Showing posts with label statistics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label statistics. Show all posts

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).

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.

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.

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)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Recovery Day Musings

At the end of the third week I have achieved: Rides: 3 - all turbo sessions totalling 3 hrs 35 mins (last week 5 hrs 50 mins). This reduction is largely a result of having 3 days off at the start of the week due to other commitments.

Total Bikescore (TSS): 274 (last week 456)

kCals burned (incl warm-ups and cooldowns): 3277 (5391)

I didn't have a planned TSS for this week, but I woke up this morning feeling a little throaty so I feel I have achieved as much as I wanted to in the last 3 days. We have a 'house cold' which I'm trying to avoid so I don't want to overdo things and get ill. I have been looking at the various ways I can compare workouts since I started to lose confidence in TSS/Bikescore as a useful metric. Below is a graph comparing my work done (in kJ), Bikescore and TSS. As you can see, and as I would expect, they are all pretty much the same across the last 4 weeks.

This week's times in various Zones show how easy I've had it compared to my 'big week' last week.
Total time in Zone 3: 0:33:37 (last week 57:10)
Total time in Zone 4: 1:32:36 (last week 2:17:34)
Total time in Zone 5: 0:16:50 (last week 0:38:23)
Total time in Zone 6: 0:01:20 (last week 0:03:37)
Total time in Zone 7: 0 (last week 8 seconds)
The last 4 weeks' Zones 3-5 durations are shown in the table below:

On every measure I have had an easy week. I have had 2 hard workouts and an easier one but I've  compressed all my work into 3 days and I'm now feeling a bit lethargic as a result and I feel I need a recovery day. I'm due (and dreading) a 20 minute power test soon to see what benefit the preceeding 4 weeks of turbo work has given me. I'll probably aim to do this next weekend so I'm planning turbo sessions on Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri (probably with a hangover after the office Xmas party on Thurs evening) and then the test.

Looking back at the same period last year I was doing a lot more riding on the road and racing CX too so I was getting a lot more time on the bike than this year. This year the Yorkshire roads are terrible to the point of being dangerous, with massive puddles and potholes. It will be interesting to see whether the turbo work has been sufficient to maintain my 20 min power output without the longer road rides I usually do.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Weekly Summary

At the end of the second week I have achieved: 

Rides: 5 - all turbo sessions totalling 5 hrs 50 mins.

Total Bikescore (TSS): 456 (last week 390)

I had planned a TSS of around 430 for the week so I was pleased to exceed this, but I have less and less confidence in TSS as a useful metric. Having reviewed some long road rides I realise that I can regularly achieve a TSS of 300 for an 85 miler and still be able to ride again the next day. This week's TSS 456 was very challenging and regularly left me unable to anything other that just sit on the bike and recover. I need to do some thinking about what TSS is trying to tell me and how I can make it useful.

Total time in Zone 3: 57:10 (last week 0:30:00)
Total time in Zone 4: 2:17:34 (1:54:00)
Total time in Zone 5: 0:38:23 (0:38:01)
Total time in Zone 6: 0:03:37 (0:03:34)
Total time in Zone 7: 8 seconds (12 seconds)

kCals burned (incl warm-ups and cooldowns); 5391 (4430)

So it seems I have done more this week but most of that was in Zones 3 and 4 rather than an even balance across all Zones. In the future I need to do more in Zone 5 and 6 if I am going to improve my 20 minute power.

My weight is down to around 74.8 so there's steady progress in that direction, but still a long way to go to get to the 72kg target.

I will be away from the turbo for the next 3 days so I'll take it as a useful recovery period and look to beast myself again on Thursday and Friday.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Hell of the North - completed

After a day at work looking forward to an hour on the turbo, I snuck off early and got the torture chamber set up and ready for The Hell of the North (set up here). YouTube loaded, Golden Cheetah running, Garmin recording, Go!!!

The first 5 minutes is a fairly relaxed warm-up before the fun starts as Boonen attacks and the intervals start. I won't ruin it for you and let you know what happens, but here's the plot of the first 65 minutes with lots of Zone 4 work mixed with short rest intervals in Zone 2. I liked that you never knew what was coming next or how long the current interval or rest would last; it made it much more interesting and less of a chore than a normal interval session. The film is also really good and helps to take your mind off any pain you're suffering.

