 300
6 x 310
4 x 320
3 x 300
1 min all out (achieved 408W)

Black=power, red =HR.

Any power variations through the intervals were me trying to manage my average power to ensure that I didn't overcook it too early in the session. Intervals 6 and 7 got my HR up to LTHR and I was suffering a bit towards the end of the 7th. The last 1 min interval was very hard and I did it on feel rather than looking at my power output, which probably explains why it rises throughout. At the start I was quite conservative and then allowed power to build throughout the interval, really whimpering and grunting by the end of it. It's no surprise that the slope of the HR rise for the last interval is so steep.

Overall the session was quite enjoyable and I can imagine being able to repeat intervals 5, 6, 7 and 8 to make it a longer session before hitting the final all-out interval.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Post-cold leg spinner

After 6 days of feeling too ill to train I was looking forward to getting back on the turbo tonight to give my legs a spin to make sure I'm over the cold and ready to train again. I am usually lucky with colds and don't normally suffer for more than a couple of days, so I was a bit concerned when I had to have a day off work because I didn't feel well enough to go in.

Today's session went quite well. Basically I just pedalled at a comfortable working level while I monitored my heart rate, keeping it below 165. As the 45 minutes passed I seemed to get stronger with power genty rising from around 250W to 290W and HR rising to 165. So, providing I feel OK tomorrow I'll be back into the groove with some intervals again.

It's a real shame to have lost a week of training, but as I'm not trying to peak for a specific race I suppose it doesn't really matter. After all, most other riders are just doing longer versions of what I did today as they build up their winter base fitness. Ah, the traditions of cycling!

While I was ill I ate everything and anything I saw. Loads of chocolate, carbs, fruit, cake. You name it, I shoved it in my gob. So I'm also back on my New Year healthy eating plan and trying to cut out the carbs and cheese and increase the protein.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Mike's Guide to Turbo Training

The aim of this post is to provide guidance on the use of Turbo Trainers for those that haven’t used them before or have recently started. It’s based on my personal experience; other views are available and might be more sensible.

warning: if you're really fat, pregnant, stupid, diabetic or have a history of heart attacks, please consult a medical expert before attempting anything written below or it may kill you.
In fact, just close the browser now and walk away, these are not the tips you're looking for.

The Real Basics

A turbo Trainer allows you to use your bike to exercise by producing a resistance to counter your pedalling force. There are many types of resistance units (wind, gel, magnetic, nuclear fission) and a huge range of prices, so I won’t discuss which is the best as there are lots of reviews on the internet. But remember that a turbo is for life, not just for the first 3 weeks of a new year so think about getting a good one. There are lots of good quality second hand ones being sold by people who didn’t follow the kind of golden advice below and have given up on their dreams, so the classifieds may be a good place to get a lightly worn uber-trainer for little money.

What you’ll need. Other than the bare minimum of a bike and a turbo, there are various additions you may wish to consider to make your turbo session more enjoyable, or less horrible, depending on how you feel about turbo training. Some of these are physical things, some are mental things…

Physical things you need

The right environment. You will sweat on a turbo so make sure you have an area where you can work without worrying about sweating on your new carpet. Your bike will probably shed a small amount of chain oil too and can be quite noticeable on a cream Wilton. It’s good to have a surface nearby to put your‘ gubbins’ on so you don’t have to dismount. Kitchens, garages or even outside are good places to do a workout. Your mum’s living room is a bad place. Plan for success.

A drink. Particularly for longer sessions, you’ll be glad you prepared a cool refreshing drink to sip between the intervals. The most obvious side-effect of a good turbo session is the pool of sweat under the bike when you finish so staying hydrated is very important.

A towel. I like to have a towel draped across my handlebars to remove the sweat from my face. While it’s a great feeling to know you’re working hard enough to leak like a sieve, it’s also very nice to not have the rivulets of salty sweat running into your eyes. Riders who want to look more‘continental’ may consider a headband as well.

Entertainment/distraction. 60 minutes on the turbo sounds great when you’re sitting surfing the internet buying the thing. Once you’re through the first few sessions you’ll very quickly start to tire of the whirring noise, and the sweating, and the burning in your thighs. I use a complicated series of distraction techniques to make my turbo time less horrible including loud dance music and YouTube clips of the Tour De France or the European Spring Classics. If you’re using a laptop it’s best to use a mouse rather than a touchpad (due to the sweat) and have everything ready to go before you start. The entertainment should not distract you from your planned session (more on that in a bit), but it should enhance the experience. You will not be able to read a book or magazine on the turbo. If you can read on the turbo, you’re doing it wrong.

