This marked the culmination of a rapid increase in my training load; I've averaged over 20 hours and 570 km per week for the last month, including some pretty high-intensity rides.
By late this week, I could tell it was time to back off for a while: the two weekend rides in particular featured heavy legs and fading energy levels. I didn't even get any weight training done, which is another sign that I'm due for a break.
However, it's been a great last few weeks, and I'm happy that my training seems now to be firmly heading in the right direction again.
I had my biggest week for a very long time this week, and I'm feeling great (but tired!).
The polarized training is in full swing, and seems to be working wonders for me. After an easy start on Monday, I did a nice Free Ride with just a couple of 8-minute intervals, during which I took advantage of my new power meter to pace them.
I knew I hadn't quite emptied the tank on the first interval, so on the second I increased the power and managed to hold on for the full duration, getting an extra 13W overall. Very painful, but effective.
Things really started to gel this week. Since making the realization that I'd been on the wrong track for the last few months, I've taken a big change in direction with my training, and this week I also went back and re-studied the most important research that aligns with my chosen approach.
There are various endurance training philosophies, such as high-intensity interval training and threshold training, but the one that I think has the most empirical support (from scientific research, from looking at how elite cyclists train, and even from looking at what I was doing last year when I was at my best) is polarized training.
It was very much a transitional week this week; as discussed last time, I've moved away from intervals for the time being so I can focus on ramping up my training volume, relying on the weekend rides to get my high-intensity work.
To that end, it wasn't a great week; flat tyres forced premature conclusions to two of my rides, and I missed the fast group ride on Saturday as I was needed elsewhere. This meant I fell short of my targets both for hours and intensity.
However, since it was a Post-Event week and I've got three more weeks to build before the next taper, it was hardly disastrous.
The big change this mesocycle was taking seriously the need to taper my training in the lead-up to my race. In accordance with scientifically-accepted best practice, I didn't reduce the intensity or frequency of my riding, but the volume came down by about one third.
Following Monday's Leg Speed ride, I did some tough Anaerobic Intervals on Tuesday. The first two were 2-minute efforts, which are horrible; you don't pace them, you just go flat out like you were doing a 30- or 40-second interval, then try to hang on as best you can. Nasty! These were followed by six 1-minute reps. Ten minutes of anaerobic work is plenty for one session.
The Nestor Cup wasn't exactly great for me, but nevertheless this was another week that I'm happy with.
It was a big step forward in terms of intensity. Take a look at the numbers at the bottom of the page; that ratio works out to about 4 hours of medium intensity and close to 60 minutes of high intensity, much of which was anaerobic. 1 hour above threshold per week is a great benchmark for this time of year.
If anything, the medium could be reduced a little in favour of low intensity, to give me more energy for the high intensity, but really I think I'm starting to get into a groove again. From the improvement I've noticed just from the last couple of weeks, it's clear that it's the high intensity work that's been missing. My updated training plan takes this into account, with new intervals rides on Thursdays of Build weeks to complement those already on Tuesdays. Tues/Thurs/Sats look like this:
Another week that started out disappointing, but ended strongly.
My plan to wait until Wednesday to do my midweek effort ride (with the idea that I'd be extra-fresh) didn't really work; I couldn't even get in 10 minutes of threshold. My legs didn't feel tired or heavy, they just didn't have the power to generate the necessary intensity.
So I decided to do a century ride instead, which went fine but I was still annoyed about not being able to do what I wanted.
The week started off not so great, with some attempted VO2max intervals on Tuesday. I got a couple in, but (as has been happening) fatigued rapidly as well as being down on power. I switched to some threshold blocks instead, but couldn't get a whole lot of those done either. To cap things off, I ended the ride early, as even endurance-paced riding proved to be a grind.