started training with power

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by Mac_Biker, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. Mac_Biker

    Mac_Biker New Member

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    I started training with power last fall on and off. I've noticed some improvement.

    And now I'm wanting to get serious about it so that I won't get dropped at races.
    Currently I'm 145 pounds. Almost all of my measurements are indoor on a fluid trainer.
    It's been cold out here in St. Louis.

    My best 20min effort is 210 watts, which equates to 203 FTP.
    5 min 221
    1 min 351

    I've been doing a lot of workouts for the last couple of weeks at 190 watts (Sweet spot) for 20 minute intervals. I wanted to test my FTP yesterday, but mentally I could not do it. I was holding about 220 watts, but after 5 minutes, I couldn't do it anymore. Not sure if it was physical, mental or both. I'll try to measure my FTP again at the end of January.

    I believe my weakness is in overall FTP but also a lack of high end power. I believe my 5s max is somewhere just shy of 900 watts. And my 1 min power is even worse. My cadence is also lacking, I usually average in the 70-80's.

    My plan of attack is to build up my FTP as much as I can through January and then start working on the high end power Feb-> Onwards.

    Ideally I would like my FTP to be much higher, maybe the 220-250 range. (Just pulling numbers out of the air).

    What FTP is usually necessary to avoid getting dropped in?
    What should I be working on?
    Thanks.
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    How much power you need to race effectively depends on a lot of things including the type of racing and for mass start events how well you ride in the group. Ironically a more experienced rider can get away with less power than a newer racer that isn't drafting as effectively, lets gaps open up or spends too much time out in the wind pulling.

    Hard to say, but it looks like your FTP is currently above 3 w/kg which is a decent starting point and that's on the indoor trainer which is lower power than outdoors for many folks.

    If you want to bring up your FTP then do longer sustained efforts. Two minute SST intervals are really missing the point. In terms of raising your FTP you'll do much better with sustained 12 to 30 minute efforts even if you have to back the intensity down a bit to finish them. Basically for core metabolic (aerobic) work you want to sustain your intervals for 10 minutes at a bare minimum with 15 to 20 being more typical. The intervals should be hard and require a lot of focus but should be ridden at a power that doesn't force you to back off mid interval and lets you complete each effort as well as the whole set.

    The good news is that it's off season for road racing and the perfect time to work on sustainable power with longer steady efforts on some days and even longer Tempo efforts backed off to a lower intensity on other days and if the weather warms up a few even longer outdoor rides wouldn't hurt. There's plenty of time in the spring to introduce some short interval work before races get going and definitely take advantage of any local new racer clinics and or join a local racing club if you want to learn fast. But for now I'd focus on sustainable power and FTP building through longer sustained efforts including some full L4 efforts like the classic 2x20s a lot of folks do.

    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
  3. Mac_Biker

    Mac_Biker New Member

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    I meant to say 20 minute efforts at 190 watts.
    When people do 2x20s what percentage of FTP do they aim for?

    I'm finding that doing my FTP test is mentally difficult. And would love to avoid it as often as possible /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
    I've done a bunch of group rides before and raced in a couple of crits and road races in college.
    I was not that competitive then. Frequently dropped but then learned to draft. But felt like I was holding on to dear life the whole time.

    How about cadence, should I worry that it's low at this point?
    I do notice on group rides, my cadence is automatically up albeit usually at a lower wattage.

    I would like to participate in mainly Crits.
     
  4. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    O.K. 20 minute SST efforts make more sense :)

    For pure L4 (Threshold) efforts most folks shoot for 90-100% of FTP so something above 185 watts. For SST work it can be a bit lower but then the efforts are typically longer and perhaps not blocked as intervals at all so either 30 to 45 minutes at 175 watts or more or perhaps an hour and a half or more at 170 or more. SST work is often a bit more variable where you might throw in some short higher power bursts, maybe stand a bit in a bigger gear to stretch or other less structured riding but still decent overall intensity.

