End of the (Trainer) Road (well not quite)

So looking back again at where my season finished, that was 28th October, I then began my Trainer Road plan undertaking 3 weeks of training before switching to a more polarised model. After just over 3 weeks of that I became ill, (not 100% related) and in that 2 week period I eventually settled on starting with Trainer Road again and the Sweet Spot Base Mid Volume 2 (SSBMV2).

From the 29th February I completed the first 2 weeks and immediately began to feel the bump in fitness from the mix of training that comes with that plan. During this time though, despite knowing the benefits I have become increasingly frustrated that I am being confined to the indoors.

I’ve lost that feeling of being a cyclist and to a lesser extent gone a bit soft, often bailing on the chance to ride outdoors because of a slightly unsettled forecast. I actually like riding, well like riding is a bit of push, but I certainly don’t mind riding in bad weather, the pay off you get when arriving home is usually worth as much as the weight of your sopping wet kit, I also miss tearing it up with my club mates.

Spinning back a few weeks, the purpose of doing the TR plan was to bring my fitness back up after my short man flu illness, it’s achieved it’s goal which just shows how much a factor of being consistent is. Prior to the plan I did a couple of 45 minute easy spins, a ramp test and a longer harder session before starting the plan proper with another ramp test. So overall about 4 weeks of consistent turbo training.

This week I purchased a new “smart” turbo trainer, it was a few setup issues that led to me to skipping Tuesday’s “Pettit” workout for more testing, that break in plan kind of made my mind up about getting back on the road, but with a tough session on my plan to come on Thursday I thought I’d do one more session before looking to the weekend and some outdoors action. I binned off the the Trainer Road workout in favour of something else.

The Hour of Power

Power hour 1

Having listened to the velonews podcast with Dr. Stephen “Polarised Training” Seiler for the millionth time I felt the urge to do a proper full length 1 hour test. So not short ramp test, no 20 minute test * 95%, a proper full on effort of 1 hour.

Having switched the new turbo to resistance mode and with nothing more to focus on than my Wahoo BOLT cycling computer I began my effort.

The first 20

My new trainer felt so much more stable than my previous one and comfort wise I was in the zone, my current FTP set via means of the ramp test was 284W, I was quickly averaging 292 this time out as I closed out that first 20 minutes. Heart rate was pretty stable at 166BPM average, no spikes just a solid steady line.

The second 20

Looking at the power profile I averaged 295W for this part of the test and was growing more confident, I was not tiring at all and was actually thinking at what point to push harder. I proceeded with caution though, with 40 minutes down and 20 still to go it’s very easy to run out power! One thing I had run out of was water, I used the wonder of technology to text Mrs Murph who kindly brought out a fresh bottle, this was key to completing the whole test as I was starting to feel the heat. My heart rate for this section was now up into the high 170s but still away from my max of 196.

The final 20

Feeling comfortable with the effort I began to push a little bit harder with 10 minutes left, the water had given a nice boost and I was keen to see what I could do. For the last 6 minutes I averaged over 300W and with 1 minute to go I really smashed myself, it crossed my mind to keep going after the hour but as the timer hit 1 hour I hit the lap button and started to get my breath back, 318 watts for the final minute took it’s toll!

When I say I hit the lap button at 1 hour, I mistakenly hit it with 50s to go as I was looking at ride time. This actually cost me a few watts as I was confident I could have kept that 320-330W blast at the end going for at least another 20-30 seconds but in the end I will go with the data tells me for the hour, net result 295W for 60 minutes. Ideally you don’t want or should I say you shouldn’t be able to up the power like that in the last few minutes, so effectively I could have, (probably anyway) done harder throughout.

That 295W measurement represents an 11W bump in 3 weeks but more importantly that 295W figure is a proper indication of my FTP, I’m pretty sure I could have exceeded 300W but as I say I’ll go with the data, 295W represents the highest power I have even done for 1 hour so really happy with that.

As a comparison Bradley Wiggins (did I mention I raced him once?) did 435W when achieving his hour record. Mind boggling.

