Monday, February 27, 2012

The hidden benefit of my back injury

I promise this will be the last post about my back.  I am not a winer, nor do I seek attention for injury however, in this case, this specific SI Joint injury may have been a blessing.  I won't know for sure until I do my race but if yesterday was an indication I may have lucked out.

So periodically to make sure my training is doing what it is supposed to be doing and my specific workouts are based on where my physical abilities are, Jennifer at trismart assigns me tests.  Yesterday was a Functional Threshold Power Test or often referred to as FTP.  Riding with a power meter is the single best way to improve your cycling ability.  The reason being is that it is constant.  When you think about cycling, there are many variables like wind and hills being the two biggest.  Both of these greatly affect speed which is what we all strive for (yesterday was a great case in point).  The reason power is so important is it actaully measures that amount of force you apply to your pedals.  Power doesn't care how fast you go or if the wind is at your back or in your face, it only measures how hard you are working.  About once ever two months I do an FTP test which is loosly defined as the average power I can generate for an hour.  Once FTP is determined, my coach can calculate all of my Power Zones for racing based on the distance of the cycling portion of the tri.  For instance, for my Ironman I will bike in Zone 2 - the aerobic zone and regardless of wind and terrain, I will be instructed not to apply more power (as measured by my powermeter) that we determine I can handle.  THIS IS EXTREMELY important when you race because you always feel jacked up and like a super hero during a race.  If you go too hard especially in a race that is 12+ hours long your body feels great at first but all of the blood rushes to your legs to help them pedal.  During the bike, especially the first 60 miles you need to take in a lot of calories to fuel you bike and run and recover from the swim and if all of your blood is in your legs, you don't digest your food and when you don't digest your food you have no energy and you bonk.  Here is a great video of a famous dual "bonking" in an Ironman.  It isn't because they didn't train, it is most likely because they didn't get enough nutrition during the race or raced so hard they couldn't process it.  For us inexperienced racers who have not gotten the "feel" of the right mix of effort yet, power is the only way to tell. This is one of the most famous of all bonks but it happens every race .

Anyway I digress....  The reason my back injury may have been a blessing is because I wasn't able to run so spent a lot of time on the bike doing very specific work to increase my FTP.  If I increase my one hour FTP the trickle down is that I also increase my aerobic zone allowing me to apply more power over a longer period of time in the Ironman making my relative speed faster.  The FTP test is pretty simple.  Do a time trial as hard and fast as you can go wihtout "blowing up".  Your power over the first 10 minutes should be less than the last 10.  Instead of doing this for an hour (because that really really really sucks) do it for 30 minutes.  Most experts believe that your FTP is 5% lower than your 30 minute average power.  I did this test yesterday and was able to average 274 Watts for the test.  I mentioned above your power meter doesn't care what your speed is was demonstrated yesterday.  My test was into a 20 mph wind the entire time.  That is the most power I have generated but my average speed was only 15MPH!!!  My previous best was 240 Watts so my test yesterday was a full 14.2% gain compared to the test that I did outside July of last year.  My extra time in the offseason on the bike (assuming I can maintain it) should help me come June at IMCDA.

Now, I need to make sure I get my aerobic engine and endurence where it needs to be along with my swimming.  I feel great about where my biking is right now for this time of year.  The other two things are a little scary but we will see.

T-Minus 17 weeks and counting.

All for now...


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