My first instinct is usually to tear open the packaging, switch on/build etc and start playing immediately. In hindsight this may not have been the best approach to power training. But when the instruction manual is this thick, who can blame me?
I did read the first half of Training with power but my god it’s heavy going. I’m usually all for geekery but this really was too much. Which is why it has taken me six months and a beach holiday to finish the other half. Well, almost finish the other half. Based on the half I bothered to read I’ve been using power to measure two key aspects of my riding for the first half of the year. Measuring training load and tracking improvements in critical power.
The first is pretty straightforward, based on the intensity of a given ride you can plot the training load it creates. This creates a long term improvement in fitness and a short term increase in fatigue. Balancing the two allows you to manage form. Critical power is a compilation of best efforts over every time duration from 1 second out to 4 hours plus. Each ride is plotted against the existing graph so that improvements can be measured.
The foundation to power training is determining functional threshold power (FTP), ideally by performing a threshold test (similar to a 20 minute interval). An hour crit also gives a fair indication though and I’ve been using this to keep an eye on FTP. A 10 mile time trial happens to be pretty similar to British Cycling’s threshold test protocol so I thought I’d complete a specific threshold test to see where I’m at. Enter the Langham 10 course which happens to be on my way home from work. The problem with threshold tests is that you know they are going to be unpleasant, much like 2 x 20s.
Anyway, the result was a good improvement in FTP and a big step towards my target of a 300 watt 10. Two days later though I went back to Trinity Park and realised that FTP means nothing if you are not training specifically. Dropped again, bugger! Whilst I’m stronger and lighter than last year I’ve clearly neglected core strength and power over short durations.
A beach holiday gave me the chance to look at my power and fatigue profiles and plot out where I need to improve. I’d mistakenly thought that being stronger this year would see me get round Trinity Park ok. Errrrr no. Not quite! So then, the new focus will be my anaerobic and neuromuscular systems (short duration power, 1 second out to 2-3 minutes). Right now I think I could be outsprinted by just about any Sky clad MAMIL. Not cool. Core strength also needs some work, seems my back is made of jelly. I keep hearing that Pilates is pretty awesome. Maybe I’ll give that a try.