Tag Archives: Training

First workout on Zwift

A quick review of my first workout session on Zwift. Yeah, it has taken me a bit to get around to it. Frankly, if it wasn’t for the fact that I wanted the achievement that came with completing my first workout, I probably wouldn’t have done it. Now I know for sure I’m waiting until after Thanksgiving to start in earnest!

Recently I went through a pretty low point. I was getting absolutely thrashed in any Zwift race in which I tried to participate. I couldn’t get power for any of the jerseys. I was feeling really old and was ready to throw in the towel.

My Team Xperimental teammates encouraged me to take a break. They warned that I was just burned out from trying to go too hard for too long. So, I took their advice and either didn’t ride at all… I even RAN once!… or I just took some easy spins.

Now I’m starting to feel a little better. I’ve even landed some PRs on both he Richmond and the Watopia climbs. However, I still don’t feel excited about any long efforts. So, I’ve given myself until after Thanksgiving before I will begin training again in earnest.

That brings us to yesterday. I climbed on the trainer after work and before going to a symphonic wind band concert with my family. I only had a few minutes to ride. I also wanted to get that “sweat badge” for the Zwift achievement board. So, I went looking for the shortest workout I could do.

Jon's Short Mix

Jon’s Short Mix

I landed on the Jon’s Short Mix. Having not run the Zwift test, I was basing the workout on an FTP of 300 watts. Frankly, I think that was a little ambitious!

  • Warmup at 180 watts
  • 2x 1 minute at 450 watts
  • 2 minutes at 225 watts
  • 10 seconds at 900 watts
  • 1 minute at 225 watts
  • 10 seconds at 900 watts
  • 1 minute at 225 watts
  • 10 seconds at 900 watts
  • 4 minutes at 180 watts
  • 10 minutes at 260 watts
  • 3 minute cool down (around 120 watts)

Right out of the shoot I was shocked! The workout mode had taken control of my trainer and in order to reach 180 watts I was spinning along at 130 to 140 rpm. Hey, this blog isn’t called Low Cadence for nothing! 115 to 125 rpm is what I use for leg speed drills!

During that five minute warmup I was yearning for more resistance so I could lower the rpm. However, no matter what I did… even going to my 53×11… the Kickr forced me into that higher rpm. Thankfully, as I moved into the first 450 watts effort I was getting used to it and the Kickr was now allowing me a more manageable 120 rpm in the 53×11.

OUCH!

I went under the banner to start the 900 watt 10 second section. My crank came to a standstill! I was still in the 53×11 and the resistance immediately kicked in. I couldn’t adjust and suddenly I was at zero watts trying to get my gears changed to something more manageable. I finally got underway and even hit 800 watts, but it was a little too little too late. Zwift stuck a big old FAILED up beside that section.

Now I had a minute to get it right. I tried to find the right cadence and counted down to the next 900 watt effort. I was going to try to time it so that I would be in a better gear. This time I hit it and didn’t come to a standstill. I did better, but still didn’t hit 900 watts with only a peak of 875 watts and averaging only 750 watts for the 10 seconds.

Okay, one more time. After a minute of 225 watts with a very comfortable average of 85 rpm, I hit the last 900 watt section. I transitioned well this time, but the problem was my legs were dead. I peaked at about 835 watts and averaged just under 700 watts. I didn’t get “FAILED” out to the side of these last two 900 watt efforts, but I didn’t get the nice “PERFECT” one either.

By this point the 10 minutes at 260 watts was looking pretty daunting! Thankfully, the 4 minutes I had at 180 watts allowed me to get back on the wagon. My legs — and the rest of me — were feeling a lot better.

I nailed it. I held almost a constant 266 watts for the 10 minutes at an average cadence of 105 rpm. My heart rate did climb into the 170s, but leveled off at around 172 bpm. Some of that heart rate could have been partly due to the fact that I had forgotten to turn on my fan and by this point I was pretty toasty!

