Monday, 29 November 2010

Training - Week 3

This last weeks training was a welcome rest week. Rest week doesn't mean do nothing take it easy with your feet on the desk easy, no. All it means is that the workout intensity of a rest week is the same as the previous week but the duration is nearly halved. last weeks workouts were on Tue, Wed, Thu, Sat & Sun, and 7+ hours - this week just Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun and 4 hours, I bagged an extra day off yipee...

The idea of having an easy week every 3rd week is all to do with recovery and age. The training book - Joe Friels (and Gale Bernhardts) book say that us masters need a recovery week every 3rd week as opposed to every 4th - did I need it? Yes I think I did, I welcomed it as the regularity of the last two weeks workouts plus the increasing intensity coupled with an old decrepit body makes sense of the reasoning behind that rest week as I tired not so much with the intensity of the workouts but rather the duration.

Some of you may be thinking that base training is easy stuff and what's 7 hours?, well 7 hours isn't much for some but for someone who has lost most of his fitness due to sickness, 7 hours is a huge step-up in duration from little to no hours after weeks of illness. As far as easy goes, yes base training is fairly easy compared with what's to come but I'd much rather undertrain at this moment in my training regime rather than run the risk of overtraining, after all in a couple of weeks if I find the work too easy on my body then I can always increase either the intensity or the duration slightly and it's easier to step up the work than step back because when you've reached that point of being overtrained it's already too late; the damage has already occurred meaning possible time (days, weeks?) off the bike to recuperate.

So this last week consisted of just 4 workouts; 2 of base miles, 1 of speed drills and a 5 mile TT. The idea of the 5 mile TT isn't that of competition, it's a test workout. Friel has you work at a constant heart rate that of 10 beats below your proper TT heart rate, in my case 156 bpm. Warm up for 10 minutes hit the lap button and ride at the desired heart rate for 5 miles and record the time it took. In 3 weeks time the same test will be repeated and hopefully a quicker time.

I've mentioned a few times over the last few weeks about not being a 'zone drone', in my research I've come across a few coaches who say that you have to strictly stick to your zones when riding base miles, that going into higher zones is detrimental to your progress but the majority of coaches I have come across have the same opinion as Rick Stern in that you should not become a 'zone drone'. Joe Friel although he doesn't touch much on the question of the need to stay in your zone shows that he is of the don't be a 'zone drone' persuasion by the simple fact that every 3rd week he has you do a test TT that takes you up to zone 4 and now that I'm about to enter my Base 2 period he has me regularly doing intervals in the tempo zone and speed drills that take you into the dizzy heights of zone 5. So apart from the very first 2 weeks of a base period that lasts for 12 weeks, work outside of zone 1 & 2 is regularly performed.

This week I am about to embark on more strenuous workouts with the already mentioned tempo rides and I am really looking forward to it. Base riding doesn't have to be easy, riding an hour or two on the turbo in the upper zone 2 zone does take its toll after a couple of weeks and whilst they aren't the hardest of workouts they do get monotonous. I think it's much easier to ride these workouts on the road where you have regular breaks with junctions, traffic lights and downhills to break up the ride whereas on the turbo there are no downhills, traffic lights or junctions; it's an hour+ of constant 90+ cadence and for the majority of these workouts I've been on the turbo and now that the snow is heading this way I can see myself stuck on the turbo for weeks to least I have my ipod, oh the joy of it...

Totals for the week
60 miles, 4hrs 7min.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Training - Week 2

I'm only into my 2nd week of training but I'm already starting to see some benefits to the base riding I'm doing. This second week consisted of workouts on Tues, Wed, Thu, Sat and Sunday, all base riding stuff with some speed drills thrown in, all in zones 1 and 2 apart from the speed drills. Some of it was on my turbo in the confines of my garage but come the weekend it's out on my lonesome into the lanes of Cheshire on Saturday and Sunday saw a small group of us from the North Cheshire Clarion assemble in North Warrington and head north into the browns and greys of the area west of Wigan. The ride was billed as 'easy' a 'bimble' as that is what we associate with base training and it certainly was easy on occasion but working within my desired heart rate range often saw speeds of 17 to 19 mph on the flat so by no means a slow ride but the hills had me down to a crawl trying to keep my heart rate out of the anaerobic zone 5 - which I succeeded in doing.

