Friday, April 4, 2014

Review; TrainerRoad Advanced Build 1 Plan

Last night’s ride represented the final ride of the TrainerRoad Advanced Build 1 plan, so it seemed a good time to put down some thoughts on the plan while it’s still fairly fresh in my mind.

Just as a reminder, I was training for IMSG70.3 up until my crash in January after which I took 2 weeks off, cancelled my St George visit as I could not swim and switched focus to the L’Etape du California. The L’Etape follows the final stage of this year’s Amgen Tour or California, four loops of a 22 mile circuit, each circuit has approx. 2000’ of elevation gain. Ostensibly this ride has more climbing than the Tour de Big Bear 100 mile ride which I finished (barely!) last August so it’s going to be a challenge.

Ok back to the review of the Plan. The Plan is 9 weeks long, there are 5 prescribed rides per week, 4 of which are 90 minutes and 1 of 60 minutes. Rides are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then Saturday and Sunday, for me the Sunday ride was usually converted to an outdoors ride, which varied from some reconnaissance loops of the L’Etape course to some longer tempo rides with some climbing. There were several weeks when I completed all five rides on the trainer due to inclement weather or just the convenience factor.

The basic layout of the week was to give you four rides with intervals and one ride of pseudo recovery/tempo. Let’s talk about the intervals first.

These varied from large number super high intensity (200%FTP) short duration (10-15 seconds) intervals to longer steady state intervals (10-12 minutes) at a reduced intensity (98%FTP) with micro intervals (15 seconds to 2 minutes) at a higher intensity (120%FTP). That probably sounds really confusing so here are a couple of examples;

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The recovery/tempo ride was just that, shorter in duration (60 minutes) it was at a lower intensity and without the intervals. Again here are a few examples;

 imageI have mentioned this in the past that this reminded me the FIRST training plan that I have used in the past for running, very specific workouts designed to focus on key elements; endurance and speed. Additionally like the FIRST plan there is no fluff, this is also reinforced by the fact that this is a Trainer based plan where, unlike the road, when you stop pedaling you stop moving, not that you are moving, but you know what I mean.

I am not going to talk about mileage for this plan, as that is an individual thing, distance being a function of time\speed and that will be different for everyone, I will say that as anticipated, including my outdoor mileage I was just shy of 1100 miles for the 9 weeks less the two rides I will miss this week.

With this structure it’s very easy to plan your week out, especially with a trainer which you can do at any time of the day; 5am starts and 10pm finishes are common in our household between Becca and I. The joy of TrainerRoad of course is that you can overlay it on the TV so were able to catch up on the Spring Classics that were streamed as well as a couple of very bad movies via Netflix.

imageThis plan along with all of the Plans are provided free of charge and are available to look at online, the update Application 2.6.1 has a nice feature allowing you to find what’s next so you don’t have to flipflop between the website and the application.

  image Week on week the intensity is fairly consistent per the plan, there is one week (#4) where the intensity ramps up;

Here you can see my TrainerRoad response, the last 9 weeks are in the red box, The TSS doesn’t match up across the weeks, this is a result of my outdoor rides but for the weeks where I rode 5 times on the trainer it’s pretty, actually very, close. Specifically
  • Week 1; Plan 475/Actual 469
  • Week 4; Plan 543/Actual 512 (my Training log notes remind me I had a cold this week)
  • Week 5; Plan 434/Actual 433

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There is very little repetition of the rides across the Plan, the most repeated ride was “FreeRide” (5 instances) where you can basically do what you want for 90 minutes! “Black” which was a Recovery ride with 4 repetitions followed, several others “North Maggie”, “Emerson”, “McAdie” and “Warlow” (all 90 minutes) were repeated twice along with the 8 Minute FTP Test. All the rest were unique rides so you get a good variation across the 45 training days.

As for results, my FTP has crept up this year and I have probably completed one or two too many tests but this was as a result of retesting with my Stages PM, the Tour of Sufferlandria and following this plan, the suggested test interval is every 8 weeks and I have done it, on average, every 5 weeks. The results;
  • 256 Nov 26 Last ride using Trainer Road Virtual Power (I expected this to be approx. 20% greater than using real power)
  • 203 Jan 03 First ride with Stages PM
  • 205 Jan 19 Tour of Sufferlandria Rubber Glove
  • 206 Feb 04 Week 1of Trainer Road plan
  • 209 Mar 18Week 7 of Trainer Road plan
As you can see there is an increase, clearly it’s not huge, as a percentage it is an increase of 3% from January to March. I would say I am disappointed in this but I do think there are some reasons why which I captured in my Training Log and I intend to retest next week once I have recovered from the L’Etape so I will update this post with the results. I would say that I feel stronger and that is where the proof of the pudding is, looking at my Strava Segments I certainly PRd on some of them. Of course with this being a Trainer based plan there is very little road riding so there are very few Segments but there is improvement so I will take it.
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As mentioned I will retest next week so tune back in for an update and of course the Ride report from L’Etape…that’s where the rubber will meet the road!

UPDATE; the restested FTP was 230!

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