After cooling down, I had only spent 31:45 minutes on Zwift. I definitely felt like I had a workout! At the same time, I felt pretty… what could I say… supple? I actually think the higher cadence that I was forced to use was good for my muscles. I do tend to push too hard of a gear and it tends to leave me feeling sore after a hard ride.

On the other hand, when I look through the list of other possible workouts, I see nothing but pain! It really is enough to make me ask myself, “Now, tell me again why you do this? You’re telling me this is fun?” Well, the training isn’t really fun, but the payoff you get for the investment sure is!

I’m looking forward to investing in my fitness bank with the Zwift workout mode.

But after Thanksgiving!

Are you willing to do what it takes?

The title of my Strava activity for Tuesday’s World Championships was, “I don’t want to talk about it.” I’m not getting ready to go back on that by discussing it here. However, its time to use the blog as a catharsis to get rid of some bad mojo. So, bear with me!

irf_gear

Here is the deal. I’m riding pretty well for early in this year. I’m seeing my functional threshold power increase and I’m sure I’m ready to take it to some long charity rides. However, I have an Achilles heel.

When it comes to racing (whether on the real road TNWC or Zwift’s virtual one), my FTP isn’t helping me much. Why? Well, you see, in racing no one just gets in a rhythm and rides that way to the end. Racing really is all about surges.

So, here I am trying to stay protected from the wind, but still stay up front in a race. The field begins to thin into a long line as the pace picks up. A break of three goes off the front. I wait. One by one the riders ahead of me move off like we are on a rotating pace line. Now I am on the front.

Suddenly, there is an attack of one rider, then two, and a third joins in an attempt to bridge over to the three already up the road. I have a choice to make. Do I rotate off the front and let the field pull me up to the forming break, or do I take matters into my own hands and follow?

For the sake of illustration, lets say I decide to jump on the wheel of the third rider and allow those attackers to help bring me up to the riders ahead. Well, two things are going to happen… 1) we are going to make it up to the break and then another scenario presents itself, or 2) as I grab the wheel going past me the field recognizes the threat and accelerates to neutralize the attack.

Either way, none of this takes place at a constant power output. Now, suppose I make it up to the break, but it becomes disorganized. After being away for a few minutes, the field behind gets organized to bring us back, or a new batch of riders attacks from the field to bridge up to us.

I’ve put out an effort to get up in the break. Just as I’m starting to get my heart rate under control, I’m faced with a new threat and a new need to ratchet up the power. This happens multiple times within the race.

Even if you make the decision to sit in the field (which I find it very hard to do), you can’t totally escape these surges. Often the field is like a rubber band. A movement starts at the front and everyone surges to release the tension being created as the front stretches away from the back. Then the front slows as the threat is neutralized or allowed to break away. The rear then collapses into the center. Only to have this happen again and again until a result is determined.

So, how do you prepare for this? Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen by just going out and riding your bike for hours and hours on end. It doesn’t happen by going out and doing 20 minute time trials at your functional threshold power.

PowerInterval Chart

90 min. 2 x [3 x 3 min. @ PI (3 min. RBI)(5 min RBS)] with chain falling off

How do you prepare? Intervals. You go out and do short bursts of power for one to five minutes. You rest for a minute or two and then engage in the next burst of pain. You do this until you are sick of them.

That is my problem. I’m loving riding my bicycle right now. I’m feeling strong. I could go out and do a time trial and possibly get a personal best. However, put me in a criterium, or even a road race, and I am toast.

However, I have not done a single interval training session. The result is that early in a race I can ride like I’m going to rule the field, but when the surges begin and I have to react to one or two attacks… I get ruled by the field!

Yes, a little bit of patience and correct reading of the tactics around me would definitely allow me to last longer, but I would only end up being field fodder when it really mattered. Yes, I need those things, but ultimately I’m going to have to face the training demons — intervals.

