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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Efficient 2 liter I-4 or Gas Guzzling V-8?

The automotive analogy works excellently to describe the fitness change from last year at this time.

As mentioned previously, I had a metabolic test scheduled for last Thursday. While I dont feel that coughing up coin for these tests is 100% necessary, I like the idea of having a detailed snap shot of my fitness year to year. And well.. hell... i can afford it now.

As a preamble for how the test would turnout, its worthwhile looking at my training for he last few months.

1. I ignored base training on the grounds that I had enough base, and I couldnt justify 2-3 hrs on the trainer any more.

2. I did 6 weeks of Tempo/Endurance training to regain the fitness i lost, post burnout.

3. I followed that up with about 5 weeks of Threshold training, in which I saw massive gains.

This is what January through today looked like in terms of time/zone distribution.



My goals going into the test to hopefully witness the benefits of extended threshold training.

The test was straightforward. By this point Ive done maybe 5 or 6 of these tests and its pretty much routine.

1. Warm up for 10 mins @ 160watts
2. Attach heavy, saline smelling mouth contraption that hardly feels natural.
3. Start at 160 watts, ramp up 30 watts every 3 minutes until you blow up- all while the tester is pricking you with needles for blood samples.

The first 15 minutes are pretty mundane. You just ride, the wattage goes up.. you ride more...

At the 15 minute mark I was at 280watts.. my self predicted threshold. (On a separate note, I compared my PT reading to the lab grade computrainer, and the reading on the pt was 15-20 watts lower than actual..confirming my suspicions of accuracy on the trainer) aT 280 watts I was breathing hard. Then the next stage came - 310 watts, ugggh... Now I was in the hurt zone. Then the next stage..340watts..... then 370 and then... *muffled explosion* done... My cadence plummeted, my legs were twitching and I couldnt see straight. I sat up, pretty much whimpering as the tester took the final blood sample.

I got my results and consultation two days later..

Heres a comparison:



The good:
- Better LT
- Very efficient at the zones ive been training at (see graph)

The Bad:
- Low VO2/ VO2max
- My 'engine' is wasteful, inefficient, and a liability from an endurance standpoint.
- My HR should be a little lower for a given power output.
- Too many donuts.


During the consultation we also looked at blood lactate numbers and metabolic efficiency.

Aside from what was mentioned above, there were some other gaping holes in my fitness.

I shouldnt have underestimated base. My efficiency at low power outputs is poor. I produce far more lactate and burn far too much carbohydrate compared to last year at this time. When I explained my racing plans this year, the coach who did my consult emphasized how imperative it is that I get in some big easy zone 1 miles over the next month and a half. Especially if I plan on having anything left at the 90 minute mark of the OCups.

She also mentioned that as soon as I restore my base...every other zone should respond accordingly and improve in power output and efficiency.

My top end isnt well developed- but i knew that.

This was a good wake up call.. you can't bullshit your base miles if you're gonna be doing 2hr races.


After this we loosely scripted a good plan for the next month and a half.

Itll incorporate one endurance ride on weekends, easy zone 1 commutes into work, interspersed with VO2 and LT intervals on the way back from work. It sounds rudimentary.. one of the first things you learn when formally training is the importance of getting in that 'one endurance ride' ... but I guess I noobed this up.

Come on Aaron, you've been doing this for a decade.. you should know not to skip base.

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