Moving on

So for me now I am ditching my Trainer Road plan but not Trainer Road entirely, whilst my focus will move outdoors I now have a second bike giving me have that permanent setup ready to go on the turbo for when I feel like getting some really good quality work done. The workout list is so extensive and the package is so simple to use it would be foolish not to use the resource available, I’ll intersperse this with my own intervals too.

I will potentially jump back on to a specialty plan if I need to really target some upcoming events or races but to close, the Trainer Road plans really work, even in such a short space of time, I’d certainly recommend giving them a go. They take the mental strain out of planning your training, you just need to focus on turning the pedals, if you do that the results will come.

Next workout: Some big hills

 

Bluebell

Week 3

Week 3

Two weeks down and now onto week 3 with the workout named “Bluebell”, sounds more akin to nice gently pedal around a lake somewhere but in fact it’s a VO2 max (top end) session, here is the synopsis.

Bluebell desc

And for those hard of hearing here it is in visual form. Looks tasty!

Bluebell graph

Let’s begin

Getting on the turbo pretty much straight from work is always advantageous, it stops that wind down feeling you get as your ass hits the sofa, so kitted up, bottles sorted, gel down the neck I began.

First set

I’m not going to say these were easy but I kept thinking to myself that I don’t feel they are pushing me hard enough, I did however appreciate there were 2 more sets after this so I just focused and got them done. As you’ll see from the graph below, all wattages hit were above the prescribed, so maybe inadvertently I am pushing that fraction more.

Second set

Rather than slowing down I continued hitting higher than required power outputs, the bigger challenge is the comfort on the bike. Old habits seem to be creeping back in and I just can’t quite nail my position again, cognitive stress adding to the VO2 max. Anyway, set 2 done, onto the last one.

Third set

Same power targets to hit, 340W on for 60 seconds, then 60 seconds rest, repeat 6 times. Again I played with the idea of aiming higher but given I was already doing that I carried on but aimed to do the last couple a bit harder still. You can see below that I managed that just fine. The numbers on the right: actual / target.

Overall summary

My increased efforts put the intensity factor up a bit but last night felt fine and today I feel good as well. These 1 minute efforts at only 120% of FTP should not be a problem if your FTP is set correctly, I’m pretty sure I could have targeted 360W (+20w) for the whole session and still hit it. Sixty seconds can feel like a long time but with a bit of determination you should get through them.

Bluebell graph completed

Good start to the week, onto the next one.

Next Workout: Pettit (very easy, I may alter this)

 

 

 

 

 

Hunter (Sunday)

Hunter, the working title for one of my all time favourite movies “Predator”.

predator-arnold-schwarzenegger

Having decided against the club ride instead of “getting to the chopper” it was a case of “GET TO THE TURBO ROOM”, no bazooka, or mini guns, it was 3 bottles, 2 rice cakes and 2 banana soreen bars for my longest session yet, 2 hours to be precise.

The workout

Hunter desc

Looking at the interval power required I felt totally comfortable this would be done without too much trouble, it ended up being a little harder than I thought. In fact I was so confident that I gave Netflix a go again, I could of course have put Predator on but I’d watched it only last week so I figured I’d give Breaking Bad another run out.

Interval 1

With 250W the target I breezed through the first 20 minute sweet spot interval at 258W average and began the recovery, which at 15 minutes was too long, particularly for the first one. I was fully able to follow Breaking Bad so with a bit more fuel added I began the next one.

Interval 2

A bit of a bump in power needed here, 261W the target. My pedaling remained solid, heart rate remained at around 160BPM until right near the end but again this seemed straight forward. I did toy with upping the target power but that would have made it threshold not sweet spot so I left it alone. Net result, 271W, 10 above target and time for that recovery again.

Having consumed 1 rice cake and 2 soreen bars already I took a bite out of my final rice cake then saw it drop on the floor, would I need those 15g of carbs? Should I climb and fetch something else? I decided not to!

What a waste!

You’ll note the industrial nature of my training room…

thumbnail_IMG_2608

Interval 3

First part of the interval was fine but with 10 minutes left I was starting to feel the cumulative effects, I sure could go for that rice cake now! The target here was 251W, naturally I found myself above that but at this point despite the fatigue kicking in I was enjoying the session (and Breaking Bad). Heart rate never went above 160BPM (my max is 196) and the 20 minute lap finished with an average power of 262W, cool down time.