But here is the question… Do I care? Do I care enough about finishing well in what amounts to be a glorified shop ride that I am willing to put myself through that discomfort? Why can’t I just gain that ability by participating? Why can’t I just ride laps on Watopia going for jersey’s every now and again?

Oh, you’re still reading? I told you that this was a catharsis for me. This blog is more me talking to myself than to you. However, if you are new to cycling — especially competitive amateur cycling — I hope you will understand the truth of my words.

Intervals aren’t sexy. They are only fun for the cross fit riders of bicycles. However, if you want to be competitive and not just be field fodder, you are going to have to do intervals.

The question remains, “Are you willing to do what it takes?”

The Zwift Effect

My iPhone beeped with a notification. I glanced at the screen to find that Strava was alerting me that one of my KOM’s had been taken by John James. Sure enough I found that John had taken Walker Wimps – one of the KOM’s along the Sunshine Cycle Shop Saturday morning shop ride.

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 8.34.46 PM

The image above is a screen shot of the Strava leaderboard as of May 3, 2015. As you can see, John took the segment by one second. Since he weighs a “few” pounds less than me, you can see he was able to accomplish this at 720 watts. It is going to be a challenge to take it back!

Being the gracious (but competitive) person that I am, I commented on John’s Strava entry for this activity. “Of course, this means war!” John and I share a number of close KOM times – even sharing the top spot on a couple of them. However, especially recently, he has been getting the upper hand.

Actually, this post isn’t about our Strava battles. It is about his reply to me, “That is what Strava is all about. Maybe this will get you off that island.” Yes, Zwift had made its way into the conversation without me bringing it up. Frankly it didn’t surprise me.

So, what is Zwift? Check out this video from the Low Cadence YouTube channel.

I typed my reply, “I knew as soon as the app notified me of your comment that it would be something like that! Hey, I rode out to your neighborhood yesterday. That has to count for something.” I was finding myself defending my relationship with my trainer — or more specifically a virtual online world.

I could probably go into some type of philosophical and psychological essay seeking to explain the effect that this interactive simulation has on the cyclist’s internal drive and interpersonal relationships, but that isn’t where my mind first went. My first thought was, “Well, have I really spent less time on the road than I have in the past?”

I defended my Zwift addiction making the claim to myself that it had not taken away from my time on the road, but had only added to it. There was only one way to find out. The activity records from Strava would not lie. So, I went back to see how 2015 compared to 2014.

First, let’s take a look at 2014. From January through April of that year, I rode on the trainer 38 times. I ventured out of the basement and onto the roads 20 times. In January, I didn’t ride outside. In April, I spent the vast majority of my rides outside (12 out of 15). March was evenly split and February had 10 trainer rides to 1 road ride.

So, how does that compare to this year? Over those same months, I rode the trainer 71 times. I put rubber to asphalt 11 times. January (pre-Zwift) I actually rode outside in 2015 more times than I did in 2014. However, April was basically turned around backward with 21 of 25 activities taking place on Jarvis Island and Watopia.

Now, I have to ask you… does that need defending? From January through April of 2014, I was on my bicycle a total of 58 times. In 2015 that grew to 82 times. In 2015, I spent 96 hours riding my bicycle. During that same period in 2014, I amassed 77 hours.

I find people’s reactions to these numbers to be interesting. If you were to say that you did this on a trainer, they would say, “Oh, you are a hard man. I couldn’t discipline myself to ride the trainer that much!” However, if you lead with the fact that you have discovered this new “computer game” that makes it fun to ride the trainer, suddenly the trainer becomes a gimmick.

Well, I’m getting older and I find I’m less and less concerned about what people think of my training methods or my sock height. Bottom line is this… using Zwift has pushed my motivation button. It has gotten me back on the bicycle in a way I have not been since I before I broke my neck in 2010.

As my schedule (centered around a university setting) moves into the summer break period, I’m certain the number of rides on the road will far outpace those on the trainer. However, I know that should the summer showers come or work hours steal away the daylight hours, I still have a place in the Solomon Islands waiting for me. All I need to do is go to my basement.

