Friday, August 31, 2018

Up Again...

Another FTP increase. It's now up to 209 from 204. That's an improvement of 21 watts or 11% since the start of the Academy three and a half weeks ago. Happy with that but it was hard fought tonight in the Academy TT race. It was my first TT, albeit a virtual one, and I wasn't quite sure how to play it. In the end it turns out you just pedal as hard as you can and try not to blow up.

My legs were burning from a few minutes in and I didn't have anything left for a sprint at the finish so I think I got it about right. Pretty sure if I'd gone off any harder at the start I'd have crashed and burnt.

The trial was 16km on a flatish course with a few 'hill' blips which hit the speed as can be seen from the analysis graph below. I'm pleased how stable the purple power chart is and even shows a very gentle, almost imperceptible upwards slope - honest guv, if you analyse the raw data it does, really, it does...

Anyway, another good training session completed and you know what? At this work rate, by this time next year, I'll almost be fit again - yes, I've fallen such a long way so it's any equally long climb back...

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Tasty Bit Of Virtual Cheddar...

So I wanted something a little shorter tonight after a cracking race effort last night. To that end, I decided it was time to take on the Gorge, Cheddar Gorge. Only 16km with 330m of climb - doddle.

The ride started with a loop of the virtual Cheddar reservoir before hitting the roads. It wasn't long before I was into the main climb. Short and sharp. It was soon behind me. Then came the longer, gently upward grind to the finish at the virtual main road just past the virtual village of Charterhouse, top of the Mendips(ish). 35 minutes, 210 power average, happy with that. Nice recovery session.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Pretty Much PBs Across The Board Tonight...

and it all started by almost taking another rest day. You see, I was planning on doing a Zwift Academy TT race, the one I had put in my calendar - except when I looked to check the start time there was not a single TT event in the schedule! Not sure what happened there as I'm pretty sure there were a couple scheduled when I planned my week. Doh!!

At that point I told myself it was fate telling me to take another rest day and get fully fighting fresh - it was at that exact moment that I slapped myself about the face several times and told myself to get a grip before subsequently rifling through the ride schedules for something else. I found a climb race on the Innsbruck UCI Short Course lap and decided to go for it (24km lap, KOM segment 450m, 7.4km climb).

It was not a big field. Just seven or eight in my age category so it was more of a time trial than a nip and tuck race. That suited me tonight, if I'm honest. After a little bit of nip and tuck in the first few kilometres, it was into the climb and the field was totally strung out. Again, that suited me. I kept in the big ring all the way tonight, in determined mood and ground that hill. I soon realised I was putting down more power than normal and the sight of a distant rider to chase spurred me on wards and upwards.

I passed three riders on the climb before cresting the KOM segment in a PB time of 26:27, having knocked just over three minutes off my previous best. I kept hitting it hard. Legs burning - even on the descent. I was not going to be caught.

In the end I finished with lots of Strava PBs over the entire route and for bonus points, increased my FTP from 195 to 204. (That's 188 to 204 since the start of the Academy). With every passing week, I'm feeling fitter and fitter...

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Worn Down...

Struggled to rise from slumber yesterday. Decided on a recovery/rest day instead and today ended up being a full rest day. I set the alarm for an early run before work but it couldn't raise me. Ergo another rest day. Hoping to feel more energised tomorrow.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Half Marathon Cold Storming...

So the rain did as promised and chucked it down. Trooping in the rain is not conducive to staying warm. Waterproof it is not but I stuck it out as long as I could and I wasn't exactly being rushed off my feet for photos this year. I guess most people pretty much headed away to get warm and dry once they finished their race. I cheered those still finishing as I trudged my way back to the car. And finally, congratulations to all those half marathoners and 10k'ers who made the distance at today's Severn Bridge race.

So anyway, I wasn't sure I was going to train today as I've been feeling tired but after having got chilled to the bone I couldn't get warm. The hot shower didn't do it and there was no way I was turning on the heating in August! So what to do? Why, my final Academy race, of course. Today's offering was the climb. I was intending to try the TT but I guess I can do that later, even though I've already complete the required two.

The circuit was two 6%/7.4km climbs and 24k total. It was not easy going but it did the trick. I'm finally feeling warm again. Pace-wise I got it about right, I was even on the climbs (30:15 and 30:30, which I think is pretty decent consistency) and I enjoyed reeling in five or six riders on the final one before holding off a sprint attack - which almost made me sick - not recommended when in the gym...

Off to the mountains tomorrow if all goes to plan....

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Oncoming Storm

Yep, it looks like it's getting Stormy tomorrow... But for today, after a rest day yesterday, I completed Academy workout number 10, the last one. Just one more ride and a race to do in order to graduate.

