Sunday, November 26, 2006

Angry tempo

I guessed TSS values for all the ride data that was lost last week. Here is my current PMC.

I made a lot of progress those first three weeks. Notice the blue line (CTL) sloping upwards. This line indicates how fit I am.

During my rest week you can see CTL dipping back down. This is a necessary evil. Yes you lose fitness, but your body needs to rest. Notice the yellow line TSB slope upwards during this same period. This yellow line indicates how fresh I am.

I lost 7 points off my CTL, but I gained 44 points on my TSB. I lost some fitness, but I gained a ton of freshness. Besides my total CTL for the 4 week period was still up almost 13 points.

I started my next 4 week block on Monday. Instead of suicide sprints straight up a hill like the first 3 weeks, I am now doing tempo intervals. I tried to think of way to describe a tempo interval.

Imagine holding you hand above a candle. What you want to do is find a height above the candle where the flame hurts your hand but doesn't actually do any permanent damage. You want to feel pain, but you don't want to burn your flesh. Yes it hurts and your brain is telling you have to stop but as long as you don't actually burn yourself there is no real reason why you have to stop. After about 30 minutes, you can take move you hand away from the candle, let it rest for 10 minutes, then put it right back at that same height. This is a lot like a tempo interval.

Basically you find a speed or power level where your legs are burning but your aren't going so fast that you blow through all your energy and can no longer turn the pedals. Your mind begs you to stop, but you have to stay tough and keep pedaling.

I think having the right mental attitude is the key to these workouts. I like to psych myself up and get mad. It seems silly but it really works for me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The day my data died

I had dreams of posting this cool Performance Manager Chart showing off all the hard work I did in my first three weeks of training. Unfortunately I opened up WKO and my data was no longer there. I have no idea what happened. I contacted cyclingpeaks but they were not able to help me either.

I know it is stupid to get upset, but I am really bummed about losing the data. If you read any of my previous posts you know that I was really excited about using this data to help me track whether I am improving or not. Now I don't know what to do.

The good news is that I did bump up my average power on 20 min TT from 242 to 258. The 258 number might not be a good estimate of my functional threshold power however. I have been doing some reading and it turns out that using a 20 min TT to estimate a 60 min TT is not really a great idea. Especially if you over inflate the number by going out really hard then fading at the end. Saturday my first 10 minutes averaged 279 watts and the last 10 minutes I only averaged 239.

To get a better estimate for function threshold power, I can either do a 60 min TT or a series of TTs over multiple days ranging from 3 to 30 min. Then plot the results and do a linear curve fit to extrapolate a number for 60 minutes.

Right now this is all talk because I have been sitting on my butt doing absolutely nothing since I lost all my data. Gotta pick myself up and keep going. D Wade says it not how many times you get knocked down, it is how many times you get back up.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Recovery Week

The 12 week training plan I am following is split up in 3 week blocks. First you do three really hard weeks. Then you get one week to rest and recover. Next you perform two more three week build one week rest cycles to complete the plan.

At the beginning of the 12 weeks and at the end of every rest week, you perform a 20 minute time trial to estimate your functional threshold power (geek speak for see how fast you are). The idea is to test yourself at the beginning to see where you stand. Then after each three week build you want to test yourself again to see how you improved. The reason you test yourself at the end of the rest week is to make sure you are not tired while you are testing.

Today I started my first rest week, and my test is coming up Saturday. I hope to see some improvement from the test I did three weeks ago. I feel like I have worked really hard. I did my best to follow the workouts in my plan exactly as they are described.

However I did blow off one workout. Mentally I just couldn't force myself to do it that day. The workout I missed was a pedaling drills workout. I don't think that particular workout would have made or broke my training goals so I still feel good about the work I did.

One good thing about my power meter purchase is that I will know for sure if I have improved. For the test I did three weeks ago, I calculated 230 Watts as my threshold power. Seeing how I weigh 75 kg that is really not a very big number. Looking at the cyclingpeaks power profile, it looks like I am either a pretty good Cat 5 or a really poor Cat 4.

The Cat numbers are really road racer categories. Cat 5: Beginner, Cat 4: Novice, Cat 3: Sport, Cat 2: Expert, Cat 1: Elite. Above the Cat 1 category are domestic professionals and above those are World Class Professionals (think Lance and all those guys that routinely lose to Lance).

I never plan to race road, but I would like to be able to finish a 100 mile off road race in a reasonable amount of time. I compared my time at ORAMM to another rider's time that has raced both ORAMM and the Cohutta 100, and I think it will take me a little over 12 hours to complete the Cohutta 100. I want to shave an hour off this time. A time of 11 hours and change would at least get me listed on the results page of last year's race. :)

Anyways I will retest myself Saturday and compare my numbers. I know that even the tiniest bit of improvement will really help motivate me. If I don't improve or get worse, I think that will be good to know as well. Last year it sucked not knowing if all that hard work was helping. At least now I will know before the race that I really need to step it up.

I am starting to think a lot of this training process is mental. If I really want to I can move my pain threshold and get better. If I start feeling sorry for myself and feeling like I am working too hard as it is then I may never get better.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What I learned last week

Well I got pretty good response about the high cadence and one leg drills. Seems like most people think they are a pretty good idea. It looks like I will have to continue suffering through those things. I did get some pretty good advice with the responses though.

I have been spinning too fast. I shouldn't be bouncing all over the saddle out of control when I do my high cadence drills. If I am bouncing I am not using the proper form. Proper form is essential for improving my spin at normal cadence. I bet if I stop bouncing my saddle sores won't be so bad. Slowing my cadence is a win win for me.

My power question on the wattage list was not as successful. Seems like the consensus was that the charts will look different due to the relative slowness with which heart rate responds to changes in actual exercise intensity. I got this response from one of the authors of the power training bible which was pretty cool.

The reason I created those two graphs was to try and find a way to estimate TSS for days I don't have a power meter. Many of the rides I do are mountain bike rides, and I don't have a power meter on my mountain bike.

I was hoping to keep my performance manager chart up to date with TSS scores for every ride to try and help me learn how to predict when I am training too much. I have had a problem with over training in the last two seasons.

My plan for estimating TSS on my mountain bike was to record how long I spent in each heart rate zone. Then guess an intensity factor for each zone and use that IF to calculate TSS using this formula.

TSS = IF^2 x duration (hours) x 100

After calculating a TSS value for each zone, I would sum them up to calculate a TSS score for the entire ride.

I assumed it would be better to estimate an IF value for each zone that it would be to estimate an IF for the entire ride. My reasoning was if it would be better to estimate an IF for a single ride than estimating an IF for an entire week or for an entire month, it should be more accurate to break a ride up into many parts and estimate an IF for each part.

To try and test the accuracy of this assumption I created the graph for a ride where I had both heart rate and power data. What I found though is that the graphs are entirely different. I don't think the heart rate graph is very useful for predicting the duration I spent in each power zone.

I tried posting these comments back to the Wattage list, but I didn't get any responses. I did start a new debate on over training versus over reaching. I have no idea which category I fell into last year.

It would be so much easier to just buy a power meter for my mountain bike though. I wish there was a good option out there.