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Monday, April 19, 2010

Rediscovering your top end.

Typically, early in the year, it is common to hear cyclists say "I need to work on my top end" or "Im just starting my top end work." Essentially this refers to the type of efforts found in sprints, hill climbs, gap bridging etc. In other words, race type efforts.

Most training plans will emphasize January and February as being your 'base training' months. Base training is low intensity aerobic work with the goal of teaching your body to get used to a moderate workload for an extended period of time. Its strenuous enough to induce improved vascular development, while not laboring enough to induce strain or injury.

Come March, Moderate-high intensity work is generally done. Towards the end of March race type training efforts become important. It is here that the major increases in race speed happen. Assuming a good base has been developed, the higher intensity efforts should yield big improvements.

Its been about 3-4 weeks since Ive started my high intensity training, and so far the results have been positive. My race 'form' is coming along nicely and while I dont have last years numbers to look at, recent improvements suggest things are working well.

One of the routes I take from Mississauga to Guelph includes a nice stretch of rollers and flats that I use for threshold work and to benchmark myself on high intensity stuff.


On this route I typically attack the rollers which range anywhere from about 10s to 45s. However, Id usually find myself struggling to crest them with the same intensity that I start them out with. However today was different. Legs didnt hurt at all (maybe a little soreness from PtoA) and I didnt feel like I was on the cusp of a heart attack.

Heres a good idea of what im talking about.



Typically in the past I've relied on my heart and soul to tell me if Im going faster up the hills. Well.. no more. With the introduction of the Powertap in my life, training is now a soul less formula with massive results. That being said, I felt awesome today cresting most of the hills with relative ease. So I was curious to compare this section from the last time I rode there.

The following are my WKO+ calculated 'max watts' numbers for this route on April 1st.

5 sec - 804w
10sec - 673w
20sec - 548w
30sec - 499w
1min - 404w

These are the numbers from today.

5 sec - 870w (+66w)
10sec - 803w (+130w)
20sec - 629w (+81w)
30sec - 546w (+47w)
1min - 401w (-3w)

Nice improvement! The most important figure in that set is 10s and 20s power improvements. These more or less define the rollers Ive been riding on. Short quick bursts of power.

I hadn't really planned on making this a training ride, since I had raced the day before.. but I felt ok.. so I went for it... I wonder if I could have done better if I was rested... hmmm... lets not go there.

I have to commute back to work tomorrow morning, I feel good now, and would love to hammer, but I think im gonna try and take it easy since I want to do another set of 2.5min intervals on Wednesday.

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