The end result is that those times when I am on the road I will be stronger than I have been in several years. I will be able to maintain that fitness in a way I have not before. Zwift does not take away from my time on the road. It will simply enhance it.

Hear that, John James? I’m coming for you! Walker Wimps will be mine!

Update: Want to know what happened? Read about the ongoing battle here.

Well, that might explain it

I was feeling pretty down after my training race on Friday. Tuesday evening’s training race didn’t end with me finishing, but I hadn’t planned on making it to the end. While I made it to the end of Friday’s race, it wasn’t the performance that I wanted. Perhaps I shouldn’t feel so bad about it when I look at the data.

It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that I even felt getting on the bicycle. My legs had felt pretty heavy all morning, but by mid afternoon I was feeling the itch. So, I decided to brush off the SE Bikes Draft single speed and ride to Main Street, Greenville for a cup of coffee.

sebikesdraft

As usual, I was glad I made my choice to ride as soon as I started up my street to merge onto the bike lane that would take me to Cleveland Park and then on to Greenville’s Falls Park and downtown. I’d sit out on Main Street with a coffee and people watch for a bit. Then I’d ride the 3 miles back to my home.

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 3.38.59 PMOh, boy! As I neared Falls Park along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, I started seeing crowds of people. Then when I reached Falls Park I discovered the above scene. You can see the stone bridge there to the left of the photograph. It is covered with people… and that was the path I wanted to follow to my coffee stop. I love the beautiful park, but today it was time for a change of plans!

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 3.42.42 PMSo, I headed rode around the Main Street area to pick up the Swamp Rabbit Trail on the other side of the downtown area. While there were still a number of cyclists, families out for walks, and dogs pulling their owners along; I found the ride along the shaded trail to be refreshing.

As I pulled into Travelers Rest, I stopped at a street to wait for traffic to clear. Someone pulled up beside me on a bicycle. I looked over and discovered my old teammate Randy McCreight. Even today, I remember the time so many years ago when I first began to ride on the road. I was doing laps in Cleveland Park and I saw this guy killing in on the route. While I figured he was way above my level, he stopped to take the time to talk with me and encourage me. That was Randy. Randy hasn’t changed.

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 3.47.48 PM

Turns out Randy was heading to Travelers Rest for the same reason I was. Coffee. So, we decided to ride on together to Tandem. We sat talking over our cups. The conversation turned to Zwift and then Randy’s non-profit Village Wrench. It was good to catch up, but the afternoon had passed and it was time to head home.

Randy headed back to Greenville on the SRT. I decided to head home on the roads. I needed to get home more quickly and I figured I would make better time riding with the cars than trying to dodge pedestrians on the trail!

It was at this time I felt the bite again. On the rolling terrain, I found myself getting a bit of a workout with the track gearing. Only once do I recall instinctively reaching for my SRAM shifters just to find there was no gear to shift! It did remind me of the fatigue I was feeling.

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 3.57.15 PM

This chart shows my workouts over the last 365 days. It is May 3 and I am already at the fitness level that I reached on July 4 in 2014. This is the fastest I’ve reached that level in the three years I’ve been tracking this data in Strava.

Bottom line is I just think I am getting tired. Just Friday, that Fatigue number was 88. While I think there were some technical issues why I had some struggles in the Friday Training Race, I realize that another contributor is my need for some rest.

Training is not just not fulfilling workouts. Training is also about resting. Sometimes the resting is the hardest part of the process! Well, I think next week’s work schedule just might help me with the rest objective. I think it is time for an easy week.

We’ll see what happens then!

 

 

Back to the island

Bronchitis done it is time to get back on the bicycle. I’m not sure what my next goal will be, but I know I need to get moving again. My body is well rested, but now I’ve got to start ramping up my fitness again.

I’m not sure what my next goal will be. I had originally planned to do the River Falls race in the Greenville Spring Training Series. It was originally slated to be held February 28. However, it was postponed due to weather and is moved to March 14.