    Personally I don't look at the power meter all that much after the first few minutes of something like a 2x20 effort. I'll glance down a few times at the beginning to make sure I'm at least up to 90% of my FTP and then just look down a few times towards the end to make sure I'm not slacking off too much but in general just ride them by feel. Similarly a lot of us don't do that many structured tests and instead just do the weekly L4 intervals mostly by feel and keep track of the numbers. The 95% of 20 minute FTP estimation method isn't the only way to estimate FTP, here's a good link to some better ways and some of the things to watch out for:

    http://alex-cycle.blogspot.com/2008/05/seven-deadly-sins.html
    http://alex-cycle.blogspot.com/2009/07/sins-of-sins-testing-ftp-2.html

    You can do a really good job of estimating FTP on an ongoing basis by just tracking your average power for your regular and repeatable 20 to 30 minute training intervals especially if you pay attention to your second interval in each set or power for intervals on your second or third training day in a block. It saves the mental anguish of testing days and lets you stay on track with solid workouts. You can always test once in a while with something like Monod or MAP tests or a full hour time trial like effort to validate the numbers but you don't need to do 20 minutes above your FTP to get a good handle on your fitness.

    -Dave
    P.S. I don't worry much about cadence but in general it pays to have some high leg speed at your disposal for crits to let you run a bit lighter gear for accelerations out of the turns without having to jump out of the saddle and pound a huge gear every time so you might do some of your interval work at higher leg speeds. But at best cadence is secondary to sustained power so for the most part just ride in a way that gives you good average power for your efforts.
     
  5. Nate Pearson

    Nate Pearson New Member

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    Dave is right on. You don't have to know your FTP to do workouts effectively. If you complete your 2x20 workout in the goal wattage then it's time to bump up the power next time. You can do some reverse math to figure out your FTP from there if you want.

    In crits its the repeated accelerations that get people dropped. Raising your overall FTP will help with that more in the long run than short efforts.

    Do you ever ride indoors? Are you on a mac? If that's a yes those to questions would you be interested in beta testing some training software? It will help you raise your FTP for the upcoming season.

    -Nate
    e-mail me at [email protected]
     
  6. Mac_Biker

    Mac_Biker New Member

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    how often can I do the 2x20's in a week?
    how soon can I start to expect improvements in my FTP?

    I was watching one of the Graeme Street videos from the everyday cyclist and he says his threshold is about 340 watts.
    That sounds awesome. How much training would it take to get to 340 watts? Or does genetics have a bigger role in how large our FTP can be?
     
  7. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Yes, genetics as well as available time to train not to mention body size, gender and age are all big factors that set limits on how high your FTP might climb. But there's only one way to find out, start training regularly, be patient, expect the process to take time and do the work. It's pretty typical to see some relatively large gains in sustainable power when you first start a structured plan and then things typically slow but progress can still occur for many years.

    Instead of thinking in terms of an absolute power goal like 340 watts, it's a good idea to think in terms of weight scaled power in watts per kilogram as it's a better comparison between riders of different sizes and directly related to performance for hill climbing. It's still pretty closely related to performance for flat or all around riding but a little less direct of a connection as there are some pretty aero bigger riders and some light riders that punch an disproportionally large 'hole' in the air because of their position but still maximizing watts per kilogram is a pretty good starting point as described here: http://home.trainingpeaks.com/articles/cycling/power-profiling.aspx

    This time of year (winter off season build) I do at least one and up to three Threshold training days per week with other days of Tempo or sometimes recovery riding to fill out the week. Some folks do more Threshold work, and some less but I like to get at least one focused L4 day each week. Some of those days are 2 or 3x20s, some are 1x60 Threshold efforts or 2x30s or an hour of microinterval HOP work or a handful of other variations on the theme but I find I can typically handle two midweek L4 sessions and often one weekend Threshold day which generally means one or two midweek days at Tempo and often a long Tempo to high L2 ride on my other weekend day. That's during early to mid winter build work and assumes I'm not doing any focused L5 or higher work which I don't typically do till later in the winter as part of a pre season race prep phase.

