Weekly Training Series: Building the Bike Part 2/4
Whereas last week's workout was more of a general FTP builder that could be used by anyone to gain fitness and boost that threshold, this week is a little more race specific. Race specific, but even more so specific to those of us who are in a race with a wave start. In the past, my race specific workouts for flatter races, like Miami 70.3 coming up, would look a lot more steady where the power would stay within 3-5% range, and I would focus on just staying in a good cadence rhythm, and in one position pounding away. But with more experience, I know now that while churning out steady power is something every triathlete harps on and strives for during their races, most of the time it just doesn't play out that way. This season I've had a number of races where my age-group wave was one of the last to go. What that means is in addition to swimming through hoards of people, steady power on the bike is just not realistic. There will be many surges going well over your planned power to get around people, surges past aid stations where people are slowing significantly right in front of you, and everyone has a tendency to slow ever so slightly going into a turn and then putting in a slight injection of power coming out of the turn to get the bike back up to speed. In addition to being great for age-groupers starting in a later wave, this workout can be used for those preparing for a hilly race with some short spiky little climbs, or even pros looking to improve their ability to quickly react to pace changes and then get right back into a good steady rhythm. That ability to get so quickly back into rhythm is what I like most about this workout, it's what makes it somewhat difficult, and so beneficial. Whatever the scenario that you use the workout to prepare for being able to somewhat "recover" from big power surges at your race watts is an invaluable skill and something that needs to be practiced. You will get accustomed to varying your efforts without flooding your muscles with lactate, and backing off the pace prematurely so that you can actually add to your lead on the people you are passing.
So the workout is as follows:
1) Warmup: 15 minutes: small steady build from 50-->60% FTP
2) 3x20 minutes broken down as follows: 3 minutes @ 83%** FTP, followed by 20 seconds at 102% FTP (or some number just above FTP), right back to 3 minutes at 83%, to 20 s at 102%, etc. until 20 minutes has past - so in total there will be 6 three minuters, and 6 20s seconds surges. There are a nice generous 5 minute recoveries at 50% FTP between the three intervals.
** You can do anywhere from 80-85% whatever you plan on pushing I just picked 83% here because this was first workout after increasing my FTP value so didn't want to go crazy aggressive since 83% here was already equivalent to around 86% at my old FTP value which would have been a little too aggressive for how hard I wanted the workout to be. If you have less time available just go for 2 of the 20 minuters.
3) 10 Minute progressive cooldown for 65% FTP steadily down to 50% FTP.
The key with this workout is that following the 20 sec surge you get as quickly as you can back on the steady 80-85% FTP power. This is where having an Erg trainer like the Wahoo Kickr is great so it can take care of the power changes for you, but it is also good to do it manual/standard mode sometimes so that you can practice changing gears or re-adjusting your cadence yourself to get right back on the power. Many people have a tendency to surge then coast to recover, the key is to surge and then "recover" at you planned race wattage, so your still distancing yourself from whoever you just past. For the surges I tend to mix it up, where sometimes I get out of the saddle, sometimes I stay in the saddle and just lift my cadence. Either way both have benefits. The surging out of the saddle will help you improve you ability to transition smoothly out of the saddle and back into it while not letting the power waiver during the transition (which is a common tendency for most people). Staying in the saddle while surging though I've also found helps saves your quads and keeps the legs a little fresher, then again getting up out of the saddle during a pancake flat race can help change up muscle recruitment in a race where normally you may stay in one position the whole time constantly frying the same muscles, so it also has it's benefits when it comes to your legs' freshness come the run. That is why I like to mix it up, sometimes in the saddle sometimes out, but no matter what getting the power back onto the steady wattage as soon as possible.
Anyways so that's the workout for this week enjoy. Until next week happy training.