Yesterday was 60 days in a row of riding and I wanted to jot down some notes.
The last time I got back in bike shape I was in my early-40s with only one kid and no lockdown restrictions.
Times have changed!
At the start of May, I’d been locked down since March 13th and was injured from my run program. Early in our lockdown, my wife ordered a Peloton spin bike. I decided to try it out.
May 8th was my first ride. I immediately enjoyed the format – music with no cars. I also liked the fact that my public health authority couldn’t take away my ability to ride indoors!
It’s been a fun progression:
- May 13th => 20-minute best effort ride (222w, 152 bpm)
- June 25th, held 221w for 75 minutes at 137bpm
- 1st week of July held 230w for an hour at 139bpm
I’m at ~3 watts per kilo in my “peppy aerobic zone” – that’s good enough. I’m pleased how it worked out.
Here’s my training protocol, you don’t need a Peloton. You do need a bike, a trainer, a heart rate monitor and a power meter.
Ride twice most days, mainly endurance. First ride is done before my kids wake up. I enjoy a cup of coffee then get rolling.
Endurance ride => the basic Peloton format…
- Three song warm-up
- Song 1 just spin, build cadence and power into Zone 2/Steady
- Song 2 insert 4×30 seconds, spin-ups (cadence ~110 rpm) with power not more than Zone 3/Mod-hard
- Song 3 split in half – Zone 2, Zone 3
- Endurance set, alternate by song Zone 3 / Zone 2 => 20-45 minutes based on time available.
- Spin your HR under 100bpm when you’re done
That session is the bulk of my bike training, it works great and will continue to work great. Even more important, I’m having fun.
You can see everything I do on Strava => weights/strength/hills and a lot of “low” HR endurance.
If you go the Peloton route then they have an intro to power module (here’s their power FAQ).
- The target power zone sets the MINIMUM for your workout target – put a floor on work – if you can’t hit your endurance zones, or if your HR pops, then your zones are set too high. Upward zone creep is common across all ability levels!
- Heart rate zone sets the MAXIMUM for your workout – put a ceiling on stress – once warmed up, I give myself permission to push the watts up a bit, so long as my HR stays in my target zone. When I consistently generate higher level power, on lower level HR, I know it’s time to retest my zones.
- Climbing/Big Gear workouts are a great way to rack up Threshold Watts (Z4) at Mod-Hard Heart Rates (Z3). Example here.
- My toughest workouts are crisscross sessions – about an hour a week – warm-up and power is going over/under FTP with recoveries in Zone 3/Mod-Hard. Example here.
- Traditional Spin Classes are done for variety, as a pep rally and to build quickness/cadence. Quickness is key as we age. This skill was tough when I started – it came back fast.
- Being able to use Peloton to create a “proper” program was a surprise – I thought it was all spin classes and high intensity. Guess I am a bit out of date.
- The 20-minute benchmarking test is a “nice” session in itself – kinda hurts at the end. You don’t need, or want, to be doing much truly tough stuff in 2020. There are many better places for you to put your energy.
- Peloton has world class coaches – Alex Toussaint leaves me feeling cheerful every_single_time I do one of his classes. Throughout lockdown, I was laughing out loud with his classes. Laughter is good medicine.
- Lift weights – moving your power zones up won’t improve your life. Getting stronger will improve your life.
Some specific thoughts on intensity.
- When you’re training with power, you can track total work measured in kilojoules (KJ). If you’re a time-limited athlete (running home school, working, cleaning your house…) then KJs are worth noting.
- You’ll quickly see that highly intense workouts have a poor KJ-to-Fatigue ratio. You get a lot of fatigue without much work being done.
- You might think intensity is a good deal. It’s not. It’s an awful deal because highly intense workouts are stressful and stress makes you eat / crave sugar. Bad deal all around => you can easily gain fat while exercising often and feeling tired. Lose-Lose.
- The Win-Win is a cardio program that adds energy to your overall life and helps guide your body composition, an endurance-based program.
- Once your endurance is well established 6-18 months, it only takes a bit of tough stuff to get your numbers to bounce.
- Your overall program needs to keep you under your sugar threshold. Cravings, and bingeing, are signs of depletion and excess stress.
Aim for a protocol you can do every day for 15 weeks.
Challenge yourself to eliminate the habits that screw up tomorrow’s training.
Keep it simple and repeat the week.