Watt Matters is a blog about training and racing with power and other related musings.

Aside from writing items here on occasions, I also provide cycling performance improvement services via coaching, aerodynamics testing and host a cycling tour.

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The Thin Blue Line

Time for a catch up on how my own training is going.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the results of my performance tests, namely a time trial level effort, a MAP test and some sprint efforts. Results were:

Time Trial power (20-minutes): 252 watts
Maximal Aerobic Power: 355 watts
Neuromuscular Power: 1074 watts (5-second max average with a peak of 1109 watts)

Estimated Functional Threshold Power: 240 watts.

So with those results locked away, training has been continuing. One thing to notice is the ratio of TT power to MAP. In my case, my TT power is a relatively low percentage of MAP (or if you like, my MAP is a relatively high percentage of TT power).

Hence my maximal aerobic abilities are really not a limiter (at this stage) to the ongoing development of my TT power. This helps to determine what my training focus should be for this next phase of training.

As with most cycling (except for track sprint/BMX), the focus is almost always on increasing your TT power, since it's the most import physiological marker of performance potential.

Of course rolling around the track is fun and so I will keep doing that. It also provides a safe environment for maximal sprint type efforts. Training should be hard work but it also needs to be enjoyable (mostly) otherwise we lose motivation.

So, my training will continue to be focussed on improving my sustainable TT power. Core endurance, tempo and threshold level efforts are now staples in the aerobic development diet. I'm also going to throw in a local criterium race or two as a challenge (and it's good training anyway).

My training workload is gradually increasing each week, and as I train my body is adapting to the new stress levels and responds by allowing me to continue to increase the workload. This ability to manage a continually increased workload is shown by the steady rise in the blue line in the chart below (the blue line depicts my Chronic Training Load (CTL) since I first hopped on the trainer just on four months ago).

The rate at which that blue line can rise is typically limited to a maximum of 5-8 TSS/week. Going above that rate for any length of time is usually met with an increased susceptibility for illness and possibly leads to a degrading of performance. In the opening block, I was increasing CTL at ~ 4 TSS/week and following a break from training I have been increasing at ~ 2 TSS/week. Due to the recovery from injury, it pays to be a little conservative in the rate at which CTL lifts.

Of course, for the blue line to provide such good indicator of changes in workload levels, it requires one to have an accurate understanding of their current fitness level. Hence the testing a couple of weeks ago. Not only does it set a benchmark for fitness, and provide solid data from which to determine what elements of my physiological profile need the most attention, but it also provides a sound basis on which to determine the appropriate workload and the rate at which it should be increased.

There is a period where the blue line heads south. I was having some trouble with my stump - it wasn't coping well with the stresses inside the socket and became quite sore. I thought it would need a couple of days rest but it turned out to need a lot more than that. Hence almost no training for a week and a half. It turned out that it was a technical problem that I managed to solve and so once the soreness faded, I was able to start training again and arrest that downward decline.

So far so good for the "thin blue line".

3rd in line

Benefit is On!!