Tuesday, March 31, 2009

reflections on March

I had a really solid sprint workout today, extending my maximum recorded power to 749 watts on sprint #4. Then 737 watts on sprint #5 was my second best. So maybe my recent series of sprint workouts is paying off.

With this ride, I closed off what's been a very mixed month. On the surface, with the exception of today's ride, it's been discouraging. I was 73rd in the Menlo Grand Prix, never a factor. I've never once this month felt strong on climbs. I got dumped from my one and only Spectrum Ride (okay, I ran 12.3 miles the day before). I did manage to hang with the main group over Canada College on a Thursday Noon Ride, but on a Tue Nooner, I was overwhelmed before I dropped off to do my assigned sprints (I'd done a long run two days before). I've not done a single ride this month much over 45 miles.

So when things don't seem to be going so well, it's nice to look at some data. Here's my maximal power curves for the month (before and after today's sprint workout), compared with Feb and Mar of last year.


maximal power curve comparison. PDF version also available.


What do I see here? Well, not so bad, really. Starting from the left, clearly sprint power is up. Moving onward, there's a gaping hole in the range of VOMax intervals, 3 to 8 minutes (180 to 480 seconds). I was doing those last March, but I'm not yet there this year. Towards 40 minutes, the Menlo Grand Prix yielded a sizable plateau. Not shown are my soporific data from climbing Old La Honda or West Alpine, which fell well below the Menlo numbers. Further to the right I see this year's data falls off below the 2008 curves. I was doing more long, hard rides last year. To a certain degree these have suffered due to the addition of running to my scheduler: I've done several runs approaching or exceeding the half-marathon distance these past few months, and am still recovering from straining my hamstring during the Woodside Half Marathon.

Also shown in the plot is an estimated maximal power curve assuming FTP = 280 watts (5.02 W/kg on a Powertap ≈ 5.17 W/kg on an SRM) with a ratio of anaerobic work capacity to critical power of 60 seconds. These would be fairly good numbers for me, and I may not be there yet, especially the AWC component. The Menlo data fall close to this curve, which is impressive given how non-uniform the efforts were there (the "normalized power" curve, which is claimed to better predict FTP in this time range, actually exceeds this "optimistic" curve, but I prefer to stick with average power). Last year my VOMax intervals come close to this curve. It will be interesting if I can match last year's numbers when I add these to my menu this year, no doubt soon.

So for April: I absolutely must get in some longer rides. With sickness, moving, and fatigue from running, my training progression substantially lags last year. And there's that uncertain benefit from all of those running miles.

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