That was exciting to hear at first because I wasn’t ready physically to race on the 28th. I started thinking about getting myself ready for the 14th. Then I looked at the calendar and my plans came crashing down. I have to work that morning.

So, I’ll just turn my focus to improving my fitness and then see what comes along for competition. At least I might be ready for the Tuesday Night World Championship rides. Of course, holding serve on the Saturday morning Sunshine Cycle Shop group rides is another objective. You don’t always have to pin a number on to enjoy a little competition!

That is definitely true of Zwift and my new friends on Jarvis Island. When I first started riding there, I would see less than 20 people using the online game with me. Now, I regularly see 100 or more. Eric Min, the man behind the system, says that he has seen over 300 though currently the software only shows around 100 to the participants.

Check out the “computer game” in the video I created during a ride this past Tuesday. By the way, some of the riders have started a Tuesday Night World Championship ride on the island. They all log in at 6 PM EST and then do a warmup lap. After that, it is just racin’ for the next eleven laps.

I can thank Zwift for what fitness I have and I’m pretty sure that when I get a chance to move it to the road, I’ll be better for it! Let me tell you, I enjoy Zwift and will even ride it on occasion during the good weather season, but I CANNOT wait for the time change and spring to come so I can put real rubber down on real asphalt!

Sir Crampalot

A little help here, people. I’m having an issue for which I would like to find an answer before this weekend. Actually, not just an answer, but a mediating solution.

Last week I rushed home from work to join Nathan Guerra as he was completing a 5-hour epic trainer ride on Zwift. He was raising money for a program that uses bicycles and racing for youth. My plan was to help him along for his last hour.

Well, I did make it on the trainer in time to join him. He was coming around the island and I was spinning trying to get loose before he caught me. I knew once he did, I was going to have to ramp it up to stay with him, much less give him some pulls.

Unfortunately, he caught me a little too soon! I was not adequately warmed up. However, I did my best to not only stay with him, but give him some drafting help along the way.

I have to admit that I was very happy when he reached the end of his ride. I was feeling pretty rough. Soon after we said our goodbyes, I started to cramp in my calf muscles.

I limped around a bit the next day and then began to feel a bit better, but there was the underlying tightness that hung around. I tried to spin it out on the trainer by going easy. I felt some relief once my legs warmed up, but back in the office the next day the tightness had definitely returned.

Then in the race on Saturday, the cramp in my left calf hit me hard. It was in the exact spot — to the upper outside portion of my calf muscle — as the cramps from my ride with Nathan. On Sunday I could still feel the knot.

I have been rolling the affected spots. I have been trying to warm up more and stretch more after my rides. I have drank electrolytes and water. Still, as I sit here I can still feel that tightness.

I’d like to race again this Saturday morning. However, it is going to be a crit-like race and that means a lot of sprinting. If I can’t get this thing worked out, I’m not sure if I can make it through the 45 minutes or so of the event.

Suggestions? How can I keep this from happening? How can I get ready as much as possible for the Saturday? Help!

Zwift has me daydreaming

When I discovered Strava, I found a new motivation to ride. Going “Strava segment hunting” helped meet a competitive desire now that I was no longer racing. Then I found that I wasn’t strong enough to beat my own times on Strava, much less up and coming whippersnappers. I’ll admit that when winter 2014/2015 came along, I basically parked the bicycle.

In November I rode my bicycle for all of 7 hours. In December, I rode for three times for less than 5.5 hours. Finally, on January 5, I started finding the urge to climb back in the saddle. It was just soon after that I discovered the online program Zwift. Suddenly, January found me racking up 18 hours on the bike. 11 of those hours came in the last week… and I’ve got one week to go.

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Sure, improving weather was a help, but just as Strava gave a shot of motivation, Zwift did the same. It is kind of hard to explain, but I’ll give a short description here and then let a video I recently published give you more details.

