Off Season: Where to Start?

We've have a guest post by TNL member, David Bradway, today. He's just getting into training with power this off season and is hoping to share his journey regularly. 

There are so many starting points in life. Starting college, career, etc. Even just as cyclists: road, mountain, spin class, BMX. For me as a cyclist it started as soon as my dad let go of that seat setting me off on a slight downhill grade. I was probably five or six. I only remember two feelings 1) a sense of freedom and, 2) a sense of impending doom. How do I stop this thing?! At no point in my life did I ever really stop riding bikes, but there have definitely been times where riding and fitness were not priorities in my life. Unfortunately college got in the way of me riding BMX around Muncie, IN in the late 90’s to early 2000’s and it wasn’t until 2009 that I got back into cycling.

Another starting point: I bought my first road bike, a Giant TCR. After riding for a year, straining to hold wheels and losing a little of the 60 pounds I had gained since I stopped riding in college, a friend introduced me to mountain bikes. And I thank him very much. This is also the point where I started racing. I had probably ridden less than 100 miles of trails before I did my first mountain bike race at the Fat and Skinny Tire Festival in Winona Lake, IN.

Now beginning the training for the 2017 season, I look back and realize I’ve made some pretty big strides from weighing 260, and having a hard time riding a 15mph avg. on a road ride to being an intermediate mountain bike racer, twice state runner-up in Clydesdale category (they’re heavy, but they’re competitive!), racing cyclocross and criteriums, and having done 2 triathlons.

Which brings me to my most recent starting point: my wife bought me a power meter for Christmas. I’ve always heard, “to step up your training, get a power meter”. Now it’s time to put up or shut up. In only around 160 miles with the power meter, I’ve realized it won’t lie to you. Heart rate lags on intervals and takes time to catch up. Power is always there with you pushing you to keep going or letting you know when you are slacking off. Pardon me if this is a bit too technical, but it’s like this: Imagine you are doing intervals. You are two and a half minutes into a three-minute, all out effort. Your legs are burning. Your sight is narrowing; your heart rate is racing. You let off a bit. Your heart is still racing, but you get a bit of recovery. Your heart rate data says you finished a great interval. Your power data however tells the true tale: You gave up on your interval. Heart rate data will allow for short breaks during intervals for recovery whereas power data is always there keeping up with your output.

To train with power you have to know your Functional Threshold Power (FTP). It’s described by some as an estimate of how many watts you can maintain for 60 minutes. I recently did my first FTP test. In my next post I’ll describe what it was like.

2017 starting point:

FTP: 218w

Kilograms: 100

Kilometers ridden in 2017: 457

 

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