Power output PR dry spell is over
I’ve been going through a bit of a plateau with regards to power output personal records. Up until a few months ago I was setting at least one power output PR every month, and almost always several of them.
This is what the past 5 months have looked like:
Power Output Personal Records
May 2015: 1
June 2015: 0
July 2015: 1
August 2015: 0
September 2015: 0
The power output PR in July was just my peak (1 second) output, and barely counts. That’s basically 4 straight months of stagnation in the power PR department.
I very rarely set out to specifically break my power PRs: they almost always occur naturally whenever I decide to go extra hard (FTP test, attacking a Strava segment, hammering a hill, interval work, group ride shenanigans, etc). Apart from an FTP test (I have not done one of those in a while, more on that below), there were plenty of the aforementioned opportunities during my dry spell, I just wasn’t able to deliver. I should note that I came within a few watts of several records during this time, but I never quite got over the hump.
The sad thing is that my weight crept up during the summer and early fall (from the low 160s all the way to the upper 170s), and so the lack of power PRs was a double insult. Power down and weight up is pretty much the exact opposite of what a cyclist wants. 🙁
So at the beginning of September I decided to embark on a formal cut and get my fat ass back down to race weight. For seven weeks I ate very clean, and abstained from all alcohol. My diet and training were under the spotlight during that entire time, and I made those things high priories in my life.
Seven weeks later I was back down to 162.4 pounds, and feeling stronger on the bike than I have in months. Gaining power and strength while losing weight is pretty much exactly what a cyclist wants. 🙂
Even though I spent September and most of October eating under maintenance (and am lighter than I’ve been most of the year), I still managed to set a total of SIX new power PRs so far this month: 7 minute, 8 minute, 30 minute, 45 minute 60 minute and 4.5 hours (my power output PRs can always be found here).
I set the 30, 45 and 60 minute power PRs yesterday. The cool thing is that I was going hard, but not as hard as I could go. In fact, the workout was a negative interval exercise (doing the second half harder than the first half), so I had a lot more in the tank. Another interesting facet of my performance yesterday is that it came just one recovery ride apart from Sunday’s tough (and record-breaking) Horse Farm Hundred. I could still feel Sunday’s ride in my legs–I was not fresh.
So what the hell is going on? How am I breaking power output personal records so soon after a 7 week cut–and 17 pounds lighter?
It’s got to be the clean diet, no question in my mind. I also believe that abstaining from alcoholic beverages during my cut made a massive impact.
I’m going to discuss my maintenance plan in more detail, probably tomorrow, but I can tell you all right now that alcohol consumption and cheat meals will be a once per week thing, at most.
I’m planning to do a true 20-minute FTP test very soon. My current FTP is 309 (4.20 w/kg), but that FTP number was based off an 8-minute effort this month (343 watts) and is probably not accurate. As good as I’m feeling right now, I think If I’m well rested I will be able to put out around ~335 watts for 20 minutes (20 minute w/kg of 4.55 – chart).
A 20 minute effort at 335 watts would put my FTP at 318 (4.32 FTP/kg) which would be a personal best FTP/kg for me.