1/2 way through the 12 week base training phase...

Today marks the end of the first 1/2 of my 12 week base training phase for 2014.  It's almost hard to believe that 6 weeks have gone by, but they have.  And the majority of the training has been in the basement on the LeMond trainer since the winter has kept me from doing the rides outside. 

The end of this 6 week segment called for a repeat of the 20 minute FTP test yesterday.  It was timed to come at the end of the recovery week.  So I felt rested and ready to grind it out in the middle of all the snow and winter that will be melting away this week with warmer temperatures.  I had auditions at Simpson from 9 to noon for prospective students, so I had to wait for lunch to settle a couple of hours to do the test.

I'm not sure I was expecting too much going into this FTP test for 2 reasons.

#1 - I started out with a very good result on January 6th with my opening FTP test as my fitness level had not really dropped all that much due to the riding I did in November and December to maintain my weight (which included some good intensity).

#2 - My nutrition during the first 6 weeks of the base period has been focused on dropping weight and getting leaner in the mid-section while weight lifting to tone up the rest of the body.

In light of #2, there was a study done that was outlined in the excellent book Racing Weight by Matt  Fitzgerald which used 4 groups of cyclists to conduct a purpose study on weight loss.  It was something like group 1 worked only on improving their power output for 4 weeks and did not try to cut weight, group 2 worked on power output while also trying to cut weight at the same time, group 3 worked only on cutting weight, and group 4 trained and ate as usual.

I would have thought that the group cutting weight and working on increasing their power at the same time would have had the best results.  Instead - they saw no improvement. Ouch!!!  The group that worked on improving their power only saw a 10% increase, and the group that worked on cutting weight only, saw a 9.3% increase.

I guess I am in the group that is working on power output as well as cutting weight which means my results were bound to be flat if that study holds any credence.  However, the good news with regard to the study is that the weight cutting should take place in the first 4-8 weeks of base period (where I am).  That affords me a couple more weeks to the end of base to reach as close to my goal weight as possible before it gets critical to focus on power output.  Sounds like it would be pointless for me to be cutting weight beyond that, although I'm sure my body will settle in a bit more as the season gets closer.  In just 6-7 weeks time, I will be rotating into the build, peak, and race 12 week training plan where I will focus on improving my power output only - and not dropping weight.

All that being said, yesterday's 20 mintue FTP test didn't go so poorly.  I got an accurate reading to compare and contrast to the January 6th test.

Mediacom was knocked out in the state of Iowa due to a cut in a Fiber Optics line, so I had no visual entertainment to take my mind off of the test or the warm up.  The warm up is a pretty eye opening experience to get ready for this test and awakened me at the end of a R&R week.  I spent about 40 minutes doing a proper warm up that hit Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3, and some efforts in Zone 4.  Then I did the 20 minute test.

Grinding, grueling, out of the comfort zone, etc... all apply and are usual.  I was in much better mental spirits the last time around I did this test, and this time the mind seemed to be a bit "skeptical" for lack of a better description.  Regardless, the results were very similar to January 6th.  However my average heart rate for the 20 minutes was 4-5 beats lower at the same average power which may or may not show improved performance due to adaptation.  Maximum HR hit 186 (was very brief) and maximum wattage hit 321 (for the same brief period before I reigned it back in) - so I was able to complete the test without pushing out of the intended FTP and my averages were nearly identical with the January 6th test. 

It's sort of an odd test where you are supposed to go all out, but if you really do go all out - you won't complete the 20 minutes.  It's more of a controlled all out that requires experience in conducting the test.  I think I prefer the RAMP MAP test protocol which is shorter in duration (usually 9 - 15 minutes) and is pretty accurate and allows one to set their training zones in a very similar fashion to the FTP test.  In that test, you are allowed to push to your max and go all out by the end of it with failure not being a question.  The 20 minute FTP has a narrow window of what could lead to failure. 

I should be happy that I didn't sink in performance considering the 2 reasons I mention above.  Following the test, I finished up with 30 more minutes in a high Zone 2 to burn some calories and log a full 90 minute training session.  After the session, I ate a hand full of nuts, took a bite of leftover salmon and rice - then got bundled up to go outside and fire up the snow blower to tackle the 3-4" of fresh snow we got Saturday.  Then I took the dogs for a 20 minute walk before coming inside to shower.

We were headed to a wine tasting over at Dave and Jillian Camwell's house where I knew I would be consuming some calories to replenish what I had burned off.  The tasting was conducted by a company called WineShop at Home.  We had a good time tasting 6 different wines, eating cheese, crackers, fruit, chocolate and socializing.  Thanks Dave and Jillian for hosting!!!!  It was a blast!

Today only calls for a recovery spin before launching into the next 2 week build.  I will attend a student recital this afternoon, a guest recital, teach a sample lesson for a prospective student, then go to another round of prospective student auditions before coming home for dinner.

Looks like another winter storm hitting tonight with rain, snow, sleet, ice before this week gives way to warmer weather and a melt off as temperatures reach the 40's and 50's.  Fingers crossed that things allow some riding to take place outside once everything is melted....

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