This week I started my new Training Peaks training plan. I have edited it slightly so that it fits more inline with training for 24/12 hour endurance racing.
My main training sessions are around 3 to 4 hour session where I have two or three goals for the session.
On Monday my first 3 hour session was a sub-threshold (heart rate between 139 – 147) with tempo (HR between 131 – 138) phases and hard efforts on the hills. I kept my cadence high for this session and pushed hard, harder than I needed to but I felt good and I knew that my body was capable of working a little harder so I decided to go for it! When I got home I had done 64KM in 3 hours which was an okay distance for that time. I had spent 53 mins in my sub-threshold zone and 24 mins in my tempo zone with another big block in my anaerobic capacity zone (HR between 156 – 255) I was pretty tired for the rest of the day but felt happy with my first training session on my new plan.
The rest of the week comprised of a few sessions including going back to Pilates. It was great to be back in a Pilates class and Stacey is a great teacher I left Pilates nearly as tired as I was Monday from thinking about breathing, alignment and working muscles that had been asleep for a while!
Saturday was another big endurance day this time 3 hours with the same goals sub-threshold, give it some on the hills and high cadence. I chose a new route and it turned out to be rather hilly! 1000m of climbing in fact which made for some slow cadence sections and a lot of hard efforts on the hills, these hard efforts were added to, by the fact my bike wouldn’t change down into the small ring, no amount of limit screw fettling seemed to get it changing properly so I gave up and decided I would just use it as an extra training element!
At about 2 hours 40 I was still heading North away from home and made the decision to add on another hour to my ride. It was a beautiful day and I felt strong, the only thing I was running out of was water so a quick stop at a pub to get my bottle refilled kept me on the road for an extra circuit.
I arrived home after 4 hours covering 77.5KM with an average heart rate of 142 and a max of 181 I was really happy with my extra hour and the fact I climbed 1000m. I have only really just started training properly again since the end of February and I know from experience how quickly form drops so to pull off two good long rides in one week has left my feeling super happy.
I recommend Training Peaks to anyone looking to evaluate training it is simple to use and has some great features to help you stay on target and not over train.
Here is a brief outline on what the acronyms and numbers mean:
CTL (Chronic Training Load) is also called Fitness; it is a rolling 42-day average of your daily TSS (Training Stress Score). It indicates how much training load you are currently managing. If your Fitness(CTL) rises you are capable of handling a higher training load and therefore are more fit. If it decreases you are becoming unfit.
Watching this will indicate whether your training is working and you are improving or whether you need to put more in or have a rest day.
TSB (Training Stress Balance) is a way of measuring ‘form’ form is the magic term used for an athlete who is race ready.
Form in Training Peaks is measured by subtracting today’s Fatigue (Acute Training Load, or ATL) from today’s Fitness (Chronic Training Load, or CTL). Both Fatigue and Fitness are expressed as Training Stress Score, or TSS per day (TSS/d). Once the software has done the math, the remainder is your Form (by the way, the resulting Form value is for tomorrow—not for today.) It can be either a negative or a positive number depending on which is greater- Fitness or Fatigue. If Form is negative you are likely to be tired and probably not race ready. If Form is positive then you are probably rested and perhaps on form and ready to race.
If you would like to know more about using Training Peaks they have a brilliant blog or feel free to drop me an email.
Arriving at the Bike Trans Alp in Austria
We arrived in Imst, Austria for the start of the Bike Trans Alp on Thursday evening very late after a 17 hour journey from the from home. Dad was amazing and drove all the way do So I would have ample time to get used to the climate and altitude.
We spent Friday and Saturday playing around on the trails which was great fun and Dad got to use his new cameras which he was super happy about!
The start of the Bike Trans Alp.
Day one – the long one
The start was exciting and full of people buzzing around, Michelle and I were gridded right at the back as we had never raced any stage races before, but that was fine with me I was just happy to have made it this far!
Just after 9 we rolled over the start line for a day of highs lows, ups and downs.
The race started with a tar mac climb through the village it was great with people cheering and ringing bells it reminded me of the start of Ride London.
