In this 4th update I’d like to focus on my training discipline (or rather the lack of it so far).  This has probably been the hardest aspect for me about adopting a polarised training program.  Having spent 20+ years riding as ‘hard’ as I can whenever I get the time, avoiding the middle ground has been a challenge.  I put the word ‘hard’ in quotes because what I really mean by that is that I have ridden at an intensity level that I think I can sustain for an hour or more, which by definition is Zone 2, because you simply cannot sustain those periods of time in Zone 3 (HIT).

The events I would like to do well in this year are HILLY – e.g. the Hampshire Hilly Hundred (May), The Dragon Ride (Wales, June) and the Etape du Tour itself in July. But in the New Forest, we  don’t have any long hills, and the thought of getting everything into the car to drive to longer hills is just not appealing or time efficient.  Taking into account what the authors of the Polarised Training research recommended (details here) in terms of HIT interval duration; I looked for a hill that was near where I live that would take about 4 minutes to ascend.

I had one hill in mind near Bolderwood, and tried it out twice this week.  The first time I visited was basically to scope it out, though I did do it 3 times to get the start point right, so that did count as a session, I think.  The second time I visited it (Thurs), I performed 3 intervals at an effort level that I thought I could just sustain.  The heart rate (HR) trace is shown below, and I think it worked out pretty well.  Although the effort felt fairly constant, my HR did climb towards the end, partly caused by a short sharp increase in grade for the last 100m when I had to get out of the saddle.  As an aside, it is well known that although you can produce more power when standing, it is less efficient because your body weight is not supported, so the HR will be higher for the same power as when seated.

Hilly rides

The other side of the discipline is keeping the other rides really in Zone 1.  As I mentioned before I had a tendency to go over the threshold quite frequently on my Z1 rides, but the second chart shows that I have been able to restrain my enthusiasm and keep in the green!

Hilly rides

The overall impact on my HRV looks to be beneficial, with a distinct upwards turn over the past week.  Let’s see if I can maintain the momentum!

Hilly rides

by Simon Wegerif

Polarised Training challenge, Simon Wegerif Etape '11