Next Goal for April & May 2013

I have successfully completed my last two goals so I now need to decide what is next? My main focus at the moment is completing my base training period which consists primarily of endurance riding, weight training and losing body fat. Base 2 (3 weeks) and base 3 (6 weeks) will complete my base training mesocycle – the end date for this is 26th May – therefore my next goal should cover April and May.

My base 1 training has been successful in improving my fitness and gettting me to focus on endurance riding, fat loss and weight training although the number of hours I originally planned to fit into each week was far in excess of what I could reasonably achieve based on my ability to recover from the training. Therefore, total hours needs to be revised down. I have completed between 60-75% of my training hours – therefore, I need to adjust down my total annual training hours. What I will do is aim for 75% of my weekly riding hours and 100% of my gym work (ie., 3 hours per week).

Base 2 – total riding 27.5 hours, total gym 9 hours

Week 1 – 19 hours; 16 (10 hrs) hours riding, 3 hours gym

Week 2 – 21 hours; 18 hours (11.5 hrs), 3 hours gym

Week 3 recovery – 10.5 hours; 7.5 hours (6 hrs), 3 hours gym

Base 3 – total riding 58 hours, total gym 18 hours

Week 1 – 20 hours; 17 hours (11.5 hrs), 3 hours gym

Week 2 – 22 hours; 19 hours (11.5 hrs), 3 hours gym

Week 3 recovery – 10.5 hours; 7.5 hours (6 hrs), 3 hours gym

Weeks 4-6 – repeat Base 3 weeks 1-3

Base 2 & Base 3; total riding hours 85.5, total gym hours 27 = total training hours 112.5 hours

Even on the reduced riding hours the total number of training hours I am committing to is double what I did in the last 2 months. This is a big increase and I will therefore need to pay close attention to how quickly I am recovering. it is also absolutely critical that I complete my endurance rides well within my endurance upper HR. If I go too high I could risk blowing my training. The challenge is to do the extra hours on the bike and also do the gym work too.

The other key goal is to reduce my body fat – according to current readings my body fat % is about 11.5-12%. This seems quite low already – having said that I still see fat deposits around my abdomen and my face is still a bit chubby. My overall weight is reducing but not my a massive amount so I can only assume I continue to build muscle mass although this has clearly been on my legs and not my upper body. My gym work will focus on building muscle mass on my chest, arms, lower back, shoulders, abdominals and lower back. How do I translate my fat loss and weight goals into figures. Lets look a the body composition figures:

Weight – approx 76.8kg at beginning of March and end of March approx. 75.5, a loss of 1.3kg. With training volume doubling I can expect a weight loss of around 2kg – my weight at the of base training should be approx 73.5kg (11st 8lb or 162 lbs). I need to pay close attention to my diet and stick to low fat and high protein. I also need to work out my diet precisely each week. After my base training is finished I will not be focussed on weight loss so it is now or never.

Fat loss – according to my readings my body fat has reduced from 14% to 11.7% over the course of March whilst muscle mass has increased from 62.2kg to 63.4kg. If I assume a muscle mass gain of 1kg per month, then I will gain 2kg in 2 months – muscle mass total will be approx 65.5 to 66kg. I’ll assume a 2% body fat reduction in the same period reducing total body fat % to under 10%. There has been no marked increase in muscle size but I now expect to record gains over the next two months as I increase muscle resistance in the gym.

Summary of Goal

For April and May I aim to complete my Base Training period by riding a total of 85.5 hours, by doing 27 hours of gym work. Over this period I aim to reduce my weight by 2kg to 73.5kg and reduce my body fat by 2 points to under 10% of my body mass. I will also commence breathing training using the Powerbreathe for the month of April. I’ll monitor progress using my Garmin, Body Composition Scales, and Measuring Tape. I won’t be using RunKeeper to analyse miles ridden – it is now about endurance hours. I will do a FTHR test at the end of April and May.