The day started cloudy but soon the sun shone brightly down making the hill climbing hot and dusty work!
The climbing was rewarded with the most amazing scenery through the mountain passes. At points after climbing we would sweep back down into the valley and through picturesque little towns full of people cheering which really lifted my spirits and kept me going.
It was in one of these little towns I turned the corner and bumped into Dad it was great to see him and also good timing as I had run out of water!
Tom and Dad supported Michelle and I with bottles along the route which was fantastic thanks guys!
The vertical challenge was a timed stage, it was an unrelenting climb which went on forever! The climb went on and on after this vertical stage until we reached the top of the mountain pass. The reward was a sensational downhill through woods and out into open pastures through the valley.
We were making good time and the hours were flying passed, the final 20km was tough. We had worked hard on a road section to stay with a bunch and I paid for this on the hill climb later, luckily just before the climb was a water point where I indulged in cucumber dipped in salt and water melon my new favourite snack!
The last 9km was almost all up hill and seemed to go on forever! The finish line in Nauders was even up hill!
It feels good to have completed the first day I learnt a lot and we had good fun as a team once we settled into a rhythm.
We finished the first stage in 6 hours 16 a great first day and 89km ticked off!
Day 2 – Three countries, lots of climbing
Today was exciting we made our way from rank D to B! feeling very impressed with ourselves we made our way up out of the start with maybe a little too much speed!
The first 10km was up. The up was on gravel track most of the way which was loose making the climbing arduous. We climbed under lift stations and im pretty sure when there is snow this is probably a blue run!
We made it to the water point at the top, passing groups of cows who I think thought we must be mad! The water point was a light bit of relief, it was good to stop stretch out and have some much needed water melon!
The next descent was loose with great sweeping bends but was over too quickly and we were climbing yet again!
My favourite stage today was the Maxxis endure challenge although I found it difficult and walked in places, it was great fun and being in wooded single-track reminded me so much of Wales and after a tough climb it was nice to remind myself of why I was here!
You can probably already guess but after this came yet more climbing! Today has been really hot and the heat has got to me slightly so I had to pace myself on this second long climb, the view from the top was incredible and well worth the sweat to get there.
Today we have ridden in three countries, climbed to the dizzy heights of 2270m, ate a shed load of water melon, and enjoyed stunning views and blistering heat!
All in all a good, but tough day in the saddle. The end was tough for me today, the heat sapped my energy and I was glad to finish. 5 hours 01 minutes, 56km and day two completed!
Tomorrow we ride from Scoul to Livigno. Stick around for more on our Alpine adventure.
Thank you to my amazing Dad for supporting this trip and to everyone at home cheering us on!
Thank you also to Specialized for my super Era which has been a dream to ride so far, thanks to Bike Fixers, Dog Tag and Grip Grab for all your support.
On Sunday I took on my first Scott marathon of the season. Michelle and I travelled together to Rhayader in mid-Wales on Saturday in the pouring rain hoping that the sun would shine on the race day!
The morning brought dry cloudy weather, as we lined up in the mass start the sun was trying to come out but dark clouds loomed above us so I decided to take my waterproof, just in case.
I always find mass starts challenging and yet again as we pulled off Michelle easily seemed to slip through gaps between riders whilst I struggled to find my own gaps! I had to push harder than I would usually push at the start of a long race to get back to Michelle and then set into a steady rhythm up the last road climb before the fun stuff!
After the descent the course turned onto fire road, as I turned to my side, I expected to see Michelle but she wasn’t there, looking back I couldn’t see her and thought she must have got caught up so I gradually made my way up the hill expecting her to catch up.
The course was very wet and muddy with huge puddles and a lot of slip sliding around on the grassy descents. I enjoyed the challenge this presented as the steeper decents were made more technical and pushed my skill level where if they had been dry they would have not been an issue. The course was packed with good climbs but the most challenging and best climb was a steep rocky climb that seemed to have a lot of people walking on it, I started the climb behind a guy but once he wheel spun and moved out of the way I was free to pick my own line through the walkers, this was a rather nice feeling to be slowly edging past lots of people, by the time I got to the top my heart rate was sky high but I felt a massive sense of achievement for beating the hill climb.
