This year I feel like I’ve seen some fairly significant improvements in both my cycling strength and endurance compared to last year, and so to actually get some quantifiable data that will prove this, other than Strava segment times, I’d like to see an improvement in times (and ideally placings) in the same hill climb TT’s that I took part in last year. And with the hill climb season fast approaching, I’ve realised I probably need to get myself organised if I’m to really take advantage of my improvements. To make things just that little bit more tricky to manage, I’m just coming back from almost 3 weeks out from a knee injury and I’ve also got a two week holiday booked right at the start of September, which is pretty much just as the season kicks off.
For that reason my main “A race” event can’t be in September because I just won’t have the time to prepare, so I’ve set the Monsal Head event on October 6th as my priority. My time of 1:59.7 last year put me at 102nd overall and meant I was able to just scrape my sub 2min target. I’m hoping that with another year of cycling in the legs and some intense training I’ll be able to get below 1:40 and maybe even break into the top 50. The fall back option in case something unexpected goes wrong will be Bank Road, a couple of weeks after.
After a few steady rides and a Zwift Academy workout, I’m now confident that I’ve recovered from my knee injury which means I can start focusing on a training plan. A whole bulk of the training will just be smashing it as hard as I can up hills of varying lengths and gradients, but I’m going to make sure at least some of the training is structured. That means I’ll need to get an idea of my FTP.
Perhaps the most reliable data to go off for my outdoor FTP would be a 10 mile TT I did back in July, where I averaged 302W over 20mins and recorded an FTP of about 285W. Although I am definitely one of those that struggles with thermoregulation and from my first indoor workout I’ve realised that 285W may be a little ambitious for indoor training, so Day 1 of the training plan will be to do an FTP test. (Hopefully I’ll be able to hold a similar power and prove that I was just mentally weak).
The main focus of this training plan will be to improve my strength and short-term power, so the intensity will be high for most sessions but the volume will be relatively low, with frequent rest days. This should ensure that my muscles are fresh for each workout and prevent fatigue from creeping in.
For the Zwift workouts I’ll be following the Zwift Academy training plan. Reason being that the coaches at Zwift will have far more knowledge and experience of developing a structured workout plan for improving performance than I have. It’ll also ensure that all miles ridden are quality miles.
I’m also planning to get in a lot of strength exercises, primarily aimed at my core, to ensure that I can commit all of my power to going up that hill, rather than swaying the bike from side to side, and so that I can maintain my strength as much as possible over that two week break. These are not included within the plan but my target is to get 3 of this sessions in a week, and these can be completed straight after a ride if required.
It’s not all going to be gruelling indoor exercising and brutal hill repeats though, as I’m going to try and keep a good amount of outdoor rides and chaingangs in the schedule, partly because it’ll provide a different training stimulus but mainly to keep it fun.
If I can remain disciplined and keep to the plan then there should be no reason why I shouldn’t see some significantly better results.