I think we would have ridden the whole 43 mile ride without stopping for a break but one was asked of us as we (or Mike did) came to the aid of a punctured cyclist who had ridden out from Liverpool without a spare tube, I don't think anyone had a thought of stopping until it was asked of us. The weather held out, yes it was cold but it was not windy and no rain other than a few spots towards the end so today the weather held just long enough for us to get our ride in...

My training has had me peddling at 90+ rpm and in only the 2 weeks of this training I now find a high cadence quite natural and it certainly did help spinning as fast as I could up the hills we found along the route so something is going right with my training even this early into it; there's got to be lots of good stuff to come when base training is done and the threshold training takes over in a few weeks but for now I'm enjoying the ride and the scenery, smelling the roses as they say it's just a pity there are none around at this time of year...

My stats
Sunday run : 43.9 miles, 2hrs 58min, Av speed 14.7 mph, Av/max HR 139/166 (act max 191), 1912 ft climbing (Garmin)

80 % in zones 1 & 2

Totals for the week 123 miles, 8 hrs 19 min.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Don't Be A 'Zone Drone'....

A really good bit of advice and advice well needed on today's club ride. This ride was billed as flat but flat doesn't necessarily mean easy and whilst the start of the ride was well within my desired zones 1 & 2 as the ride went on my heart rate gradually rose as the pace rose slightly on some undulating terrain. Nothing much happened today, 13 of us to start off with but Dave had to turn for home after a problem with one of his wheels so that left 12 of us to plod on on a cool but dry day.

I was playing the 'tail end Charlie' today with Pablo on the front and what that means is that I shout down the line a warning of any potential problems such as cars passing etc as well as giving encouragement to anyone that needs it, no-one needed any today and the cars mostly were well behaved so an easy job plus it suited me to stay that far back as it provided some shelter for me to hide in.

Zone time
Looking at the time spent in my zones I see that the zones I really needed to be in, zones 1 & 2 my base zones accounted for only 49% of the total and I know I can afford to creep up a zone into my 'tempo' zone, zone 3 on occasion but I did more than creep I spent a whopping great 19% of my time there which isn't ideal but what is really astonishing is that I spent 24% of my time in zone 4 which is approaching TT efforts and that is really undesirable when the aim of my ride is to ride 'base miles'.

Final Thoughts
Yes the advice is don't be a zone drone and that drifting out of your desired zone is OK on occasion but I think I need to view today as a lesson on how not to do it, how not to ride a base ride - it didn't work, hiding in the pack didn't work, the riding slow up hills didn't work because no-one slowed down so I suppose the only option I have is to go it alone or with like minded people. I'm not saying the ride was wrong it's just that I shouldn't have gone on it because you cannot expect everyone else to slow down when they are on a club run and not a training run.

My Stats
42 miles, 2 hrs 40 min, Av Speed 15.7 mph, Av/Max Hr 138/171 (Act max 191) 1063 ft climbing (Garmin)

Garmin stats

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Training Week 1

I had planned on starting my new training plan a couple of weeks ago but guess what, somebody gifted me a cold which I luckily managed to get rid of before last Sundays 'bimble'. I can pinpoint the exact time when it was gifted me by some bloke at work who sneezed twice when he was sat opposite me on friday, 3 days later it started but luckily after some intensive cold remedy's it was gone in 3 days. I really am sick of being sick, a sickness that started in September and hasn't really gone away...

Anyway after last Sundays bimble it was time to put into action my training so Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and today I spent an hour in my garage on my turbo. It's so much easier turboing rather than getting out on the road in the cold and dark, just throw on the minimum gear, fire up the ipod and get started, no having to gauge the weather, no having to think of a route, no wondering about layers and lights and no helmet - easy. So with a rough plan of riding in my zone 2 I get started with easy top Z1 / low Z2 working upwards, rough in that I don't intend being exact in my timings in each zone, I just stick the ipod on and when a new track comes on that's my cue to change up/down a cog or speed up or lower my cadence, somewhere between 90 to 100 all the time keeping an eye on my HR.

