Training Program Day 2 workout 1

Yeah – strange I know, but the first day was a scheduled day off…  presumably to let you sit and read what you’re getting yourself into, then shit yourself.

Actually, it’s not THAT bad, it’s basically a fairly gentle Century Ride Builder program – the basic workouts are scheduled pretty “hard and fast” with the week commencing on a Tuesday (yes, I know,I know…) with a rest day, followed by a base session Wednesday, a gap on Thursday, and another base on Friday, gap Saturday, long ride Sunday and recovery ride Monday.   The distance and duration of these rides basically ramp up for the next 8 weeks.   Along with these static rides, there are a few “discretionary” sessions – once a month, there’s a FTP test to drop in, ideally on one of the “gap” days, and also a number of higher intensity sessions, again of rising training stress which are more specific to the Turbo – so, to make the most of outdoor riding, if it’s poor weather on a “base session” day, it’s okay to “nudge” the base onwards to the gap day, just making sure that there’s never more than 3 days consecutive of riding.    It sounds a bit messy, but it’s the only kind of plan that’ll work for me, a reactive one…

Here’s hoping the weather is relatively kind – doing some of the “base” sessions on the Turbo holds little appeal.

Anyhoo – to todays ride…     Strava for it is here – basically, just a 30km ride, trying as hard as possible to keep power at Z4 or under for the duration.    Didn’t QUITE manage it, frankly, it’s a wee bit hilly around here to be able to do that for a big lad – but less than 11 minutes of the 1h33m ride were over the cut-off point, basically just the odd short sharp rise that given how much I weigh, I simply CAN’T get over even in bottom gear without pushing more torque through the cranks than i’m allowed!.


… And as for 2014

… well – it’s all a little “up in the air” to be honest – pretty major changes to my personal situation last year mean that it’s difficult to have a static plan for the entire year. I know it sounds a little aimless and directionless but here’s what I’m hoping for…

  1.  I’m going back to trying to lose that last 15kg, hopefully without impacting on my power development
  2.  If I’m not working a “day job” then I’m going to shoot for a similar overall ride distance as 2012 and 2013
  3.  I’m definitely going to try and get more variety into my riding – at least once a month, I’d like to get a ride in that’s NOT starting and finishing at the back door of my house – even if it means putting the bike in the car and driving somewhere (which frankly seems a little silly, unless of course it’s to Italy/France/Belgium of course!)
  4. (and I can’t believe I’m typing this!) I’m going to try and get under 27 minutes for a 10, on the course detailed above. I must be mental!
  5. I’m going to make every effort to enjoy every single ride I get to do.

At last – A PROPER FTP Test.

This time, I’d got all the Ducks in a Row.

I’ve got the Tacx Bushido indoor trainer coupled with a laptop running their TTS Software, and a specific FTP Test Protocol routine to provide the resistance, timing and display facilities.

I’ve got the Stages Powermeter –  a proper, strain based powermeter system, which measures the ACTUAL force through the pedals, not some “computer derived” formula based on the electrical current generated by the Bushido’s resistance unit.   And I’ve got the Garmin 800 to record the Heart Rate, Wheel Rotations, Cadence and power Data.   All the same stuff as I’d have if I were riding on the road.

The Test Protocol

The routine was based on a version of the Coggan/Allan FTP Test Protocol

It basically breaks down into a number of stages…


  1. 20 minutes of gentle spinning, 0% incline –  beginning in the middle range cogs at the rear and the small ring at the front – every 2 minutes, drop to the next harder gear to pedal, maintaining a steady 80-90rpm cadence.   At the end of this, you should be in the middle gear on the back and the large chainring.
  2. 1 minute of fast spinning, +0.2% incline, try and keep above 110rpm cadence, adjust gears as needed
  3. 1 minute steady spin, 0.2% decline, 80 rpm cadence
  4. 1 minute of fast spinning, +0.2% incline, try and keep above 110rpm cadence, adjust gears as needed
  5. 1 minute steady spin, 0.2% decline, 80 rpm cadence
  6. 1 minute of fast spinning, +0.2% incline, try and keep above 110rpm cadence, adjust gears as needed
  7. 5 minute steady spin, 0.1% decline, 80 rpm cadence
  8. 5 minutes hard “Pin it and Hold It” – +1.2% incline, go as hard as you can, sprinting for the end of the line at 5 minutes.
  9. 10 minutes easy spinning to clear lactate from last stage, 0.3% decline, 80 rpm, adjust gears as needed, trying to raise gearing back to final gearing from stage 1 by the end of the 10 minutes.
  10. 20 minutes of going as fast as you possibly can, 0.3% incline, try and keep power as stable as possible – don’t stop and start or ride in surges – just keep your HR a couple of beats below it’s maximum, and keep asking yourself “Can I Keep this up to the end” – if the answer is yes, go faster, if the answer is no, slow down a little, and if the answer is “maybe” you’re going hard enough.    Try and “sprint for the line” at the end of the 20 minutes again.
  11. 10 minutes easy spinning – try and ease your legs back into some form where they’ll actually do what you tell them to.

stop, get off the bike, dry yourself off, save the files on the computer and swallow your pre-prepared recovery drink.   Hopefully it’ll disguise the taste of blood at the back of your mouth and stop you being completely useless the following day.   Don’t worry, the dull headache usually recedes after a couple of hours.