Summary

I binned the club ride off again, mainly because I had a few things to do and didn’t fancy having to rush around all afternoon after 60 miles on the bike, with the weather being poor it helped make the decision. Next week though I’m getting some road miles in!

So week 2 completed, no issues and it’s clear my legs are getting better and better as each session goes by, this is giving me more and more confidence that I’ll put in a good showing at some events in March, as I mentioned though I need some road time.

week 2 done

Current fitness

week 2 fitness

Week 3 looks like this:

Week 3

Next Workout: Bluebell (Vo2 max)

 

 

 

Donner (Saturday) No kebabs though!

Hard not to think of kebabs but the workout in store was slightly more tasty than you’re used to. Here’s the blurb:

Donner Desc

And in graph form:

Donner graph start

Late start

Being Saturday this becomes a bit of anvil around the neck as despite being off work, family time takes priority and the session wasn’t done until later in the evening. I approached the workout reasonably confident as coming off a rest day and having not done anything too taxing in the day I felt pretty good.

Long story short on this, each interval was dispatched solidly, no dramas.

With my current FTP set at 284W, these intervals were being done close to that, I went over a bit again and recorded 282, 284 and 283W for the 3 intervals.

As you can see, I’m solidly above that target blue undulation, I added an extra bit at the end for cool down as I had either the club ride or TR workout to be done on the Sunday.

Donner Done

So far so good as I approach the end of week 2.

Next workout: Hunter (Longest one yet)

 

 

Pettit & Clark

Wednesday – Pettit

Pettit 6.2

The schedule for Wednesday was an easy hour of aerobic work, skipping this not an option, keeping the momentum going is really important and it all adds up, I’m a firm believer of the “the more you train, the more you can train” so keeping the sessions going should be a real positive approach to maintain.

Thursday – Clark

Clark desc

Starting later on the turbo always requires a bit more mental focus to keep in the zone but to be honest I’m already starting to bounce back fitness wise so the workouts look less daunting now anyway, but 90 minutes is still 90 minutes so you need to be ready.

Again I focused on being fueled up, this is paying massive dividends as I’m no longer starting a workout with a full stomach and needing my body to try and digest a bowl of coco pops eaten 20 minutes before while I’m doing hard efforts. I knew I’d be on the trainer at 6:30pm so at 3pm I ate my now customary rice cakes and soreen which topped me up nicely.

Clark 7.2

As you can see each sweet spot effort was preceded by a hard effort of 12 seconds just before it, this workout actually fits in quite nicely with racing as you tend to spend a lot of time at sweet spot but have harder efforts coming out the corners. I was a little lower than the target power on the first couple of stomps, mainly due to the lag from the turbo so on the later ones I spun my legs up quicker to hit the power.

Intervals 1,2 and 3.

These were all hit no problem, in fact I was above the power on all of them (full analysis below), mainly because I get into a rhythm and just keep it going, any dips below target on the graphs are momentary lapses of concentration not a weakening of the legs.

More about that concentration…. I’d started with a Trainer Road YouTube podcast but after 10 minutes I finally decided that from now on I’d just look at the numbers for my workout, I cannot do both. For easy recovery stuff it’s not an issue but where you are maintaining a power output that is a little taxing my brain cannot cope.

Intervals 4,5, and 6

I felt good, so I turned up the wick a bit, especially on the last one where I set the target power 6% above required, I even ended up more than that. I figured this was OK as I have a rest day today, Saturday and Sunday look much more challenging so it’ll be interesting to see how I cope with them, I’m hoping to deal with them in the same way.

265 / 255

271 / 261

275 / 266

274 / 261

277 / 255

278 / 263 (original target was 250)

Clark intervals

Summary

Another completed workout, fully on track for this week as I move into some threshold and longer sweet spot efforts at the weekend.

I’m spending a lot of my spare time reading up on lot’s of different training methodologies so I may look to tinker a little with some of the interval sessions, especially if the ones on the plan are being hit so easily. I’ll caveat that by saying as a wider experiment it may just be best to leave things as they are then experiment when this 6 week plan is done.