    The point is that things vary and how many sessions you can manage depends on a lot of things including your motivation, how quickly you recover from each session and what you're doing on the other days. It can pay to mix things up a bit as well such as doing a few weeks with more of a Threshold focus so more 2x20 or other types of L4 work followed by perhaps a week or a few weeks where you work some longer Tempo/L2+ sessions before another focused L4 training block. Lot's of variations on the theme and some folks do just fine with the same program week in and week out but there's not standard way to approach this stuff and it all comes down to managing your training load with an eye to workout intensity, workout frequency, workout duration and overall daily, weekly, monthly or seasonal workload that's challenging (or there's no reason for the body to adapt) but also sustainable given your lifestyle, goals and other commitments.

    Search the web and this forum for info on SST (Sweet Spot Training), Tempo, Threshold, 2x20s, etc. and have a look at some of the information here: http://home.trainingpeaks.com/power411.aspx

    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
  8. Mac_Biker

    Mac_Biker New Member

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    I've also been doing the Power - Real Rides for my indoor training from Vision Quest.
    It has a long of 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off intervals.
    Followed by 1 minute on 1 minute off.

    It says it'll improve my power... will these workouts help raise my threshold since I'm above my FTP?
    Or is the duration not long enough?

    Thanks.
     
  9. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    If you haven't been training for long or not very consistently then just about any regular routine will raise your FTP but IMO for the most reliable approach you want to do steady sustained efforts that are at least 12 if not 20 to 30 or even 60 minutes each. Some days these should be ridden up pretty close to your current Threshold like 90-100% usually in some blocked format like the classic 2x20 minute efforts which is just a pair of these with a five to ten minute break in between to get psyched up for the second effort. Other days they can be ridden at lower intensity and perhaps stretched out, maybe something like 2x30 or 2x45 or 1x60 minutes ridden at 80% - 90% of your FTP to get some additional quality training on days when you're not mentally or physically ready to do full bore Threshold work. And it's still really good to get outside and do some longer rides that may or may not be backed off even more depending on your energy and available training routes.

    But yeah, I wouldn't expect a lot of FTP progress from one minute primarily anaerobic intervals. Sure there are some HIIT advocates that really like that approach but IME there are better more reliable ways to build sustainable power and they're all basically variations on relatively long sustained efforts that push you hard but that you can actually complete and not so brutal that you can't train with some quality on subsequent days. It's not exciting riding and can get pretty uncomfortable during the final minutes of a hard 2x20 session or a full bore 1x60 Threshold effort but this stuff works.

    I've been on variations of this theme for the last four and a half seasons and where I struggled to finish 20 minutes at 220 watts in 2006 I've managed a handful above 325 recently and even though my racing age is 50 this season I don't believe I've topped out yet. YMMV...

    -Dave
     
  10. gman0482

    gman0482 Member

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    Dave, that has to be the most inspiring post I've ever read.

    Thanks,
    -Greg
     
  11. Mac_Biker

    Mac_Biker New Member

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    truly inspiring to me also. I'm probably at around what you were at in 2006 and would love to get to 325 watts!!
     
  12. gman0482

    gman0482 Member

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    I don't want to barge in on the thread, but I got a question and hope Dave can chime in. I am currently training with the KK power comp (W's only for KK trainer) and plan on buying a real PM like Quarg, but might end up with a PT wheelset soon. Anyways, will anything change as far as my power measurements go ? The reason I ask is that I know that the KK PM has a special formula and power/resistance curve. For example, my average 17 mph that I get from the KK, feels like a similar effort I'd be doing while averaging ~20+ mph on the road. So I wonder if the same would apply to watts.

    I'm not sure if I'm making alot of sense, but I'm just wondering if running a PT on my trainer would keep the same (or close to) averages I record now.

