Hard Workout

Luke McKenzie is a professional triathlete.  Triathlete Magazine recently posted an article with his “hardest workout” and it just so happens to be on the bike.  I would love to know what his Ironman Watts are that he puts out!! 🙂

It doesn’t matter if we are professional athletes, age group podium athletes, or recreational athletes…every one of us has a workout that we consider to be a “hard” workout at some point…one that pushes us physically, mentally or both.

Friday I had a VERY. HARD. RIDE.  Since purchasing my new toy a few weeks ago…


this was the first ride that REALLY challenged me (both physically and mentally).  After having my VO2 Max test at the end of February, I know what my power zones are:

  • Power Zone 1 = 0 -123 watts
  • Power Zone 2 = 124 – 167 watts
  • Power Zone 3 = 168 – 200 watts
  • Power Zone 4 = 201 – 233 watts
  • Power Zone 5 = 234 – 266 watts
  • Power Zone 6 = 267+ watts

Friday morning’s ride was power intervals and looked like this:

  • 30 minute warm-up
  • 6×3 min power zone 3 (mid to high z3) while keeping my cadence above 95 rpm with 2 min easy spin between each set
  • 15 minute cool-down

Typically I have at least one other person to ride with in the sweat cave early in the mornings, but not this time.  I was all by myself.  In my own head.  Staring at concrete walls and a bunch of empty bicycles.

Here is what my performance yielded:

Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 10.44.44 AM

My power and cadence were nearly spot on according to the targets I was to be aiming for.  The first 4 intervals were challenging, but physically I felt strong.  By the 5th and 6th intervals, I really had to use my mental focus, self talk (or yell) and visualization to dig deep and finish as strong as I could.

Before training with power, I was training on heart rate.  According to my heart rate data below, my heart rate was solidly in zone 4 for each interval after the first two and was nearing zone 5 by the final interval.  With power zone 3 being the target, I was forced to work harder, pushing my heart rate much higher than zone 3.  If I would have done this same workout using heart rate, I would not have pushed this hard.

Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 10.44.53 AM

This was only the first of many more HARD WORKOUTS, but I am excited to see where training on power will take me!!

I'm. Beat. Nothing. Left.
I’m. Beat. Nothing. Left. Put. A. Fork. In. Me. I’m. Cooked.
Puddles of sweat on the floor next to the bike = good workout.
Puddles of sweat on the floor next to the bike = good workout.

What is your hardest workout?  Do you train with power?  If so, what improvements have you seen as a result?


Week #13 (Recovery Week) Totals:

Swim:  4700 yards

Bike:  76.2 miles

Run:  21.7 miles

Strength Training:  2 hours & 15 minutes

Hot Yoga:  1 hour

Week #13 in the green 😉

20 thoughts on “Hard Workout

  1. Wow. That’s pretty cool – may consider something like that for when I go off the deep end and do a full IM. Since I just do running (ok, dabble in swimming and there’s zero power for me in THAT sport), and power = speed, speed = power. I was just talking to the ladies yesterday during our 20 miler that we think the speed work we do is asked of us to build power. We only do one 20 miler while many other plans have you do multiple 20’s, but we feel the intensity we are going is building our base and will provide us the strength to get through Boston to meet our goals. Heck, maybe I’m totally wrong, but I guess I’ll find out in two weeks!!

    1. I would agree that you only need one 20 miler and that the intensity will give you more than the strength you need to get you through Boston!! Crazy to think Boston is only two weeks from today. I can’t wait to track your race. You’ll have to let me know your race number 🙂

  2. This is really interesting – sounds like an epic workout! I didn’t do any HR training during my ultra, but I normally do during marathon and tri training. It’s always hardest for me to reach my target zones on the bike!

    1. It was hard for me at first to reach my target HR zones, but then they became more comfortable. Now the power targets are really hard to reach…I am hoping that one day they will eventually become easier as well 😉

  3. Whew- that is a tough workout! The biggest challenge in that for me would be keeping my cadence up. Hope you were able to rest your legs a little after that 🙂

    1. It was a challenge Abby, but I survived!! I did rest my legs and actually went to hot yoga that evening. I could definitely tell during yoga that I had worked really hard earlier in the day.

  4. How interesting! I’ve never trained with power, sounds very cool. Speed work is my hardest workout and I’ve definitely looked and felt like you do in the picture!

  5. I really need to invest in power, but it is so expensive. My coach reminds me every time I see him that I need power (sounds so superhero-ish). How do you like yours? Maybe I am hesitating because it will hold me completely accountable for hard workouts. 🙂 Great job hitting and maintaining those zones!

    1. It is expensive, but totally worth it!! I got the cheapest one and the only downfall that I can see so far is that I can’t put it in different wheels. I have to use the same wheel anytime I want power. The more expensive ones allow for you to swap them out on different wheels, but I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars. Thanks Kristen!! 😉

  6. This is fascinating…with a running background, I’m so used to thinking about just pace/speed, but getting into triathlons now & thinking about power is a whole new way to challenge the body & fine-tune the fitness levels. Can’t wait to hear more as you continue to train & experiment!

    1. I too came from a running background, so it is a new way of thinking and training for me as well. Power is an investment, but I am glad I’ve finally decided to make the investment. I am really hopeful that it will be beneficial and make me stronger/faster/more energy efficient on the bike.

  7. GREAT job on that workout! Power changes everything about cycling and training 🙂 Big gains heading your way! My hardest bike workout lately: 5 x 4:00 @ 235 watts… BRUTAL.

    1. OH MY!! At this point, your hardest workout would about kill me. I hope to get there someday 🙂 Congrats on a very challenging workout Erin!!

  8. Sounds like a good week, and definitely a tough trainer ride! I love doing 6x3min intervals in z3! Although I find it sooo hard to keep my cadence high and push a lot of power on the trainer! That is what seriously makes it hard for me. Kudos to you on killin’ that tough workout!

  9. I have just begun using power. All our threshold tests have been done when my power was (out a battery or totally acting wonky) but now that we are riding outside. I am going to do a test and really get some numbers down!!
    That sounds like a miserable work out! 🙂 Great job on getting it done!!! The hardest thing for me is keeping my cadence up. I really worked on it last year and now working on it this year too!!

    1. I am horrible at keeping a higher cadence also Leslie!! I’ve been working on it for 5 years now. If you find a solution for how to keep a higher cadence (and make it not so challenging), please share 😉

  10. I’m addicted to my Quarq PM! So much so that I have 2….1 on my road bike on 1 on my TT/tri bike. I simply can not function without it anymore….the only time I ever look at speed is post workout or during a race. Crazy how perspective changes. I don’t use HR very much b/c it’s so variable, but I do enjoy strapping up every so often to see my fitness gains there as well! Great workout! I have a few files that look remarkably similar!

    1. Power is definitely addicting!! Yesterday my power wasn’t working and it drove me crazy!! I think I need a new battery, but I just bought the tap, so one would think the battery would last longer than a month.

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