Tuesday, 21 January 2014

merely a blip...

Well, last week's training went pretty well - some new bike sessions to keep me focused from Gary at Dig Deep Coaching and of course a new functional threshold power (FTP) to live up to.

One session, called 'attack and hold it' was particularly fun... After a thorough warm up it was a 15-second-out-of-the-saddle-and-go-for-for-it-100%-effort, followed by 2 mins at FTP (258W), 5 mins steady then rinse and repeat 5 times. I'd not run my trainer in level mode before (always in erg mode where the power is held stable) so I had no idea what power levels I was capable of in a sprint. I managed to max out at 789W and hold over 700W for 15 seconds... Probably equivalent to one of Chris Hoy's legs, on a rest day... I hear he can generate considerably more than 2000W - so I won't be pushing for the Olympic team soon ;-)

On Friday I went for a swim at Virgin Active but noticed the tell tales signs of a cold coming on. I'll blame that for the rubbish pace in the water... nothing to do with a poor technique ;-)

On Saturday I was back on the turbo trainer but this time trying to maintain a steady pace and hit 10 fast cadence (100+) intervals of 1 minute each, followed by 1 minute at normal (90 rpm) before going on to do a 15 min threshold time trial effort. After 5 or 6 minutes of the time trial effort I realised I was dying off and my cadence was dropping faster than my heart rate was rising! I ground to a halt, but because my trainer is sooooooo clever, it decided I had merely paused the workout. No other way to get through it but to grind my teeth and push on through. I stopped a couple more times before I eventually made it through the interval and back onto lower power levels that I could push comfortably without having a heart failure. Oh the joys of technology.

The sensible thing would have been to listen to my body and realise that I wasn't up for the session but I'm stubborn and I hadn't missed (or not completed) a workout for the last 15 weeks or so. Maybe not the best call...

I skipped Sunday's run and spent most of the day glued to the radiator in the study writing up worked examples for my National 5 Physics class. Unfortunately I woke up on Monday with the cold in full swing, feeling like I'd been set about with baseball bats. Luckily Monday is a rest day, so to date, I've only missed out on one full day of training.

I *think* I've learned my lesson though... no full on training until I'm 100%... I'm giving swimming a miss this evening (but a gentle run on the treadmill might be on the cards!  ;-)

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Get a big stick...

... there's a lot of data to shake it at:

This is a TSS (training stress score) data graph plotting my fitness levels from whence time began (well 8th March 2012 if you have to be exact... when I got my Garmin 910XT). The blue line plots my fitness level, pink line is fatigue, yellow line is freshness.  The idea is to get the blue line as high as possible and time it right so that the yellow line is high (i.e. you're fresh and raring to go) on race day...

So far, so good... Looks like I am as fit now as I was in mid-April last year. This bodes well, as long as I can keep the good progress going, I'll hopefully be faster and stronger for The Outlaw on 27th July than I was for IM Austria on 30th June. Only 193 days to go!!!

Monday, 13 January 2014

And the results are in...

Well it has been another busy week of training, clocking up just over 9 and a half hours - and this is just the start!

I ended the week doing The Sufferfest 'Rubber Glove' video on my turbo trainer in an effort to measure my Functional Threshold Power (FTP). This power value can be calculated as 95% of your average power over a 20 minute period where you are going flat out. The FTP value is really useful in training and represents an average value you should be able to hold for an 1 hour effort. The number itself is useful but being able to track your progress against this number can show you how your fitness is improving throughout training.

I was tested at The University of The West of Scotland in late September and my FTP was a dismal 170W at a threshold heart rate of 120 bpm. I think I was still pretty fatigued from IM Austria in June, despite having taken all of July off and worked back slowly on rebuilding my fitness. I did a similar test at the start of my Sufferfest Training Plan in mid-October and was around 224W and my threshold heart rate was around 144bpm.

Roll forward 10 weeks and 100% completion of The Sufferfest Intermediate Cycle training plan and my numbers had improved quite nicely...

FTP now standing at 258W (average power over 20 minutes of 271.1W) and threshold heart rate now up to 164 bpm.

So, a 15% improvement in power in just 10 weeks and a brilliant jump in threshold heart rate response. This not only means I can generate higher power for longer (ergo, faster on the bike) but also my aerobic system has now expanded so that I can stay working aerobically for much longer whilst working harder.

You can see from the end of the heart rate graph below I was pushing as hard as I could - maximum heart rate reaching 182 bpm by the end of the test:

The Power was fluctuating pretty badly as I was having to use Lorna's KICKR and I think there may be an issue with the ANT+ signal controlling the device. The power numbers on Bluetooth were much more stable but since my KICKR had a bearing issue and was being replaced this was the only option available...

I suspect there are still some decent gains to be made. I've only been cycling for 2 years and I know that it takes years for cycling fitness and strength to be built up. I also dropped my cadence during the test, reverting to 'grinding' out the power on the high gears. Looking back I should probably have kept a much higher cadence (95-105 rpm) and a lower gear. This means your leg muscles spend less time under load so they don't experience the 'burn' associated with the production and neutralisation of lactic acid.

So, pretty chuffed with the progress and looking forward to getting back out on the roads when the weather improves!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

T-29 weeks and counting

Today I finished the 10 week Intermediate Sufferfest cycling plan - and I can honestly say, I loved every sweat drenched minute of it.

So much so, that I've signed up with the company that developed the plan, Dig Deep Coaching Ltd, to coach me for The Outlaw. Given Lorna was only 18 minutes behind me at Austria and she's now being coached, I knew I had to call in professional help ;-) There's a lot at stake!!!

I was able to stick to the Don Fink 'Be Iron Fit' plan last year but I think I'll be able to make much bigger improvements with a coach properly setting and analysing my sessions. Training (like work!) starts again next week, so keep reading and I'll post up what I'm up to!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all my wonderful friends, family and everyone reading this blog! 

So now we're in 2014... Remember, regardless of the date change, there are only 2 days a year when we cannot influence what happens... yesterday and tomorrow. 

Dream big, live each day to the full, treat each other with respect and kindness, celebrate your successes, learn from your failures (but do not dwell on them) and love and laugh always. 

May all your hopes and dreams come true for the coming year - now go out there and make it happen  

Total Pageviews