This summer was my fourth in a row that hasn’t gone to plan. By that I mean that I rode my bike a lot less than I’d hoped to. This year the reason was a much higher workload, which is great, because as a freelancer, it meant summer was a bit more lucrative than last year and but something had to give and it was bike riding.
So rather than riding 500-600km per month during the summer, I managed just over 600km in total during July to September. Not good and as you might expect, it’s been awful for my fitness.
On recent rides, I’ve really struggled on the bike, to the point that it’s lessened the enjoyment of being out riding significantly.
So I decided to take Eddie Fletcher of Wattbike’s advice and try the 16 week Wattbike Triathlon training plan. Eddie recommended it previously as a programme that should bring a cyclist into the spring well-conditioned. Sounds perfect then.
I’ve written previously about my enthusiasm for the Wattbike – it helped me to the biggest performance gains I’ve made since beginning riding. See this post for more info: https://girodilento.com/learnt-2000km-wattbike/. You’ve most likely heard about many different elite athletes using them as part of their normal training regimes, but I proved to myself last year that time starved ordinary riders (with families and jobs etc) can also make good performance improvement if you can commit to a handful of hours a week for training.
The unpleasant part of getting started again was beginning with a 3 minute aerobic test to set my training zones. This involved riding the British Cycling 20 minute warmup and then riding as hard as I could for 3 minutes to get my average power over that short period. Last time I tried it I managed 339 Watts and 180bpm, which is ok for my 68kg weight. This time it had not surprisingly dropped – I managed 316 Watts and 180bpm. I was probably lucky to only have dropped my power by 7%.
The upside is that all of my training zones have got slightly easier. If you’re not familiar with the Wattbike approach it’s that you train with power and heart rate zones.
I’m now on my way through week 3 of the 16, having checked off the first 10 workouts of my 4 month journey. One of the things I liked about the last programme I did on the Wattbike was that it didn’t smash you up right away as much of the early focus was on lower intensity (Zone 1 and 2) riding to heart get your heart rate and power zones matching up. This new programme follows a similar path and frankly it’s been great as I don’t have the fitness or stamina for tough workouts right now. Riding 4 sessions a week has been both challenging and satisfying and even the low intensity has left me with achy legs. Whilst Wattbike have updated their website recently and the training plans aren’t so obvious on it, I’ve been working out my sessions on bits of paper using the old PDF training guide. They’re the same programmes – this is now called the Winter Training Plan.
Whilst I’ve been riding all sessions indoors on the Wattbike so far, the programme is written to allow you to swap a couple of rides a week to being outdoors and I’m hoping to do that soon.
Ticking off the first 10 workouts has Strava telling me I’ve done more riding in November than in any month since June, which again reflects on how rarely I’ve been on a bike.
I’ll keep riding and attempting to hit all four sessions a week as I’m genuinely curious to see what sort of shape I’m in at the end.
If you’d like to see the plan I’m riding to, you can find it here: http://wattbike.com/uk/the-winter-training-plan
If you want to follow my progress, you can find me on Strava here: https://www.strava.com/athletes/girodilento
Thanks for reading.