Saturday, February 17, 2007

Tough Love

Aaahhhh, aahhhh, Andre……. is the song going round in my head every time I look at my training programme and see more L7* work in the schedule.

OK, it's been a few weeks since I last posted – so what's been going down?
Well I'm deep into race preparation period, that's what! Races are coming up soon – early-March for State Masters Track Championships and end-March for the Nationals in Melbourne.

So how does it look from a Performance Manager viewpoint?
Well here's an updated Performance Manager chart (PMC). Click/right click to see a larger version:

Last time I posted my PMC was on December 7, 2006. At that time I had completed my early season build phase and had then eased back a little and enjoyed some good form at race carnivals. Good results at the Gosford Track open, the Brindabella crit and the Pudding Race, including some personal best power outputs were some highlights. Of course this was a chance for my body to regroup after a 3.5 month build phase and to enable a transition to the next phase of training, in which the intensity would start to step up a notch.

A solid block of training over the Christmas / New Year time period followed, providing a final build of CTL which reached a maximum of 98 TSS/day on 7 January. The focus during this period was on solid chunks of work in and around the "Sweet Spot" (i.e. lots of time from the lower end of L3 (tempo) through to higher end L4 (Funtional Threshold Power) work - the link takes you to an article by Frank Overton on the concept).

Sweet spot training is pretty useful as it enables maximum gains in your Chronic Training Load (CTL), perhaps the best "CTL bang for buck" in terms of the intensity/duration mix and is a great way to boost your Functional Threshold Power to boot.

After that phase, training stepped up a notch in
terms of intensity but this has a trade off in terms of overall volume. Accordingly, you will see that CTL has pretty well been bouncing around in the 90's over the last month.

This is where the importance of the composition of the training load needs to be highlighted as much as the overall training load itself.

Lifting CTL is fine but it only gives you an understanding of the bigger picture. Unless training is composed of the right elements to elicit the physiological adaptations required for your target event(s), then relying solely on lifting CTL may result in sub-optimal performance. As training moves towards higher intensities (L5+), it may be unrealistic to expect CTL to continue to rise, particularly when you are time limited. It can be done but it is a very tough ask and likely requires an athlete to develop the capacity to cope with such a load. Good recovery is vital.

Keep in mind that I had never trained for any duration prior to this season with a CTL > 90 TSS/day.

In this final race preparation phase, we are emphasising the need to develop the higher end of the engine and hence incorporate plenty of L5, L6 and L7 efforts, either through structured intervals or via track racing.

Examples include: thumping it over shorter hills during tempo rides, structured L5 intervals such as 5-7 x 4 minutes L5 efforts on the pursuit bike, several sets of 4 x 30 second L6/7 efforts and track racing. The mix of all these varies through this phase.

So that's where I'm at. I have another few weeks of the hard stuff before tapering prior to the Nationals – I won't have much of a let up before the States.

Aaahhhh, aahhhh, Andre !!

* For those wondering, L7 is an American (?) hard rock band which had a bit of a hit here in Oz with their song "Andre" – made it onto JJJ's Hottest 100 album in 1994 or 95 I think.


Anonymous said...

Impressive stuff, as always, Alex. I don't know how long you've been riding/racing in total, or how long you've been using a power meter, but the fact that [I think?] you're seeing your highest FTP at this point in your life is quite impressive. And I'm sure there's more performance to be squeezed out, at that. ;)

I post as 'bullseye_blam' on the cycling forums, and just wanted to drop you a note. I read your blog and appreciate your posts.