A Testing Week

Week 2 of 21

Week 2 was a testing week. By testing I don’t mean hard. Although it was. More that it was testing as I had tests to do to see where I was, and to reassess training zones.

I’m a big believer in the need to test and reassess in order to make sure you are always training in the zones that are optimal for improvement. It kind of a case of – “If you don’t know where you are, how do you know how to get where you are going?”. That kind of leads on to goal setting and Lewis Carroll –  “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”. But that’s for another blog…

So on to week 2 of training…
First up was the weigh in

Start Weight: 115kg
Current Weight (BF%): 113.2kg (30.2 %)
Weight lost: 1.8kg

 

This was weigh-in number 1 really (the first one that counts anyway) and I was off to a good start. I’ve done an excel spreadsheet to help me track weight targets versus actuals. Why? Because I work in IT, used to be a programmer and am a geek so that’s what I do.

So, I am in front of my weight target at the moment – the blue line is target, the red line is current progress. This is not unexpected. Usually, when trying to lose weight, the first few weeks are the easiest, then as your body adjusts to slightly fewer calories and the increase in exercise it becomes more resilient and needs even less calories, so you begin to plateau. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen too soon. I’ll try and blog a little on nutrition next week, what I’m eating and my approach to all that.

On to the training…

Monday

First test of the week – Cycling. Time for an FTP test. FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power. In simple terms, it is an estimate/measurement of how much power (measured in watts) that you are able to hold for an hour. There are a few ways of testing this. The purest would be to ride for an hour and get your average but that takes too much out of me and it’s tough to recover from, and whilst increasing the amount of training I’m doing is good,  recovery is important. In the past I’ve done TrainerRoad’s 8 min FTP test. This is 2 x 8 mins all out and then times the average by 0.9 to get your FTP. They also do a 20 min version which is 20 mins all out and then multiply by 0.95 and it gives you a value.

As I said previously I’m trying Sufferfest this year just for a change. They have a new test called 4DP or “4 dimensional power” which attempts to map different aspects of your cycling and tell you what kind of cyclist you are.

Here comes the science-y boring bit… the 4 dimensions of power are:

  • Neuromuscular Power (NM) measured using an all out for 5 second test
  • Maximal Aerobic Power (MAP) – 5 minute all out
  • Functional Threshold power (FTP) – 20 minutes all out
  • Anaerobic Capacity (AC) – 1 minute done as all out for 30s then hang on for another 30s

All out is relative term – a 5s all out effort is different from a 20 minute all out effort where you are also trying to pace to make sure you can last the 20 minutes.

My results were

  • NM – 826
  • MAP – 362
  • FTP – 304
  • AC – 461

The main one I’m interested in is FTP – it’s the most relevant to triathlon. Unsurprisingly, after the test, I was identified as having the power make up of a time-trialist, probably because of the long hard sessions I concentrate on in training. The last time I did the test (the first of the year ) I was 270w so an increase of over 10% which is good. Just another 20% increase to go now to meet my 365w target.
https://www.strava.com/activities/1571897641

After the test, I went running with the club. Headed down to Maxol and met up with Gemma. I explained I’d just done a bike test and my legs were tired so we set out at a nice slow7 min per km pace, which quickly ended up as an average of 6:28 per km pace by the end. We were running at talking pace though without really checking watches so another little bit of proof that I must be getting quicker.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1572130336

 

Tuesday

Tuesday evening was round 3 of the Inter-Club TT. I had timed the first two and was feeling tired after the test the night before but decided to ride the course anyway. I made sure I was out early, so I was less likely to get caught. Within 20s my legs told me they weren’t interested but I pushed on and in the end,  I felt ok. About halfway through I checked my average power and was over 300w so was happy enough. A bulky frame and a headwind meant I was never in contention (also the fact I’m fat and not bike fit yet!) but it was still a good workout. With a couple of people well within catching distance both ways it gives me something to aim for next week too. Normalised power (average power minus the bits where you weren’t pedalling) was 306w which indicates the FTP the night before was pretty accurate. Although as it was outside I would have hoped to be 10w higher.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1574490650

After I finished I realised rear tyre pressure was <40psi – I’d started blowing the tyres up but not finished them and was too distracted handing trisuits out before the race to check. This contributed to a flat tire on the way back to the van. C’est la vie.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1574493714

Wednesday

Club run session with Ger. Tough enough session on tired legs. Warmed up then 200m all out, 200m jog recovery then 5 x 800m with 200m jog recovery in between. I held just under 5k race pace for the 5 x 800m (3:55, 3:55, 3:55, 3:52, 3:54) so was happy enough. The quick 200’s were done in 48s and then 46s – faster one at the end probably as I was fully warmed up – hardly going to worry Usain Bolt but they are getting quicker.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1576877342

 

Thursday

Inter Club League. First Cycle race of the year. I’m writing this part before the race so we will see if expectations meet reality later as I come back to update.

