The EKG workout

Had a new workout sent to me for last night. Looking at the data chart for the session, I’ve decided to call it my “EKG Workout”. Of course, it wasn’t my heart causing the spikes, it was my legs.

Watts, RPM, and BPM graph

No, this isn't a stress test... (Click to Enlarge)

The setup was my Giant road bike in the trainer with the gearing set at 38:13. It was supposed to be a training session on my fixed gear, but I’ve not yet figured out how to mount it securely in the trainer. The Giant would have to do, though I’m sure that even though the gearing was the same, the overall experience didn’t match exactly.

It was later in the evening by the time I got on the bike. I had been at a board meeting and the way things were going in the meeting I figured I would be there past 10 PM. Thankfully, some of the agenda items were moved to a future time and the meeting suddenly finished up and we adjourned. I was able to be on the trainer by 9:30 PM.

My first instruction was to warm up for 15 minutes. I was to ramp up my effort from about 2 RPE (rating of perceived exertion) to about a 6.  This is one of those things I have always struggled with. How do I really know what a 2 is or a 6? Typically, I just either go hard or go easy. I figure I’ve got to come close in there somewhere and if I’m turning my legs, then it can’t be bad for me.

That is one of the reasons why I like training with power. It is more absolute. I must prefer instructions that say, “Ride between 160 -190 watts and ramp up to 230 watts.” That I can measure and know I’m where I should be.

Anyway, I ended up riding at about 180 watts turning 88 rpm for that warm up period. As I started it out I realized I might have an issue with the second portion of my workout. The problem was that as I would start out my wheel would slip on the roller and the “jump” in power you would typically get from a quick start was negated by the lack of grip.

The second part of the session was to “Start at 8 m.p.h. & 50 rpm’s, stay in the saddle and push pedals as hard as can working up to 85 rpm’s as quickly as possible.” Two things: 1) I had no idea what speed I was going. I use a Garmin to measure my speed and when you are on your basement trainer — well. 2) I wasn’t sure how long to go. Turns out I was going from 50 rpm to 85 rpm so fast it wasn’t registering on the computer screen.

I think part of that was due to my wheel “slipping” when I attacked. The wheel was turning much faster off the start than it would be on the road. I was going from 55 rpm to 100 rpm in no time.

So, it was time to adjust. What I decided to do was turn it into a quasi leg speed drill. Each effort would last for 30 seconds. For some I would attack and try to hold a leg speed of 120 – 130  rpm for as long as I could during the 30 seconds. For others, I would start at a slower rpm and work my way up to a top effort.

Effort 1: Average 125 rpm / Max. 146 rpm – Average 567 watts / Max. 852 watts

Effort 2: Average 123 rpm / Max. 144 rpm – Average 559 watts / Max. 744 watts

Effort 3: Average 118 rpm / Max. 127 rpm – Average 464 watts / Max. 584 watts

Effort 4: Average 117 rpm / Max. 127 rpm – Average 460 watts / Max. 550 watts

Effort 5: Average 115 rpm / Max. 136 rpm – Average 467 watts / Max. 704 watts

Effort 6: Average 117 rpm / Max. 143 rpm – Average 470 watts / Max. 780 watts

Effort 7: Average 108 rpm / Max. 144 rpm – Average 412 watts / Max. 833 watts

Effort 8: Average 109 rpm / Max. 142 rpm – Average 420 watts / Max. 772 watts

Effort 9: Average 132 rpm / Max. 146 rpm – Average 379 watts / Max. 818 watts

You can see from the numbers above how the various approaches to the efforts changed the results. The data above is reflected in the chart near the top of the post. You can see the burst broken up by “5 minutes between efforts at RPE of 1-2.” That is what makes it look like an EKG.

One thing seems pretty clear, I can’t pedal any faster than 146 rpm when spinning with a 38:13 gear ratio. I have exceeded 200 rpm in previous leg speed drills. Last night I was turning as fast as I could at times and the max I could get out was 146 rpm.

I wasn’t paying that much attention to my wattage during the session. My peak was only for 2 seconds at 822 watts. 10 seconds was 716 watts. No sir, 38:13 is NOT my sprinting gear!

Overall, it felt like a good workout. As I cooled down for the last 10 minutes or so, I felt that little spot nauseousness in my upper stomach. That normally means I’ve put out a pretty good effort. Those sudden spikes of effort gave me a pretty good shock to the system.  I’ve had that feeling in races before. Good to get used to it again.

Oh, as for the heart? Don’t think I’ll need an EKG. Average heart rate for the entire session was 132 bpm. The maximum output was only 146 bpm.