Sunday, February 5, 2012

Post Analysis - Block #2

This blog analyzes my progress during the second of three 6-week Winter training blocks. The analysis looks at improvement in fitness metrics as was done following block #1.

The first metric examined is ChronicTraining Load (CTL). CTL is a weighted average one's daily training stress score (TSS) over the most recent 42 days. It is considered a measure of one's cumulative fitness; the higher the CTL, the fitter the athlete.

Figure 1: Increase in CTL (blue line) in the 6-week period comprising block #2.
Whereas the increase in CTL for block #1 was a modest 3 point increase in TSS, Figure 1 shows an increase for block #2 of 7.5 TSS over 6 weeks (blue line). While still a modest increase, this value is twice the increase of block #1. This gradual increase in CTL is by design as I've learned from experience that ramping up Training Stress too early can induce psychological burnout if not physical overtraining.

In block #1, most of my training was predominantly in Zone 2 (Endurance) or lower. In block #2, I upped the intensity of my quality workouts such that more time was spent in Zones 3 and 4.

Figure 2: Percent time spent in each zone for block #1 (top) and #2 (bottom).

Figure 2, above, shows the percent of time spent in each zone for each of block #1 (top) and #2 (bottom). The figure shows visually a shift in emphasis from zones 1 and 2 in block #1 to zones 3 and 4 in block #2. The table below shows the percentage spent in each zone for blocks 1 and 2, again showing a marked shift in emphasis from zones 1 and 2 to zones 3 and 4 during block #2. This shift in emphasis was accomplished by increasing the intensity of my one hard ride per week from high Tempo (zone 3) to Threshold (zone 4) and by increasing the intensity of my 2 medium rides from Endurance (zone 2) to sweet spot (zone 3/4).

Zone Block #1 Block #2
Active Recovery 24.2 13.2
Endurance 49.7 39.3
Tempo 19.3 28.2
Threshold 4.2 14.9
VO2 Max 1.5 2.7
Anaerobic Capacity 1.1 1.7
Table 1: Percent time spent in each training zone for blocks 1 and 2.

Figure 3, below, shows weekly TSS for block #2. As in block #1, weekly training load was fairly consistent with even an upward trend. The third and sixth weeks were recovery weeks. The weekly training load was slightly higher in block #2 than block #1 .

Figure 3: Weekly TSS for block #2.

At the end of block #1, I forecast solid gains for block #2. In fact, my test of FTP for this block produced an FTP estimate of 275, a modest 5 Watt increase in FTP. Also, the modest rise in CTL shown in Figure 1 suggests only marginal gains were made in block #2 in terms of absorbed training load. However, the composition of that training load reveals where my gains were made. Figure 1 plots the 10 best average Watt sessions for each of 20 (green dots), 60 (red dots), and 90 (blue dots) minute durations starting from the end of last season to the end of block #2. As you can see from the Figure, there are a small cluster of points towards the end of last season where my fitness from the previous season was still high and I was riding outside. But the majority of points cluster towards the end of block #2. This shows that while FTP and CTL may not have risen substantially, my capacity to sustain that power over longer durations, what Friel would term muscular endurance, has improved markedly.

Looking foward to block #3, my training plan calls for longer durations at Sweet Spot, and Threshold. Block #3 will also include a 2-week stint in Florida where I hope to get in some solid base mileage outdoors. This should provide a good boost to my base and prepare me well for the start of the outdoor training season which, the weather gods willing, should coincide with the end of block #3.