A big fan. I’m not talking about getting your loved-one to cheer you on, I’m talking about a remote controlled 30+ inch industrial fan to blow refreshing cooling air over you to reduce the sweatiness and keep your temperature under control. I’m too tight to spend money on a fan, but lots of people swear by them. I tend to open as many windows as possible to make sure there is some airflow across my sweaty back.

Loved-ones. If you’re turboing correctly you won’t want to spend your precious time discussing ‘trivia’ with somebody. Explain to likely distractors that you need some ‘turbo time’ and would prefer to not be disturbed. While your husband/wife/girlfriend etc is being considerate by trying to tell you about what that bitch Julie said to her at work or wanting to discuss what you want for dinner, you’re unlikely to be able or willing to properly engage in the discussion while you’re turning yourself inside-out on the fifth interval of a set of six. You’re likely to swear at him/her. If you find you are regularly disturbed during your turbo time you could return the favour and ruin something they enjoy.

Clingfilm. As a cheapskate I use clingfilm on my bars to stop them getting sweat-soaked and smelling bad for the rest of the year. If you turbo with a bike computer it’s also nice to stop the sweat dripping off your nose and into the delicate electronics of your so-called waterproof electronic device. Clingfilm works on touch-screens and laptop keyboards too.

Minimal clothing. On the turbo I wear shoes, socks, a heart rate monitor and tiny shorts. With a headband I look like a 1970’s German fitness instructor, so I save that for special days. It’s nice to have a t-shirt to hand for the warm-up and cool-down, but I wouldn’t plan to be wearing it when you’re putting down the power.

Shoes. Cycling shoes are best for transferring your power through the pedals as their solid soles will stop your foot flexing which may become uncomfortable after a while. Clipless pedals or toe clips allow you to use more of the pedal stroke to transfer power. Flat pedals will do if you don’t have anything better. Oh yeah, and your shoes will get sweaty and may start to smell.

A method of recording your efforts. Whether it’s an expensive powermeter or a cheap cycle computer, being able to record your efforts and improvements is essential. If you feel like you’re getting fitter it’s great to have evidence to back it up. If you’re not improving, it’s time to change your workouts so that you do improve.
Mental things you need

A target. Setting targets will allow you to have a proper plan and give you the determination to complete it. Want to lose weight? Want to win races? Want to get away from ‘The Antique’s Roadshow’? Whatever, have a target and record your progress towards it and make sure your targets are specific, realistic and achievable. At 45 you’re not going to shed 40 kilos and win the British Road Race Champs next year, so don’t demoralise yourself by thinking you can then realising you can’t. A good example of a target is something like: By 1 June I will be able to ride for 60 minutes on the turbo at an average speed of 18 mph. This allows you to progress towards the target and monitor your progress. A bad example of a target is something like: I want to get fitter. After 2 days you’ll have achieved your target.

A session plan. This is probably the most important aspect of turboing. Without a plan you’re just mucking about and turning food and drink into sweat and noise. With a plan you’re turning your dreams into reality (providing you have a decent plan). The internet is full of great workouts and some rubbish ones too, so be careful who you listen to. Trainer Road (nothing to do with me) is getting increasingly popular as a source of training plans and individual workouts. I haven’t used it, but a lot of people think it’s great for motivation and there are several threads about it on the internet. Having a public record of what you’re doing is a good way to improve your determination to complete your plan.
A power test (optional). To properly determine your ideal workout load you should complete a power test to see what you're capable of. This is the pinnacle of suffering and any woman who says childbirth is painful hasn't completed a 20 minute power test. Basically, once you have warmed up you go as hard as you can for 20 minutes and then use the result as a guide for how hard you should be working for different workouts. If you average Xmph for 20 mins, you'd take 95% of this speed to give you an estimate of what you could achieve for 60 minutes (effectively your FTP), and scale workouts based on this figure. There are other ways of testing yourself and, using speed rather than power, there are lots of issues regarding repeatability, but if these are controlled you have a pretty effective cheap system. Add Trainer Road for a more expensive system, add a power meter for a really expensive system.

Determination. Once you have your plan you need to have the determination to complete it. However, just getting the turbo out and attaching the bike to it is usually the hardest part of any workout; that takes real determination. You know the feeling: your favourite soap is just about to start, you’ve had a very hard day at work sitting down in front of the computer, you deserve some ‘down time’, right? Wrong. You need some determination to get up, get nearly naked with a roll of clingfilm and give that turbo a seeing to. Think of it like this, your body is full of the physical energy as well as the mental ‘innergy’you need to turn your potential into success. Is that cheesy enough for you?

