cycling · Metrics · Sat with Nat

The glorious early gains of training

I’ve been writing the past few months about my newfound love of stationary cycling. The first month was all about adapting to the bike and classes, the second month was about gaining some confidence and experience. The third month I decided to try a structured program.

I chose “Discover Your Power Zones”. It uses a 20 minute maximum effort spin to determine your average power. You then work through a 5 week training program that culminates in a second test to see how your body has responded to training.

I had turned on the power zone option on my dashboard. It estimated my output to be 190 watts based on my age and weight. I did my test and hit 119 watts. Way lower. Dang!

The five week program has progressive workouts each week. The zones started feeling easier to maintain the end of week three. I was pumped to see the difference after a relatively short time.

The classes were challenging yet achieve able. I was nervous the day of my week five Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test. I had to jump off the bike to pee after my warm up. My throat was tight. I didn’t expect that to happen.

Having been in the military I have a complicated history with fitness tests. But it surprised me that this test had me anxious. No one was watching or evaluating. I could delete the workout or reject the results. There was only me to impress.

I worked through the anxiety and put forth my best effort. My latest FTP is 147 watts. A significant increase from five weeks ago. It’s kind of magical in the first few months of training the impressive gains we can make.

My body does respond to conditioning. I’m feeling good on the bike. Did I lose a bunch of weight or drastically alter my appearance? No.

Do I feel stronger, more confident and utterly badass? You bet I do!

A close up of the brilliant yellow blossoms of a forsythia shrub. They wake up this time of year in London. They are all about short, impactful change. When they bloom you know spring is well underway.

2 thoughts on “The glorious early gains of training

  1. I’ve always shied away from the FTP. And you’re story is inspiring.that feeling of gains in a new strength pursuit is such a boost! May you go from strength to strength, as my father used to say (though never apropos of actual physical strength)!

  2. Congratulations! I started late enough (51 when I first got on a road bike) to remember very well both the worries and thrills of the earlier years of training, and you are doing great!!! I just thought I’d pass along a comment I got from the guy who helped me through it. When he described various efforts in terms of time (CP30, 60, 90 and so on represent “critical power for 30, 60, 90, etc. minutes) I said I could not imagine being able to keep up those levels for that long. He told me that was fine – those numbers were really just what you might be able to do if someone was behind you with a whip. So there’s a lot of interpretation in calculating our goals. Now, years later, I am doing CP 60/90 intervals of 8-10 minutes, resting, repeating. And after about 4 or 5, I’m done. Sounds like you are maybe a lot closer to that imaginary number than you even realized. Go, Natalie!

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