Training plan is shaping up

After more than ten years (mostly) off the bike and never having trained with power, I’ve immersed myself in power-based training concepts over the last several weeks and wanted to document what I’ve gathered so far.

But first, I should restate my goals which are…

  1. avoid injury, illness or burnout
  2. lose weight
  3. general fitness / energy
  4. have more fun on the bike, including ability to climb and keep up with group rides
  5. geek out on metrics and science

Avoiding injury / Chasing RECOVERY metrics

– Interval performance
– Mood, drive, sleep, appetite, energy
– Cortisol affect on sleep

Structure = Sweet spot base as STARTING POINT

– Responses to training are largely PERSONAL
– Can keep it simple
– Sweet spot training allows faster recovery = More intervals, less time between sessions
– Let INTERVAL PERFORMANCE guide adjustments

Diet = Don’t need carbs for aerobic work but PEOPLE DIFFER so if IMPROVES PERFORMANCE then carbs before MIGHT be good idea

Cross training

– Rowing machine
– Yoga / PT
– Strength training
– Stair climbing
– Out of the saddle (short / moderate only, like in Mount Field ; NOT specialization)
– Finanical, minimize stress/chaos, etc to keep everything in balance

Monitor, monitor, monitor

– Pay attention to mood, etc.
– WATCH vs track in detail food eaten, RHR, etc. ==> Don’t OVERDO it
– Remember you are a cyclist so consider what you put in your body, when you sleep, etc.
– BUT don’t sacrifice too much and remember why you are doing this


Dealing With a Schedule Change

The training plan I am following has workouts scheduled on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and I normally workout in the afternoons after work on weekdays.

However, I now have an obligation on Tuesday afternoons which gives me the following options:

  • Shift workout days to Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays
  • Modify the plan or follow/create a different plan that uses Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays because the recovery time between workouts will be different
  • Do Tuesday workouts in the morning by
    • waking up earlier and keeping same work schedule
    • work at home on Tuesdays which also
      • time to make it to obligation start workout earlier b/c already home
      • change work hours and also not too early because no commute
    • changing Tuesday work hours to start later, which might also work well because location of obligation is nearby work and I would drive to work

Just some notes I wanted to capture that I will flesh out more later

Longer warmups are recommended as you age

It is OK for warmup to feel hard or painful and for many it is the worst part of the workout

GOALS = General fitness, feel good, geek fun, NOT stress, be able to keep up with more Zwift and outdoor group rides, crosstraining for strength balance and posture (YOGA, PT, Rowing), weight loss

Fasting / fat burning workout and don’t need sugar for aerobic / hard-boiled egg vs muscle loss

120% FTP is not in stone if too hard to complete the intervals the adjust % downward or backpedal for 10 seconds ; outside of the workout you can chose a “-1” or “+1” version

Can substitute outdoor rides for weekend ride

Embarking on very long learning process

Enter TrainerRoad

After more than a decade of being off the bike, I began using Zwift with a newly-purchased smart trainer and almost immediately realized that I was going to quickly get into trouble given the addictiveness of Zwift and my history of overtaining.

Hearing about TrainerRoad and thinking that structured training may be the key to keeping myself out of trouble, I signed up and immediately began listening to their “Ask a Cycling Coach” podcasts.

Based on the podcasts, I selected the Sweet Spot Low Volume I plan and started with the 20 minute FTP test resulting in a FTP of 76 watts which was almost surely underestimated since I started the 20 minute interval way too hard.

After 36 hours of exercise-induced insomnia, I was finally able to get some sleep and then began analyzing the results.  Things that jumped out at me were…

  • Normalized power for the workout (79 watts) was greater than estimated FTP
  • Five minute power was 127 watts = 167% of estimated FTP
  • Max heart rate during the five minute effort was 186 bpm while average heart rate during during 20 minute effort was 90% of that (167 bpm)

Normalized power for an hour session being higher than FTP just doesn’t seem to make sense and a review of others’ tests showed FTPs higher than session normalized power.

