Monday, January 26, 2009

Week of January 19

Monday - Day off for me due to the federal holiday and I was hoping to have a solid ride before heading out of town for work. What a miserable freaking ride. I had no legs. 3:10 of PC riding with dead legs. It got so bad I called my wife when I was about 25 miles from home and said to meet me up the road with some fresh clothes and we'd go out to lunch. The 15-20 mph headwind the way back made for a LONG ride, and I met my wife about 16 miles from where I called. Perfect timing, and I was ready for some tasty Tex-Mex. If you're ever in the greater Manvel, Texas area, head to Emily's on Highway 6.

Tuesday - no riding as I flew to LA for work

Wednesday - I don't see how my pal Rich does it. When he goes out of town he can put an hour or two on the exercise bike to keep in shape. I lasted 15 minutes in the 'bent exercise bike before my rear said no more. Uncomfortable.

Thursday - Got the upright exercise bike today and lasted another 15 minutes. Why can't these things be comfy?

Friday - Was able to fly home early and got 1:05 of mixed PC riding in.

Saturday - group ride, nothing really of note.

Sunday - I just couldn't get motivated to head out in the cold. I bailed on riding today.

Overall a bland week of riding. I hate hotel exercise equipment! To think I've got a week long trip to Italy soon and will be stuck in hotel exercise room hell again.

PC time this week - 4 hours 15 minutes
PC time to date - 170 hours 25 minutes

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Week of January 12

Monday – I was planning on a VO2 workout today, but I just wasn’t motivated. I felt like I’ve been in a funk the last two weeks with my aerobic power seeming to drop like a rock. So rather than focus on higher end stuff I decided to focus on threshold. I was expecting the worst but hoping for the best. My hopes paid off in spades. One heck of a workout on the PCs. It’s the best threshold workout I’ve had in over a year and my second best hour power ever. Temperature and humidity were perfect and I just cranked my way through a fabulous ride. One thing I did differently for this workout was to keep my Powertap CPU on the “max watts” display and ride the effort by perceived effort. While I did peak once or twice along the way, nearly the whole effort was perceived effort. I did display real-time watts in the last 2 minutes of the effort just to make sure I’d finish strong. My effort yielded 282 W average (283 normalized) for the hour, with 1:55 total on the PCs. Below is a plot (dashed line is through the 282 W line) of the hour effort, which shows just about perfect pacing, and all with just perceived effort.

Tuesday – No riding.

Wednesday – Hmm, what to do after Monday’s great ride? Decided to do a super secret VO2 workout. I’m toying with a new VO2 workout protocol that is under wraps until I see if it really works. Bottom line – 1:35 on the PCs with some new normalized power bests.

Thursday – Was just going to go easy as pal Alex gave me a ring and said he was doing “215 for an hour.” No problem, except I was on the PC bike that weighs in at 25 lbs, has 32 spoke wheels, high resistance tires, and is overall just a slow tank. I think I actually averaged higher power than Alex, even sitting in his draft. The 1:35 long workout was a little harder than expected, but it was a pretty ease ride overall.

Friday – No riding as I drove up to Austin for the first race of the season.

Saturday – Payoff time. The opening race of the Texas racing calendar at Copperas Cove, about 50 miles north of Austin. Only a couple of teammates decided to make the trip, with Dan joining me in the Masters 40+ “old farts” field and Tom ripping it up in the cat 4/5 field. Let’s see how all this PowerCranking and hard Saturday group rides helped. I didn’t really have designs on winning, just being a factor in the race. I wanted to ride hard and make the race fun rather than the usual sit in, sprint at the end. From the start I stayed near the front and often lead the 60+ rider field. I got in a few early breaks that were quickly caught. A few guys got on a break, then a few more bridged, then another couple. Eventually it got to 8 riders up front and Dan and I knew it was time to shut that break down. It was getting too big and had a real chance of staying away. Dan and I were doing are best, but we were getting help only from 1-2 other riders. We were making only a small dent in the gap due to lack of cooperation in the peleton. Because of this, we both started attacking the field, and we got on several breaks. Eventually I got in a great little 4 man break and was closing on the 8 riders ahead. Unfortunately at that time we hit a section with potholes, and I nailed one squarely on a tight turn at high speed. I lost a bottle and control in the process, and struggled to stay upright and on the road. From then on my concentration and motivation were zapped as I saw the 3 others ride away and Dan breathing down my neck stringing out a dozen or so riders. I just couldn’t grab a wheel soon enough. The second pack sped off and I was left with picking off riders who couldn’t hang on. Ended up in the top 20 and had a good ride – 240 W average and 262 W normalized for 2:15 and 51 miles. I think that’s the hardest race I’ve ever done from the numbers perspective, and I’d say that’s because I was being active in driving the pace for much of the race. I met my goals – I had fun, was a factor, split the field up pretty good with some strong riding at the front, made multiple attacks, and put up some good numbers.

