Monday, November 23, 2009

Training - 261 Watts, Kind Of

As promised earlier, I went and did a 20 minute test on the newly (re-) installed 175s. A quick seat adjustment (down 5 mm to keep my ultimate leg extension similar, and resulting in a greater range of motion for my knee and hip) and I was on my way.

I spun a bit to see if anything ached or creaked, but my body seemed fine with the longer cranks. Knees perfect, hips perfect, ankles perfect. All good. I could tell that the power had gone up a bit (+20 watts) for the same effort (120 bpm), and I felt anxious to see how it worked out in a full-blown 20 minute effort.

Like normal I kept stutter starting the effort. Check the DVD clock, tell myself I'll start when it gets to 21:00, then it's 21:14, so I'll just wait till 25:00. Then it's 26:32 next time I glance up, so maybe 30:00 would be good.

I keep re-cuing the music on the laptop (my glorified MP3 player), and try and prepare myself mentally, one more time.

Finally, at 39:00 on the DVD clock, I started up.

I rolled along, easily at first, always a bit high. I wanted to equal or break my all time record of 263 watts (don't laugh) and I felt it entirely possible. My pacing, regardless of how many times I re-read a great bit on pacing, starts off high, drops a bit, then, hopefully, revives just a bit at the end. Although I want to improve my pacing, avoiding the drop in the middle, it's difficult to maintain such a torrid pace for 20 minutes.

I held a decent pace for about 7 minutes, between 285 and 300 watts, and when I check for the first time in a while, I saw I was holding 290 pretty consistently.

I eased.

My legs start twinging, my quads threatening to seize. Unusual this, because normally my calves complain long before I get a hint of cramp in my quads. I chalk this up to the diet, to a lack of electrolytes, and try to turn my focus on more hamstrings, on more spinning, on pulling up.

The twinges subside.

It's now 49:30 on the DVD player, and I'm feeling reasonably good. There's a stutter in the power as I coast just a touch, ready to give up, but I keep going.

At some point the DVD I'm watching, Lemond at the 89 Worlds, ends. He wins the sprint, wins the race. I rewind the DVD a bit - I don't want to watch interviews while I'm killing myself on the trainer, music notwithstanding.

When I look to see my remaining time, I see 46:47.

But I was just at 49:30. How?

Right, I rewound myself. But when did I rewind? How long would I have to ride? It would be a pity to lose this whole effort, but at the same time I didn't want to meter out my energy for 23 or 25 minutes and do a sub-par effort. Worse, I didn't want to stop at 19:00 and then not have a good number.

I started figuring which part of what song was playing when I rewound, started calculating the time after my last check (51:30), and how much time I'd have to ride to make it equivalent to reach 59:00.

I decided that I needed to ride about 7:30 to hit the full 20. At first I thought I'd need to ride just a short time more, to 48:00. Then I realized that I somehow got 48 by adding 8 to 46 (minus the 30 seconds I already did in addition to the 46 min mark). I blame oxygen deprivation for the error but recalculate a few times. Yes, I had to think about it to add 46+8. I decided I really needed to ride to 54:00.

I mentally gritted my teeth and kept going. I hit 50 minutes, and then, at 51:30, I started upping my effort for my last hurrah. My legs responded, meaning I had gone too easy somewhere in the middle. I was 40-45 watts above my goal number, 305+ watts, and held it for a good 30-40 seconds.

Scotty! We need more power!

I kept increasing the power.

I felt determined to finish off the full minute, not ease up at 2 or 3 seconds to go. I was holding 325 watts, watched the DVD clock turn to 54:00, and eased hard.

A good effort.

I cooled down a bit then went upstairs. Connected and downloaded data from the SRM.

Checked out the prior day's ride first. Nothing special.

Checked out the ride I just did.

My goal had been to hit my max 20 min record, 263 watts as I remembered it. I quickly looked down the max averages for the different time periods.

20 minutes.

261 watts.


I selected my effort, noting with some disapproval the huge valley where I rewound the DVD and then did some mental arithmetic. My effort lasted...