February-March Target Achieved – Review

My target for February and March was to cycle for 68 hours, equivalent to 1,000 miles. I am delighted that I achieved this goal with one week left remaining of the month on 24th. It is now time to review the last couple of months to highlight the main achievements and also to examine opportunities to develop further. Let’s kick off with reviewing the main target and then the sub-targets:

Main target achieved (68 hours riding and 1,000 miles) with 1 week left of March.

A. Refine each ride to focus on targeted training. The aim is to increase my Functional Threshold so I can sustain more powerful riding for longer and improve my climbing

I started off doing this but realised that my body wasn’t recovering quickly enough from the higher intensity sessions. On the 19th February I did a really strong steady state ride on the Triangle – this followed a strong club ride on Bampton Lanes. On the 20th I developed a cold. It made me stop and think. I bought Joe Friel’s book, The Cyclists Training Bible. The book was really useful and it taught me that I had to ensure I built my base endurance before moving up to more intensive training work. As a result of what I learnt I decided to focus on endurance riding and also gym work. It also laid out the importance of proper rest and recovery. As a result I decided to include R&R after every 2 weeks of training. This way I would give my body sufficient time to adjust and strengthen for the next 2 weeks of training. I broke down the number of hours I needed to ride each week. This was higher than my original target but I thought I’d give it a go. This new training approach based on Joe Friel’s book has led to improvements and there has been no illness since.

B. Strength work in gym twice a week focussing on core and upper body – I have managed to get to the gym about once a week although this is now increasing. Whilst at the gym I learnt that my hamstrings and lower back muscle groups were weaker relative to the rest of my body. I don’t think this would have come out so clearly if I hadn’t been doing gym work. I continue to get stronger at they gym. I now need to focus on increasing the weights I am lifting to increase muscle mass and definition in my arms, upper body, lower back and hamstrings.

C. Complete 1,000 miles – did this with 1 week of the month remaining so well chuffed. Joe Friel’s book definitely helped in increasing the weekly miles and all focused on sdeveloping endurance

D. Reduce my body fat and reduce my weight to 74kg – I have definitely lost fat especially around my stomach and my weight is finally starting to go down. I bought body composition scales to more accurately measure progress with respect to losing fat and increasing muscle mass. I’ll take a weight reading at the end of the month but I know for sure it is headed in the right direction.

E. Complete Functional Threshold Test at end of February and March – I have already done the Feb test which improved my FT to 163. I’ll post the results of my March test shortly.

Marginal Gains Goal Setting

It is important to define each marginal gain area and set specific objectives for performance improvement in each of them. This post looks at training and diet.

Training – train a minimum of 5 times per week for a minimum of 12 hours by 1st May 2013

This is not as easy as it sounds because the body has to adapt to an increased workload, a workload it has not been used to for at least 20 years. The key to achieving this goal is to measure the body’s response to training as closely as possible and to ensure sufficient rest & recovery being factored into the overall training plan. The plan needs to be flexible to allow for changes in training volume and intensity. A R&R week will follow every two weeks of training – this way R&R is built into the overall training programme.

Reduce body fat to less than 15% of overall body mass by 31st May 2013

The issue with this goal is measuring it. I’ll use a combination of body measurements and body composition scales to monitor progress although it is never going to be 100% accurate. This goal can be split down into diet and training (endurance and weights). Training has already been dealt with.

Reduce calorific intake by 5,000 calories per week –  5,000 calories equates to approximately 2lb’s weight loss. The weight loss has to be entirely fat and not muscle. Protein consumption will need to exceed 100g per day and training will need to be maintained at normal levels to maintain or build muscle mass and not lose it.


I suppose it would be inevitable that I would overtrain at some point although I have a enjoyed a long period of training without illness. So, what’s happened?