Bail-out plan. There will be times when you can't complete your chosen workout either because you're feeling weak or you've planned to do something beyond your capability. This is not a problem and everybody has bad days. Rather than just stopping and sulking, it's a good idea to have a bail-out plan so that you still get a decent session out of your time. For example, if I'm struggling I may decide to back my power off to a certain level until I recover, or let my HR come down to a certain level. Don't give up, give less, but make sure you give something.

Recovery. This is the period when your body turns your effort into fitness. If you plan to do 7 days of hard workouts a week you’ll end up doing 7 days of mediocre workouts and you’ll stop getting fitter. Bradley Wiggins has recovery days. You need recovery days. Some days you won’t be able to train due to other commitments; maybe you’re going to court or you’re confessing your sins on the Oprah show. If so, plan these days as recovery days and train around them.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Weekly Summary

I've had the luxury of a week off work to allow me to focus on getting some good training in and hopefully make some more progress towards my targets. I've even had the the opportunity to get out on the roads and do some normal cycling rather than the relative monotony of the turbo.

This week has been my biggest since the start of the experiment:

Time riding: 8 hrs 44 mins
Work done: 7700 kJ
Bikescore: 650

This is most obvious in the graph below showing time in power zones 3, 4 and 5. I've done more in each of these zones than in any previous week and at the end of it I still feel keen and strong; much better than I expected to. It will be interesting to see how going back to work will impact on my turbo workload.

I've also managed to reduce my weight to around 74.8 kgs (based on 3 days' measurements) so cutting alcohol and reducing chocolate seems to be doing some good. With the race season about 2 months away I'm not really that bothered about my weight yet, but I'd like to be a kilo lighter next month.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Road Hill Repeats

I woke up to a surprisingly mild Yorkshire day so I thought I'd make the most of it and get to a local hill for some intervals. I live about 8 miles from the lovely village of Crayke, which sits above the surrounding flat countryside like a beacon of pain. So my plan was to take a steady ride to the foot of Crayke mountain,completing smashing a Strava segment on the way there, and then do 6x5 minute hill repeats with a target power output of 330W (about 105% FTP), with roughly 4-5 minutes of downhill recovery between. I don't normally do this kind of specific training on the road, preferring to cover a variety of terrain over distance rather than turbo-style intervals.

The ride out went well and I felt good about smashing my previous time on the Strava segment by 36 seconds, getting it down from 6:10 to 5:36 and taking a King of the Mountain in the process. It also served as a good warm-up interval averaging 360W (115% FTP). It felt really good to be out on the bike and getting all the benefit of air-cooling and not having to suffer a stream of sweat dripping off my nose.

After a brief recovery I was into the 6 Crayke intervals. Below is a close-up of the 6th Crayke interval (the grey background shows altitude, red=HR, black = power, green=cadence and blue=current FTP).The altitude profile starts off quite undulating for the first mile or so, gently climbing 100 feet in the first mile and then ramping up another 150 feet in the last half mile. So, it's not exactly steep, but sticking in the big ring at the front means I have to get out of the saddle for the end of each interval. At the end, HR is in the low 170s which, for me, means I'm working quite hard.

The whole ride looks like this (without cadence and altitude)

The 6 Crayke intervals were: 5:21 at 337W, 5:19 at 350W, 5:14 at 341W, 5:11 at 333W, 5:14 at 342W and 5:15 at 344W. So there's not a lot of correlation between average power and time, which I'll have to look into.

On the way home after the intervals I thought I'd throw in another 330W interval on the flat, but 30 seconds in I thought again and backed-off until I got home. The Crakye intervals had done their job and my legs were quite tired which probably shows the limited road mileage I have done over the last couple of months. It's all very good having good 5-8 minute power, but not if you can't finish the 2 hour race!

Looking at the power profile for the ride it's very obvious that there is a big difference between road and turbo sessions. Rather than specific peaks for targeted zones, there's a flatter look and even some Zone 7 in there too. I find it hard to get quality Z6 and Z7 time on the turbo because I'm always seated.

After the ride I went out for a very gentle 5.7 mile run.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Sufferfest: Local Hero

I really enjoy Local Hero. For me it has the right balance of achievable and challenging and it just keeps taking and taking until you're empty. The last 3 hard days combined with a poor night's sleep meant I was expecting it to be quite hard today and I wasn't sure if I could complete it.

