i’m back on the saddle since the beginning of 2018 – last year i logged a bit more than 10.000 km (remember: cycling uses the SI – see rule #24) – but, despite using a gps, a heart chest strap to gauge my efforts as well as analysing the workouts offline, i wasn’t necessarily making use of a structured training plan. even with the unstructured characteristics of the group rides i joined here i could see the progress from zero fitness to some fitness – the PMC based on TRIMP (and later i included the Session RPE indicator to the analysis) showed that going out with these guys had some value.
however, a time came where i couldn’t see anymore progress, as if a plateau was reached. in fact, it was exactly what happened: the stimulus offered by those unstructured group rides wasn’t high enough to promote the necessary overreaching, and from that moment i began to flirt (again) with my trainer – ah, these modern torture machines… +_+
then the new year arrived and in february i had a crash which made me stay off the bicycle for two and a half weeks. of course my fitness level would drop – this was expected. funny though was my expectation in terms of regaining it: 7-8 weeks. my “guesstimate” was confirmed by the TRIMP-based PMC. the key in this episode was my shift towards a more structured way of training: more hours spent on a trainer, and less group rides during the week – only weekends.
the HIIT approach was key to recover the lost fitness. but then i see i’m reaching again a plateau. besides, i was able to sustain my bpms for longer periods in L4. in reality this meant i had to do another LTHR test, something i was really really postponing. :P
then last tuesday i decided to do it… and boy, i didn’t remember how hard it is, physically and mentally. i was in doubt whether i should stick to the cts field test or the protocols proposed by joel friel. i ended up choosing the 10 k ITT, and honestly i’m still not pretty sure if it was a good choice – the cts field test consists of two 8 min runs separated by a 10 min rest interval -, and i will explain why…
i created a workout with 3 steps:
- until hr > current LT
- 10 km
- 5 min cool down
the first 5 min of the first step were ridden in L1. then i raised the effort to reach L2 – another 5 minutes. L3 for the next 5, and then the pre-drama: from L3 to L4. this range is mentally challenging, because you know the real torture is about to start. and four minutes later the real pain began.
i started too strong and wanted to call it a day way before the mark of 3 km. “why?! why?! i won’t make it! a puncture please, please! i can’t stand it anymore!” buckets full of sweat, suffering, one kilometer looking like one hundred… but at the 3 km mark i switched my mind. of course it was hurting a lot, but i was more into the “almost there!” mentality. if i haven’t started too hard, perhaps i wouldn’t be longing for the suffering to end so soon – lessons learned, i hope.
and while it’s true that it’s just a single run that lasts more or less 13-18 min [mine took ~14 min], the only thing i thought about in the first 3-5 minutes was giving up. maybe the cts field test is better, despite resulting in a higher heart rate, because it’s less taxing and i believe i could pace it a bit better, maybe increasing the rhythm every two minutes (~1-1,5 km), instead of every 2 km (~3-4 minutes), as it happened with this 10 km time trial.
to make matters worse, it seems i’ll have to do another one soon, given i’m “easily” reaching my actual Z5 and ocasionally staying there for some minutes. dunno… i’ll wait a bit more…
-  RPE (rate of perceived effort): scale ranging from 1 to 10, describing intensity levels of a physical activity.
-  LTHR (lactate threshold heart rate): heart rate at which your produce more lactate than your body is able to process, leading to fatigue.
-  FTP (functional threshold power): same principle as with LTHR, but considering power (wattage) instead of bpms.
-  GC (GoldenCheetah – GC): GNU GPL alternative to WKO/Training Peaks available here.
-  PMC (performance management chart): chart that plots curves like CTL, ATL, TSS/TSB, ramp rate. they all indicate how untrained/fit/fatigued you are, and to some extent they can indicate when you’ll be ready for your B and A contests.
-  TRIMP (TRaining IMPulse): method to quantify training load based on heart rate and duration of the workout.
-  metric available in GC. it builds the PMC the same way one would have if s/he were using power/TRIMP, but based on RPE.
-  HIIT (high intensity interval training): training method that bases itself mostly in the sweet spot heart/power zone (more or less the upper half of tempo and lower half of lthr) instead of the LSD – long slow distance approach.
-  ITT (individual time trial): in the current sense, near-death (haha) intensity workout in which you ride against the clock a pre-determined distance. constantly seen in the one-week and three-week tours (GdI, TdF, VaE…) as well as the kilo (1 km against the clock on tracks) and the record of the hour.