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Build 2 - Week 3: Building on strong foundations

The initial plan for this week was to continue building on the work that had been undertaken in the first two weeks of the build, but reduce the overall training stress a little to bring the fatigue down. Part of this was achieved by reducing the usual 4 strength workouts down to 2 this week (it's been a while since I've de-loaded a bit in that area, so this made sense, and would please my shoulders a bit too!). The other way this would be achieved was by taking two complete days off the bike (Monday and Friday). The initial target was to reduce TSS down to around 800 this week (c.f. 1000 & 1050 in the first two weeks respectively), although this ended up being a little higher after the weekend (for reasons we'll get into later!).


The coach scheduled three dedicated interval sessions for this week. One testing 20 minute power repeatability (around threshold), another 7 minute power repeatability (threshold/VO2 max boundary), and the last 2 & 3 minute VO2max repeats.


Tuesday

Having completed a workout with one 20 minute interval of this type last summer, I knew what I was in for with this session (double trouble!). I find this session very clever, and mentally pretty valuable for progression.


The 20 minute segments are broken down as follows:-

2.00 @ 110%

5.00 @ 100%

3.00 @ 93%

2.00 @ 110%

8.00 @ 90%


The beauty of this session, is that you really feel the recovery when dropping down through the power zones. Naturally, the second 2 minute segment at 110% FTP coming after 10 minutes of effort is the toughest, but psychologically (and physically), once you're through that one, the remaining 8 mins at 90% FTP feels really manageable.


My plan for each of these segments was to complete as much of it seated as possible, and really work the strength aspect. I did this, knowing that I could then "reward" myself with a couple of minutes of out of the saddle work on the 2nd 110% FTP segment as a little respite.


I managed to execute this plan well, and completed the first segment in decent fashion. The second segment was marginally tougher with the additional fatigue in the legs from the first effort, however, I was also now fully warmed up, so I think that helped contain the rate of perceived exertion (RPE). I was feeling very solid by the last few minutes of the second interval, so eked out a little more power to finish things off strongly. The session was rounded out with a nice bit of mid z2 and a solid start to the week (something I don't take for granted after rest days!).

Wednesday

As regular readers know, Wednesday being my non working day of the week typically sees a more endurance focused ride. In the interests of keeping the TSS a bit lower this week though (and with a few things to get done over the rest of the day), I elected to just get a few hours of endurance work done with Bowie Brevet. The pace of the partner bots has been down a little this week (as they erroneously no longer benefit from other riders draft), but this just helped keep the TSS and RPE a bit lower, so all good there. Not much else to report here.

Thursday

Today's session saw 7 minute efforts right around top end threshold / lower VO2max. This gave me another chance to see how well I could execute higher power efforts in the saddle and allow the larger glutes to dominate (instead of relying on the quads as we often do at higher powers in the VO2max/Anaerobic echelons). I completed this first two intervals seated, and was quite happy with how I felt. RPE was around 8.5, so these were far from easy, but breathing was controlled, and I felt like I was recruiting the right muscles and keeping a strong position on the bike.


I elected to stand for the majority of the third interval (with the idea of "mixing things up" a little, and giving the backside a rest after around 1.5 hours in the saddle). This interval went well, and I was quite pleased with how the RPE was a little lower out of the saddle (despite the increased exertion of the upper body).


Having completed the third interval though, the fourth started somewhat poorly, and my quads were feeling the efforts of the first few intervals. I held on for a minute or so of the effort, but then elected to back off the power a little and held around 97% FTP (compared to 105% FTP previously). I did finish the interval strongly and increased the power a touch towards the end after the recovery. It's always a little disappointing to not quite finish all the intervals at the desired intensity, but I think this was a reasonable call given how the legs felt at the time, and we live to fight another day!

Saturday

Rather than complete the structured 2 and 3 minute repeats in a structured fashion today, I decided to defer those until Sunday (where I planned to join the RCCMCR club ride which had some short, punchy, and even cobbled climbs where I was likely going to be doing above threshold efforts just to get over the climbs anyway). With that in mind (and coming off a rest day on Friday) I decided to get some more endurance work in, with some tempo blocks, and continue the work which has been done on fatigue resistance. Rather than doing this in a structured workout, I noticed the Zwift NL event on the companion app, which was taking in 2 laps of Innsbruck's Achterbahn route. This route would take in 4 ascents of the main mountain climb. This would be a perfect playground for 4 tempo efforts around upper tempo.


I rode the first two climbs (the reverse and forward KoMs) averaging 268W and 275W respectively (4.10W/kg & 4.25W/kg). With all the work which has been completed at fatigued tempo, these efforts felt very comfortable (around RPE 6.5). Naturally, a few riders were racing the event full gas up the road, but I was interested to see how many I would catch on the later climbs if I maintained the same pace.