Red = HR, black = power.

After a longish warm-up to clear the last 3 days I quickly settled into the first proper interval at around 30 minutes which felt very comfortable with a nicely settled HR. On the third interval I realised that I was sweating more than usual (although it was quite warm) and my HR was quite high and approaching my Lactic Threshold Heart Rate (purple line), which was annoying as it was about 10 bpm above my normal HR for this workout.

After the third big interval the shorter intervals kicked-in, and on each and every one I was suffering and determined that it would be my last; I'd think about finishing it and having a shower and a bun. But during each recovery interval I had second thoughts, I'd think I was doing OK again and get ready for the next interval. The workout was just hard enough that I hated each interval from about a minute in, but it never beat me so that I couldn't finish an interval or felt that I had to stop. I wanted to, but I didn't have to.

As a result I stayed on the turbo until the end but I was unable to complete the hardest part of the last 4 intervals which required 380W+ but I didn't have enough in my legs to get that power while seated. On the road this would be quite easy by standing, but seated it was beyond me.

In the last 4 days I have done just under 5 hours of workouts and I am feeling the effects of it now. I have tired legs and a slight niggle in my right knee so I am going to have a proper rest day tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

60 minutes of New Year's Day hurt


Today was a beautiful Yorkshire day with clear skies and a cheeky breeze; far too nice to be stuck in on the turbo. I was lucky enough to get the use of a local airfield to do some riding away from the roads with massive puddles hiding massive potholes so I decided to do a single 60 minute effort to see how close to my predicted FTP I could get. My predicted FTP is currently 314W based on my most recent 20 minute test but I knew that I was unlikely to achieve this theoretical figure due to the differences between a controlled turbo session and a road session with wind, gradient etc and wrapped up in warm winter clothing.

I started off well enough averaging 314W for the first 20 minutes, and maintaining it out to 30 minutes and then dropping slightly to 312W at the 40 minute mark. By this time I was hurting and regretting the bottle of wine I had last night and the workout I did yesterday afternoon. In the last 20 minutes I really suffered and was able to manage only 300W; every time I dug deep I was unable to maintain it for more than 30 secs or so. My 60 minute average power was 308W which is approximately 98% of my theoretical FTP. Interestingly, throughout the session my HR was a lot lower than I had expected, reaching a maximum of 168bpm and averaging only 160bpm. I would have expected it to be around 176 and 165 respectively.

Here's the plot of the ride, black = power, red = HR and blue = my theoretical 314W FTP

So, as I expected I was unable to match my theoretical FTP but I got very close. Looking at the data afterwards I realised that there was a lot of variation in my pedal force/cadence plot and it was nowhere near the tightly bunched grouping I'd strive for on a turbo session; but that's the difference of riding in real-world conditions.

This is also obvious in the power curve for the ride. Again, I'd prefer a peakier curve.

So overall I was very pleased with the ride and I was glad that I never gave in to a strong urge to quite after 33 minutes. It's my first 60 minute all-out effort and at the end of it I was having to stand to get decent power into the pedals and I had nothing left. Importantly, it has allowed me to validate my theoretical FTP of 314W. Had I been better rested and been better motivated (for example, being chased by a bear) I think I could achieve 314W for an hour.

At 308W using guideline figures for drag I would have achieved a 25 mile TT speed of 41.78kph (25.96mph) which is 57m 46s (assuming I could still put out 308W in a fully aero position on a fully aero bike).

Stats for the ride:

Relative Intensity - 1.002
Bikescore - 100
Ave cadence - 80rpm
Work done - 1110kJ (~1100 kCals burned)

Monday, 31 December 2012

L'Etape de la Defonce simulated race

After yesterday's run and a long winter walk today I was keen to get back on the turbo before I started drinking to celebrate the end of a good year. This year I entered some good races, including L'etape de la Defonce in South Wales. After the race I analysed my power output and made it into a work-out that I can do to replicate the first 68 minutes of the race.

I last tried this workout on 14 Dec but as I was suffering with a hangover I struggled with some of the intervals. Today, however, I was full of energy and I completed the whole session with bags of power to spare. My heart rate was a lot lower (162bpm compared to 172) and I was always ready for the next big effort; I even managed a 5 minute 330W interval at the end (peaking at 370W). I just goes to show what impact the 8 pint hangover had when I last tried this workout. As a result I will raise the power levels for future sessions to make sure I am completely exhausted at the end.