What I have come to understand over the last year is that I need to listen very closely to my body, a body that has been ravaged by the surgeons knife on far too many occasions and every day decimated by the immunosuppressant drugs necessary to keep my bionicness that keeps me off dialyses and often I ask myself what is someone who has this 'problem' doing riding a bike and not just riding a bike but trying to be competitive as well, sometimes I ask myself what's the point - I will be on dialysis again in a few short years so will lose everything, I was lucky it took me only 3 years from the time of kidney failure to time of transplant (with dialysis thrown in 4 times a day) and that was because I had a 'live' transplant, the next time no live transplant and will be extremely lucky to get a kidney at all.

Anyway I'm getting away from the point now and that point is that I've learnt to vary the intensity of my workouts depending on how I feel and what's on the cycling agenda. For instance this weeks workouts have varied in intensity, Tuesday was an hours worth of mid to high Z2, Wednesday low to mid Z2, Thursday high Z1 to low Z2 and today mindful of tomorrows club ride, low to mid Z2. Reading Joe Friels book (and other training books) he does say that this is what you are supposed to do, listen to your body, don't force a workout on a body that cannot handle it because of illness or tiredness - be intelligent, think about your workout, you don't need to rigidly follow a plan to the letter, vary the workout and lastly as Rick Stern says 'don't be a zone drone'.

Joe Friel has you record your resting HR and use this as guide, if its elevated too much, say over 10 beats over your norm, skip that days workout. Prior to my extended period of poorliness my resting HR was 52 with a best of 48 during the summer. This week on Tuesday I started with a resting HR of 6o, Wed down to 56, Thu down again to 54 and after training 3 days on the trot on Friday it's back up to 60, time for a days rest, Sat morning after the rest it's back down to 54, I'm happy, training intelligently has worked my body and even after just a few days training I'm feeling fitter and the figures agree...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

NCC club run - sort of

The boys and girls of the North Cheshire Clarion are off on a hilly run today, off to ride/slide Swiss Hill and then onto the Cat & Fiddle but there are a handful of us that want to take it easy because some of us want to follow a plan, a training plan. In my case it's the Joe Friel plan as worked out from his excellent training book. last year I decided to follow Chris Carmichaels 'The Time crunched Cyclist' which is an excellent book if you want a ready made plan but with Friels book he offers you a much more personalised plan according to your weaknesses, goals and hour allowance plus he outlines a full years worth of training as opposed to the few weeks of Carmichaels plan, in fairness though you can reuse Carmichaels plan during the year but there's not much in the way of personalisation.

Anyway, as I said some of us want flat to keep the heart rate down so myself and Matt decided to meet up an hour later than normal at Stretton for a flat 30 miler (plus the miles to get there and back), we were however joined by three others who for various reasons were unable to ride on the big boys ride so the five of us made our way out towards Appleton and then south into a maze of little country lanes with what felt like more horses on the road than cars. Plenty of other cyclists out today all enjoying themselves in the autumn sun and even though we were riding fairly slow we still managed to pass a few including a lady group and in the opposite direction another club also riding fairly slow - must have been getting their 'endurance miles' in just like us. No cafe stop just steady miles and no hills to speak of but there was a few rises along the way that got the heart rate out of the desired range on occasion; I suppose that's to be expected and there's not much you can do about that other than retreating to the turbo but on a cool day like this with plenty of sun and no wind the road wins hands down - plenty of turbo time ahead once the winter really bites.

A nice short run on a very nice cool sunny autumn day and I can see there being quite a few more of these unofficial NCC rides when the club does a 'hilly' as some of us need to ride endurance/base miles over the next few months.

82% of ride in zones 1 & 2

My Stats
30.44 miles, 2 hrs, Av speed 15.2 mph, Av/Max HR 141/165 (Act max 191) 655 ft climbing (Garmin)

Garmin stats