    Thanks,
    -Greg
     
  13. Mac_Biker

    Mac_Biker New Member

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    i know i've asked a lot of questions.
    but this is probably the last one for a while so I can get back to training.
    At my current FTP (203 145 lbs) and the Crit training series coming up in March...
    Will I be able to hold my own in a cat 5 race/crit? Race is march 20th?
    basically not get dropped.
     
  14. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    The KK power curve is typically pretty accurate as long as the rear roller is adjusted with appropriate press on force. How closely it matches a calibrated power meter depends in part on whether you end up with a PT that measures at the rear wheel or a crank based PM that will show a few extra watts since it's measuring before drive train losses. But between the two a calibrated and torque zeroed power meter is going to be more accurate than the trainer. The PM after all is a measurement instrument, that's all it does and what it's designed to do, the trainer is primarily a training load device that they've characterized in power terms but it's not a dedicated measurement instrument.



    Hard to say, it depends largely on the field, the course profile and your riding skills. If you're cagey, corner well, stay off your brakes and can handle yourself in a crowd and the course is relatively flat you could do fine on ~ 3 w/kg but if the course is hilly the other riders really fit and aggressive or you spend a lot of time out in the wind or brake hard for corners you could struggle badly. Keep working on your fitness, but don't worry about it and don't put off your first race, especially a training race, waiting for more fitness. Everyone has to pay dues and learn to ride crits, some get it sooner than others and some struggle for a while with riding fast on short courses in a crowd but you'll only learn by getting out and racing.

    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
  15. gman0482

    gman0482 Member

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    Thanks Dave, I'm definitely getting a PM, it just all depends on the deals I can get. Right now I'm shopping for a new wheelset and can grab a nice PT deal, but would prefer Quarg/SRM.

    Mac Rider,

    What Dave said is right on the money, and I smiled when I read your question, cause it's exactly the same one I asked last year. I'm a Cat5 right now with a few crits under my wheels so far. I will mirror what Dave already mentioned.

    Cat 5 races and especially training crits are the widest-ranging races out there, mainly because there's so many riders that are new and trying it out. That's why it is so unpredictable, because in every race you will have half the field if not more with new faces, all with different skills and strength.

    To give you an Cat5's idea of what I experienced, the first race I did, it was 15 laps on 0.8 mile loop, I got dropped around lap 8 I believe. There were some strong riders, and I could keep up for the most part but just didn't expect some surges. My 1st-time nervousness was at the start and maybe 1st lap, but went away quickly. Usually in a Cat5, if you get dropped you can catch back up to the group when they lap you.

    On the 2nd race I was a little more aware of how this was and not as nervous, so I did much better. I was able to stick with the lead group the whole time, but I didn't know how to finish a sprint so I got beat in the finishing stretch. Overall I am very happy with how I did, knowing that I can hang, and just need more training.

    But again, take into consideration that on any given Cat 5 day, you might get a bunch of stronger riders, or you might get some slower ones. I personally prefer to get more stronger ones, chances are they handle better. Try to stick to the inside on turns, as there will be lots of people that can't handle a fast turn and will fall out of line. Cat 4 and down is where it gets a little better as far as organization, skill level, and power can still range but is more averaged IMO.

    The speed averages in the ones I did were around 24 mph. Now, when I do my solo training rides I usually average +/- 20 mph, but in a tight group, that speed will rise. IMO, in a crit, it's not the average power that will kill you, but the constant surges that come when you're not ready for them.

    Good luck and like Dave said, just get in and do it. Get 10 races under you and you'll be Cat4.

    -Greg
     
  16. CalicoCat

    CalicoCat Member

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    +1 on the surges being what will kill you, or eventually kill everyone.

    Threshold power does help with this, however, because with a high threshold, you aren't at you max (or close) when surges happen. The good news is that, accelerations can be practiced and that energy system is quickly trainable, so a combination of threshold work, vO2 work, and speed work is in order - not just for the OP but for every bike racer :)
     
  17. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    There have been a lot of killer deals on ebay and Craigslist lately for wired SRMs and PTs in great shape. I ended up picking up a couple of additional Dura Ace SRM cranksets so I don't have to swap cranks between bikes just because the bid prices were too good to pass up. About a month ago I scored a Dura Ace 7800 SRM crankset (alone since I already have CPUs, chargers, download cables, etc.) for less than $350 that I put on my TT bike and I've seen full sets with everything needed going for $500-$900 to lucky bidders. At those prices SRMs make a lot of sense.


