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Record-breaking training ride under less than ideal circumstances

Monday, October 19, 2015 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


Listening to your body is almost always a good idea. Occasionally, though, it’s appropriate to tell that inner-voice to kindly STFU. Case in point: yesterday’s breakthrough training ride.

On paper yesterday looked to be about the worst day to attempt a hard training ride. I’ll set the stage…

  • On Friday and Saturday I did fairly hard rides. Friday’s ride was my usual “Weekend Warm-up” ride: 45 miles, 02h:00m, 251 NP (Normalized Power) and 136 TSS (Training Stress Score). Saturday’s ride was 64 miles, 03h:01m, 245 NP and 195 TSS. Friday’s ride, with a 136 TSS, was fairly intense, but short enough that 24 hours was enough recovery time. Saturday’s ride was an hour longer than Friday’s ride, had almost the same NP as Friday’s ride, and a higher TSS. A 195 TSS usually takes about 36-48 hours for a complete recovery.
  • I slept poorly on Friday night and Saturday night. I got about 6 hours of broken sleep on Friday night. On Saturday night I slept soundly until 2:30 AM, and then woke up. I tossed and turned until 3:30 AM, at which point I gave up and got out of bed, giving me a grand total of 5.5 hours of sleep.
  • On Saturday and Sunday we had family staying with us, and we all went out to eat on Saturday for a celebration. I had my first real splurge meal in six weeks on Saturday, and also my first taste of alcohol in six weeks. I had a gigantic (and strong) margarita; predictably, it knocked me on my ass.
  • I’m at the end of a cut and have been a caloric deficit for six weeks. My scale weight is down more than 15 pounds.

      So I woke up on Sunday morning (again, at 2:30 AM), feeling like death warmed over. I had a terrible headache, I was tired and I was aching all over. Hangover.

      My original plan for Sunday morning was to do a hard 50 mile solo training ride. What I really felt like doing–what I almost did–was crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.

      I decided that I was going to go ahead with my planned ride, and was going to do my best to hammer the hangover into submission. I figured if I puked or passed out, then at least I’d have a great story.

      When I set off on my ride my head was thundering, and I could tell that my legs were fatigued. I thought, “You know what? I’m just going to do a 20 mile recovery ride. I’m in no shape for a hard ride this morning.”

      I continued to ride my planned 50 mile route anyway, and as I warmed-up my headache began to subside.

      “Hrm… I’m not feeling great, but at least I don’t feel like I’m dying now. Screw it, I’m in for the 50 miles.”

      I began to lift the pace, and decided to do a little clearing effort: 1.5 miles at about 370 watts.

      “Damn, that felt pretty good!”

      I further increased my rolling speed and power, and I realized that my headache was now gone. The cool air was invigorating, the music was motivating and I realized that I was enjoying the ride. 🙂

      A little past the halfway point of the ride I had a few segments in mind for hard intervals. By the time I got to those sections I was feeling really good, and I couldn’t believe it!

      The first interval was a 3.1 mile segment with an uphill finish. I completed that segment in 7m:01s, and set a new 7-minute wattage PR of 349 watts. I was surprised to find that I also set a new 8-minute power PR of 343 watts.

      Here’s a look at the ride data, with the 8-minute PR highlighted in blue (click to enlarge):

      New 8-minute power PR of 343 watts (highlighted in blue). As you can see, the first minute of that 8 minutes I was not even going hard, then I went a little too hard (360-365 watts). I suspect I could ride 350+ with a purposeful sustained 8-minute effort.

      New 8-minute power PR of 343 watts (highlighted in blue). As you can see, the first minute of that 8 minutes I was not even going hard, then I went a little too hard (360-365 watts). I suspect I could ride 350+ with a purposeful sustained 8-minute effort.


      The reason this new 8-minute PR was so surprising is because, as you can see above, the first minute of that interval was spent slowly building up my watts, and so this was not a true 8-minute FTP test effort. If I’d done a more sustained and focused 8-minute effort, I have no doubt I would have been able to ride 350+ watts there. Another cool thing is this was done in the middle of a fast 50 mile training ride, and was not just a comparatively short 2×8-minute FTP test.

      The simple formula for the 8-minute FTP test is this:

      FTP = (A + B) / 2 * .90

      … where A is first 8 minute interval and B is the second 8-minute interval.

      Even though this wasn’t a formal FTP test (especially because this effort was part of a larger ride, I was tired, my legs were aching I didn’t even go all out for the single 8 minute test), I think it’s safe to assume that my FTP is at least 309 now (343 * .90 = 308.7). There’s no doubt that I could have ridden another 8-minute interval at, or higher, than 343 watts yesterday (in fact, I almost did on a subsequent effort without even really attempting it). I’m planning to do a formal FTP test very soon when I’m fresh and eating at maintenance again.

      On that note, what’s especially exciting is that my scale weight is down more than 15 pounds over the past 6 weeks, and I’m not even at full strength since I’ve been eating under maintenance.

      When I rolled out yesterday morning I felt like I didn’t have the energy to make a cup of coffee, and I wound up turning in a very strong performance: 51 miles, 02h:21m, 269 NP (Normalized Power) and 178 TSS (Training Stress Score).

      269 watts NP for almost 2.5 hours is (possibly–I’ll have to check), also a new PR for me.

      Here’s a summary of the ride data (click to enlarge). You can also check out the full ride on Strava, if you like.

      Unexpected results!

      Unexpected results!

John Stone Fitness Comments

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