Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mo' powah

So it would seem there's something to this whole "training" thing. Especially when you can quantify it. A month ago I did some power testing and came up with a threshold power of 212. (These terms mean different things to different people at different times, so what I mean by threshold power here is the max power sustainable for an hour.) This was derived from an all out 8 minute effort. Earlier this month I did a virtual time trial, where I could only manage to hold 213 watts for 20 minutes, which I should be able to hold for a whole hour. Today I did another virtual time trial, and really surprised myself.

There are two really cool things about Golden Cheetah power software. One, unlike the WKO+ software that they want $130 for and only works on PCs, Golden Cheetah is free, open source and works on Linux, Macs and PCs. Two, it has a sweet critical power plot that makes it easy to find your best power output for a given time, and also extrapolates what your best power should be for any given time, given the data it has so far; they call it the critical power curve. This morning, the best effort I'd made for 20 minutes was 213 watts (the last virtual TT), and the CP curve said I should be able to do 217. So my goal for the effort was to keep it in the two hundred and teens (210-220) for the whole time.

At the beginning you have to hold back so you don't blow up. I kept it easy but was still in the 220s to 230s. Of course it became harder and harder to keep that up, but in the end, I was able to hold 234 watts for the effort! I even accidentally increased my 8 minute power over the all-out 8 minute test last month!

I really have to give a lot of credit to Kit Oslin, my TNT nemesis on SPBRC, for nagging me to try out the spinning classes at NOW Bikes and to "Coach Amy" Kline (also SPBRC) for teaching the classes. Also the crew at the Arden Hills NOW for providing the space and organizing the free virtual time trials. While riding outside may be more fun, disciplined training sessions apparently get results! It's really hard to do 8 or 20 minute uninterrupted intervals in the land of 10,000 suburbs. Plus, the Arden Hills store has a shop cat!

For all my excitement and seeing improving results, all I have to do is compare to others to see that I have a hella lot of work to do if I want to upgrade to Cat 3. But hey, it's only February!