    Gotta disagree here. I see a lot of newer crit riders hugging the inside line, it does appear to be the shorter quicker line but you generally have to scrub speed to stay tight and can't pedal as deep into or as soon out of the turns as you can on a smooth and fast outside-inside-outside line that uses the whole width of the road. Worse yet I've been 'submarined' wayyyy too many times in mixed category races by folks who see a hole on the inside, dive into it and basically cut off the faster riders riding predictable lines that use the whole road. Sure if you're stuck further back than you'd like to be and the group is bunching up badly on the preferred line then you've got to do what you've got to do but in general I wouldn't suggest favoring a tight inside line in crit corners over a line that uses the full width of the road and carries more speed through the bends.

    Bottom line, physics dictate that the faster and tighter you enter the turn the wider your exit will have to be. If you enter so tight and fast that you're forced to fan out right across the path of those taking the expected line it's easy to end up on the bottom of a pileup and that won't do much for your podium chances...

    -Dave
     
  18. gman0482

    gman0482 Member

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    Dave, that would be a sweet deal if I could grab a PM for that much, the only concern I have is getting a lemon or damaged product. I always was kinda iffy that there was waay too much that can be wrong with such a mechanical/electronic component. But if you think it's worth it then maybe I'll check it out.

    On the 'sticking to inside on turns' part, I'm not suggesting to be hugging the curb, but to at least try and be on the inside half of the turn. Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's Massachsetts, or maybe it's just Cat 5, but in the few crits I attended, I've seen too many people, mostly 1st timers (and there are a ton here in every Cat5 crit, lots that will never come back), they'll be bombing as fast as they can all the way up to the turn, and when it comes they either slam on their brakes, or they can't hold the turn, can't lean in and fling out. When they fling out and you're on the outside trying to either pass or just ride, there's only one way and one place it pulls them, outside.

    I'm not talking about any crit, just the Cat 5. From what I've witnessed, there's more riders in trouble on the outside than inside. I agree about sticking to the curb not being too good, and almost got slammed into by being cut off, but I'll be sticking to the inner half on most turns, unless I know I can benefit by passing on outside, (and sometimes you can in a Cat5 where lots of people are braking and slowing).
     
  19. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    If some numpty like me can bolt on a little yellow cpu and bang out a few months of consistent training and put out some reasonable numbers then there hope for most folk, there really is.

    Test honestly, train honestly and deal with the sometimes lack lustre training schedule but revel in it's effectiveness when you go out with others.

    Back in the mid 90's, one of the guys that came onboard with our coach was an old guy in his late 50's - who had about 30 years earlier been a really good road rider. He pretty much hadn't touched the bike in decades yet within a couple of years was beating his PB's for all time trial distances from 10 miles through to 12 hours. He did most of his training on a Kingcycle, which was one of the better trainers that displayed power.
     
  20. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za/CCY?PAGE=BUY_PRODUCT_STANDARD&PRODUCT.ID=5905&MODE=SPECIALS

    Competitive Cyclist often has PT wheels/cpu deals around the $600 to $700 mark, new and they're more than good enough to race and are great for training.

    As for the "turns" quandry - you're really at the mercy of the bunch when entering and exiting fairly tight turns, especially if when exiting you're leaning over such that you really would scrape your pedals if you pedalled. The best bet would be just to get up front and sit in the first few riders - if you're anywhere further back you'll have to brake when everyone else does and pretty much accelerate out of the corners when they do too unless everyone runs very wide, in which case you can try and nip up the inside.

    The big goal in Cat5 is to become comfortable within a pack of riders at speed and to get around the course in a safe manner.
     
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