Current fitness

On the rise, this should see a nice bump over the weekend.

Current fitness 8.2

Next Workout: Donner (hard)

Taylor -2 -The Rollercoaster

Monday

So onto week 2, with a rest day on Monday I took the opportunity to do a bit of something different to improve my fitness. This mainly consisted of a few press ups, stretches and core work, small steps to begin with but is something I have neglected for a quite a while, I’ll aim to do this on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays before upping the pace a little.

The weekly schedule

Week 2

Essentially as mentioned on earlier posts, its Rest, Hard, Easy, Hard, Rest, Hard, Hard and as I viewed the workout for Tuesday I was a little apprehensive.

Taylor -2

Taylor -2 Goals

Taylor -2 Blank

Look at the profile, each of those columns are efforts at 120% of my FTP, having not done much top end work I had visions of the workout ending before that last set, so how did I do?

Pre-workout

I knew I’d be able to get on the trainer as soon as I got home from work so this helped me plan my pre-workout meal, 2 rice cakes with chocolate and a soreen banana loaf at 2pm, this really did the trick as I had no hunger issues until after the workout itself, needless to say I have stocked up on both items.

Set 1

Having done the brief warm up I began the first set, I managed to get a nice gear selection so that I could keep the cadence in the mid 90’s and to be honest I dispatched all of the 14 efforts with minimal fuss, I don’t think my heart rate went above 160bpm (max is 196).

Set 2 & 3

Set two was also pretty simple, the first set had given me real confidence that my health and fitness is bouncing back nicely. Midway through set three I almost upped the % but figured I’d just push on a bit more. You can see from the yellow lines that my efforts exceeded what was required.

Taylor -2 completed

Summary

A solid workout to start the week and a nice feeling in the legs. My legs began to feel the effort as the night went on but today after a good meal and decent nights sleep I’m ready to go again.

I don’t think you’ll find this in the “Top 100 recovery meals” book anywhere but it went down well. Pie, chips and peas – What an athlete!

Meal.JPG

Next workout: (Pettit: Easy)

Geiger + 2

So onto Sunday, I’d actually been tempted to skip this workout in favour of the club group ride but with temps at -4 it was an easier decision to make to stay on track and get this workout done. I am going to get out next weekend though as it does make it easier to stay motivated when indoors. After a busy morning of dog walking, food shopping and cleaning I hopped on the turbo at just after 12pm to get my 90 minutes done.

Description

Geiger +2 is 5×12-minute efforts spent in the Sweet Spot, 88-94% FTP, with short, 4-minute recoveries between efforts.

Goals

Sweet Spot intervals are all about furthering muscular endurance and enhancing aerobic efficiency.

Additional, related benefits include improved sugar storage in the muscles, better utilization of fat for fuel, a higher capacity for more intense workouts later on, and increased power output at moderate , largely aerobic intensities.

This is what it looks like:

geiger+2 plan

How I do it

Normally when I am training I don’t need the distraction of music or netflix etc but today I thought I’d give it try, 30 minutes in I turned it off. I find it off putting when I’m zoning in on hitting my power targets at sweet spot and above. Earlier in the week I did Kaweah which on paper was harder than Geiger+2, but that did not prove to be the case today, it felt hard, very hard.

It was one of those days, probably due to a bit of fatigue building up, but I was fidgeting around quite a bit on the turbo and the 12 minute intervals of which you can see there are 5 really seemed to drag on. Having had my breakfast at 6:30am and only a cookie in between I perhaps was a bit under fueled as well, Sweet spot training is bloody hard, it’s not one of those “just hop on the trainer” sessions, for me personally you need your brain in gear and some quality calories in your system.

No danger

There was never any issue with me completing this session it just felt harder than it should, the fidgeting around was affecting my pedaling no doubt but with a few grimaces the first two 12 minute intervals were hit just above target.

Intervals done: 2 / Food consumed: 1 x banana soreen.

Three more to go

geiger+2 completed

Looking at the above you can see that intervals 3 & 4 were solid, (with the help of one more soreen bar and a gel) the final interval was a bit more up and down as the fidgeting got worse, anyhow, final session of the week done.