So…   what did I learn from this test.

Well – after importing the ride into GoldenCheetah (it’s cheaper than WKO+ and I’m a tight Yorkshireman) and finding the best intervals for 3 minutes and 20 minute power,  I plugged them into the Critical Power estimator to calculate my FTP – in this case 259 Watts.


Other things to note, for the 20 minute effort, the average power figure, and the “normalised” power figure (xPower) are almost identical – this indicates that the power delivery was relatively “surge free” – the more variable the power delivery is – i.e. if you sprint then freewheel, the xPower gets proportionally higher than the average (as the normalisation process takes more account of higher power figures than low)

So – what does this mean then…

Basically, now I’ve got a reliable FTP figure, that’s measured using exactly the same kit as I’ll have on the road, all the road rides can be directly compared to this test, I can set my training zones accurately, so when I’m supposed to be doing a recovery ride, I’m definitely recovering, and when I’m supposed to be working on Tempo, or Threshold, i’m DEFINITELY working at those zones as well.

At the moment, my training Zones, based on this test are as follows…

Zone 1 – Active Recovery – <55% of FTP – (0 – 142W)

Zone 2 – Endurance -55% > 75% of FTP – (142 – 194W)

Zone 3 – Tempo – 75% > 90% of FTP – (194 – 233W)

Zone 4 – Threshold – 90% > 105% of FTP – (233 – 271W)

Zone 5 – VO2Max – 105% > 120% of FTP – (271 – 310W)

Zone 6 – Anaerobic – 120% > 150% of FTP – (310 – 388W)

Zone 7 – Neuromuscular – >150% of FTP – (388W or above)





A ride of Three Halves…

Yeah, Okay – I’m normally better at maths than the headline implies – it’s called mis-quoting for comic effect.

Though, it’s also a fair description of todays ride.   I decided to just have a “tempo” roll around on the local TT course, and in the process log a warmup ride, a course for the TT and a warmdown ride, which I can use on the Tacx Bushido when the weather comes down…

I set my stall out to basically ride the loop in “evens” – i.e. 30 minutes for a 10 mile TT – just so it was easy to scale to different speeds etc. on the Bushido.   I wasn’t counting on the 20+mph headwind on the final hill knocking the stuffing out of me, and i’ve ended up with 30:44 instead.


Anyway – here’s the Strava stuff for it

WarmupTime Trial CourseCooldown

Nearly 2 Years in, and time to Assess and Re-Target

Well, after a pretty successful first 23 months, I decided it was time to start planning the next stage of my journey down this road to fitness.

First step co-incidedwith a trip to the Nutrition/Dietician’s clinic – and commenced, as I’m now getting used to, with a Dexa scan, and a quick sit in the Bodpod.   After a quick jump on the scales, I was allowed to dress properly again, and we sat down for a proper look at where I was, and where to go…

Basically, the first 18 months were there to get me to a weight where was no longer killing myself…   Since Christmas 2012, I’ve basically been re-grouping, and slowing down on the weight loss, allowing the loose skin to catch up with the rest of my body, and – in the words of my Physio “Working on the Engine, Rather than the Bodywork” –

So, in the first 18 months, I lost 72.3kg.  In the ensuing 5 months, I’ve lost the grand total of 1.2kg.   I also lost my Dad, which has obviously meant that frankly I’ve not been exactly focussed on diet and training in the same way.   However, it’s not been a complete bust – the tape measure and body fat calipers say that I’ve probably lost nearer 6kg of fat, or at least re-assigned it as muscle!   I’ve also dropped 5cm around the chest and 4cm at the waist, so at least 1 shirt size (even in Castelli/Santini sizing!!)

Anyway, I’ve come back with a new set of goals and working targets.

  1. First of all, my initial “guessed target” for weight of 15st (210lb, 95kg) which, in fairness was a complete shot in the dark – as in “if I can get back to 2 stone heavier than when I was riding seriously, i’ll be happy” has been re-assessed in the light of the result of my latest Dexa scan.   And – allowing for everything else, we’ve come up with an Ideal target of 14st (196lb, 88.5kg) – which if I more or less maintain current muscle mass puts me nicely into single figure body fat%.   So, my ticker has changed to reflect the new final, final goal.
  2. Also, my overall activity levels have changed, as I’m no longer spending hours sitting, spending time with my Dad.   Instead, i’m either working around the house or out for a walk, or such like.    So, I’ve upped my activity setting in the diet/fitness profile.
  3. And third, because I’ve been complaining that it’s taking me longer to recover from rides and so forth, I’ve been recommended to increase the % of calories from protiens,whilst keeping at least 50% of energy from carbs, and reducing fats to take up the slack – I’ve been recommended to shoot for between 1.4/1.6g of protein per Kg of LEAN body weight per day, to ensure enough “building blocks” are still there to help me recover from back-to-back rides etc…

Now all I need to do is to get back into the training groove – frankly, i’m still finding it a little difficult to focus on targetted riding – I’ll be going along nicely, and then something completely unrelated regarding what I’m going to do in the future will pop-up and I just loose sight of the whole session 😦

End of Year Willy Waving Post

No apologies for this bit of gratuitous showing off…   It’s the last day of the year, the bikes away until next year, and all my rides have been logged, recorded, analysed and generally obsessed over far more than is truly healthy to even contemplate.