I was going well fuelling wise I started with dates at 45 mins then another 45 mins later had salted peanuts then when I reached the first feed station I had a banana, handful of nuts and got my water topped up. It was at this time that a crack of thunder rumbled through the skies and the heavens opened, not just drizzle a torrential downpour started for what seemed like ages, I was glad to have packed my waterproof! It was tough going in the wet and cold every time I went up hill I got too hot followed by freezing on the downs. I tried to keep drinking small sips but my water bottles were so caked with mud I ended up with more than just a drink.
After the course split and the half marathon went one way there was another long road climb, it was on this climb where I heard the sound of my name being called! Looking round Michelle had caught up. It was great to ride with other people again after being on my own for around 43km.
This next part of the course was the worst after a fire road climb the single-track became almost un-rideable due to massive puddles and so much thick mud that my tyres wouldn’t go round. We ended up walking lots of this section slowing down meant getting cold so I ate some more dates to try and get some extra energy. It was a short while after we left the single-track back on a wider path that Michelle fell off and sliced her knee on something, we still don’t know exactly what!
This meant a walk back to the marshal point and a long 45 min wait for the paramedic, after they washed out her wound they decided she shouldn’t ride on it so I finished the course on my own.
Michelle was okay luckily but had to have three stitches.
Although I didn’t complete the full 75km I am super happy with this result I kept a consistent pace fuelled well and felt in a good place, I didn’t feel tired at the end which I feel is a good indication I had more in the tank. I will be back to finish this race next year! For now onwards and upwards towards the Alps…
Today was my long ride training day. I had checked out the forecast and it was sunny until about 11 and then predicted rain, as a time crunched cyclist I don’t have the luxury of being able to pick and choose so I can train in good weather. So I pulled on an extra layer and headed out towards dark clouds but with the sun on my back for now…
On long rides it’s as much about mental preparation as physical if your head is not in the game your body might as well pack up and go watch TV. So I always have a goal to keep my head focused on something other than the minutes ticking by.
My goal for the past couple of weeks has been 100km in 5 hours, after my race result on Saturday I had seen how capable I was of pushing my body further for longer, so today my aim was get over the 100km barrier.
I set off at an easy pace knowing it takes me about 30 minutes to settle in and then I pushed on trying to keep my heart rate above 150.
When you’re trying to stay in a heart rate zone on the road it is pretty difficult because of the natural rise and fall in the landscape, however hard you push up hill when you get to the downhill fitness will decided on how rapidly your heart rate falls, I am pleased to say my fitness is really good at the moment and my heart rate drops really quickly as soon as I start going downhill.
After 2 hours I was making really good progress and had worked my way up a few good hills including Butser. It was half way up Lynch hill when the heavens opened and it started to hail, yes hail, with such force that it stung my arms through my jacket. With nothing to do apart from keeping pushing on that is what I did, 20 minutes in and I was soaked through and now desperately wishing for a long hill climb to get warm! I decided to start making my way home (which was at least an hour away) and to maybe have a shorter ride, I could deal with rain but hail was a joke.
As I made my way through the backroads I could see patches of blue sky in front of me and the hail eased off giving me a new perspective and I decided to take a longer route home, I was still on target for over 100km, I had been playing games with myself to keep heading for this target for example: when I got to quarter to I would try and fit in 8km to up my score for that hour. It may sound daft but this tactic worked.
After 4 hours I had done 85km leaving only 15km to go. The last hour was hard fighting into the wind most of the way I felt like I was being pushed backwards. Rounding the corner to my destination I had 11 minutes still to go but had ridden 100km I was really happy to have beaten the 100km barrier but didn’t have any energy left to push out too many more k’s and settled with 3!
I am so happy with my achievement today; I set out with a goal and achieved it, even against bad weather and a head wind! My fuelling was good today and I have a new love salted peanuts in the same bag as jelly babies! Don’t knock it until you try it!
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