It was a pretty tough one. Maybe not quite the toughest but certainly up there. A pyramid session of five minute efforts at 115% FTP and 90% FTP of the form 1min/4min, 2min/3min, 3min/2min, 4min/1min, 3min/2min, 2min/3min and 1min/4min with a 3 minute recovery. It's another rest day tomorrow as the Storm arrives...

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Bit Of A Time Trial

I decided to test myself out on the Brierley loop that I ran a few times back in May and June. It all felt better without the need to stop - apart from when the heart rate was hitting the red zone. Felt like I was more running than plodding today. What was telling though, was the heart rate. It was right up at the top end and I think that's telling me something.... REST. I've completed 20 various runs and training sessions during the last 15 days and I think it's just about caught up with me. My resting heart rate is also a little elevated. Oh, and before I forget, I was two minutes quicker on the run which I'm pleased with on the 7.6km loop. 15s per kilometre isn't to be sniffed at...

Anyway, I was intending to follow up the run with a ride but I'm not now. Going to have a couple of rest days tomorrow and Sunday - which fits well with things in the diary. Likely finish the Academy Saturday, workout ten and then perhaps a potter in the hills on Monday - which will be a potter and not a hard effort. That should be enough rest.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Number Nine

Tonight's Zwift Academy workout number nine was decent hard work. My memory fades of the previous ones but I'm pretty sure it was bang on up there with the toughest of the sessions. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and what is tough to someone is easier to another. This definitely felt tough to me.

The session consisted of a warm up followed by three similarly structured hard efforts. A short blast followed by a longer solid effort followed straight into an even harder blast and then another longer hard effort, harder than the first longer effort, before finally getting to the recovery section. The longer hard effort gave a good burn into the last 45-60 seconds each time. Yeah, all in all a pretty hard workout.

Definitely beginning to feel fitter...

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Not Last and an FTP Increase...

Pleased with that. Oh, and it was another double day starting with a 5k run before work followed by a Zwift race, one of the Academy races, afterwards.

The GPS went a little wonky on this mornings run, measuring 120m less distance than the same run last week. I guess they aren't as accurate as you think... Despite that, I definitely ran the same route as last week but this time a whopping 47s faster - that ain't a bad increase in a week, especially as I'm still cranking out the training without much rest.

This evening I followed up with my first Academy race, one of two required in order to complete the Academy - and get the gold star, lollipop and stickers. A 33km, 5 lapper on the London Classique lap. I'm at the bottom of the power range for category C so I expect to finish towards the rear of the field but that didn't take away from a great race. With a good field in the C class, 100+, it was proper pack riding and racing. Pulling away, getting reeled back in, getting dropped, making the effort to get back on... felt like a proper virtual race [wink].

I was cranking out more power than I've cranked before over the distance and was rewarded with a solid FTP increase from 188 to 195. That's a pretty damn fine increase if I say so myself. I am feeling pretty buoyed. It's chuff inducing to see the training converting to real improvement. 47s quicker on the run this morning and an FTP increase tonight. Does it get any better? - don't answer that. Seriously, don't...

Monday, August 20, 2018

Eight Follows Seven...

My legs, as hoped, are no longer feeling sore so I decided to crack on with Academy workout eight.  An interesting session that started into some short sharp blasts at the front end in order to try and build a burn in the legs before the core of the session; ten, 1 minute 100% FTP intervals with a 1 minute recovery at 75% of FTP. Like a couple of the previous sessions I could probably have nudged the effort level up which is what I think I'll do for the next session - worst case, I end up nudging it back down again mid session...

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Still Sore But The Show Must Go On..

After an enforced rest day yesterday - probably due one anyway, after nine days straight - it was back to the grindstone today. To be fair, my legs are still sore and I thought there was a risk I might fail the session but this was the last day for Academy workout 7 so I let battle commence.

I found the warm up section alright. Didn't really feel the soreness in my legs as I rode but I certainly felt the early burn. What should have been part of the warm up actually felt like it was part of the effort required for the main section - not ideal. The main section was a ten minute interval at 110% of FTP and I didn't think I had any hope of making that grade but you never can tell and it was a really pleasant surprise to make it - and with a strong finish to boot. If anything I was getting stronger as the interval progressed..

My legs don't feel any more sore for the training and I think I'll be soreness free tomorrow. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Sore Legs

So I'm really beginning to start feeling like my mojo is returning. If not for all out running, definitely for getting myself back in shape and I'm getting pretty addicted to working out on the bike. At some point I might even be brave enough to go play in the traffic! - but with the poor standard of driving I witness on a daily basis, I'm probably not that brave... Maybe next year, once I've got myself fit as a butchers chicken, I'll enter one of them proper long distance bike racey things wot proper cycle people do...