Zwift is part video game and part training tool. You download a program just as you would the latest version of Call of Duty. Once it is installed, you use wireless technology to connect your bicycle’s data collecting devices to your computer. The computer program then uses the data input to control your avatar on the screen.

Instead of this being a first-person shooter game it is a first-person cyclist game. What makes it interesting is that it takes the simple data from your trainer ride and combines it with the virtual world. It adds a new dimension to an otherwise static experience on the trainer.

On the trainer when you increase your wattage you increase your speed. The harder you pedal, the faster you will spin the rear wheel. To mix things up, you typically will use a stop watch to add variety (or intervals) to your ride. This works, but is so often still boringly sterile.

Zwift changes that up. For instance, you approach a climb. Obviously, the virtual world creates a change visually. However, it does something more. As you begin to climb a grade, you notice your speed on the computer readout begins to slow. You also get the audible cue that your wheels are turning less (even though your actual wheels are turning at a consistent speed.) So, if you want to go up the hill faster, you are going to have to increase your wattage.

Boom! There you have an interval. However, it is more than just a stop watch. You now have visual, audible, and self-generated force feedback.

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 4.25.01 PMI’m just getting started. To add to the motivation you have dozens of other people doing just what you are. My sons enjoy playing multiplayer first-person shooters on their Xbox. Zwift brings the multiplayer aspect to trainer rides. I’ve already found a consistent group of riding buddies!

I can see where this can go… How about riding a Tour De France route? What about a special interval training course that gives you visual cues to guide you through multiple sets of repeats? Want to ride with your buddy in Italy and chat while you are at it? Just log in with your “race radio” and ride side-by-side.

I even have my own app idea that I would love my software firm, Worthwhile, to build. It would be a phone app that allows you to use the camera function of your phone to bring your body within an outline on the phone’s screen. When you snap a photo of you in your kit from four different angles, you will find your team’s kit rendered on your avatar. This would then be uploaded to Zwift allowing you to enter the virtual world looking a bit more like yourself!

Oh, sorry. So much for a short description! Without further ado, here is the video.

Thanks for watching and get ready for the Zwift experience. Word is that the software should be available this spring. I’m thankful I was able to get in for the beta testing. You can learn more here at Zwift.com.

Piney Mountain Throw Down

Yeah, yesterday was my birthday. I would love to say that I went out and rode my age in miles. Well, it didn’t happen. However, I did get to torture myself for about a third of my age. That should count for something.

I also learned a valuable lesson. Do not eat a lunch of chicken pot pie before you go out and do power intervals. I love chicken pot pie, but prefer to only taste it once. No one wants to throw up when throwing down some power!

Piney Mountain Road

Starting up Piney Mountain Road

The day was beautiful and the Beautiful Redhead asked me to come home early for lunch because she would be teaching as a substitute in the early afternoon hour. As I got out of the car to walk up to the house, I could feel the warmth from the sun. The urge to do my workout on the road instead of later that evening on the trainer awakened within me.

My workout for the day would be power intervals — 3 x [(2 x 2 min.)(2 min. RBI)] (6 min. RBS). I decided to head over to Piney Mountain Road. I recalled that Jim Cunningham would send me there for short repeats. It is near by and at power the climb takes me around 3 minutes. So, it should be simple to get the 2 minute burst.

I turned off of Pleasantburg Drive and there in front of me was the beginning of the climb. I used the cement guardrails of a bridge crossing a small creek as my start marker. The road then begins a shallow climb. Soon you begin a slight turn to the left.

When you enter this curve, you notice the grade begins to angle upward. Up ahead you can see more of the road and you realize that it is going to hurt pretty soon. As you look up the now straightened road, you see another kick up and then a more noticeable turn to the right.

My two minutes were up before I reached the turn to the right. There is a yellow traffic marker indicating the sharper turn to the right. That is about where I ended up at 2 minutes. It became my target.

Race to the sign.  Turn around and spin to the bottom. Race back up again.