If a Vo2 max effort is one that a rider is capable of maintaining for three to six minutes then five minute power should indicate Vo2 max power and if Vo2 max power is expected to be 105-120% of FTP then I’d expect FTP to be somewhere between 106 watts (127/1.2) and 121 watts (127/1.05).

Other anecdotal information included…

  • A recent 45 minute fun ride averaging 97 watts
  • Average from three recent one hour fun rides was 85 watts
  • Golden Cheetah CP = 100 watts

Looking at heart rate…

  • max heart rate during five minute effort = 186 bpm (but it’s probably higher since I wasn’t testing for max HR)
  • 20 minute HR was 167 bpm (90% max)

Since lactate threshold zone 4 is 80-90% then there doesn’t appear to be anything out of whack here.

Training – Untrained ==> Trained

My plan is to begin with one-hour fairly strict zone 2 sessions. This is mainly because I originally came out of the gate a little too fast and began seeing warning signs that my body was not recovering adequately and that last thing I want to do is ruin my fun by overtraining, especially since I have no need to straddle the fence since I am only going for general fitness and, coming from an untrained state, there is nowhere to go but up.

If I can do that for a week or two without problems then I’ll sprinkle some Zone 3 in for fun.

During the rides, my plan is to watch power, heart rate and cadence.

I’m going to start by staying below 140bpm and watching cadence vs power.

The Kickr Snap is interesting because (add this to the initial impressions post) the flywheel wants to keep going so there is lag during transitions in elevation. I actually like this a lot even though I’m still getting used to it. My instinct to anticipate shifts is still very strong.

Anyway, the smoothness is great, especially when combined with monitoring cadence, power and heart rate. Everyhing just very smooth and engaging. (move much of this to previous post)

So, so far so good! Average heart rate from last workout was in the 130s with power vs cadence and transition lag all making for an excellent workout. I am going to continue setting strict limits to keep myself in check.

Zwift First Impressions

Initial Zwift Impressions

Bottom line = Wow. By far, the biggest surprise is how time flies. There are a number of things I like to do periodically on the bike when I ride indoors. For example, I like to get out of the saddle periodically to release pressure or make sure I’m drinking periodically or to stretch or…hell…to just calibrate my Kickr after a 10 minute warm up.

This is a very good problem to have and I couldn’t be happier to set an external timer to remind myself of things. Really insane considering that with my Computrainer all I did was stare at numbers.

I find myself completely missing all of these because I’m simply not paying attention. Time and numbers is literally ALL I’d pay attention to on my Computrainer but with Zwift I’m simply…distracted? That’s sounds to negative. Immersed is too positive. Whatever the reason, it’s a very good thing.

Regarding the overall “thing” that Zwift is…well…I’m still discovering that. If I had to guess, I’d say that I’m probably going to mostly be just riding independently and just enjoying that others are doing the same thing around me, drafting others a bit for fun, allowing others to draft me, letting myself be scared that the volcano will erupt or that I could fall into the lava if I don’t concentrate, etc.

But when I get into better shape (I am starting out, for all practicel purposes, untrained) I will surely be FTP testing, albeit mostly for purposes of group workouts.

Overall, Zwift seems to be hitting a major sweetspot for me as someone who is cycling for general fitness. The motivation to get stronger so that I’ll have more people to ride with perfectly aligns with my general fitness goal.

And almost none of the current challenges apply to me.

Drafting is not accurate? I don’t care. It’s still fun.

People are cheating? I don’t care. I’ll still chase them. And does it matter whether they are fast in real life? Not to me. Totally arbitrary in my book. If they’re fast in Zwift, they’re fast in Zwift. If they’re too fast for me in Zwift then they’re too fast for me in Zwift. If they’re slower than me IRL but as fast as me in Zwift, then I can ride with them!

Any serious racing I do I’ll do outside. Winter is for base/build anyway, right?

Next post will be about my training.