My weight is still pretty good, 10st 5lb, and to be fair it's not really fluctuated too much over the last few years - I didn't totally let myself go during the mojoless years - but I'm definitely beginning to feel less flabby. My leg muscles are beginning to feel taught once more, even showing a bit of definition. My strength returns. I might not be ready to break records or even age related pb's but I'm definitely feeling like I'm on way there...

As to today's training, my legs are f*(%ed. Really sore after yesterday but I still managed to complete the third of the four required group rides by way of recovery. An hour at relatively low power output but with my painful legs I kept easing off and falling to the back of the group, almost losing the peloton a couple of times.

Waiting to see what tomorrow brings.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Almost Bonked

Well that was a good day. Managed to get my arse out of bed and over to Abergavenny to 'run' over Sugar Loaf, 11.7k with 560m ascent. I won't say it was pretty and I was slow but I was back out there in the hills, my legs burnt and it felt gooooood.

There was no rest for the wicked though and I needed to ride Workout 6 of the Zwift Academy today to keep to the schedule. Now if I'm honest, a hard bike training session after one has run in the hills for the first time in ages, probably isn't the most sensible training plan - but when has that ever stopped me?

So anyway, the hours training session was a solid warm up followed by four 4 minute intervals at 110% FTP with equal recovery. I could feel myself really beginning to bonk on the last couple. I don't think I had much more in me before I would have ground to a halt. Suffice to say I hit the sugar for an instant hit once the session finished to stop me flaking out.

Not sure what is on the cards for tomorrow. It's meant to be another hill run but I think I need to see how I feel tomorrow. I suspect I might be struggling.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Change Of Plan...

So I've decided not to ride the group ride tonight. It's no biggy as I'll still be ahead of schedule on the training academy and I'm feeling a bit jaded... On the upside, I did manage the lunch run and despite absolutely crashing and burning in the final mile, I still managed to come home 20s seconds quicker than last time.

I should probably take a rest day tomorrow but I'm planning a trip to Sugar Loaf to start my return to the hill proper so going to go do that anyway - unless I feel a bit pants tomorrow morning in which case I'll rethink things. Likely to be a bit of a wet one but it's not like I'll be in the middle of nowhere, it's only Sugar Loaf after all...

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

That Was Burst A Blood Vessel Tough

Zwift Academy workout number five was tough. I completed it but by 'eck I was hanging on at the end. After a comfortable warm up phase, building to reps up towards 115% FTP the session started in earnest - god, I hate Ernest. Five, 1 minute reps at 150-170% FTP and despite a six minute recovery between intervals, I was dying in the last 10-15s each time. That difficulty is borne out by a nice new bulge - ooh matron - in my Strava power curve at 40-60s.

It probably wasn't ideal preparation for such a hard session to head out for an early morning 5k before work but when you've the bit between your teeth you gotta go with it. It was a decent run this morning and I'm pleased I'm keeping motivated. My legs feel somewhat broken right now but there's no rest for the wicked, I'm in the office tomorrow and I've scheduled in a lunch run with my colleague. If there's anything left in the tank once I get home, I'm going to try my third academy group ride.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Group Ride Number Two

and there were 307 starters!! More surprising was that half of them didn't shoot off the front in the first five minutes. Pretty much the entire group stayed together for the entire hour. For me, these group rides are perfect recovery rides as the target is 2.2-2.5W/kg. That's 80% FTP which is pretty ideal recovery.

Up tomorrow is workout number five and it looks like a leg burner with some one minute high FTP intervals...

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Another Double

Managed to backup up yesterday's bike-run with another one today. Up for the bike was workout 4 of the Zwift Academy and again, I fared better than I thought I would. The anaerobic efforts looked scarier on the plan than in reality but I'm not going to get cocky as workout 5 looks even scarier. The 1 minute 150-160% FTP intervals look tough. After a couple hours recovery I knocked out 5k in a ramped increasing effort. Felt pretty good and it's been a good weekend of training.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Group Ride Recovery and Reps

More at the academy, the hour group ride recovery. That's one of the four mandatory group rides complete - and it wasn't a walk in the park. Not a hard effort but equally not a pootle. Power average 160W. Good recovery.

In the afternoon I hit the treadmill for some 500m 14kph intervals. They felt pretty solid. Probably should have had the mental strength to have completed a couple more reps but alas, I am weak.

