On last Sunday’s club run my HR rose to 180 and for over 2 minutes it averaged 178 and 1 minute 179. During this period of elevated HR I had no trouble breathing and there was an absence of muscle fatigue in my legs. I had been in a chain gang all the way from the Whimple turn-off on the Rockbeare straight and we were climbing the last leg just before the new science park. I knew the effort was demanding but I felt in control and not about to keel over. I was riding alongside two other riders, one of whom was Alistair Lobban who I know is a strong rider (cat 3), and I felt I just had an edge over him which is a bit of a turn up for the books as Alistair usually outmuscles me.
At the time I couldn’t quite believe that my HR had risen so much and yet I hadn’t blown up. Clearly, my body was coping at a level that previously it would not have coped with. This got my head spinning with the potential training opportunities and performance gains. If previously I had blown up in the high 160’s HR then what could I now achieve if I could keep cycling within myself in the high 170’s? Exciting times indeed and what was behind the apparent performance improvement?
As for the physiological performance improvement how could this be explained?
- I had rested for nearly three weeks – this included 2 or 3 recovery rides per week and very little gym work.
- My rest & recovery followed a block of training which had been uninterrupted since mid-July.
- My recent training block had focused on improving VO2 Max, strength and muscle endurance where I increased my VO2 Max power (CP5 342w, CP20 274w) and my climbing had notably improved.
- Working on VO2 Max had clearly improved my Anaerobic Capacity. Although AC hadn’t been the main focus, it is inevitable that it would have been worked when training at VO2 Max because there is overlap between the body’s different energy systems, especially at the upper end between VO2 Max and AC.
- My weight had reduced down to 70kg just a few days prior to this ride so I was carrying a lot less weight than I was just 2 months ago (approx 74kg).
- I had eaten quite well just 2 days before this ride so my glycogen stores would have been well stocked. I was also well hydrated.
After my last training block I felt very fatigued both mentally and physically. I was acutely aware of the need to rest properly and not to rush back into training. I was also conscious of the need to keep my legs spinning and so I made sure I went out and did some recovery rides at power below 150w and typically 90 mins duration. I also closely monitored my HRV which steadily decreased during my R&R. I think my HRV would have declined more quickly without the recovery rides. I can’t say that the HRV readings provided an accurate measure on when to return to training but they were useful in monitoring how my body was responding to the R&R. With regards to returning to training I became more sensitive to how my body was responding. With each successive recovery ride I pushed a little harder to see how I felt but one thing I certainly didn’t do was rush back to start my next period of training. I’m glad that I took this approach as the evidence from my last club ride was that my body appears to have fully recovered from my previous training block and more importantly my body has changed physiologically such that I can now train at a higher HR. This, as I said above, is extremely exciting as it opens the door to new training possibilities, namely:
- Anaerobic Capacity training such as hill repeats
- Time-trial training – long intervals at near maximum effort
- Sprint training
- Strength training
I am beginning to set my sights higher with regards to what I can achieve from my training. It is becoming clear that getting the balance right between training & rest and setting the right intensity for training sessions is returning very positive results. So, what is realistic in terms of what I can now achieve?
- Goal 1 – complete a 10 mile TT in less than 24 minutes – average speed 25mph
- Goal 2 – climb Stoke Hill course in less than 5m 30secs
- Goal 3 – complete a 24 mile TT in less than 60 minutes – average speed 24mph
- Goal 4 – complete 100 mile TT in less than 300 minutes – average speed 20mph
In order to achieve these goals I will need to improve my power output profile as follows:
- CP1 = 600w (468w) = 28%
- CP5 = 400w (342w) = 17%
- CP20 = 325w (274w) = 19%
- CP60 = 305w (256w) = 19%
My speed/power based on recent training sessions is as follows:
- 265w 20.3mph = 13.05w per mph
- 241w 19.2mph = 12.55w per mph
- 224w 17.6mph = 12.73w per mph
Therefore, to achieve an average speed of 25mph I would need to turn out approx. 320w. Therefore, breaking down goal 1 of riding a 10m TT at an average speed of 25mph:
- Step 1 by 9/11/14 – 25m @ 275w & 10m @ 280w
- Step 2 by 30/11/14 – 20m @ 280w & 10m @ 290w
- Step 3 by 21/12/14 -20m @ 290w & 10m @ 300w
- Step 4 by 11/1/15 – 15m @ 300w & 10m @ 310w
- Step 5 by 1/2/15 – 15m @ 305w & 10m @ 315w
- Step 6 by 22/2/15 – 15m @ 310w & 10m @ 320w
- Step 7 by 15/3/15 – 15m @ 315w & 10m @ 325w
- Step 8 by 5/4/15 – 15m @ 320w & 10m @ 330w
- Step 9 by 26/4/15 – 15m @ 325w & 10m @ 335w
If we assume each of these steps is achieved within a 2-week training block followed by a 1-week R&R then I will achieve my target of 320w and average speed of 25mph by April 26th 2015. As the TT season starts in May this will give me just enough training time to achieve my target assuming no layoffs or injuries. I think I should make CP20 @ 320w and average speed of 25mph as my main training focus. This will feed very nicely into all my other training goals.
The gains needed are extremely high