I often tell my class ‘you are your own limits.’
I feel training (for anything) is often more a mental game you play with yourself, than a physical one. In order to affect change, limits must be reached. You must test your mental and physical abilities to push past boundaries, often self imposed boundaries, of what you consider ‘hard’; of what you consider ‘pain’.
We all know real pain, and training on a bicycle isn’t real pain. It’s discomfort. Very intense discomfort, but it does end when you stop. (If it doesn’t you’ve got more of a problem than I can help you with).
I taught three classes this week and each had a different workout, but all focused on the same thing: Steady State efforts, with brief forays to and/or above Functional Threshold. Now, FTP (functional threshold power) is not 100% effort. FTP is an effort you can hold for an hour that is hard, let’s say 85-95%. Your breath is tested, your legs burn, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s real work and it’s often something you have to push yourself to do. [Unless you’re out riding around with your pals and well, heck, then it’s called FUN!]
The workouts were different in formatting of the intervals, but focused on keeping your watts steady at around 90% of FTP – something we test to find out. You will need a way to measure your output, which is why I pay for @thesufferfest and @trainerroad. Both apps have ‘virtual watts’ that use the information generated by my Wahoo speed/cadence sensor to compute my energy output, because I can’t afford (husband won’t let me buy) a watt meter for my bike.
Where I teach indoor cycling, we have Keiser M3 bikes which have a cycling computer. *Watts are not absolute but just like your scale, it’s a way to measure your effort. Some meters are better than others in calculations.*
On Trainer Road, the two workouts I do most often in my own training are “Cartwright” and “Deerhorn”.
Cartwright is four sets of 10 minutes. The first five minutes of each interval are steady state riding, rpm between 85-95 and watts are between 92-94% of FTP. Part two is five, one minute increases of watts up to 5%. You increase 1-5% and hold it for a minute, then another increase of 1-5%, and another and again, heading to 110% of FTP. Pleasant, eh? Believe me, it’s gets more pleasant at set three, when the increases come at :30. The only saving grace is that they are 1-2%, which might just be 2-3 rpm.
Deerhorn is a similar experience with two sets of four intervals of :90 of steady state 90-95% with :30 of 105-110% of FTP. Even more pleasantries.
That’s right, Mr. Clarkson. Two Thumbs Up.
With Trainer Road, I can use my own music and there is a lot more variety in the workouts. But, without something to watch other than the black screen and a graph, it can be tough, mentally. Often, I’ll load up a profile and then put the TV on YouTube and ride to one of the many women’s pro races (if I can find one in its entirety). I love that because it’s great way to (re)inspire me to keep writing. (See previous post, Setbacks for why I need inspiration at this time.) But, I don’t always have the mental capacity and need someone taunting me.
Which is where The Sufferfest comes in. These videos are highly entertaining with footage of actual races and mostly good music. The cons are that there isn’t as much variety in the workouts (they have added more recently) and sometimes, (cringe) I don’t like the music. I have to mute the soundtrack, which also mutes the cues so I have to pay attention to the screen of my iPad Mini. It’s small; very small.
To sum up what has turned into a pros/cons of both apps, they’re both great for their own reasons and if you’re like me and are limited to the dark hours of the evening to train, having both is worth the price of one good lunch.