Three nights this week I have been able to climb on the trainer and do my Power Interval workouts. I can’t say that I was looking forward to them. Frankly, after back to back nights of the intervals, I was pretty fatigued on Wednesday. However, by Thursday evening I was doing a little better.
Even so, it was tempting to climb on the bike and just spin for a bit. When I think of these workouts I always remember the period toward the end of the session when I am leaning forward on the bike staring at the computer screen with slobber starting to roll onto my lip. I’m spinning trying to squeeze the last bit of power out of my legs to hold the wattage over my target.
“Do I really want to do that?” I ask myself as I mount the bicycle that for the next hour will go nowhere. The only place that bike is taking me is into pain.
My approach is always to get right on the edge. Sometimes this means that I “ride to failure”. This means by the last few intervals I can’t complete them as planned. My legs “fail” to produce the necessary power.
Last night, I took a different approach. Rather than coming out trying to keep the wattage up around 340, I just determined I would work to keep it over 300 watts. I figured that was over my FTP and would be a good workout, but it would also (I admit it) be a bit easier. The plan was to make it through all nine of the 2 minute intervals with a consistent average.
The first three went pretty much as I planned. Then I completed my Rest Between Interval spin of six minutes. During the second group of three I got confused. The topic of discussion on Pardon the Interruption got me distracted. “Am I on the second of this set or the third?” I decided to assume I had more to do. So, turns out that middle grouping ended up being four instead of three.
Then the amazing thing happened. As I was going into the final three intervals, I felt better and better. My average wattage for those intervals ended up being about 20 watts higher than the average for those first three. Granted, I was still breathing pretty hard by those final 30 seconds, but I finished strong.
Besides learning a lesson about pacing. That workout also reminded me of the importance of staying with you plan. You see, I was reaping the benefits of Monday and Tuesday… and, yes, also the rest I got on Wednesday and Thursday. Power Intervals are always hard. However, they are murder the first time you do them after any time off the bike.
So, next time you are tempted to put off that training session, remember that you’ll pay for it later. That might be a little bit of encouragement to get back on there. It was well worth the time and effort and tomorrow I’ll appreciate it even more.