262 watts for 19:56. 261 watts for 20:00.


But then I thought about it for a second.

I just hit a number I never saw before June or July of this summer. My first super-hard 20 minute effort netted me a 235 watt number. It's not quite Thanksgiving. I'm lighter by almost my bike's weight. And I spent about a minute fiddling with the DVD player and then figuring things out in my head.

For the record, my w/kg went up to 3.44. Yes, I am a touch heavier now than a couple days ago, at 75+ kg, but to see my w/kg go up by 0.25 is pretty substantial (for the record it was 3.17 at 83 kg).

So my goal now is to push it to that elusive 270 watts and beyond, ultimately going for 300 watts. I figure I can do it, based on my acceleration at the end, and my below-TT heartrate in the middle of the effort (150s for a bit, not a consistent 168-170).

And on the bottom side of the equation, I'm still going for 70 kg, with 68 kg an outside "bonus" weight. At 270/70, I'd be at 3.85 w/kg. This feels realistic.

If I could get to 300, it would be over 4 w/kg. At my old weight, that would have required 330+ watts. This seems somewhat unreasonable.

If I could get to 68 kg, it would be an insane (for me) 4.4 w/kg. This would be a pipe dream.

So what now?

Well, first I have to keep on the diet. The weight needs to come off.

And second, I need to increase power. I need to do some sub 20 minute efforts at higher wattages, to try and bring up my sustainable power. Intervals and such, maybe the hated 3-5 minute versions. And then I'll repeat my test, maybe in a couple weeks. I'll focus on maintaining power for the first 4-5 minutes, then focus on maintaining heartrate for the rest of it. If it drops I go faster (it almost always tends to drop). I'll peek at power every now and then, but the heartrate is key - keep that high and the power follows.

And I'll be sure to have a nice, long DVD in the player.


Anonymous said...

Oh, that was RTC/YR/Rish.


Anonymous said...

It's been nice to read what you've been up to lately.

I'm still off the bike, since my knee has been messed up for 2 months now. Any riding makes it hurt for 3 days. It sucks.

I've been running without much gusto, but refocused my energy into lifting. I figure I should gain some muscle so I can look more like a sprinter. It makes me feel better about life when I can't ride.

Hopefully I'll be back on the bike in the spring, but I have no hopes for next season since I've lost so much time and with a thesis time is non existant.

In any event, here's my 'carrot' for you. I weigh 145 lbs. At the end of last season, my rested 20 min effort was 281 watts.

You can do better than that Aki.

Now go do it!

Aki said...

I guessed who it was based on weight and the wattage (you'd mentioned it somewhere).

It's funny (not funny ha-ha, funny hmmm), I don't derive motivation from competing with other people. My competition is internal. Doing a good race means doing the best race I can.

Okay, I admit that I have to beat everyone to win, but my focus is not on beating, it's on the winning (or placing). Does that make sense?

At any rate, I have my targets, and your numbers straddle the realm of possibility and probability. Therefore they're good numbers for me.

Anonymous said...

Nice work on the test. If you're using WKO, your normalized power for the 2 min test will smooth out the time you were fiddling with the remote.
The only bummer here is that a 20 minute test is approx %95 of real FTP - so you'd have to multiply the 261x0.95 = 248. This was kind of a bummer for me when I hit 300W on my first 20 min test - I thought I got there, but I was really looking at a threshold of 285. Once you multiply by .95, the W/Kg #s will be accurate.

All that $ on an SRM - this will double your investment:

If you don't use it already, trainingpeaks WKO will triple the investment.

Aki said...

Thanks for the info. I forgot about the 5%. Drat.

Also, on power. My good friend looked at me at some point and pointed out something - I don't train scientifically so why the power meter? I told him that basically I wanted to be able to see what I did at what point in the ride, and the download feature allows me to say, "Hey, that's where I chased that truck" or whatever.

And I could afford to buy the bike (which came with the SRM).

But I've realized, after doing one or two more specific workouts (as in, doing a day or two of semi-pinpointed training) that it could make a difference. So I've asked Santa for that power book.