Changing Gears in the New Year

It’s that time of the year again, time to buckle down and begin exercising the master plans we plotted for 2013 while we were on the couch drinking and eating without remorse. I’m definitely “remorsing” it now, I’m on day 13 of no sweets and no beer, life can’t get much worse. Not only have I been grumpy for 13 days now, but I’m pretty sure I’m bringing down everyone else around me with my moodiness. What a stupid idea, “no sweets and no beer for the month of January”. It would be really easy to cave in at this point and say that’s good enough; however, I’ve developed a bit of stubbornness over the last couple of years to finish what I start. I can’t imagine how I developed that…

Enough of my whining, a couple of my best friends, Brett and Beth or just “Breth”, had their first baby today, that really puts things into perspective, they’re far worse off than I am for the rest of January. They may be worse off for the next 18 years! I am truly excited for them though, life is about to change for them and I know for the best.

This isn’t my plan for the next year or the short term, though Jenna may have other plans. The coach has increased the quantity of workouts and it’s time to start working on the things that will make us both successful when our race season arrives.

I did have the “pleasure” of performing my first Functional Threshold Power test. We can probably all agree that it was anything but “pleasure”. Basically I started out at a pace that had me thinking at five minutes “This is okay, maybe at 10 minutes or 12 minutes I’ll pick it up.” Then at 10 minutes I was thinking “Wow this is feeling really tough, try not to think that you’re only half way done.” At 15 minutes it was “Don’t look at the computer, don’t think, this hurts like hell!” At minute 18, “#$%^&@$%, #$%^, @#$%-@#$%^&!!!” After finishing the test I proceeded to immediately lay down in agony, I soon realized this wasn’t going to work, so I dragged myself over to the kitchen sink so that I could dry heave several times before lying down in agony once again. On a positive note, it’s DONE…. for now, until we test again which will probably come pretty quick as I begin gaining fitness.

For those that are wondering, as I’m sure some will ask, my average power over the 20 minutes was 313 watts, we take 5% off of that as the test is only 20 minutes instead of 60 minutes, and that gives me my FTP. It’s 298 but we round it up to 300 to make me feel warm and fuzzy inside! Really nothing to brag about, my power to weight ratio would put me in the tail end of Cat 2 cyclists where I would probably receive a serious walloping. That’s beside the point though, the important thing is that I now have specific training zones for recovery, endurance, tempo, lactate threshold, VO2 Max and anaerobic capacity. Along with those I have an estimate of the watts I would push for half ironman race pace and ironman race pace. This is really going to be such a useful tool and I can’t wait to monitor my progress with it.

Bike Fit 3

As for Jenna, one of the first things we needed to take care of this month was to switch her bike position from road back to tri-specific. We purchased a new bike for her after her tri racing was over in the summer so we haven’t had her in a tri fit on this bike yet. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get a proper bike fit. Yes, carbon deep dish wheels look cool, so do superbikes and aero helmets. These things all make you go faster; however, getting a good tri specific bike fit will have a MUCH bigger impact on your bike split at the end of the day. For starters your body position is the biggest factor in terms of creating drag when you’re riding your bike. If you are constantly getting out of your aerobars in your race because you’re uncomfortable, it’s the same as pulling a parachute cord; you’re going to slow down every time you do that. It also starts long before race day, if you’re uncomfortable on your bike, you’re not going to want to ride it and if you don’t train… you don’t race fast. For what it costs to get a proper bike fit, it’s definitely the biggest bang for your buck if you’re looking to purchase “speed”.

Bike Fit 2

We went down to see Dave at North Shore Road Bike to begin the process of getting Jenna’s new position dialed on her bike. As always it was a great experience. He was very open to hearing my suggestions but more importantly he was very interested in Jenna’s feedback which is the most important part. He mounted Jenna’s tri bars and adjusted them to a width and angle that helped her feel relaxed. He removed some spacers out to drop her bar down and moved her saddle forward and to a height that was comfortable. Another thing that Dave did, which I found really interesting, was that he monitored whether Jenna’s knees were moving side to side during her pedal stroke. They were, so he suggested putting in a cleat wedge. This helped straighten her pedal stroke and should also help distribute the power in her pedal stroke more evenly across her foot. There’s a great read on cleat wedges by Dan Empfield from Slowtwitch here for those interested in learning more.

Bike Fit 1

Now that Jenna’s set up she’s going to test this position over the next month. We’re going to monitor how she’s feeling in each of her rides and decide if there are some adjustments that will need to be made. Dave told us to come down after a month’s time to take another look and discuss how the fits working out. I can’t wait to see how much faster her bike split will be at Oliver on her full carbon bike, with the new fit and another year of training under her belt. No pressure Sweetie!

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