The power plot looks like this showing that it's mainly a Zone 4 workout. Black line = power. Red line = HR. Green line = Cadence.

Stats for the hour:

Average power: 272W
xPower: 274W - my FTP is 307 therefore it's roughly 89%
Average HR: 156
Max HR: 169 (my LTHR is 174)
kCals: 970
IF: 0.89
Bikescore (TSS): 79

If you run it with Golden Cheetah (or Trainer Road) and overlay YouTube it looks something like this (the video is actually better but the screenshot makes it look worse that it is):

Next time I'll do a longer warm-up (15 minutes) and then I'll be able to do the whole workout to the end and I'll hold back earlier on. I found I was letting my power creep up above the 307W or 270W targets which may have impacted later on in the workout. Today's hour went very very quickly.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Recovery Day musings

I woke up feeling very tired this morning despite what felt like a good night's sleep so today is definitely going to be a rest day. Part of my experiement is to record how I feel after workouts, particularly if I feel like as workload may induce illness. Earlier this year I had several bouts of being run down as a results of trying to do too much with insufficient recovery and I'd like to have an idea of what I can manage without hindering near-future training.
In the last 2 days I have completed 2 workouts with a combined Bikescore (TSS) of 115+78 = 193 (the equivalent of 1.93 hours absolutely flat-out). The Hunter and Allen book suggests that Elite athletes should aim for an average daily TSS of 100 for best results. I'm aiming for somewhere between 60 and 70 per day as I have a full-time job and a life and I can't (and won't) spend all my spare time training, but I am trying to make my training as efficient as possible.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Last Week's Summary

At the end of the first week I can now review what I achieved:

Rides: 5 - all turbo sessions

Total Bikescore (TSS): 390

Total time in Zone 3: 0:30:00
Total time in Zone 4: 1:54:00
Total time in Zone 5: 0:38:01
Total time in Zone 6: 0:03:34
Total time in Zone 7: 12 seconds!

kCals burned (incl warm-ups and cooldowns); 4430

The HR graph for the week shows how HR distribution varied for each workout. HR Zone 4 (163-182 BPM) is shown in orange and HR Z3 (144-163) is in red. 21 and 22 Nov are the same Shorter Harder workout, 18 and 24 Nov are the same 2x20 at FTP workout, but on the sessions where I was struggling (21 and 24 Nov) I had a very high proportion of the session in HR Z4. It is interesting to note how the HR profile varied for the same workout on different days. On some days, for the same power, my HR is much higher and when my HR gets to my Lactate Threshold HR (174 BPM), I suffer and think about stopping.

Using last week to plan for next week:

A Bikescore (TSS) of 390 in 5 sessions was achievable with no signs of fatigue, so I would like to aim for 4-5 sessions and 430 TSS next week. With 100 TSS being the equivalent of a 1 hour workout at FTP (306W), 390 TSS is quite a good workload for the first week but I would like to increase this gradually to identify what TSS workload becomes too hard and/or too tiring. Most importantly, I don't want to hate the turbo as this will reduce my willingness to train on it.

I'm planning similar workouts targeting Z4 and Z5 for the next 3 weeks until my next 20 minute power test to see what difference this makes. I might throw in a Sufferfest session to try to break things up a bit. Maybe There Is No Try or Local Hero.

Friday, 23 November 2012


For the last 3 days my weight averaged 75kgs. Using the same power recorded at the last 20 min power test, this predicts a 60 min PWR of 4.09, up from 4.03 at the weekend (obviously all due to the reduction in recorded weight!) which is a 1.5% improvement*.

*The reality is more likely to be that my recorded weight last weekend was too high as my activity and diet is unlikely to have resulted in a 0.9kg weight loss. Using the 3500kCals per lb guestimate of weight reduction, I'd have had to have used an additional 6900kCals to drop the weight, which I haven't, so such small changes are likely to be 'noise' and may have been caused by having a fuller stomach, being better hydrated or having a fuller bladder rather than any real weight loss. This is why I'm taking a longer-term view of the power and weight in my target.