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…

IMG_3036

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?

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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 😉

I DID Survive: Part 2

After surviving the first part of my week, I had a VO2 Max Test on Friday…

Just getting started with my VO2 Max Test.
Just getting started with my VO2Test.

For those of you who have not had a VO2 Max Test before, it is painful.  Including the warm-up and cool down, the actual time in the saddle is only about 30 minutes with less than 10 minutes of that being the painful part.  During the painful part of the test, the power is increased every minute while the cadence (revolutions per minute) is suppose to remain the same (ideally 85-90 rpm).  I successfully made it through 260 Watts for an entire minute, but when the power was increased to 280 Watts, I only made it about 20 seconds before my cadence REALLY dropped off and my legs just quit spinning.

Improvements in my test from last year to this year:

  1. I was able to push through more power this year…last year I barely made it through the 240 Watts minute before my legs quit spinning.
  2. I have trained my body to successfully burn fat at the same rate in both Zones 2 & 3.
The relatively flat line across Zone 2 and Zone 3 is my fat burning
The relatively flat line across Zone 2 and Zone 3 is my fat burning ability…pretty constant 🙂

Areas I still have to work on:

  1. Maintaining a smooth pedal stroke…my pedal stroke is lacking fluidity 😦
  2. Increasing my comfortable riding cadence from about 80 rpm to closer to 90 rpm…my “happy” cadence seems to be about 81-82 rpm.  If I am going to set myself up for a successful run I will need to increase that cadence to about 90 rpm to be more efficient and conserve more energy for the run.

Have you ever had a VO2 Max Test?  If so, what are your thoughts of them?  If not, would you consider one?

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Week #9 Totals (busy work week=few workouts):

Swim:  2800 yards

Bike:  53.1 miles

Run:  16.0 miles

Strength Training:  2 hours

Hot Yoga:  1 hour & 30 minutes

Week #9 in the green 😉

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February Totals:

Swim:  9.66 miles

Bike:  215.62 miles

Run:  70.95 miles

Strength Training:  8 hours & 15 minutes

Hot Yoga:  7 hours & 30 minutes

2 months of not missing a workout = SUCCESS!!

Numbers DON’T Lie!!

Yesterday I had my VO2 Max Test done for 2013.  Unfortunately, numbers don’t lie.  Last year wasn’t my most successful year in terms of training and racing.  I definitely had a lull in completing my workouts and racing after crossing the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin in 2011.

What is a VO2 Max test???  From an athlete’s perspective it is complete torture!!  As the athlete, you are put on either the treadmill or the bicycle trainer and pushed beyond your limit.  You wear a mask that is hooked up to a sensor which measures the amount of oxygen you inhale compared to the carbon dioxide you exhale.  Yesterday I was on the bicycle.  Every minute, the watts (power output) was increased by 20 watts and I was to maintain the same speed/rpms as close as possible for the entire test.  I got to the point where my mind was saying, “I CAN do 2 more minutes!!”  Unfortunately my body was not able to tap into what my mind was saying.  My legs physically shut down.  They just quit turning over 😦

Another Zoom Performance Athlete completing his VO2 Max test.
Another Zoom Performance Athlete completing his VO2 Max test.

From a coach’s perspective, there is some very useful information that can be used for the athlete to get stronger, faster and more efficient in both training and racing.  The VO2 Max test gives an athlete and their coach the following pieces of information:  Aerobic Threshold (AT), Lactate Threshold (LT), VO2 Max and heart rate (HR) zones.  At aerobic threshold (AT), the athlete is competing at an intensity where the muscles are recruiting the slow-twitch muscle fibers.  This is the optimal intensity for endurance training.  Athletes who train and race at their aerobic threshold will be much more efficient, enabling increased training volume as well as greater frequency and better quality speed workouts.

Lactate threshold (LT) is when the athlete is working at their highest intensity where the body can recycle lactic acid as quickly as it is produced.  If the athlete speeds up just above LT, the athlete can no longer recycle the lactic acid as quickly as it is produced.  This is when lactic acid accumulates and starts to cause muscle fatigue and damage.

VO2 Max is the volume of oxygen that an athlete uses during one minute of maximal exercise.

While all of the above information is very useful and important, the heart rate (HR) zones and power zones on the bicycle will help the athlete train and race at an intensity that allows the athlete to become more efficient.  In other words, “when it is time to ramp up the training and when to back off.”

Here are my heart rate (HR) zone numbers for the bicycle:

HR Zone

Lower HR Number

Upper HR Number

Zone 1 106 bpm 134 bpm
Zone 2 134 bpm 146 bpm
Zone 3 146 bpm 154 bpm
Zone 4 154 bpm 164 bpm
Zone 5 164 bpm 178 bpm

My HR numbers have not changed much from last year, but there were definite changes in my max power output, power output at LT and VO2 at AT from years past to this year.

Year

Power Output at LT (Watts)

Max Power Output (Watts)

VO2 at AT (L/min)

2010

180

220

2.29

2011

220

260

2.7

2012

240

280

2.82

2013

200

240

2.59

My 2013 numbers were directly related to my run focus lately and not as much on my cycling.  This test is proof that I have some work to do on the bike before Ironman Wisconsin 2014!!