Sunday, December 21, 2008

Swiss Watch

"The body responds like a Swiss watch. You just have to figure out how to wind it." - Dave Harris

OK, alright, I got a complaint about my blog. Like, "you haven't posted anything for ages!". Well it's been twenty days to be precise, but who's counting?

I've just been busy with quite a few things, so I'll try a catch up with this post.

Since my benefit night, training has continued along very nicely. In the first three weeks of December I have accumulated a little over 21 hours of riding and 1457 TSS with an average Intensity Factor of 0.83. That means that those hours, on average, were ridden at a level of exertion of 83% of my estimated 1-hour maximal (threshold) power.

Which is a technical way of saying very little training time has been wasted, and all efforts have been quality. Training has basically been a mixture of core endurance rides, solid tempo efforts, threshold tolerance intervals along with some track sprint work.

Here is a pic of the "thin blue line" to date:

Again, you can see the steady progression of the chronic training load (blue line) indicating the continual progressive increase in load/stress being placed on my body. The leg has been holding up well to the increase in workload and the body is also continuing to adapt. How well is it coping though?

Last week I was scheduled to do some performance tests, one a time trial effort of around 16km (10-miles) and the other a Maximal Aerobic Power (MAP) test. While not a formal test, I have also been doing some sprint work at the track to see how my maximal (neuromuscular) power is going.

First up was my time trial at Centennial Park. Here's the power file chart:

An average power of 287 watts over 26 minutes. So TT power is up 39 watts (nearly 16%) on the test I did on 23 September.

I sometimes surprise even myself. That's 9 watts more than same test/venue (albeit on a cold day) on 8 Aug 2006. I was a few kg lighter back then though. For reference, my best power on that course is 328W (and at a lighter body mass as well).

I followed that up with the MAP test on Friday, riding Thunderbird 7 (my indoor trainer bike). Here's the graph:

My MAP was 385 watts (mean maximal 1-minute power during the test). Yikes! That's up 30W (8.5%) on my last MAP test on 25 September.

What's even scarier is that's only 14W shy of my best ever MAP of 399W (as measured by Powertap on a Computrainer). Allowing for some drivetrain power losses for recording with Powertap vs SRM, that still means my MAP has attained nearly 95% of pre-accident levels. That is pretty remarkable under the circumstances. It's only six months since I put the bike into a home trainer and tried to pedal.

What about my sprints?

Well for a couple of Sundays now I have gone to my local track for some sprint work. I am now getting peak power > 1200W on several occasions. Pre-accident, I would regularly be ~ 1350W and occasionally up to 1400W. So sprint power is not too bad either.

So my body is indeed a Swiss Watch. It seems that coach has worked out how to wind it quite nicely!

Of course one of the consequences of that testing is my estimated Functional Threshold Power has gone up from 240W to 275W. Since my daily training stress is calculated relative to FTP, it means that rides have to be at a higher power now to earn the same Training Stress Score.

As they say, it doesn't get easier, you just go faster.

This morning I woke late, and then checked what was on the program today. 2.5hrs, that's what! Holy smoke! OK, so I saddle up, head out the front door and get into it doing a run to Kurnell, being my first proper solo run back out there in the world of Sydney's roads.

A little over 2.5 hours ride time later I get home, with two short stops along the way to remove, dry and replace my leg liner which seems to accumulate the contents of Sydney Harbour while I'm riding.

Average Power: 186W
Normalised Power: 198W
TSS: 130
Distance: 71.4 km

Ironically, I came home via "that gate". It was definitely open when I rode through.

One last thing - I have chatted to my prosthetics specialist George and we will hook up again in the new year to start looking at the design and construction of a leg dedicated to cycling. Picking the right time for that is tricky, as since I am now trimming down, that affects the fit of my stump in the socket. So getting the leg too early might reduce its useful life.

I did however use some of the funds raised to purchase a new leg liner (or as Paul Craft calls it, the big blue condom that goes over my leg) and distal cup (the current cup is looking a bit worse for wear). That was $1300, so the benefit funds are already being put to good effect. I'll now be able to rotate the liners and hopefully get a bit more useful life out of them. Early in the New Year, I'll probably add a third liner to the stable.

So there you have the latest. All going well as far as training goes. More hard work ahead of me though, and probably a few races over the next month.


Anonymous said...

Alex, keep up the good work. Enjoyed reading your blog. I admire the Inspiration.

I'll put a link on my cycling blog back to yours.

John Finney
a.k.a CyclingGuy

Unknown said...

Talk about a ****ing inspiration, just awesome. Q