As the legs were feeling solid, I decided I would supplement the tempo blocks with 2 x 1 minute anaerobic efforts up the "Leg Snapper" climb (again, as a little test of fatigue resistance). Not maximal efforts, but solid was the plan. The first leg snapper ascent was completed with an effort of 450W for a minute, which was a solid enough start.


On the third climb I was still feeling very good, and saw myself reeling in a group of 4 riders up the road at a pretty good rate (I was averaging around (0.3-0.4W/kg more than them on average). Around two thirds of the way up the reverse KoM I caught this group, and rode to the top with them (average for that climb was 284W - 4.35W/kg). As a group we rolled around the rest of the lap at mid zone 2 (as I had planned) and soon enough approached ascent #4 (the second time up the forward KoM). The energy levels, and my legs were feeling very solid still, so I decided that whatever these guys were up to, I was going to ride around top end tempo for the final climb. As it turned out, averaging 280W pretty much saw me leading this group up the final mountain ascent, and we descended into Innsbruck together (albeit having dropped one of the riders on the way).


As planned, I was going to undertake another anaerobic effort up the leg snapper to see what I had left after the prior work. I was pleased to find that I was able to average around 430W fairly comfortably, and this bagged me a 10s gap over my 4 compatriots with 3km of the (cough cough) group ride to go. Although I had undertaken the structured intervals I wanted to, I decided that it would be nice to see if I could beat these four to the line (not least of all having dragged them up the final mountain ascent). I held threshold for a couple of minutes after the leg snapper to see how quickly the four of them caught me on the flats, and as expected, they caught with around 1km to go. Clearly I had to see if I had one last anaerobic effort in me and exercise my sprint...


I'm pleased to report this went well, not a herculean sprint by any stretch of the imagination, but 9.5W/kg for 15s after nearly 3 hours of efforts was sufficient to get the job done and added a little red to an otherwise blue, green and yellow timeline!

I rounded the ride out with 30 minutes at mid z2 and a 5 minute cooldown for a solid 3.5 hour session, the power zone data for which can be seen below.


Sunday

The RCCMCR club ride had a very "stabby" mid section to its profile this week (as is often the case when Lee "Lupo" Jackson is leading. We would take in a number of climbs with sections over 15-20%, and at least one with a couple of cobbled sectors.

With the exception of the lead in to and out of Manchester the rest of the ride took place in the hills to the North East of Manchester. Heading out towards Huddersfield, as far north as Hebden Bridge and then winding our way back towards the city centre again.

Having only got around 6 hours of sleep overnight (compared to a typical 8) I wasn't feeling completely rested from the day before, so decided that any efforts on the climbs, would be the early ones. This ended up being the first proper climb (after around 30km for me) and was a new one to me. I didn't go all out from the bottom as I was assured that it would get rather steep in the middle section (which it duly did). There was also a flatter section at the top for around a km which would be hard to keep high power on, so it was all about what I could do in that middle section really.

I certainly could have gone a bit deeper on this climb in all honesty, but with over 100km to go and plenty of climbing, putting in a "solid" effort, was probably adequate. As it turned out, it was good enough for a top 20 placing on the climb of all time, and fastest this calendar year, so not a bad nudge. *Ignore the HR on the Strava data below, my heart rate strap has been defective for a while now and I'm awaiting a replacement from Wahoo


The rest of the climbs for the day were largely ridden on feel and not proper efforts (although with the steepness of some of them, there was still a good amount of threshold work completed for the day).


As is typically the case for such an undulating ride, there was plenty of time in z1 and below descending (and some technical descents amongst that it has to be said!), but also plenty of time above z2, so pretty much the polar opposite of the power zone data of last weeks outdoor ride today.

Summary

So we find ourselves at the end of another training week (they really are flying by). The total training stress was a little less than the first two weeks of the build this week (as planned), though still a solid amount of work done I think most will agree.

With 3 weeks until The Struggle Dales event, I have another 3 week plan in place with the coach (which will be similar in structure to the last two 3 week builds), but will have a little more of an intensity taper in the final week as we get to the last few days before the event anyway.


Next week has a good amount of time spent at threshold, and some surges/sprints within those, so much to look forward to there as we continue to build the comfort for increasing durations at ever higher powers.


A Bank Holiday recovery day awaits tomorrow, where I have a new desk to put together (you know you're approaching 40 years old when bank holidays are this exciting... :) ). Until next time, have a great week, enjoy your training, and... Ride On!

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