Race tonight is at Mondello. Flat enough circuit with a couple of small drags. I’m expecting to get dropped quick enough. At this moment the thoughts of a good hour of racing is terrifying. I just don’t feel like I’m fit enough.  The race will be run as a handicap. So the slowest group, Limit will go out first, then Semi-Limit (my group), then Semi-Scratch and finally the fast lads – Scratch. The idea being that it’s one large group at the end. If I get dropped by my group early on then I’ll be able to slot in with group behind, but they will be faster than the group I’ve been dropped from.

What I need to remember is to use the racing as a training session. The result doesn’t matter, all that matters is the training impetus I get from it.

Soooooo…. Post race. That went quite well. I tried not to go to the front of the group and to instead just sit in but I wasn’t 100% successful there with that strategy. On the 1st lap I ended up on the front pushing the pace coming down the start/finish straight, and then very nearly paid the price as I struggled to keep in touch as the group sprinted out of the first corner. Managed to hold on though and despite being caught by Semi-Scratch and the pace raising I finished the race in the pack. Average for the laps I recorded was ~41km per hour (I missed the first lap and half)

https://www.strava.com/activities/1578653383

 

Friday

Club Run – I had planned on doing about 20km. Met up with Daire and Elena and told them I was aiming for 7:00 ish per km pace. Went out about 6:30 ish and after 7-8km was feeling shakey and short on energy. Decided then just to do the 10km and not go out for the 2nd lap. Actually felt ok after 10km but I think the slight upping of the pace put me into a slightly harder zone and after a hard week just didn’t have the energy to sustain it.

This leads on to one of the balancing acts of Ironman training. Whilst it’s always preferable to train with other people sometimes it’s just not conducive to the session I’ve planned. I’ve usually too slow a pace planned for a group but I find it hard to motivate myself. I need to think about what the purpose of a session is and then decide if it’s met running at someone else’s pace. The answer to that is usually No.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1581341160

Saturday

Park Run – There was a few of us down from the club to do the run. I was looking to at least match the previous week (24:40) but within 100m I knew I would be struggling. I just felt tired the whole way around. I hit the first km mark in 4:57, 2nd was 5:02 and whilst I thought I might still get a sub 25m result on km 3,  I struggled to get it back to sub 5:00 pace. Ended up with 25:22 which I was happy enough with. It was less than 10s a km slower than last week and this time out I was running on very tired legs.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1581341696

Swim Session – first real one of this 20-week training block. This was a test set consisting of 50m timed and 500m timed with sime other work thrown in. I did have a few thoughts of buoyancy shorts or pull buoy but they weren’t prescribed so I swam naked. Get your minds out of the gutter! I mean naked as far as toys go – sans toys.

Started and felt really tired and slow. Unsurprisingly I guess down to the lack of swimming. This was my first swim since Laois. After a warm up there were some drills thrown in and then some quick 25m’s which were tough. Then was the timed 50m – 53.2. From my quick 25’s this was abot 10s off. I should be down around 43s but I ran out of energy around the 25m mark. A chance to get my breath back and an easy 100m before the timed 500m. After such a long time out of the pool I was hoping to be around the 10 min mark – I did 10:05 – not fast but ok for where I am at the moment and a marker down to improve upon.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1582725934

As I was hauled myself out of the pool onto the banking I thought I saw someone in the club I recognised, but they looked straight through me and as I walked past their lane they had a gel at the end. I decided that know one I knew would take a gel to a training session…

 

Sunday

Woke up and it looked miserable. The easy option would have been to go back to bed but as I had said I was going out on the club spin I decided I would get breakfast and head ouT (This is where the benefits of group training come in – accountability!) Met the others at 9:00am and we headed out to Sally Gap. Weather never really improved but at least the rain ceased by the time we were down in Lucan. It wasn’t cold (I managed in short sleeves and bibs) and after what felt like a lifetime of climbing we summited Sally Gap. It’s hills like this are good to remind me where my current fitness is. Although I don’t seem to have it so if you see it please send it back. I don’t want to hark on about tired legs but at several times I had nothing. I’ve a feeling I might be doing that route (plus a bit more) several more times before the Ironman. At the very least it build character, hopefully, though it will be more, strong legs.
https://www.strava.com/activities/1584701875 (Part 1)

https://www.strava.com/activities/1584701863 (Part 2)

Conclusion

Discipline Swim Bike Run S&C
Planned Time 1:20:00 5:53 3:00 3:00
Actual Time 0:37:00 8:42 3:22 0:00

Biggest week of the year and still a few sessions that I didn’t manage to fit in. No strength or conditioning was done as I didn’t get the time – although perhaps I could have made time as I didn’t do any early morning sessions this week.

I was happy with the run and bike volume and it’s also pleasing to get back in the water despite it feeling like a real struggle. It was also good to start racing bikes again and even more so not to be dropped in what I really need to think of as a hard training session. My weight is heading in the right direction, down. I just need to make sure I stay committed to losing weight and have as few days off the diet as possible. The amost immediate feedback loop of seeing progress on the scales as I increase training and restrict calories helps, hopefully when I hit the ultimate plateaus I don’t waiver.

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