Sunday – An easy 60 minutes on the PCs.

A really good training week. I set some yearly best numbers this week. I set some yearly best normalized powers from 20-120 minutes, had my best ever normalized power for 75 minutes and matched my best for 150 minutes. I also set yearly bests in average power in the 30-120 minute range. The 282 W hour effort to start the week was a bonus, especially since the pacing was by perceived effort. I’m not ready to sing from the rooftops just yet. I need consistency to see if my threshold is indeed increasing. My peak hour normalized power from the Saturday race was 276 W. So it’s clear from my training over the last few months that a 275 W threshold is a good minimum, and my actual threshold is conservatively in the 275-285 W range. That’s where I historically sit. So while I’m reaching historical bests across the board and have been pretty consistent week in and week out, I’m still not busting through my important historical plateaus. I still hold out hope for that, however.

Below are a couple of plots of normalized and average powers for various durations through this week. The red line represents the data since I’ve started using PowerCranks.

I’m within 10 watts of my all-time bests from 10 minutes on, but I’m well below my bests for durations under 10 minutes. Many of those 0-10 minute numbers were set in the summer of 2007, when I was doing some major VO2 work. I also had a great state TT that year. That’s where I need to be, but as can be seen from the data, I still have some work to do. Below is a plot of my yearly totals from the 2007 season in comparison to my all-time bests and the data since using PCs. I’m nothing if not consistent…

PC time this week – 6 hours 5 minutes

PC time to date – 166 hours 10 minutes

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Week of January 5

Kind of boring this week - not much riding due to work and feeling unmotivated.

Monday - 18th wedding anniversary, so it wouldn't have been a good idea to squeeze a ride in.

Tuesday - 45 minutes on the Powercranks doing a little "opener" workout of a couple of short VO2 power efforts. Planning ahead for Wednesday's workout.

Wednesday - Time to start the L6 training. The plan was to do 8x2 minutes at 135% of my FTP with 2 minute rests. The plan didn't work. The first 3 were decent, but only at 130% of my FTP. Halfway through the fourth interval my body protested and gave out after a minute. I rationalized that I was doing too much too soon; I need to work up to this intensity and duration. So I scaled things back and did some 30 second L6 efforts with 60 second recoveries around a 6 mile loop. After that lap I moved it up to 45 seconds on with 75 seconds off. I found these much more manageable and likely a better introduction to all that L6 work. The 1:35 on the Powercranks was a challenge, not because of the PCs but because of the intensity. I was spinning quite well with the PCs. The only issue was the lack of a good jump on PCs compared to regular cranks. Overall I racked up over 17 minutes of L6 time.

Thursday - Got home later than usual and had to squeeze a hard workout in to make the most of time. I was able to get in 65 minutes of "surge tempo" before sunset. This is a ride I do where I'll ride at the upper end of L3 but for each turn or stop sign I have to slow for I ride 20-30 strokes in L6 and recover in L3. Not a lot of fun as the duration increases. Overall 80 minutes on the PCs with another 10 minutes in L6.

Friday - no riding.

Saturday - Started off great on the group ride but suffered stomach cramps about a third into it. Then the weather changed. A cold front was approaching but it seemed like it would hold off. At the start it was around 70 degrees and muggy - it felt great. About 25 miles in it felt 15 degrees cooler. It was drizzling, and wet and cold is not a good feeling. My body just didn't want to work during the second half. A bit of a blah ride.

Sunday - Just couldn't get motivated to ride. It's "cold" for us Houstonians. Currently in the low 50s, but that dry wind makes it feel even cooler. I just don't want to ride. Screw it...

