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.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Shorter Harder

Friday's fun knocked me out on Saturday so I didn't fancy turboing. Sunday was 'family day' and then yesterday turned into 'get-up-far-too-early-and-spend-the-whole-day-on-the-back-foot' Monday. By the time I got home I felt the need to lie down and then I woke up an hour later so I decided to bin the planned turbo session.

So, today I had to do something so I did Shorter Harder (long version). Things started off well, I had Ministry of Sound blasting out and some video of this year's skiing holiday running on the laptop and then I got skyped. I tried to carry on the session but it just got a bit weird with me shouting at the screen and looking all red and sweaty so I decided to have an early rest. I then combined the next 2 intervals to make up for it and get back on the original timeline.

On the last interval before the mid-way break I really pushed it and went longer and harder than was required because I felt quite good, and then the first 2 intervals after the break were harder and longer again. Then I started to suffer a bit and regretted showing off but I just had to dig in and keep on going to the end, sweating in the dark. Once the last interval was over I gave myself a short recovery before going all-out for 30 seconds, averaging 493W and peaking at 660W.

Overall it was a good workout and I'm looking forward to another tomorrow and the day after to make up for my weekend of laziness. After the ride I had a very dull pasta and tuna dinner and then sorted the gears out on the turbo bike because they were getting a bit lazy and didn't always change when I wanted them to.

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.

Group Ride

As part of my club's AGM there is a 40ish mile road ride and it's nice to get out with club-mates I haven't seen for a while. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't on my side and the sunny morning turned to snow just before the ride and then the snow turned to rain during the ride. As a result I got very very cold, made worse by a couple of punctures within the group. It was quite a steady ride with just the excitement of a mad break at the end to qualify as any real training.

The break started with a big dig to generate some speed and separation and then I backed-off to see if anybody was coming with me. A couple chased me so I kept the power up to make sure they had to work hard to get to me and then when they did I sat up. 3 of us then settled into a chain gang until the finish hovering around 320W with a peak at the end.

After the ride it took a couple of hours to properly warm up so I was expecting to catch a cold, but my high vit C intake seems to have done the job.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Hunted

I was going to do a roller session yesterday but after 20 minutes I stopped. Just didn't feel like doing it and I wasn't going to get much out of it. I've been feeling a bit throaty for the last couple of days coinciding with a selfish b'stard at work coughing and spluttering at an adjacent desk.

So today I planned a Sufferfest 'The Hunted' session which I found challenging and unachievable last time I did it. However, being an idiot I forgot that I was just unable to get to the end of the middle 20 minute session and had to back off. In a way this was actually a good thing because I went into the workout expecting to be able to compete it and probably tried harder as a result.

So, it went well through the first taster and then all the way through the 'middle 20' until I got to the section marked with the big red A (for Aaaaaaarrrgh!). With a high HR my body just said NO! and I had to stop, feeling quite miffed because I thought that I had completed this bit last time.

The last session was achievable, but I was really suffering on the 5x350W+ intervals at the end and was very pleased to stop and when I did I realised how hard I had been working; gasping for breath and my throat slightly constricted. I'm not asthmatic, but I think it was the same feeling.

So, I probably won't do this again for a long while. There are 2 hard bits that are too hard and the rest is too easy and really just foreplay waiting for the pain. It's quite like a race in that respect, but racing isn't necessarily the best way to increase fitness.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Recovery Day

Legs had a little 'lactic hangover' this morning and I had another early start so I'm not doing any turboing today and my hopeful gentle road ride has been slapped-down by heavy rain and 65mph winds.

I haven't eaten any chocolate since last Wednesday so that's 6 days off the brown stuff and I've stopped missing it. It helps that I have none in the house. If there's chocolate in the cupboard I can hear it calling to me when I get home, tempting me to eat it, my mouth watering when I think about it. If it's not there I don't even think about it. Except now!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Local Hero

With terrible winds and driving rain on the menu this evening I was pleased to have the option of a rusting turbo in a cold Lancashire kitchen to get my training fix. Who needs the roads anyway?

It's been a while since I've done a Sufferfest Local Hero so I thought I'd treat myself to the King of workouts. Well, one of the Kings at least. The King that keeps on going and going and then expects you to sprint at the end. 4 times.

For entertainment I had some high energy Spinning music and a video of an old race running too which, combined with the workout, made for a very engaging 80 minutes. Everything seems to be back to normal after my enforced break; my HR was about right, my legs felt about the same amount of lactic burn, I was really suffering on the sprint parts of the last 4 intervals, I didn't nearly pass out when I finished so I seem to be about in the same condition I was in early January, which is nice.

After a shower I treated myself to some Weetabix and then some cold Chicken and pasta leftovers from yesterday. Wow, I really know how to live!

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.

Friday, 1 February 2013

2x20 at FTP (bailed out)

After another day on the road I was looking forward to a 2x20 at FTP (307W) session, I consider these to be a very efficient way of getting some good training in and I tend to struggle a bit on the second 20 from time to time. Today was no different. After a good warm up and a successful first 20 (at 309W) I settled into the recovery interval ready for the second 20. 4 minutes into it I started to feel uncomfortable and the I suffered from the quits, head down and hating the effort. I hate stopping a turbo session and always have a 'bail-out' option to ensure that I don't just stop when things get tough, but back off enough to recover to do something useful. Back at around 280-290W I let my HR stabilise but when I tried to increase the power I got the same uncomfortable feeling again; like my body telling me it was just too difficult even though I know the power is within me to achieve it.

So, I thought I'd teach my body a lesson and finished with 7x1 min intervals with a 1 min RI between. The intervals ended up as 330, 336, 360, 363, 345, 373, 378W with some good lactic burn in my thighs on some of them. Looking back, it's a long while since I've done some proper high intensity intervals so I feel like I need to do some to remind my body that it's there to work hard and recover well for racing rather than just bashing out 60 minute sessions around 80-110% FTP. February will see a transition towards shorter harder intervals.