Last week was test week.
Every 4 weeks, I re-test my fitness. I divide the year into three-3 month training cycles, each culminating with a distance cycling event. This time of year, I am inside lifting weights, and spinning all the while staring at myself in the floor-to-ceiling mirror situated in front of the spinning bikes. I tire of that 😂 My focus is on power, and cardiovascular fitness. As the year progresses, and the weather improves, I am outside on the road bikes more frequently, where I work on cycling skills – climbing, descending, group rides, speed, and strategy – as well as fitness.
I have 5 weeks until the first century ride of the year, the Pacific Populaire, and I have only been on one of the road bikes once this entire year. This is why –
What I awoke to this morning
However, I have been training, and in some respects, am in the best shape of my life. I have a VO2 Max comparable to some professional cyclists (🤔), and my power ratios (1 RM Leg Press / weight and average wattage / weight)) puts me in the 20-29 year old category (🤔).
I can’t loose 😂
This time of year, I enjoy training indoors with a power meter, and heart rate monitor. I am able to train regularly, gradually increasing the load as I progress. I have seen improvement in all categories – VO2 Max, leg & core strength, and resting heart rate. The only thing I’m disappointed with is my weight. I have actually put weight on over the winter. I suppose this is not unusual when the days are shorter, and cold. My ideal cycling weight is 160-165 pounds, and I would like to be within this range by April.
I don’t want to bore you with these numbers. They are specific to me, and my cycling goals. I have included them simply as an illustration of what you might track. You, no doubt, are at a different fitness level, and have different goals. What I do want to talk about however is the benefit of having a daily training plan, and the need to monitor your progress.
Benefits of a Daily Plan
For me, it is important to have a daily plan. If I don’t have daily goals, I find my workouts are less focused, ineffective, and quite frankly, less enjoyable. I tape a weekly schedule on my locker door, the wall beside my desk at home, and my water bottle:
You can see I’m careful to vary the workouts, and gradually increase the intensity as the week progresses. I have found 45-60 minutes is enough on the spinning bike, provided I spin 6 days a week. When I cycle outside, I can easily ride for 2-3 hours. So, rather than increase my workout duration, I increase the lifting loads, and wattage output. This is the purpose of re-testing my fitness every 4-6 weeks, so I know how much to dial up the workload. Without regular testing, I have no idea, other than feel, whether I’m improving, or not.
Despite having to see myself in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors every day, training indoors is a more controlled environment. There is no wind, no traffic, no descents, and no drafting. A 45-60 minute spinning workout is consistent, controlled, and taxing. I work harder during these sessions than I do outdoors.
Priorities for March
This month, as I prepare for the Pacific Populaire, my objectives have changed. After reviewing my most recent test results, these are my priorities for the month.
- Maintain my current strength, and cardiovascular fitness – my numbers are good for this time of year. What is more important is to get back on the bike more.
- Ride the bikes at least 3 times a week, gradually increasing the duration and distance.
- Lose 4-5 pounds – this alone will improve my power ratios, provided I maintain my current strength.
- Be rested for the event – extra rest, a reduced workout load, and adequate tapering is necessary.
Do you have a daily plan?