Training Progress – March to mid-April

A bit late for the March training update so we’ll make it cover the first half of April also. The past 6 weeks have been a bit frustrating from a cycling perspective. I had a vacation week in March but due to bad weather and travel I spent very little of it on the bike. I also felt very fatigued and had started to struggle to complete the high intensity portions of the planned workouts. So, I took some more rest days in the hope that things would sort themselves out. In general I’m finding that it is easier to hit the power targets when doing workouts earlier in the day rather than in the evening after work. Perhaps the increased stress of work is leaving nothing for  cycling?

On a more positive note, the brighter evenings and improving weather certainly makes it easier to get some outside spins. With about 12 weeks to go to the Etape, I’ve started some long spins with a 152km spin with 1600 meters of climing around the Clare coastline yesterday. My aim is to complete 6 spins of this distance in the 12 weeks leading up the Etape. I consciously stayed in Z1/Z2 for the entire spin except for the climbing which was in Z4. Although feeling somewhat fatigued for the first few hours, I was completed the spin without too much difficulty and was pleased to still find some power in my legs over the last climb.

So, base plan is complete. Starting the build plan now.

Training Progress – February

Another month has passed and one month closer to L’Etape. February’s training was good and had more variety than the earlier weeks of the winter training plan. The highlight had to be the Tour of Sufferlandria which was 11 Sufferfest videos spread over 9 consecutive days. Although the intensity of most of the workouts (10/11) was high, I felt myself getting stronger as the tour progressed and I was able to hit or exceed the power targets for each video. This was a nice confidence booster.

Following a recovery week after the TOS, I did an FTP test and my FTP has increased by 12% since the beginning of the winter training plan. I suspect that this explains being able to hit the power targets throughout the TOS!

After planning out the months leading up to L’Etape, I’ve decided to extend the base training period until early April. During this time, I will focus on Base 3 training as outlined in Joe Friel’s book, “The Training Bible”. For the individual workouts, I will mix and match between the workouts in the book and the equivalent workouts from the A1 Winter Training plan. Once the Base 3 training is done, it will be time to head into a 10 week build + peak phase leading to the Etape itself.

At the end of January I was worried that I would not be able to find sufficient time to get the required training volume done. Thankfully in February things improved and I was able to hit the training volume targets most weeks. Hopefully this trend will continue through March.

Beyond the fitness improvements, one thing I am noticing is that my mental approach or attitude has changed slightly. The Etape course still scares me and I still have big doubts about my ability to complete it but I feel a sense of gratitude for being able to do the training and to be able to attempt the event. The simple sense of feeling lucky enough to be able to do this is starting to mute the fears and self doubt. This is welcome but unexpected.

Training Progress – January

Its almost the end of January and my training is progressing. I’m still following the winter training plan and getting close to the end of the 12 week block. Unfortunately, I have not been able to hit the prescribed volume for the past 6 weeks or so. It is mainly due to a combination of bad weather at the weekends and not being able to get enough time at the weekends to get a 3+ hour ride in on both Saturdays and Sundays.

Although I have not been able to fully keep up with the plan, I certainly notice an improvement in power. I increased my FTP from 212 to 218 based on hitting 218W for 20 mins on an outdoor ride and I am still able to easily hit the power targets on the plan workouts, including the HIIT intervals. The same for a couple of Sufferfest videos that I’ve thrown in to alleviate the boredom on the turbo.

The plan for the next couple of weeks is to get outside for a 3-4 hour spin this weekend and have somewhat of a low volume week next week followed by the 2016 Tour of Sufferlandria (TOS) between Feb 6th and Feb 14th. After that comes a recovery week and a fitness test so it will be nice to test and see what my FTP will be. After that a final block of base work followed by 10 weeks or so of a build phase.

Given the progress so far with the plan I’m worried that I won’t be able to find sufficient time to do the required volume for the build phase. Without the right level of training, if fear that L’Etape will be really difficult if not impossible to achieve.

Training Update – December 2015

The A1 12 week winter base training program started off to a good start. I was able to stick to the prescribed training routine and was relishing the workouts that contained high intensity intervals as they were a welcome escape from the long (and boring!) Z2 workouts, especially when those Z2 workouts were performed indoors! After the strength training workouts, I could really start to feel the increased strength in my legs during the Z4/Z5 intensity intervals.

After 5 weeks I had to take a 2 week break to go on a work trip. Although I got a number of early morning runs in during the 2 weeks, I came back from the trip feeling very fatigued. I resumed the training plan at week 6 (basically I picked up where I left off) and found the week 6 workouts difficult and I struggled to maintain the intensities for the prescribed durations, especially for the 2x 20 minute Z4 intervals. I’m feeling less fatigued in week 7 but unfortunately with the Christmas break looking I will miss a couple of the longer weekend workouts. Hopefully it will be a good opportunity to rest and I will have more energy for the week 8 workouts and then the final third of the base training plan.

Once the base training plan is complete, I plan on doing the 2016 Tour of Sufferlandria and then starting into the build plan from the guys at A1 coaching.

Winter Base Training – Week 1 Done

I’ve just completed week 1 of the A1 12 week winter training program. This weekend featured some low intensity Z2 rides. I rarely cycle at this low an intensity and I found it a bit of a struggle to stay in the right zone, especially when going uphill. I did feel remarkably fresh after a few hours on the bike though so it is having its desired effect. I just have to keep believing in “you’ve got to go slow to get faster”!

Winter Base Training

To hopefully help setup a decent fitness base, I’m going to follow a structured winter base training plan. I’ve chosen the Winter Training System from A1 Coaching. The training plan is reasonable at €79 and it comes with a lot of supporting content. It covers everything from a detailed 12 week plan, strength workouts, videos, webinars and more. I’m only starting the first week so we will see how it goes, but so far I’m impressed with it.