Am I getting better? What is the best way to quantify the time you spend in the pool, saddle, and paths is actually increasing your fitness?
There is only one way to tell.
Over the past two years, I have used the training philosophy of Chris Carmichael as outlined in ‘The Time Crunched Triathlete’. To summarize the philosophy, I highly recommend reading the book from cover-to-cover by the way, high intensity training can yield the same race day fitness results as ‘tradtional’ training; meaning ‘long and slow’. I can attest to this, my performance greatly improved along with my results.
As part of the training plan, the CTS system utilizes a field test to determine your thresholds, then calculates various ranges for each training session. It looks something like this:
Pedal as hard as you can for 8 minutes, twice, with a 10 minute break in between. Then hit an all out run effort, for your guessed it, another 8 minutes.
Seem pretty easy right, not so fast. Pun intended.
Wednesday morning was my third time performing the CTS field test. This week is a Rest and Recover week after a 3 week base building period in which I peaked at 11.5 hours of volume. As part of the R&R week, I plan to test my fitness to better dial in my workouts ensuring that I am training as hard or as easy; according to my plan.
So off I went. After a decent warm up, about 10 minutes, consisting of some Power Intervals, High RPM spins, and rest in between efforts, I began my first interval. One tip is to bring the resistance up slowly, reaching your target power in about 45 seconds. So I set at 310W and began mashing. I was feeling good after 60 seconds, so I kicked it up another 10W and settled in for some pain. After the 8 minutes, I dropped to 200W and tried to catch my breath.
The 10 minute rest didn’t last as long as I would have liked, and before long I was heading back to 320W. Now Chris, sounds like we are buddies, says that the second interval will be better than the first. Good motivation, but a lie. The second kicked my butt pretty bad. It took me 90 seconds to get to 320W and I dropped it down to 200W with about 10 seconds left on the interval.
This is what the bike portion looked like. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to link my TacX computer to my Timex Ironman Global GPS yet, so only heart rate this time.
I then hit the treadmill. Being tired from pushing on the bike, and really hating the treadmill, I took a quick minute warmup, then started the interval. Nothing much to report here except I did feel like I was holding back a little. Maybe tired, maybe the new shoes, or just lazy? Not too sure, I will make sure to push as hard as I can for the next test.
The bike intervals were done at 320W and an average of 92 rpm. An increase of 30W from my last test approximately 6 months previous. Not bad I reckon. The run portion was done at 4:17 min/km (14km/hr) and increase of 0:07 min/km (0.4km/hr). Not as good of a result as the bike, but getting faster nonetheless.
So a couple of more days of R&R, which translates to a long slow run on Saturday, typical triathlete, then back to the base phase for another round.
Question: Do you test your fitness? What process do you use?
Disclosure of material connection: I have received no compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brand, products, or services I have mentioned.