Thursday, August 31, 2006

A time efficient workout

I had two really good workouts on the trainer this week. Both were done after my regular daily treadmill session.

This first session (left) was a simple ride at/near FT until you are too tired or time runs out sort of ride. To be honest, I haven't done a 20' interval in a very long time. And now I remember why. It's boring.

Still, I was very pleased with the results.

This morning I performed a slightly more interesting workout (right). This time, I set out to ride 1' in increasingly harder gears while maintaining a steady cadence and then returning to my starting level. Repeat again using a slightly quicker cadence. and so forth. (The abrupt end was due to reaching my goal TSS for the workout).

Anyway, due to the reasons shown on the graphic, I'm fairly convinced that my FT has now risen to 345w!

Plus, I have finally ascended from the Power Profile's "untrained" category and am now firmly planted in the Cat5 category for Time Trialists. Woo Hoo. 'bout time already.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Splitting them out

As you can see, I am still on the program! More importantly, I'm feeling strong, fit and most importantly, healthy. This old dog might just be doing some racing next season. woo hoo!

Having restarted from zero, I'm making a conscience effort to do this correctly. Since running is my weakest sport - mainly because of my weight - it is the cornerstone of my program this time around. Frequency and consistency lead the way. I run every day during the week and then ride trainer sessions somedays afterwards. The large TSS spikes are the few times that I managed to get up early enough to ride outside with some friends. I'll start dieting once boating season ends. :)

To the right are three PMC charts depicting an overview of my training. The top chart being the combined program. The bottom two being only running and cycling respectively.

I believe in the fundamental premise that fitness is always either increasing or decreasing. So, (referring to the top chart) I am ramping up my CTL while staying below the 5 TSS/d change per week limit that many are starting to recognize. But, you'll notice that to get those 5 TSS/d, I am driving my TSB down (to my self imposed limit of -30) and then recovering back up to near zero. Why do I make my TSB roll? I believe that Dave Harris over on the wattage list knows why. Take another look at the first sentence of this paragraph again to see my reasoning. Just remember, there are two parts to a workout: the training stress AND the recovery. The only reason that I can think of to actually stay at a low TSB for any length of time is to delay a peak (since you can't control the date of a race).

Now, some people might be confused by looking at my top chart and seeing a pretty high NP5 happening when I am supposedly pretty fatigued. How can that be? The PMC must wrong. Or, maybe I should be using different time constants. Nope. Look at the cycling chart. My Cycling TSB is rising due to the focus on running. My CTL is also still relatively low. So, my running fatigue isn't yet greatly effecting my cycling in a negative way.

OK, a few questions have been flooding my inbox lately.

How do I create a PMC? Easy, go to the athlete's home page in WKO+ v2.1 and choose "Options Add a chart to this page Performance Management Chart". Use the default values for everything except dates unless you have less than six months of history. In which case, you have some work to do for now. I'll discuss what to do then some other time.

How do I tell WKO+ about my running and swimming TSS? Easy. Add the workouts the normal way. Then, select the workout in the athlete's calendar and right click the mouse. Use the "Override values..." menu item.

How do I calculate a TSS for running and swimming? Good question. We don't have an official response yet. Of course, we're working on it. :) Actually, I use a trivial home-brewed spreadsheet that's highly inaccurate but serves my purposes very, very well. No, I won't post it right now (because I don't want to defend it's use). But, if you send me a nice, thoughtful, comforting e-mail and ask nicely, I'll send you a copy.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A new start

Well, I'm once again on the training bandwagon and this time I thought that I might share what it is I'm doing. I don't have any goal races yet as I'm simply looking to return to some level of fitness first. It was a rough winter and spring for me as I had to battle some illness brought on by having a very worn down immune system.

This time around, however, I have a new secret weapon. The upcoming release of WKO+ contains a new feature called the "Performance Management Chart". There are lots of forthcoming articles and details surrounding the exact function of this and I'll leave it for the experts to profess the details. But, the general idea is that it is a tool for managing your long term (chronic) and short term (acute) training loads. The difference between the two is referred to as the "Training Stress Balance (TSB)".

The idea is simple. As you increase your training loads, the ATL exceeds the CTL and creates a deficit in the TSB. That simply means that you're not going to be setting any new records for the time being. But, as the race gets closer, you reduce the training loads so that your ATL is below your CTL and thus the TSB begins to rise (duh, you're tapering).

To the right is my present Performance Management Chart. I've highlighted a few items of interest. First, I'm glad to report that my Functional Threshold has officially risen 4.5% in the past month! Woo hoo! You can see the values (circled) and plotted on the PMC.

The blue bars indicate that my training volume has been growing. So, it's no surprise that my FT is rising. What's even more encouraging, however, is the fact that my TSB from this morning was still well below zero. Whereas, last month, it was zero and rising (meaning that I really had full potential to perform well).

The PMC has more usefulness than simply predicting the potential of race day performance levels. Of significant interest to me is establishing levels of fatigue that are compatible with the rest of my life. Through a little trial and error, I've decided that a TSB of -30 is about the most fatigue that I'm willing to put up with right now. Using the PMC, it becomes very easy to determine whether or not to do that extra workout or even cut something short.

So, rightly or wrongly, at the moment, I'm using the PMC as a guide to drive my TSB down to -30 and then slowly recovering my way back to something closer to (but still below) zero. My underlying goal is to achieve a chronic training load of 50 TSS/day. That is the equivalent of roughly 30 minutes of activity at threshold every single day. Once I reach that goal, I'll decide on what to do next.

Now, there is a small caveat to this if you do more than cycle. TSS is the primary input into the system and if you train with a power meter, you may already be familiar with this metric. But, like most triathletes, I also swim, run and lift weights. We've added the ability to over-ride (or manually input, if you will) a TSS value for any workout in WKO+! Unfortunately, we do not yet calculate a TSS for sports other than cycling. For those wondering, I simply established my own scoring system based upon heart rate. It's primitive and subject to lots of interference, but it works very well for my needs right now. You are free to construct your own methods for the time being.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

WWDC 2006

Well, Gear and I just returned from an exciting week in San Francisco where we attended the World Wide Developers Conference for Apple developers. We definitely learned quite a bit and will be digesting the information for a while. But, we did leave with some definite ideas regarding what we could and could not do for our OS X customers.

More importantly, we have some ideas about how to deliver bits and pieces of functionality (while we hone our skills) rather quickly. This should come as good news for many, since we really want to avoid having our Mac customers wait for a complete development cycle for WKO+ and the rest of the product line. What does that really mean? Well, it means a full blown version of WKO+ on OS X is still a long ways off. But, we do have the beginnings of a plan to deliver support for uploading various devices and some charting and graphing natively within the Mac. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out.

We also came away with many UI ideas that will benefit Windows users as well. This is important because our current list of coming features is both big and powerful.