At the start of the year, I set out to ride a minimum of 5,000km in the year.   It’s fair to say I’ve surpassed the targets somewhat.

Garmin Goals 2012-3 Garmin Goals 2012-1 Garmin Goals 2012-2

So, there we are – only goal I’d set for myself that I failed to hit was to get below 17st before Christmas.   Sadly, I missed this target by 0.3lb, and after the seasonal excesses I’m probably  nearer 10lb over it!

FTP Test ? what the F*** is a FTP Test…

Painful – that’s what it is…

Sadly, it’s also something of a necessity if you’re trying to Train on a bike using a Power Meter.    There’s a really good description of what it is, and how it can be used as a measure of how your training is progressing here – I’ve been back on the bike properly for around 14 months now, and after the first 3 months, my Physio made me undergo one of these tests every 2 months, just to measure, quantify and justify to me exactly WHY I was doing all those stupid exercises, drills, and endless miles at base-level heart rate…   And do you know something – he was right – and you could see and measure a definite improvement.

Now, this summer, we worked out a slightly upgraded training scheme, that saw me riding quite a bit harder, faster and further – after getting a good “base level” of fitness, spending some time “tuning the engine” was how he put it.

This section of the training scheme is pretty much complete now, and it was time to mark the end of the plan with another “benchmark”.    Hence, my requirements to perform a FTP test.    Now, due to certain logistical problems, for the next 6 months or so, I’ll be unable to actually get to visit my Physio/Trainer (problems not entirely unrelated to the fact that he’s going to be in the southern hemisphere, and I’m not!) so he’s given me a FTP test protocol based on a modified version of the one in the wonderful Book by Coggan and Allen – Training and Racing with a Power Meter.

The Test protocol is pretty much as follows…


  • 20 minutes at endurance pace
  • 3×1 minute Fast pedalling (100 cadence) with 1 minute recovery pace between
  • 5 minutes easy riding

Main Test Set

  • 5 minutes All-Out Effort
  • 10 minutes easy riding
  • 30 minutes simulated time trial pace


  • 10-15 minutes easy spinning

I performed this test using a Tacx Bushido, which had been ridden for 10 minutes to warm up the bearings etc. then calibrated to 11.5 and the power output matched to a Powertap rear wheel using the “scale factor” option.   This in theory should mean that as long as I calibrate the Bushido to the same figure each time, the power should be to all intents and purposes the same as a reading from a powertap wheel.   The Bushido is connected to a Laptop computer which records and displays the training, saving a full analysis file to disk (providing the software doesn’t crash like it did last time I used it!)   This analysis can be exported as a .HRM file, and via Sportstracks3 and a couple of clever plug-in’s turned into a garmin compatible .TCX file ready to export to my online training diary kept within Garmin Connect.

The Analysis

While I use Garmin Connect for an Online training diary, being of a paranoid nature, I always like a couple of options – belt, braces, bit of string etc.   So,  I have 2 separate logging systems on my PC – one is the aforementioned Sportstracks3, which I have to say is a brilliant bit of software, and the other is an alltogether more specialised beast – Goldencheetah – which pretty much majors on power analysis.

With this in mind, I dragged the .HRM file into Goldencheetah, and used the helpful “Ride > Find Best Intervals” option to find the best 20 minute interval in the ride.   This gave an interval with average power of 191Watts   A simple approximation of FTP can be made by deducting 5% from this – i.e. 191 * 0.95 = 181.45 or rounded up to 182 for simplicity (bearing in mind that even the best powermeters are +- 2% we’re not going to quibble about 0.55 watts!)

The other part of the test (the 5 minutes eyaballs-out effort) is designed to assess what power you’re producing at VO2max – i.e., the Max. Heart Rate and Power at the end of this 5 minute thrash SHOULD be your Aerobic Threshold Power and Heart Rate.   I have to hold my hands up here, and admit that I didn’t actually “give it the beans” here, as I’d already been out for a 45 minute road-ride earlier in the day, and was worried that I’d tie up in the actual FTP test section.

Anyway – there we are – FTP’s up from 163 in Early May, 10% better – more importantly, the real measure being power/weight ratio – early may ‘s power/weight ratio was 166w/121.8kg – 1.3629w/kg, and we’re now standing at 182/110.4 – or 1.6486w/kg.   Still pretty pathetic figures, but hey – I’m not exactly elite athlete material here – this time last year I could barely ride 15 miles without needing half a hour of “quiet time” before I could hold a conversation…