This week has been week five following the British Cycling 8 week pre-season training plan.
In a Nutshell
This week was a return to tough sessions after a rest week. A pub night meant doing turbo sessions two days in a row which is never ideal. However, this was the first week that I have really felt that I am improving, which was a great confidence boost.
Feeling An Improvement
A friend reminded me on the Tuesday that I was supposed to be on a pub night with some other mums on the Thursday night and this slightly messed with the structure of the week. Had I remembered sooner, I would have shifted my sessions to Monday and Wednesday. Having not done so, I was left with the option of skipping one of the sessions or doing them on consecutive days.
I reckoned that the best plan would be to try two nights in a row and back off the second session if I had to.
In fact, both sessions went better than I had expected.
In week three I completed this session, but I struggled. This week I felt decidedly stronger.
The session asks for power zone five for the 5 minute efforts, with a harder effort in the last minute. For me, power zone 5 is 329-376W (the actual numbers are not that important as my power meter is consistent, but quite probably inaccurate). As I started the first effort, I realised that I felt pretty strong. I like to have a specific aim, and the difference in effort from 329W to 376W is quite large. It gives me the justification to sit at 329W for 4 minutes then anything above that for 1 minute.
Since I was feeling good, I decided to give myself a more definite aim. So I aimed to keep my power above 350W for 4 minutes, then above 370W for the final minute. I was pleased to fine that, while this was tough, I could manage it. So far so good, but there were five of these efforts to do. I was beyond pleased to find that I managed to keep up the same power levels for all five efforts on the first night.
Repeating the session the following night, I set the same aims and managed to hit my targets for three of the five efforts. The final two were not so good, but I was still within zone 5 throughout.
It was great to find that I was improving and feeling stronger. Here’s hoping that continues!
Looked Tough, Was Tough…But Wasn’t as Tough as the Last Time
Saturday’s bonus session was anaerobic capacity efforts. Again, I last did this session in week 3. The dreaded zone 6.
It was never going to be an easy session, but I was really pleased to again feel like it was not as tough as the last time I did it. I still had jelly legs by the end of it but I could complete each interval without feeling like I was about to implode.
This was great because it reassured me that I am improving and maybe I will actually manage to lay the year of dnf’s to rest this year. But then it made me start to fret that maybe I am not trying hard enough. That I will not be as good as I could be come race day because I didn’t try as hard as I could have when I was training.
I suppose that is the thing about trying a training plan that you have not used before. You have very little idea what the result is likely to be until you race….and by that time there is not much you can do about it. If the plan doesn’t work then eight weeks have passed and you can’t start again.
On The Road
Following week four’s revelation that my bike handling skills are not what they could be following a winter on a turbo, I found the time to get our for two hours on Sunday. I have no idea how the weather seemed so calm at a country park with the kids in the morning only for it to be a howling headwind heading out on the bike. Worse than that was that I planned my route for the best chance of a good fast stretch with a tailwind on the way home…only to find that the whole of this section had snow and ice on the road! Cue crawling along even slower than into the tailwind.
Still, I suppose it was a good opportunity to practise my bike handling after all!