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Multi-Climb Workout (Spring 2014)
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Disclaimer: I am not a cycling coach. What I share here is my own approach to training, presented in a way that I hope will be useful for readers looking for an approachable discussion.
This workout analysis shows early season effort to integrate more climbing into the training, building up high-output endurance and spending time near lactate threshold, but at a slightly slower power output hovering at or just below threshold.
See Raising Lactate Threshold in Early Season for a more intensive lactate threshold repeat workout performed a week earlier, with its discussion of lactate threshold.
The SRM power meter is a great help on any workout where the goal is a consistent effort; highly recommended.
This workout consists of four climbs*, each of increasing duration and with substantial recovery intervals between the climbs, a pattern that mimics the demands of the Everest Challenge: high intensity climbs followed by moderate intensity lowland traversals.
As the season progresses, raising the climb intensity is planned, in order to simulate the race reality of very intensity climbs of medium to long duration followed by relatively flat traversals of lower elevation areas (all of these training climbs are “baby” climbs by comparison to the EC climbs, even Tunitas creek at ~1800' gain).
Comments on each ascent follow below.
Click for larger graphs. Red is heart rate, green is power (watts).
Upper paved Alpine Road
The training goal was for relatively consistent power metrics for all the climbs (sustainable efforts). Alpine Road was a warmup, being only ~12 minutes into the ride, but 300 watts was about where I hoped to be for all the climbs.
Old La Honda
The Old La Honda effort at 328 watts was high an effort (a futile chase of some young/lean rider). While the time was slower than all three of the previous week’s tripe ascent, I was not at my strongest this day after two hard days.
I sensed that the effort was too hard while engaging in it, and it resulted in a general wooziness that took ~15 minutes to recover from and feel normal again. The difference between 80% recovery from previous days and 100% recovery is 20-30 watts (for me on OLH), and an absence of that feeling for full recovery efforts.
The 284 watt effort felt very sustainable and not too hard; it’s a good training pace mimicking what’s needed for long rides with climbing.
The heart rate of 145 beats is at 82% of max for me, which is mostly aerobic. While it doesn’t train the aerobic system or anaerobic system specifically, it is a realistic pace for extended rides with climbing, and hence is of training value to mimic sustainable extended efforts.
By Tunitas Creek my legs were feeling the fact that the ride started with less than full recovery from previous days. Still, the 294 watt effort at 144 bpm showed that even when not fully recovered and somewhat fatigued, a fairly high effort level could be sustained.
Such metrics are valuable information for long rides such as the Everest Challenge or a double century: knowing that the ~290 watt range ought to be sustainable, a power meter can provide guidance on pacing. Providing of course that proper hydration and nutrition habits are followed during the event.
As the season progresses, it is possible to find that power range within ±5 watts, though altitude and temperature and hydration and extended duration can modify the figure. Still, the target metric together with the biofeedback of the power meter are extremely valuable tools in maintaining a strong but not too hard pace.