Thursday, February 28, 2013

How I Got Stronger on the Bike, by Doing More.... Karate....???

Last year, just before the Ironman, I rode my last FTP test* on the Computrainer. As anyone who has ever done one can attest, that's an ugly, brutal session to sit your butt down to. You know you're looking at 30 minutes of Unmitigated Hurt, and a point somewhere near the end at which you're reasonably sure that your heart is simply going to explode all out of your chest in a big bloody mess like that Alien creature in the movie.

So of course, I wasn't really looking forward to doing that all over again. Especially since I was pretty sure that my numbers this time around would be lower. Much lower. Right before an Ironman you're out there riding like an animal, putting up crazy amounts of mileage. But now it's the end of winter, which means I've cranked out a few lackadaisical trainer workouts in the basement, watching Dexter or Breaking Bad, taken a few 1 - 2 hour rides on days when the sun has actually shown, and been to the triathlon store a few times for Computrainer workouts, but nothing consistent.

As a split-personality martial artist/triathlete, I spend my summers with my first love - my tri bike, my running shoes, and the outdoor pool or lake, and my winters with my new love, the karate dojo and the kung fu school. So as you might notice, here in the Northern Hemisphere it is still winter. Which is why I was less than optimistic about my FTP test. I've been hanging out in the dojo far too many hours to make a good showing on the bike. Or so I thought.

Fast forward 30 minutes of serious hurt later and.... my new FTP is 2 points higher than my last. A whoppin' 207 watts! When that's coupled with losing some pounds this winter, my watts/kg ration is very close to 3. My goal is definitely to push that higher this year, but I'm very excited that I not only didn't lose any ground this winter, I actually gained some.

So what's the secret? I think that I've cycled just enough to maintain what I had, or at least not lose too much over the winter, and when I couple that with the martial arts classes, and the Karate Conditioning classes I'm teaching (lots of Crossfit and Tacfit-inspired workouts, none of which are easy), I was more physically and mentally prepared to bring it on the FTP test. Paying close attention to calories and nutrition has made me a bit lighter, and the two things combined should give me some powerful biking in this summers' triathlons.

*An FTP test is, simply put, a test of the maximal sustainable power you can put out over a given period of time - generally considered to be an hour on the open road or 30 minutes on the Computrainer. For more detailed description and analysis, go here.

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