The Winter Doldrums: In the Clutches of the Off-Season

16 12 2010

Well here it is–winter, cold, boring, endless skies of drab and gray. Classic symptoms of cabin fever mark my weeks. It seems it won’t ever be warm again. I forgot what it feels like to ride with just a jersey and bibs.

I’ve been on my trainer since September. (Yeah, I hear you periodization populists remarking about the appropriate phases.) Last years volume-based plan crashed and burned as life fired salvo after salvo of its vocational guns. I don’t mind the trainer, not at all. I like being able to focus on specific energy systems; it’s very quantifiable. It’s not riding with the guys in my squad that bugs the heck out of me during this time.

This off-season plan is based on intensity vs. duration, goal-based training sessions that has plenty of recovery time built-in to avoid over-training. In this regard the program has proceeded quite well. I’m experimenting with using Dr. Coggan’s Training Stress Balance (TSB) methodology too.

All of my workouts target the FTP and a bit of the glycolytic energy systems. In November, I tested for my lactate threshold points and have been doing targeted training sessions ever since. There’s no doubt that the greatest (initial?) gains in increasing FTP are made when training is done just under, at, and just above threshold. So by just completing the sessions I was able to increase my respective wattage categories (horizontal axis) by an average of 12.3% from late September to early in December. This increase is represented by the difference in area between the graph lines:

Graph of off-season training results

Seeing visual results like this helps motivate me during this part of the season. At the end of December I should see an increase in my overall FTP, and that will be motivating too. Part of my success has been the inclusion of a power meter during training…couldn’t measure this without it.

So I’ll continue with the plan, complete the workouts, ensure that I recover, measure and record the data, and keep putting in the DVDs. (Note that during a lot of these workouts I can’t focus on the movie. But that’s just fine.)

I hope your winter training goes well. See you in the spring.

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4 responses

17 12 2010
Spokane Al

I can relate to being unable to focus on the movie. I spend most of my time on the bike trainer just watching the power meter.

17 12 2010
Eric Abbott

Right! I’ve tried to watch “Talladega Nights” three times now. I might have to just watch it when I’m NOT training just to enjoy the movie.

29 12 2010
Elroy Willms

Hi – really good web site you have established. I enjoyed reading this posting. I did want to publish a remark to tell you that the design of this site is very aesthetically sweet. I used to be a graphic designer, now I am a copy editor. I have always enjoyed playing with information processing systems and am attempting to learn computer code in my free time.

29 12 2010
Eric Abbott

Thanks Elroy. I appreciate the compliment. Thanks for your readership too.

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