Hello, and welcome to my first blog, hopefully the first of a series. First an introduction; what I am is 50 years old, have a wife and 2 young children, run a business and have around 5 to 7 hours a week available for training. I have been cycling for 3 years now, initially to lose weight (have lost 3 stone) but gradually evolved into trying to find what training effects give the best results based on limited training time. What I am not is someone who has 10-15 hours + a week to train, who has a coach, who races and who can participate in Sportives on a regular basis. I am what I would call average (compared to other cycling friends).
In the early days I just cycled and inevitably saw progress. Then it got to the point where I plateaued so started to look at different training options. First I tried MAF for a dedicated 3 month period. At the start of this period I had already been using ithlete to track my heart rate variability (HRV); after the 3 month period, my HRV reading had declined, as shown in the graph below.
The conclusion following this was that there simply wasn’t enough volume to elicit an effect. At the turn of 2013 I read about the 80:20 polarised principle on ithlete, and started to use this, adding in the higher intensity intervals for 20% of the workout time. Below is the graph;
You can see an increase in January but I then went into decline as I had a severe bout of bronchitis over the course of February and March, but by April I have got back to where I was pre-MAF. This isn’t an attempt to rubish MAF by any means, it certainly has it place, if you are able to have suitable training hours each week to incorporate it. But it was a trial and it didn’t work out for me.
Below is a table showing MAF test using a given heart rate over a period of time using the 80:20 polarised principle;
So fast forward up to the end of 2014; I had been continiung using the 80:20 principle and had gradual improvements.
At the start of 2015, I made a concerted effort to use higher intensity training principles, but still generally aiming for the 80:20 albeit not necessarily in a single workout, but more over a period of time. I have done the FTHR test to set my zones and now aim for dedicated sessions to a chosen zone from recovery up to Vo2 sessions. Overall the trend would be upper endurance based, taking into account the percentage of time actually doing the HIIT zones and the remainder of allotted training time at lower zones. Some weeks though might involve more HIIT percentage in order to actively over-reach, which is something I am trying at the moment
What has been great though is that it kind of coincided with ithlete Pro being introduced, and I found this to become invaluable to deciding a given session on a training day based on my weekly trend. Rather than using a dedicated periodised routine, I could now decide if I wanted to activley over-reach for example, and then I could follow this up with a few sessions of recovery. Even with just the single HRV reading previously, this wasn’t possible. But now we have a road map of sorts!
I also use the Strava Premium ‘Fitness & Freshness’ graph to work alongside ithlete Pro just to see where my form is;
This gives a great visual of where you are heading; as you can see working from January I have managed to gradually increase my fitness using the principles above and I’m now at a point fitter than I was at the end of autumn 2014.
At the start of May this year I did a Sportive that I also did last year, below are the 2 rides showing that I managed a quicker time this year than last year, same bike (I’m about half stone lighter) plus it was wet this year and a bit more climbing. I am not blowing my own trumpet here, simply extolling the virtues of using limited training time as effectivley as possible in synergy with bio-feedback from ithlete.
What I have noticed is that compared to a periodised routine where you get a dedicated rest/recovery week every 3 to 4 weeks or so, I really haven’t needed to do much (2 x 1 week blocks so far this year), as using the ithlete Pro Training Guide has enabled me to tailor the sessions to suit my trend (I have also noticed I have been without any significant illness, again tailoring sessions around the 30 day Training Guide), the exception being when I am actively overreaching, which is something I tried mid-May knowing I had a week holiday at the end of May
You can see my low energy warnings over the previous 7 days and the recommendation for the day. Without this guide it would be a guessing game, and it is priceless to have. I know from this I could probably do one or two more HIIT sessions before getting a red warning. The result of this over-reaching and the weeks rest I came back a little bit stronger, so will be doing this again at various points
Here’s a look at my ithlete Pro Training Guide on the first day back after the holiday;
Activities post holiday to date;
My most current reading at the time of writing, 16th June, with training focused on aiming to keep the readings around the middle area;
So, going forward, I will be showing my readings and training plan for the summer in a monthly blog post. My main event is Ride London in August, which I did last year. I also have a Cotswolds Sportive in mid- July and Birmingham Bikeathon start of July.
Great Blog Andy, shows that even with limited time along with a hectic life. We can all improve
thanks for your comment Paul, sounds like you have a similar situation ;)
I enjoyed your blog a lot and I am looking forward to the next instalment. It was great to see your MAF speed increase with the polarization. I had a similar experience with MAF a couple of years ago. I still think that there is a lot to it, but taken by itself does not suit everybody.
Thanks for your comment Padraig. Interesting your comment about MAF and a similar experience