Checking in with an update on how my training is going as we move into spring.
Missed Kevin’s last article? Check it out here.
With the first 6-week block of Sweet Spot base training behind me, courtesy of TrainerRoad, I was ready to put in a big week of outside riding. The Rapha Festive 500km was the target and I was intent on finally completing every last one of those 500km. The weather forecast was looking more cooperative than in past seasons and, despite a hefty dose of wind and sub-freezing temps, there was little precipitation to compete with.
After the first couple of rides outside, I recalibrated to the unique sensations of riding on the roads. The main differences I was struck with were mostly as you’d expect…
- There are no cars to contend with in my office.
- I couldn’t feel my toes.
- Riding on the road is still the best way to ride a bike.
But other than those obvious things, there were some unexpected lessons quickly learned. For some reason, I wasn’t bringing my new found higher cadence with me on the road. I found myself falling back into old gear mashing habits. I used to romanticize the idea of being a diesel big gear grinder, but the reality is, my knees hated me after that first 50 mile ride. The other thing I noticed was a much more positive thing, training on the KICKR had made me significantly stronger than before – and in just 6 weeks! I took a day off after the knee-busting ride and refocused on pedaling with my new cadence. The rest of the week’s rides went smoothly and for the first time, I completed the challenge!
Fresh out of my first successful Festive 500km attempt, I was feeling great! Notice how I said was I feeling better? More on that later… I set out to start the next chapter of my base miles build. This started off like the first, with the dreaded FTP test. I had no real idea what to expect out of this second test, but I was feeling pretty confident that improvements were made since the first one. I settled into the efforts and was surprised at the result.
I had increased my FTP by 10% and my new FTP was 265!
Here is where the fun stops, at least momentarily. Part of what was motivating me to get in as much riding as possible was the knowledge that I had booked an appointment for wisdom teeth surgery. I figured this was going to have me sidelined for a week or so, but what I hadn’t considered is the effects the required antibiotics would have on my fitness. For four weeks, it was like a had a rev limiter installed on my heart. My old max heart rates were a distant memory and I had to settle into this new diminished ability to sustain an effort. The decrease in aerobic capacity coupled with the increase in power demands based on the FTP increase meant the bike trainer rides were proving overly difficult and somewhat morally defeating.
One of my favorite elements of the KICKR is the ability to run it in ERG mode in conjunction with TrainerRoad. When the workouts get to be just a bit too much for me to finish the intervals, I tap the intensity down button a couple of clicks. Sometimes, the difference between having to quit and finishing the interval just takes reducing the effort by a few percentage points. Boulder’s own Ben Delaney affectionately refers to that function as the “Hand of God Button”. I think that’s just about the perfect description of it.
Now that a few weeks have passed, I am finally feeling fully recovered. The power numbers are back to pre-antibiotic strength and my heart no longer feels like it has a wet blanket draped over it. I’ve been on the road for the past couple of weeks and am riding outside as much as possible, (even got to ride with the Wahoo crew in SLO for a couple of days!) but I am looking forward to finishing training block #2 on the KICKR. After that block we start phase 3, sustained power build!
I will check back in a few weeks with a new update! Things are moving in the right direction and I am excited to see the results coming together. I don’t have enough data to take a stab at my Super Flagstaff goal yet, but I should be ready to throw down a baseline attempt in late May. We slow rolled it a couple of weeks ago and I am more excited than ever to give it a real go.