Since 2013 I’ve trained with a power meter. The first 3 years I used a Powertap Cycleops G3C power meter in the rear hub but I upgraded this year on my new bike to a Quarq. I’ve used power for the last 5.5 Ironmans and continue to use it as my key resource as I train for the 2016 Ironman World Championship.
My first ever test back in July 2013 was done on the Ross River Highway, Alice Springs, NT and I held 281 watts. Today, I tested at 348 watts which is a 23.8% improvement over 3 years or representing a 7.9% increase on average per year. This result equates to 4.3w/kg at FTP which is considered “Very Good, Cat. II).
Through consistent self-coached training and following the books of Friel, Allen, Coggan, and Vance, I continue to get stronger and faster in my 6th year as an ultra-endurance Ironman athlete.
The Lead Up
I’ve trained 121.9 hours over the last 6 weeks with a major focus on the bike by changing up my training and taking it to a new level of stress. It culminated with an 8 hour training day on Sunday called Big Day Out. After the 1:35 half marathon and extension and the 3.525km 1 hour swim we headed out for a 5 hour bike test. While I covered 180km in 4:56:20, the HR and Power were very low. My Strava Premium account showed the highest level of fitness and fatigue so far achieved. It was obvious throughout the day the level of fatigue I was carrying.
Monday: Complete Rest
Tuesday: 30min lunch time recovery spin, 4km PM quality swim recovery set
Wednesday: 32min 4mile easy run at noon. PM: 60min recovery ride, 14min core, 50min upper body lift. Dinner included Fettuccini with Broccoli and Cashew Sauce from The China Study Cookbook.
Thursday (Test Day). Test day is typical from most days in terms of nutrition. I eat plenty of fruit throughout the day, whole grains, and veggies. I don’t eat meat, fish, or eggs.
5:30AM – Wake up, Multi-grain English muffin, vegan butter, jam. Red Bull no sugar.
6:05AM – 51minute, 2.75km quality swim
7:15AM – Clif Bar
7:30AM – Ride to work: 59min, 28.5km, 182NP recovery, very cold.
9:00AM – VEGA recovery powder, Veggie Protein, Ground Flax Seed, Chia Seed, Almond Milk, Frozen Mango & Frozen banana shake. Yummy.
10:00AM – Start eating chunky peanut butter from the jar. About 1/5 – 1/4th the container of Meyers. The best!
11:00AM – Giant mandarin, apple, banana
12:00PM – Dinner leftovers of the pasta + 2 cups of tea
2:00PM – 2 carrots with hummus
4:15PM – SIS energy bar & 200mg caffeine supplement
4:30PM – 1 package of Clif Shot Bloks w/ 50mg of caffeine
5:00PM – FTP Test Time.
So, Strava showed me that my fatigue was now at -10 or pretty close to zero. I should have been relatively recovered especially with the sessions so far this week. I didn’t know what to expect. My best ever FTP was 345 back in Oct’15 and next after that was 334 on June 2nd, 10 days before Ironman Cairns. I knew I was stronger than I’ve ever been but didn’t know what to expect. I planned to go out around the 340’s and try and maintain and pick it up in the 3rd 10min lap.
I like to have a lot of energy and caffeine before these sessions which is how I race anyway. I also know that I’m better with Joe Friel’s 30min test vs Allens 20min test. I am a very slow-twitch guy. Longer, the better. I have difficulty pushing to the very high intensity levels as a result. I also know that I can get into a testing mindset with a point to point done outside rather than an indoor trainer. I like this because I can use the wind, sit up and put out more power, and feel the wind on me. I also think it’s the better testing protocol since we race outside, not on trainers. I also believe more in the 30min test because I’m an Ironman athlete and focus more on Z2-Z4 in training. 20min testing would require tapping into a level I don’t typically train at.
The warm up is basically 5minutes up a small hill and out to the main road. I looked at the weather which said a 27km head/cross-wind and saw the flags moving in a head-wind direction. This was favorable since it’s easier to get the power up.
I took off on my Argon 18 E119 Tri+ machine Sami wearing bib shorts, top, and a wind jacket since it was cooler temperatures.
I kept my head mostly down, fixated on my Garmin in a great new position thanks to the new XLAB Versa 500 Carbon. My HR was messed up saying I was at 200bpm; I should have put some water on the sensors. I hoped that it would correct with some sweat so I could get a reading of my LTHR.
The first 10minutes wasn’t very fast on around 37.5kph but avg power was 347. I was happy about this and was going to try and hold it there. I turned onto the Stuart Highway with a large sweeping 90 degree turn in the aero position and was now sitting on around 40kph. My power started fading a bit but I was working hard to maintain. I sat up several times as I know it’s easier to generate the power but tried to remain aero the best I could. Up the new crappy RR crossing, power climbed, speed fell. I hit around 50kph on the back and really tried to crank it to keep the power high. One more left hand turn heading into Alice and lap 2 was slightly lower on 345 watts on 148 HR. With 5min to go I saw a 50meter road train coming towards me and heard one in back. Since I was now going as hard as I could and really pushing it, I lost a little bit of focus as I moved over further and came off the road slightly but got right back on the road and kept going. I would have been so pissed if I got a flat I was thinking. I saw 350 for the lap and kept pushing it to see what I could do. I hit 351 and finished knowing I had set a PB.
The new PB of 348FTP is a 4.2% increase in two months. On cooler temperatures but not fully recovered, compared with rainy conditions and in a full taper for Cairns, my new training is proving how much it’s working. With 9 weeks to go till Kona, I’m really excited to see how far I can push this metric. I look forward to the repeat of this test on Saturday and expect that with a more realistic LTHR of 152-154 vs the 149 I held today, more watts will be coming my way.
While Fiona did her 30min FTP test inside after a long days work, I headed to the food store, came back, and made dinner for us.
Best Broccoli Salad with Green Garden Mayonnaise and Macaroni Squash pasta. We ranked these 3 recipes 9/10 or better from The China Study Cookbook.
“Never before has there been such a mountain of empirical research supporting a whole food, plant-based diet. Now, for example, we can obtain images of the arteries in the heart, and then show conclusively, as Drs. Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. have done, that a whole food, plant-based diet reverses heart disease. We now have the knowledge to understand how this actually works. Animal protein, even more than saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, raises blood cholesterol levels in experimental animals, individual humans, and entire populations. International comparisons between countries show that populations subsisting on traditional plant-based diets have far less heart disease, and studies of individuals within single populations show that those who eat more plant-based foods not only have lower cholesterol levels but also less heart disease. We now have a deep and broad range of evidence showing that a whole food, plant-based diet is best for the heart.” – Page 13. The China Study Cookbook.