PC time this week - a pitiful 3 hours and 40 minutes
PC time to day - 163 hours and 45 minutes

Volume was way down this week, but it's not all bad. Sure I only racked up 500 TSS points, but given the amount of riding (less than 7 hours), the average intensity factor was around 0.85. In other words, I was making good use of limited time. No new bests set this week, and honestly I'm not sure if I'm carrying some residual fatigue from the previous 2 hard weeks or just in a funk. In either case I need to get my butt in gear as I may be racing Saturday.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Week of December 29

Monday – I was carrying a lot of training load into the new week so I took it easy today. For a change of pace I rode the track bike configured for pursuit/time trailing for 30 minutes. Nothing like a recovery ride at a 20 mph pace. I really like the setup and am thinking of running it this year for flat TTs.

Tuesday – Remember those 3 minute VO2 intervals I did last week, the ones where the rest period was dictated by when my heart rate returned back to 65% of max HR? I figured today I’d bump those up to 4 minutes on the PCs. The first one was right at 115% of my threshold. Time for the rest. I stopped pedaling completely and my HR dropped like a rock. My total rest was a whopping 50 seconds before the second interval. Despite the short rest I still hit 115% of my threshold on the second interval. The next rest was just as short and the third interval was just a few watts lower. By interval #4 I had enough. These short rests were killing me and I lost my motivation. I headed home and had a short, but intense 63 minute workout (IF=0.88) on the PCs in the morning.

I was feeling guilty about the workout so later in the day I went out again for a quick tempo effort of 62 minutes.

Wednesday – No motivation to ride so I didn’t.

Thursday – Celebrated the new year with a small group of pals on our usual Saturday route. I took the bike with the Powercranks and rode the ride in a similar manner as the usual hammerfest. Bottom line was a 3:07 long ride at an overall intensity factor of 0.88. I was blitzed. 242 W normalized and 215 W average for the effort, which are my PC bests.

Friday – Expecting rain on Saturday, so a 93 minute tempo ride at IF=0.84 on the PCs was in order to keep the chronic training load increasing. I was tired from Thursday but I kept pounding harder to stress myself more. A nice negative training stress balance going into the weekend.

Saturday – No rain so the ride was on. My legs were dead from the 3 days of hard efforts this week. The first half was decent, but after that I was simply shelled and struggled home.

Sunday – After Saturday’s pathetic showing, I just wanted an endurance ride on the PCs to keep building training load. 3:10 long ride just burning some calories.

What a long week. 921 TSS points and I drove my TSB down to –31 and my CTL up to 108. I’m looking forward to a couple of easy days before hitting it hard again. Race season is just around the corner.

PC time this week – 9 hours 55 minutes

PC time to date – 160 hours 5 minutes

Nothing to report on the progression front. I set some new bests using Powercranks in the 60-90 minute range for average power. These were yearly bests, but they are best since using PCs. Given the intensity this week, I wasn’t expecting to be really fresh to pop through some plateaus.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Even More PowerCrank Analysis

I thought I should expand on the previous data analysis and show a type of histogram of performance since using PowerCranks compared to the previous historical data. The plots below show weekly max values for 263 different weeks dating back to 2003. Some weeks were removed due to travel overseas where I was without my bike or sickness and I did not ride. In other words, only weeks with riding were considered.

In all the plots, the x-axis shows power and the y-axis shows the week number. Weeks 247 and up are when PowerCrank use began in earnest. The data associated with these weeks is shown in red. The other weeks, shown in green, are non-PC use weeks or when I used PCs for an hour or two. In July 2008 my focus was on time trial training for the Texas State Championships, and I focused on regular cranks on my time trial bike.

For durations of 3 to 15 minutes, average power is used. For the 20 and 60 minute durations, I am using normalized power. For some reason CyclingPeaks is not accurately reporting my historical 20 minute mean maximal data.

It should be noted that the data represents weekly bests. In a given week, I may have conducted multiple workouts which would have had similar results in power. So this is not a true histogram of all data. It is, however, a “weekly histogram” from which some conclusions can be made. I should also state that my focus since August has been on L3 to L5 work. Over the years I have shifted my higher intensity training sooner with each passing year to meet the demands of the early racing season. Thus, the data associated with PowerCranks will tend to shift towards the right in each curve, representative of the focus given to the intensity.

What the data suggests, with the exception of the 20 minute data, is that the data associated with PowerCranks has a somewhat similar distribution as the set of historical data. The 20 minute power plot seems to indicate I’ve been more consistent with 20 minute power, and that I’ve had more occurrences of top-level 20 minute power in the last 4-5 months than in past years. However, I’ve yet to beat any of my all-time best power numbers for any of these durations since using PowerCranks. I’ve been more consistent with the power I do have, but I have not seen an expansion of my power-duration envelope.