Summary

A very hard session completed, felt much tougher than I thought and I’ve been pretty knackered since I climbed off the bike about 2pm. The fridge and snack cupboard has also taken a bit of a beating.

So to recap, 5 sessions to do, 5 sessions done.

Week 1 Done

Meme1 Vo2

Next workout: Taylor-2 (grim)

It Ramps Up Quickly

Having basically had 3 weeks off the bike through illness and other stresses the idea of starting off my Trainer Road Sweet Spot Base (SSB) (Mid volume 2) plan with a ramp test was a little daunting. I’ve not done any hard efforts for quite a while so burying yourself on a test, although essential, was not going to be fun and so it proved. The Ramp Test is performed to set your training zones by way of giving you an FTP (Functional Threshold Power) figure, power being measured in watts, more on that below.

Having finished my season at the National Hill Climb on the 28th October I’ve had no real focus, I initially started the SSB plan, doing about 2-3 weeks of it but then dropped it to start training polarised, I’m not going into that here but my feeling was I’d need to up my training hours a bit to benefit, something I’d struggle with and indeed when I did up them for 3-4 weeks I got sick. It wasn’t solely down to that but it made me rethink things and with an enforced break I felt that the SSB plan would be ideal to follow for 6 weeks to allow me to regain fitness, the tough part was that I’m starting from a low base.

pmc

Without getting too technical my CTL, (basically a measure used to gauge fitness) was down at 38, peak form in summer would be 60-63, solid form would be around 50-52, 38 is way off, you can see from the graph above where my illness kicked in. So onto the ramp test..

Previous Episodes

Prior to that first attempted plan I did a couple of ramp tests to see how they stacked up with my current FTP which was based on a different testing procedure. There are numerous tests you can do, in its purest form you can go all out for 1 hour but most people do a 20 minute test (preceded by some hard efforts) and subtract 5%. Race data is also a good way of obtaining this power number.

Trainer Road have standard protocols but also the ramp test, it’s shorter than the others but in the 3 practice tests I did they all came out within 1-2 watts so I believe they work well for me, I will periodically test using the longer methods just to ensure that remains true.

Ramp Test Result

ramptestprevious11.11

My previous ramp test as you can see here had me failing at 394W, this gave me an FTP of 294. This is calculated by multiplying my best 1 minute power by 0.75.

Latest ramp test

ramptestfinalsteps

ramptestgraph

My current test had me failing at 378W, giving me an FTP of 284W. Not too bad, especially given the lack of hard efforts recently and the fact I’m still not feeling 100%.I could not give any more, especially after a busy day at work and in a cold outhouse. For reference, for me this is just over 4.2 w/kg (watts per kilogram).

The Plan

So this is how the standard SSB  Mid Volume 2 plan looks, this is the first 3 weeks.

theplanssb

You can shuffle things around to suit when you want the hardest days, I’ve got a schedule that looks like this:

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: 1 hour difficult
  • Wednesday: 1 hour easy
  • Thursday: 90 minutes difficult
  • Friday: Off
  • Saturday: 1 hour difficult
  • Sunday: 2 hours moderate

Total: 6 hours 30 minutes

I have had to change around the first week though as I was unable to train on the Thursday.

This lasts for 5 weeks, the 6th week is a recovery week which allows your body to take onboard the fitness gains and recharge you for the next block. Given that I have an important event on the 24th March (7 weeks from now), it’s my intention to overload my system on that recovery week, then taper the following week so that I am fresh. Having completed this initial base phase I’ll then look to move to the next phase which is the build phase.

Main Targets

24th March – The Magnificent 7 (essentially 7 closed road hill climbs with moto escort between them). I wanted to be in the best shape for this, but sadly I won’t quite be at the level I hoped given the last 3 weeks.

May – August – Road racing / Crits. We should have a good nucleus of riders from my club (South Normanton Cycling Club “SNCC”) that are getting stuck in this year so I’ve decided to dip my toe in again as well.

September to October – Hill Climbs

Next Workout: Ebbetts.

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