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.

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.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Strictly Tempo road ride

With a new FTP (313W based on yesterday's ride) I set a target of 285W (tempo) for an hour on the road. As a hardish recovery ride it felt fine throughout and always comfortable. Not much to say really except that my fitness seems to have taken a step up in the last couple of weeks.

This wekk I have achieved 4 workouts, 3 of which were on the road. Total time of only 4 hrs 38mins but more than half of this was in power zones L4 or L5 so there was some good intensity in there too.

Tomorrow will be a day off and then I'll be back on it again on Tuesday.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Hour of Power and New PB!

Thursday (2 days ago) was a rest day after 2 days of hard intervals and I planned a road ride yesterday. Unfortunately I was delayed at work and had other commitments when I got home so I had another day off and several glasses of wine and some chocolate too. Not exactly the highly disciplined training I had planned in November when this experiment started.

This afternoon I grabbed an hour to myself and headed out for another Hour of Power on the sunny roads, planning to repeat the hard session I did last week when I averaged a respectable 296W.

Today I felt great straight from the start and rather than trying to maintain 275-285W between the high power bursts, I just rode on feeling with occasional glances at my power. After 24 minutes I had averaged 317W (a new record) and then went on to set a PB right out to 60 mins. Other than a slight 'wobble' at 48 mins I just felt fine, though I was on the limit at the end and pleased to stop.

At the end I had averaged 313W compared to my last 60 min PB of 308W on 1 Jan. Then I tried to even out and control my effort, whereas today the Hour of Power workout is specifically designed to disrupt your flow and I would expect that to reduce your average power. So, I guess I must have got fitter. Last year's 60 min PB was 296W and I was absolutely shattered at the end of that, so I'm quite pleased.

 Average HR was low at 163, cadence was tightly grouped around 80rpm (yes, I do pedal slowly). 1100kCals for the hour and a relative intensity of 0.999, so hard work!