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Definitely lost some fitness over my 2 week holiday

Thursday, January 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

Yesterday's workout ("Donner") on TrainerRoad.

Yesterday’s workout (“Donner”) on TrainerRoad.

While I was on vacation I remained somewhat active (I rode about 100 miles), but nowhere near my normal level of activity. Additionally, I temporary suspended the structured cycling training program I’m following on TrainerRoad.

So yesterday I picked up where I left off with the training program, and that was the “Donner” workout on TrainerRoad (complete workout with data can be found here). This is a tough workout: it includes 3×12 minute intervals right at Functional Threshold Power (mine is currently 288). Also, most of the working intervals are spent in the aero position, which adds to the difficulty of maintaining high power.

By the way, if you’re not familiar with terms like “FTP”, you might want to check out my article “Coggan’s Power-Based Training”.

Yesterday’s workout is the very first one in which I failed to meet my wattage targets. About 3/4 of the way into the second interval I hit a wall. After I finished the 2nd interval I wanted to quit, but I decided to complete the workout and do my very best. You can see that during the 3rd interval I kept trying to get my wattage up, and my body simply was not able to respond. It was pretty demoralizing and frustrating, but I’m glad I didn’t quit. I will probably have to temporarily reduce my FTP by 5% or so while I work my way back to where I was.

When I posted this workout to Facebook yesterday, Nate Pearson (one of the two founders/designers of TrainerRoad) commented and mentioned how high my heart rate was. These intervals are not easy, but Nate was right: my heart rate shouldn’t have been as high as it was yesterday when riding at my FTP. When I hit the “wall” in the 2nd interval my heart rate was 190 BPM. In fact, 57.8% of the workout my heart rate was in the VO2 Max zone (175 BPM or higher). In other words, I was really hurting!

Nate also correctly pointed out that if I were doing my training based purely on heart rate, the reduction in my fitness level would not have been observable. That’s 100% spot-on: the total fitness picture can only be seen when juxtaposing power data with heart rate data. The power data along with my heart rate data clearly shows that my level of fitness has declined as a result of my break from structured training.

My take-away from this experience? No more 2-week breaks from structured training! I think a week off from cycling training (while still riding and remaining active) is fine, but two weeks does more harm than good.

Finally, yesterday I was not feeling very well. This may have played some part in my performance. In fact, I was really feeling like crap yesterday evening, and I went to bed very early. I’m still not feeling great this morning, which sucks. The 62-mile mountain biking “Tour De Felasco” event is planned for this weekend, and that would be a difficult ride even at 100% health. I really hope I’m not getting sick, the flu is everywhere right now. 🙁

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