I'll analyse the differences between the workout and the race later (link to follow), but I am quite surprised how closely the workout and actual race match.

Oh, Happy New Year.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Back in the game!

I've been under the weather for the last 2 days, generally feeling listless but not actually ill, no cold-like symptoms despite being close to people with colds. I haven't had a proper cold for 2 years and I seem to get run down rather than properly ill. After my average performance 2 days ago and a night on the sofa yesterday I wasn't expecting much from tonight's turbo session. I planned a longer version of Shorter Harder where I add repeat intervals (in reverse) at the end of the main set. This would allow me to stop if I needed to. But, I didn't need to......

Heart rate (red) was under control throughout, power (black) was always what I needed to do or more and I got to the end of the 90 minute session feeling quite good. Stats: 90 mins (32 in Zone 4) and approx 1250 kCals.

So again I am a little confused how my performance seems to vary so much from day-to-day, but it probably helps to explain why my race results can also be very variable. It's only when you see variable performance in a controlled environment that you can start to work out just how much performance varies.

Monday, 17 December 2012

A bit of a nothing day

As my FTP has only recently increased to 314 and I have decided to use my old FTP as a basis for my workouts for another week or so.

I had planned to do a 2x20 min session at 307W, my FTP until yesterday. I didn't feel very good before the session and decided about 5 minutes into the first 20 with a rapidly rising HR that I decided to bin it and just do a 260W 50 minute session instead. I don't know why I didn't really get on with today but I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I have previously had bad days as well as good days so I'll just wait for the next good one to come along. Hopefully tomorrow.........

Anyway, in the absence of a decent graph, here's the squirrel that lives in my garden. He watches me when I'm on the turbo and I feel that he judges me. He wasn't very impressed with me today!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

December's 20 minute power test - weighed and measured!

After 4 weeks of turbo time it was eventually time to complete another 20 minute power test to see if I had made any improvement. I tried to control as many variables as possible; so I used the same bike and powertap on the same turbo, with the same pre-ride calibration and I even used the same kitchen.

Before I started I didn't feel very motivated but I know that it's pointless doing interval sessions to improve power unless I test myself regularly to see if they're actually working. If they aren't I need to know so that I can change my routine.

Anyway, the headline is that my 20 minute power is 331W today compared to 322W 4 weeks ago. This 9W equates to a rise of roughly 2.8% which is well above what I had expected. I was hoping for a 1% improvement per month which would get me to my 345W target by May 2013. This equates to a 14 sec improvement over a 10 mile TT.

Here's the plot from today's power test (Red = HR, Black = power):

After a decent warm-up including a 320W power test to make sure everything was OK, I had a poor start and went off too hard and had to wind myself back, but I was settled in after a minute or so. I noticed that I was continually nudging above my 325W target and after 10 minutes I had averaged 328W. The last 10 minutes were hard and sweaty with a couple of weak periods but not the big crash I had previously experienced around 17 minutes.

Below is a comparison of the 2 power tests showing December's test (Red line) compared to November's (Blue). The obvious differences are the stronger start and the improved performance towards the end when I didn't crash in the Dec version. Dec looks much more under control.

Comparing HR across the 2 sessions looks like this:

The difference between HRs at the start of the session is due to slightly different warm-ups and is maintained until around 12 minutes, but at the end the HR traces are almost identical. This is interesting because I use power to pace myself during 20 minute tests but my limit seems to be HR-related. Without a powermeter I'd certainly start too hard and achieve a lower average power over the 20 min test. Average cadence for the 2 sessions is very similar too at 84 rpm for Nov and 86 rpm for Dec.

So what have I learned?
  • At the moment I haven't learned anything. 2 data points are not conclusive but I did feel a lot better on today's test so I'm assuming that the power improvement is genuine; I just need more data to prove it. I have seen how my performance can vary from day to day so it may just be that I was weak on the last test and strong today but that I haven't made any actual improvement. Time will tell.
  • My work-outs over the last 4 weeks have targetted power Zones 4 and 5 so I would expect to see some improvement in a Zone 5 power test (which is what a 20 minute test is) and I have purposely avoided harder intervals. However, this doesn't mean that these were the best intervals; I may have showed a higher 20 minute power increase just riding for an hour at 90%FTP for 2 hours a day.
  • I will need to increase my work-outs to reflect the increased FTP and to continue to provide an impetus for my body to adapt to the increased stress. Again, this is the reason regular testing is essential.