Nine times. I would start out spinning at a pretty high rate until the road started kicking up. It was possible to keep seated for a little longer as I shifted to an easier gear. Then I ended up having to stand through the steepest section. Then it was a plop back into the saddle as my heart rate spiked and the grade began to decrease.

I tried several different approaches with my cadence. I tried some in the small ring and some in the big ring. They all hurt.

Still, when I returned back home about an hour and fifteen minutes later, I was happy. It is such a difference doing these power intervals on the road and not on the trainer. I will be fighting to pull this off more as the days get longer.

The numbers made me happy. All but the last interval (336 watts) averaged over 350 watts. Most of them were over 380 watts. The first one (before the chicken pot pie began to squawk) was a 435 watts.

It makes me feel better about where I am right now. It is good to get a “real world” view over the trainer experience. At the same time, I realize how far I need to go to be competitive. Only thing is that now, I’m encouraged to think I can get there.

Flat is where I am at

It was time to climb back on the trainer last night. It has been a week since I have put rubber on pavement. However, I have pretty much been following the plan though I don’t seem to be going anywhere.

I mean that literally and figuratively. It is funny when I look at my Strava profile. It shows that over the last 30 days I have averaged 3 rides a week for about 5 hours, but only 26 miles. I guess I could set up the Garmin to read distance from a sensor on the back wheel, but it doesn’t seem that important. I’ve never really focused on miles so much as time anyway.

What bothers me more is that I don’t seem to be going anywhere fitness wise. Maybe I have just hit a flat spot before my body move up to the next level. However, right now I don’t feel that I’ve progressed that far.

I started my current training plan back on January 7. That puts me about halfway through the 12 week program. Last year, I started a similar plan on February 6. I went back to compare some of the numbers between where I am now and where I was at six weeks then.

March 27, 2012 – 4 x 3 minute Power Intervals (3 minute RBI)

Interval 1: 326 watts
Interval 2: 322 watts
Interval 3: 333 watts
Interval 4: 349 watts

However, I then went beyond the plan and climbed Paris Mountain in 13:45 averaging 297 watts.

February 12, 2013 – 6 x 3 minute Power Intervals (2 minute RBI)

Interval 1: 310 watts
Interval 2: 310 watts
Interval 3: 309 watts
Interval 4: 305 watts
Interval 5: 304 watts
Interval 6: 307 watts

There is no doubt in my mind that I would not have been able to climb Paris Mountain in under 14 minutes after that.

Granted, there are several things to consider 1) the first session was on the road — up the State Park side of Altamont, 2) I knew in the second session that I had to pace myself for six intervals, 3) I had more chance to recover between intervals in the first session and 4) the time of year was different. I think that fourth point can’t be overlooked. Because of the time change, I had been able to do more outside riding by that point. Also, I’m certain I was in a better frame of mind with the longer days.

Here is what concerns me the most. I am climbing on the trainer out of duty. I can remember times when I’ve been able to put out 400+ watt Power Intervals. I can’t envision in my mind doing that again. Managing six 300 watt intervals leaves me exhausted. I’m suffering through these intervals just aiming to get through them. All of this and I just don’t know if it is going to make any difference.

Maybe what I should do is go out and do my next Power Interval session like I did that one just under a year ago. Maybe I should do like I did last year and perform another FTP test midway through so I can prove to myself that I have progressed. I just know I need a shot in the arm (figuratively!) to help me out of these doldrums.

As it is, I’m finding it very hard to consider shelling out $30 bucks to go race just to get shelled out the back. Sorry for being so negative, but when you read this blog… it is part of the package. If you’ve been reading long enough, you’ve probably caught on that it won’t last too long.

Confused with this OverUnder Interval

My day started at 6 AM yesterday and went at break-neck speed until 9:30 last night. That is when I finally got on the trainer to complete my workout for the day. This is when the rubber meets the road for training. It is when you make the choice to climb on the bike even when everything else about you says no.