Friday, August 10, 2018

That's Three

Zwift Academy workout three complete and it wasn't as difficult as I was expecting. The main core of the session was 12x10s, 6x15s and 3x30s at 160%, 150% and 130% of FTP respectively. For me I wasn't suffering enough at the end of each set. Sure, my legs burnt but the last couple should have really hurt and they didn't. The first two workouts really made me suffer so perhaps for such short blasts I need to up the workout factor. Zwift workouts allow a +/-10% adjustment so perhaps I'll try 105% the next time...

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Academy Workout Number Two

So that's two down, eight to go.. plus four group rides and two races... so many more kilometres to travel before I graduate the academy.

It was a mixedly hard session tonight. Five reps of 5 minute at 85% FTP with equal duration recovery - the easy bit. That was followed by six reps of 1 minute @ 135% FTP with equal duration recovery at 70% FTP - the hard bit. I felt like I wasn't really getting recovered during the final six but as I hit the start, I just about managed to pick things up in time to complete the rep without suffering too badly. The last 15s of each rep was a burn. Didn't feel quite as hard as the first workout but that was probably because I was more recovered. Hopefully I'll be okay for more training tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Legs Knackered

It's had to be the second rest day of the week. I really ripped up my legs on yesterday's run and bike. Workout #2 of the Zwift Academy tomorrow. Pretty sure my legs won't be feeling fresh but I's gots to do it guvnor...

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Difficult Double

My legs were not feeling great (even worse now) but I was in the office and when in the office with ones colleague what runs a bit, one is duty bound to go for the lunch run. Probably not the ideal move as I needed to complete session one of ten of the Zwift Academy training schedule - a 70min intervally/thresholdy/ftpy session - but it would have been rude not to.

So, the run wasn't too bad. Quite a surprise really because my legs felt heavy, the pace seemed slow and I collapsed on the gently uphill, final kilometre but I was a whole 10s quicker than last time out.

Tonight I was home latish but with time running out to complete the first session of the schedule I hit the turbo. The session involved a few short above ftp intervals followed by some longer ones, all with decent recovery before finishing with 4 short, sharp ones off short recovery. It was hard and I was hanging on in the last few but I completed the session. One down nine to go...

Monday, August 06, 2018

So It Turned Into A Rest Day...

My quads are shot and I'm feeling pretty weary. It has been a good few days of really good training but you've got to know when to take a rest. That rest came today which was unfortunate as I had planned a pootle around Sugar Loaf but I didn't think sticking to the plan was sensible so I will save it for another day. Added to that it's the first day of the Zwift Academy training schedule which I've signed up to do to provide continued motivation. Each session stays on the schedule for two or three days so taking the rest day today allows me to complete the first session tomorrow. Session two will be Wednesday through Friday.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

It's Working...

So I've been cranking out plenty of sessions on the turbo but very little running. The bike work feels like it's strengthening my legs but I haven't had much analytical data to back up the theory - until today, as I went for a run. It wasn't a long run. I just wanted to run a route I've run a few times to see where I'm at.

I ran the Longhope short loop, 5.5km with 160m ascent. It felt quicker and I felt a little stronger - the climb still defeated me but overall I felt like I was going better than of late. So it was fingers crossed as I uploaded the data - I was going to be mighty disappointed if I was slower than last time....

Two minutes quicker than the other times I've run the route during the last two years. Result. From this very limited, statistically meaningless data, I feel happy that the bike work is providing good training. So happy in fact, that I hopped into the saddle for a hilly training race, 48k, 900m ascent and subsequently totally ran out of steam but ground it out till the end, exhausted and shaking...

All my training data tells me I'm due a rest day but I've a day off tomorrow and was planning something, so we'll see...

Saturday, August 04, 2018

A Short One....

The virtual UCI Worlds Course Short Lap, that is. 24km, 500m. Again, another ride at the top end of my average power. Each session sees my average power creep a little higher and I'm feeling fitter.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Hour In Innsbruck

There's a new route in town, Innsbruck, and it's a replica of parts the upcoming UCI Road World Champs route. Apparently it's been fairly accurately mapped but I wouldn't know one way or the other. It's good to have another set of routes to add to the mix.

Took part in a four lap race on the flatter section of the route after work. The lap had a short, sharp climb followed by a short sprint towards the end. Despite a decently powerful ride, not totally all out but working hard enough, I was thoroughly whooped by the rest of the field. I wasn't last though! Riding pretty even splits, I managed to catch and pass a struggling rider on the last lap. He'd obviously gone off too fast. Having that rabbit to chase meant I worked a little harder, resulting in my fastest lap of the four. It was another decent hour in the saddle.