We’ll, recently I have had my 2 best and strongest rides. To be honest I was feeling invincible but hey ho I am now in bed with a cold! So, what can I learn from recent events?

the first of my 2 strong rides, a Wheelers Sunday club ride followed 2 days of bike riding amounting to a total of 140 miles in 3 days. These 3 days followed a steady state session on a stationery bike 2 days before. So, all in all there had been quite a noticeable spike in my total training. The second of my strong bike rides was a steady state on the triangle. compared to the previous steady state session I felt this was easier and as a result I kept going beyond my LT HR of 151

So, although I felt stronger my body was clearly not up to the stresses it was being subjected to. After the training I felt irritable and my eyes wouldn’t recover from some strong sunlight. I felt the need to lie down and rest. Later that evening my throat felt sore and the following morning I woke with a cold. So, what can I learn from this?

  1. I need to use iThlete to more accurately gauge how I am responding to ttraining
  2. i need to do more endurance training in HR2
  3. I need to be more careful how I schedule high intensity sessions. At this stage I can hold back on them and focus more on endurance and weight ttraining
  4. I need to keep within the HR zone specified by the session
  5. i need to continue to give close attention to recovery. It is more probable that someone of my age needs longer time to recover especially from higher intensity training
  6. I need to develop a periodisation plan of training leading up to RideLondon in August. intensive training sessions can be focused on more in late April and beyond. For now I need to concentrate on building endurance through long low intensity rides and building strength through weight training

Banishing Illness

It is worth celebrating the lack of illness over the past 6 months which coincides with more cycling and an improved diet. This is a major benefit not referred to in previous posts. One can only assume that my body’s internal organs and immune system are getting stronger.

I was delighted to find my HR at reduced to 48/49 from 60 in just the space of a few months. I also tested my blood pressure which was 125 over 71 and therefore normal. It would be useful to monitor if this trend continues over the current training programme.


I have recently become aware of a potential issue with my hamstrings mainly on account of the following:

  1. Relative to my quadriceps they are weak – this has most likely arisen following years of sitting down either in a car or in front of a computer
  2. My posture is poor – weak hamstrings have a direct influence on how the upper body is held
  3. I have found I can only lift small weights when doing hamstring exercises
  4. My left hamstring always feels on the edge of being a little strained – I always have to be extra careful when stretching my left hamstring. I can feel it is a lot tighter than my right hamstring

There is a really good article at on hamstrings and there connection to the lower back and posture. Tight hamstrings equal weak abdominal’s and poor posture. Therefore, strengthening hamstrings is critical to improving core strength and body posture.

My hamstrings are definitely a lot better than they were a few months ago and this is due to daily stretches. At one point my hands couldn’t reach my toes when my legs were outstretched. Now I can reach each foot with both hands, although this is easier on the right hamstring. I can also feel my lower back stretch when I do my hamstring stretches. I am convinced that these stretches together with a stronger core are leading to a lot less back ache when out riding. I did a 4 1/2 hour ride yesterday and I had no back pain – this is what I call progress!

In terms of moving forward I need to focus on strengthening my hamstrings and my core. I can include strength resistance exercises during my gym workouts. It would also make sense to develop a programme that can be done at home as well as the gym. It would also help to introduce some new stretches for my hamstrings and lower back.

Milestone – First 100km Ride

Great news, I completed my first ever 100km ride (70 miles) which is equivalent to a shorter sportive!!

Nice dry cold sunny day with very little wind. Rode up the Exe Valley to Bampton (rapidly becoming one of my favourite routes) and then over to Wiveliscombe, Milverton, Wellington and then headed back through Culmstock, Uffculme and back lanes to Broadclyst. Rode at endurance pace, average HR 132, RPE 15-16, 15.3mph. Felt OK when I got back. No major aches or pains, just a little tension in the neck and quads a little tired which is all to be expected.

The route beyond Tiverton is really good – very quiet B roads with fantastic scenery. I’d like to explore this area a lot more. I could use the Exeter-Tiverton Exe Valley road as my route in and out of the area. This could also include Exmoor which is just a few miles north of Bampton.

I now need to schedule in a 100 mile ride in the next month or two.