To make matters worse for me, it was the dreaded OverUnder Interval. I don’t dread it because it is really really hard. I dread it because I never know if I am doing it correctly. Well, I plan to nip this in the bud. I’m asking you, the reader, to help me understand this workout that confuses me so much.

In the Time-Crunched Cyclist Plan the OverUnder Interval workout is described this way…

OverUnder Intervals are a more advanced form of SS Intervals. The “Under” intensity of is your SS [224 – 234 watts] range, and the “Over” intensity is your CR [249 – 260 watts] range. By alternating between these two intensity levels during a sustained interval, you develop the “agility” to handle changes in pace during hard, sustained efforts. More specifically, the harder surges within the interval generate more lactate in your muscles, and then you force your body to process this lactate while you’re still riding at a relatively high intensity.

The book goes on to read…

To complete the interval, bring your intensity up to your SS range during the first 45 to 60 seconds. Maintain this heart rate intensity for the prescribed Under time and then increase your intensity to your Over intensity for the prescribed time. At the end of the Over time, return to your Under intensity range and continue riding a this level of effort until it’s once again time to return to your Over intensity. Continue alternating this way until the end of the interval.

I get further confused because the instructions then say…

OverUnder Intervals always end with a period at Over intensity. Recovery periods between intervals are typically about half the length of the work interval.

Okay, so last night my plan called for me to do 90 minutes averaging 117 – 190 watts including 4 x 6 minute OverUnder intervals with 5 minute rests between intervals. I will admit that due to my desire to get in bed before midnight, I cut the overall length to 60 minutes. However, I did the OverUnder intervals… at least I think I did.

4 x 6 min. Over/Under (2U,1O) with 5 min. RBI

4 x 6 min. Over/Under (2U,1O) with 5 min. RBI

Here is what my session looked like…

  1. 10 minute warmup (134 watts average)
  2. 6 minute interval
    1. 2 minute Under (237 watts)
    2. 2 minute Over (275 watts)
    3. 2 minute Under (240 watts)
  3. 5 minute RBI
  4. 6 minute interval
    1. 2 minute Under (238 watts)
    2. 2 minute Over (274 watts)
    3. 2 minute Under (239 watts)
  5. 5 minute RBI
  6. 6 minute interval
    1. 2 minute Under (237 watts)
    2. 2 minute Over (277 watts)
    3. 2 minute Under (240 watts)
  7. 5 minute RBI
  8. 6 minute interval
    1. 2 minute Under (241 watts)
    2. 2 minute Over (268 watts)
    3. 2 minute Under (240 watts)
  9. 10 minute cool down (174 watts)

“So,” you ask, “What is the problem?” Well, the problem is that I don’t know if I am doing this correctly. Basically, my thought is that each interval is 6 minutes long. It is supposed to have alternate between 2 Under and 1 Over. However, it is also supposed to end with an Over. So…. how do you alternate?

Then there is the time question. Are these intervals supposed to be 2 minutes for each or 6 minutes for each? In other words, am I supposed to do 6 minutes at SS / 6 minutes at CR / 6 minutes at SS with a 5 minute RBI? So, instead of the total time being 6 minutes before the rest it would be 18 minutes.

That would put my workout — with just intervals — at about 82 minutes. My reason tells me that there is no way to warm up and cool down and do this longer approach within 90 minutes. So, I assume that I am doing things correctly.

Then again, the workout (at least at this intensity) doesn’t seem to be pushing me that hard. It makes me wonder if I am actually “develop[ing] the ‘agility’ to handle changes in pace during hard, sustained efforts.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not that excited about the longer session. I hope I am doing these correctly!

Oh, and then there is that question of how do you end up with an Over when you are supposed to alternate and you have only 1 Over to work with? I just didn’t let that confuse my brain and ended on an Under each time.

I have this workout again on Saturday — only it is supposed to include 120 minutes at EnduranceMile average. I would actually have time to complete the “longer” OverUnder during that session. Can someone help me make up my mind before then?