FTP – Flippin ’eck That’s Painful

Posted on: 30 Nov 2017

It’s nearly 5 weeks since we were all Snowdonia bound for that epic Realbuzzers weekend and I am sure I echo everyone else when I say ‘where has the time gone’?!  The wonderful memories will stay with me forever but it scarily seems to be ages ago that I had my flying finish!  So what has happened since?

It rarely happens but for once I have been really enjoying some downtime however I am really not someone who would sit at home with my feet up so I have been filling my diary with lots of social occasions, to an extent that I have ended up being busier than normal!  Lunch and coffee dates, drinkies with friends, a weekend with my parents, Robert Plant in concert in Bristol, Priscilla Queen of the Desert at Bath Theatre Royal, Jason Manford warm-up gig in Bristol, Bath Rugby v Harlequins, The Wurzels and of course some training! 

So the ‘some training’!  I’ve had one abandoned bike ride and for once this was not due to me falling off but owing to a bike malfunction; my hanger sheared off 5.5 miles into the ride!  I have gone back to swimming training on Monday evenings which I am really enjoying, it was shocking how much swimming fitness I had lost and I did wonder if I would need armbands for my first foray back!  I am still going to RPM and have started again with RPM Sprint which for the uninitiated, according to the publicity, is a 30-minute High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout, using an indoor bike to achieve fast results.  It’s a short, intense style of training where apparently ‘the thrill and motivation comes from pushing your physical and mental limits’!  Basically you’re useless for anything else within 30 minutes!   I’m continuing with core and strength training at the gym and have been discovering a new innovation we’ve had added to our gym equipment; the watt bike. What I hear you say!

The short definition is that a watt bike replicates the resistance and sensation of riding on the road, it provides the most authentic ride feel in the world.  According to the official blurb I’m lucky as ‘all the pain you put yourself through indoors translates directly to performance improvement where it really matters’!  For more information here’s quite an interesting article and a photo of one!  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/recreational-cycling/10636596/Wattbike-get-fit-quick-by-going-nowhere-fast.html

So after my bike malfunction I was in all the gear and to be honest still had no idea but decided that if I was going to have to wash all my cycling gear I had to make it worthwhile so I headed up to the gym for my first watt bike experience.  I had no idea here either but with some help I was off cycling on different programmes listening to Desert Island Discs downloads; it was a bit surreal listening to Keith Richards talk about his life whilst cycling like a lunatic!  One of the programmes was to keep the wattage at a certain level for one minute, then increase this by 15 watts each minute and keep going as long as possible.  I started at 65 watts and progressed 11 levels with my last minute being at 215 watts; talk about glowing as of course women don’t sweat!  I now have a target for next time to beat!  In total I cycled for 1 hour which is the equivalent to 2 hours out on the road, so not a complete waste of a day or machine wash! 

The other watt bike test I have done is with my coach, Claire, and this was a FTP Test - Functional Threshold Power Test or as I’d rather call it; ‘Flippin ’eck That’s Painful’!  The purpose of the FTP test is that it accurately measures how much power (force/velocity) in watts that your legs can push out and sustain for 20 minutes at a high cadence of 90-100 rpm.   You start with a 20 minute warm up and then for the longest 20 minutes of your life you have to pedal and maintain this cadence, it’s much harder than it sounds!  You then have a 20 minute cool down where I was radiating so much warmth you could see the heat haze rising from my arms!  Over 20 minutes I averaged 167 watts, I loved it and apparently I smashed it, I allegedly have good bike legs so I now just need to gain the road bike confidence to go with it!

Of course it has not only been weeks of socialising, swimming and biking I have of course been running.  All my runs have been of the social variety or finding new routes around where I live and now with the help of Google maps, getting a little lost and having no sense of direction I now have a great new 5 mile route for my early morning runs!  I’ve lived here for over 20 years and have discovered streets I never knew existed and some I’ll probably never find again! 

I couldn’t finish the year without one more race and an old favourite it had to be, the newly named Avebury8 Nine.  I knew this would be my 5th outing there as I already had 4 of their great White Horse Pottery commemorative mugs!  They have had to tweak the name from Avebury8 as the route is now nearer 9 miles than 8!  The race is a 9-mile-ish trail race, starting and finishing at Avebury, along byways and bridleways which this year were extremely wet, muddy, rutted and difficult under foot!  The technical terrain wasn’t helped by the fact that we were slightly hungover!  There was a good turnout from the Chippenham Harriers but there were 5 of us, me included, who lets say were slightly jaded due to the previous day being spent sampling the joys of scrumpy cider at Bath Rugby (who smashed the Harlequins!), followed by an Indian, then the Skimmity Hitchers (absolutely fantastic; http://skimmityhitchers.co.uk) and then the legendary Wurzels!  But we were at the start line and we’d agreed that as we’d started this together, we would run together, finish together and the only accepted excuse for stopping was if someone’s leg fell off!  Kevin tried to claim a blister as being a valid reason but we instead just enjoyed the rest whilst the first aid wagon applied the smallest plaster ever!  Here are some photos of our morning and luckily the weather was amazing!

We certainly all felt much better afterwards, we were not last and there was still plenty of tea, coffee and cake to enjoy afterwards.  A good day all round!

Onwards and upwards as they say, next month I have my first Sportive so providing my bike is fixed watch this space!

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