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In the past two weeks, I was fortunate enough to come across a power meter for my tri bike – thanks to a good friend who is not racing for a while.  Once I got everything set up and working (PowerTap G3 with an Edge 510), I was psyched to start training with power.

Problem is, it’s pretty overwhelming at first!

So what does a noob to power do to get started?

The other fortunate occurrence was this year’s BeginnerTriathlete.com mentor groups.  There happened to be a group on there that is meant for people new to training with power, and they didn’t mind taking on another clueless soul like myself.

Voila!

The group is run by two awesome guys – Shane and Marc.  Shane is a great tri coach, and is putting together workouts for us weekly.  It’s pretty awesome.  Check out his coaching website if you want more information:

Shane MacLeod – ScotiaMultisport
http://www.scotiamultisport.com
https://twitter.com/scotiamultisprt

So this past week, I did my first two FTP tests – one 5 minute, and one killer 20 minute.  I actually had to do the 20 minute test twice, because the first time I tried it, I only got 11 minutes into the balls-to-the-wall interval before I blew up and ended up laying on my floor for ten minutes, covered in sweat and not wanting to move ever again.  The first time I did the 20 minute test, I tried following the Sufferfest “Rubber Glove” video, which was fantastic.  But I clearly needed more of a recovery time before the actual test interval, so the second time around, I did the test as written by Coach Shane:

Long (20 minute) FTP Test – 1:00:00 total time

  • 10:00 spin; get loose, build up a light seat, have slightly elevated breathing by the end
  • 5x30s at short test wattage, 30s easy spin recovery in between
  • 10:00 spin
  • 20:00 all out – you want to be steady through this or build power as you go; you don’t want to start off too hard and then fade as the test progresses. Better to start a little too easy and build throughout than blow up part way through. Early in the test, if you feel you can hold the power for another 5:00, you are probably right where you want to be; if 5:00 would be easy, go a bit harder, if 5:00 seems like way too long, back off a little. With five minutes to go, time to just hang on through to the end.
  • 15:00 spin

Courtesy Shane MacLeod (http://www.scotiamultisport.com)

I ended up with a pretty darn low 20 minute power.  But the way I see it, that means I have nowhere to go but up!

After a good recovery day, I did the 5 minute test.  Again, as written by Coach Shane:

Short (5 minute) FTP Test – 45:00  total time

  • 10:00 spin; get loose, build up a light sweat, have slightly elevated breathing by the end
  • 5:00 at a moderately hard effort (just a bit easier than oly distance race effort)
  • 5:00 spin
  • 5x15s at about 5:00 test effort, 45s easy spin recovery in between
  • 5:00 spin
  • 5:00 all out – you want to be steady through this or build power as you go; you don’t want to start off too hard and then fade as the test progresses. Better to start a little too easy and build throughout than blow up part way through. Through the first half of the test, ask if you can keep this power up for another minute; if so you are probably right where you want to be; if not adjust slightly. With two minutes or less to go, time to just grit your teeth and hang on.
  • 10:00 spin

Courtesy Shane MacLeod (http://www.scotiamultisport.com)

Yeah, there was a lot of that gritting of the teeth and hanging on this week.  Also, a lot of swearing and grunting.  But I got through!

I ended up with the following for my results:

  • 20 minute test: 125 Watts
  • 5 minute test: 159 Watts
  • FTP (Functional Threshold Power): 119 Watts
    • This is what I should be able to maintain for an hour
  • CP (Critical Power): 114 Watts
    • This is what I should be able to maintain for a “very long time”
  • W/kg: 2.1
    • Pretty typical for a crappy cyclist like myself.  🙂
  • AWC (Anaerobic Work Capacity): 13.6 kJ
    • Essentially the size of my “battery.”  This should go up as I train more.  It doesn’t matter much with endurance races – it’s more of a sprinting thing, but it’s still interesting.

So now that I’ve got a baseline, I’m all ready to go for this week’s workouts.  Can’t wait to get my butt kicked!

I also got to get out Saturday and enjoy this amazing Colorado weather.  It was January 18th, and I went out for a three hour ride, in short sleeves.  It was amazing.  It was like May in New York!  Also, the view while riding is just spectacular.  I still can’t believe I live here.

I love this place!

Also, go Broncos!

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I’m a big fan of the IM Talk podcast, and the other day I was listening to a recent episode.  Since it was a holiday, Bevan played some interviews from his other podcast, Fitness Behavior, and I thought it was fascinating.  So I pulled up some of those podcasts as well.

Within about two minutes of starting the most recent episode (the Wrap Up and Workbook episode), I found myself nodding along and saying “Yep! That’s exactly it!  That is EXACTLY what I do.”  Since this was a year end wrap up episode, Bevan was just highlighting some of the other podcasts from throughout the year.  There was one that resonated in particular with me, and that was the “Process Challenge” episode (listen here).  (The others were also really good.)

Rather than give a detailed recap, I’ll just say, LISTEN TO IT! The general idea is that instead of focusing on finding the right goal to motivate you to train and/or eat well – like a specific race – focus on the habits that you would have if you were functioning at your best.  By making it a goal to do those things every day, you will set yourself up for success.  For me, aiming to complete those little goals/habits each day makes me feel better, both mentally (a sense of accomplishment, and organization in my life), and physically (because I’m eating well, getting enough sleep, and being active).  This is something I’m focusing on this month.  Yes, I have training going on, but rather than just looking months down the road at these looming races, I’m going to go one day at a time, and make the effort to fill in all my little check boxes each week.  Two days in and so far, so good!  Granted, it’s only been two days, but I’m enjoying it so far.

Here’s my list that I came up with.  I tried to be as specific as possible, and make them small and manageable things that I can do on a daily basis:

Daily:

  • Get up by 7am (I am a grad student and have a pretty flexible schedule, so 7am is plenty early.)
  • Follow my training plan for the day.  Preferably completing it in the morning because it gives me a good sense of accomplishment and energy throughout the day.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast
  • Pack a healthy lunch
  • Make a healthy dinner
  • Do a quick clean of my apartment
  • Walk my dogs
  • Call and/or text my best friend every day (she lives 1800 miles away and I miss her!)
  • Track my food intake
  • Floss – I know it’s funny, but I got a very convincing talk about the importance of daily flossing from a dentist on the chairlift a few weeks ago (how’s that for random?).  And you know what?  It’s quick, easy, and good for your long term health.
  • Have one hour of quiet time before bed.  No screens – instead, take a bath, meditate, read a book, cuddle with the dogs, etc.
  • Get to sleep by 10pm

Weekly

  • Write a blog post
  • Practice my viola for 1 hour
  • Attend a social event and meet a new person
  • Hike with the dogs
  • Meal plan and prep for the upcoming week
  • Sit down and reflect on my week – the good, the bad, and what I can learn from it.

Listen to it!  It’s great and could dramatically change the way you approach things.

Need to contact me?

geonerdette at gmail dot com

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