The way I have measured my progress with the Time-Crunched Cylist Plan is to use the Carmichael Training Systems Field Test (CTS Field Test). Over the twelve week period of the training plan, I took the field test three times. Really, you typically should only need to complete it once — before you start the plan. There really is no need to take a test at the end of the plan unless you are a blogger and need something to write about!
I won’t go into a long explanation about the field test. You can read a blow-by-blow account in a previous post. I will point out that this “test” is not one you pass or fail. It is simply to give you a benchmark from which to work as you go through the plan. The below sets of numbers contain the data from each of the CTS Field Tests I completed. I hope you can see from the data that the plan really paid off!
February 12, 2012
This was the first test I took once I finally decided to get back on the bike after nearly two months off. I had only ridden a few hours on the trainer in the days leading up to this. Pretty much, I was at the lowest point of my fitness and motivation. The data clearly shows that! If you can fail a field test, this is one I failed!
To give you some comparison, up to this point my highest FTP results (on a 20 minute FTP test) was 305 watts in 2010. During my “comeback year” I had a high of 275 watts. So, I started the TCCP in a pretty bad frame of mind and just did not feel that the plan was pushing me hard enough.
Time Power Cadence Heart Rate Warmup 5:00 56 85 99 Fast Pedal 1:01 193 140 132 Easy Spin 1:07 59 92 144 Fast Pedal 2:01 212 139 162 Easy Spin 1:01 59 83 166 Power Interval 1:00 345 102 165 Easy Spin 2:14 82 72 154 Power Interval 1:01 361 97 160 Recovery 4:15 63 73 147 First Effort 8:01 239 95 173 (178) Recovery 11:01 63 79 139 Second Effort 8:00 251 95 171 (177) Cooldown 15:11 35 80 125 Temperature 64 Result 251 178
March 6, 2012
The only way to clear my mind and give me confidence in the plan was for me to trust that the data truly represented my potential. That led me to taking the CTS Field Test a couple weeks after the initial one. As I look back, this was the best decision I made during the training period. I’m sure that the three weeks of training on the plan helped me improve, but I’m convinced that the initial test was just the perfect storm of mental and physical “blah.” With this new data, I really started to feel the workouts and I could feel my body responding.
Time Power Cadence Heart Rate Warmup 10:00 115 85 113 Fast Pedal 1:00 263 132 144 Easy Spin 1:01 93 88 153 Fast Pedal 2:00 245 125 155 Easy Spin 1:00 88 83 158 Power Interval 1:01 380 87 154 Easy Spin 2:02 92 76 149 Power Interval 1:01 409 95 151 Recovery 4:08 100 74 143 First Effort 8:01 296 95 173 (181) Recovery 10:01 90 80 135 Second Effort 8:00 290 91 171 (178) Cooldown 10:41 67 71 121 Temperature 66 Result 296 181
May 18, 2012
Of course, I couldn’t stand it! I just had to complete the CTS Field Test to see what the numbers would show. So, last Saturday, I set up my trainer (to keep it consistent with the earlier tests) outside on my driveway. With the shade and a fan blowing on me, the temperature wasn’t too much above the earlier attempts. However, I have to admit that being outside improved my psyche.
There were a couple of other things I did differently. 1) I took a little more time warming up. 2) I lowered my Fast Pedal cadence to a more reasonable 125 rpm average. 3) I brought down my Power Interval average wattage to be more in line with what I had been doing in the plan. 4) In the First Effort, I settled into a gear that allowed me to pedal at a higher cadence than I had before.
I didn’t look at the time. I just watched my wattage and average wattage while listening to soundtracks. I knew that two songs would put me close to 8 minutes. I just tried to settle into a zone that would hold my first few minutes wattage average all the way to the end. By the time I neared the end of the second song, I was holding 327 watts.
Switching back to the time, I noticed I only had a minute left. It was getting harder to hold my higher cadence, but when I saw the clock I gritted my teeth and tried to push through to the 8 minute mark. I was more than pleased with the result!
On the Second Effort, I intentionally lowered my cadence in a bigger gear. Wow, that one really hurt! I was able to bring the wattage up over 330 watts for a bit, but then it started to drop and I ultimately switched back to the gearing and cadence of the first effort with about two minutes left.
Time Power Cadence Heart Rate Warmup 15:01 121 97 118 Fast Pedal 1:00 283 125 148 Easy Spin 1:00 126 90 147 Fast Pedal 2:01 270 123 153 Easy Spin 1:01 132 91 156 Power Interval 1:01 312 106 152 Easy Spin 2:01 135 91 143 Power Interval 1:01 315 97 144 Recovery 4:00 142 93 139 First Effort 8:01 327 98 170 (180) Recovery 10:00 100 80 140 Second Effort 8:03 323 89 170 (178) Cooldown 5:45 65 67 133 Temperature 73 Result 327 180
So, there you have it. Depending on how bad off you think I was in the beginning of the twelve week plan, I increased my average wattage from 252 watts or 296 watts to 327 watts. That places my Power-to-Weight ratio to around 4.3. That puts me solidly in the Category 3 field (and hanging with the 1/2 racers for a bit) which is consistent with my past performance.
Ultimately, the sterile numbers don’t really matter. What really matters is that I am now back on my bike holding my own with the guys. Thanks, Chris Carmichael, for the Time-Crunched Cyclist Plan.