Stupid Newbie Training Questions
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  1. #1
    Sswitzky
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    Stupid Newbie Training Questions

    After a dozen years of highly inconsistent saddle time (three kids) I finally started to ride more regularly last spring. I’ve never trained in a structured manner, just alternated hard and easy days based on my heart rate. Anyway, I purchased a smart trainer, did an FTP step test, and completed a 6 week FTP builder plan in Zwift. I retested today and the implied FTP is 5% higher.

    So here are my stupid questions:

    1. Is a 5% increase good progress for a generally untrained guy in his fifties over a 6-7 week time frame?

    2. Does the 5% increase imply that I should be able to ride my local 12 mile loop 5% faster than before?

  2. #2
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    5% isn't bad at all, but it's hard to say since it depends what your starting point is really. From what I have seen of the Zwift FTP builder plans they aren't very aggressive or specific in my opinion, but that's the nature of a generic plan vs one that is designed for you looking at a longer time horizon. If you are pushing your limits appropriately, you should feel pretty tapped out after most of your workouts, regardless of them being endurance or base or threshold intervals etc. (the exception being recovery rides of course) Did you after those workouts?

    No, that won't mean 5% faster - how much faster again depends on the course terrain and how fast you are going. Wind resistance goes up non linearly with speed and that resistance is becomes a bigger percentage of the work the faster you go.
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  3. #3
    Sswitzky
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    Generally speaking, the FTP plan had three types of rides: foundation, tempo and threshold. The foundation rides were the equivalent of my HR based easy days. Relaxed, but moving right along. HR around 140 or less. The tempo rides were what I normally think of as no man's land. HR higher than an easy day, but not high enough to cause full suffering. The threshold rides were tough. HR creeping above 160 at the end of a 5 min interval around my FTP. I felt tapped out after 5x5 of those (I am a 178 Max).

    I agree getting a coach with a customized plan would be even more effective, but I'm not a racer and I'm in my fifties. I just don't want to be the guy everyone else has to wait for on a group ride. If I can get 80% of the training benefit on my own I would be OK with it.

    Thanks for the help.

  4. #4
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    That plan sounds like it has good components, just not arranged in a way a longer term plan would be because it's not a longer range plan. If you were getting a personalized plan targeting it would might look like 2 or 3 blocks of 3 weeks of endurance, with a 5 to 7 day rest block of just 1 hour easy spins between, then 4x15s or 3 x 20's Tempo for a few build blocks (3 interval days a week with a day off between them) with the same rest, then steady state 4x15s and 3x20s. But again, it depends on your starting point and how much time you have to put into the training. That would get you into a good fitness by late spring to early summer. Of course the obvious question is where are you falling off the back holding up the group? Long climbs, short climbs - end of a long ride at a constant pace etc.

    50's isn't too old to be serious about training if you want to be - I didn't start riding till I was in my 50's and I'm in my 60's now working with a coach.
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  5. #5
    jkc
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    What's an FTP step test? Did you do the "Step Test p/b HPTek"? Or TrainerRoad? The first advertised as a variant of MAP test but the protocol doesn't conform to known variance. Do the British Cycling, AIS, or Standard MAP protocol. Don't know much about TR but their user base seem to like it.

    What's the accuracy of your trainer? Is it less than 5%? If not, there's no increase.

    I did the Zwift's 6 Week Beginner FTP Builder plan as part of my rehab from shoulder surgery. It's more of a kitchen sink approach; sprinkle of everything but not enough depth. I didn't get the best results but wasn't expecting much I was just looking to rebuild fitness. If you got 5%, that's good.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sswitzky View Post
    After a dozen years of highly inconsistent saddle time (three kids) I finally started to ride more regularly last spring. I’ve never trained in a structured manner, just alternated hard and easy days based on my heart rate. Anyway, I purchased a smart trainer, did an FTP step test, and completed a 6 week FTP builder plan in Zwift. I retested today and the implied FTP is 5% higher.

    So here are my stupid questions:

    1. Is a 5% increase good progress for a generally untrained guy in his fifties over a 6-7 week time frame?

    2. Does the 5% increase imply that I should be able to ride my local 12 mile loop 5% faster than before?
    A rider can train up to 5% increase in power over a few months, especially if he's coming out of relative "unfitness." The muscles will strengthen, but the fuel delivery system needs more time to meet the 5% increase in demand: lungs, heart, cardio and digestive systems, nutrition, the whole schemer. And you'll feel it more in your 50s.

    Eddy B's dictum about training is still right on: when strength goes up, endurance goes down. When endurance goes up, strength goes down. It has everything to do with fast twitch strength muscles and slow twitch endurance muscles. Both will be trained!

    Suffering engages the endorphins. But accept the valleys along with the peaks. If it stops feeling good, whether on a ride or a training plan, back off, IMO. Save up your punches for the next round. Or, as Muhammad Ali said, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
    Last edited by Fredrico; 12-12-2018 at 10:27 PM.

  7. #7
    Sswitzky
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkc View Post
    What's an FTP step test? Did you do the "Step Test p/b HPTek"? Or TrainerRoad? The first advertised as a variant of MAP test but the protocol doesn't conform to known variance. Do the British Cycling, AIS, or Standard MAP protocol. Don't know much about TR but their user base seem to like it.

    What's the accuracy of your trainer? Is it less than 5%? If not, there's no increase.

    I did the Zwift's 6 Week Beginner FTP Builder plan as part of my rehab from shoulder surgery. It's more of a kitchen sink approach; sprinkle of everything but not enough depth. I didn't get the best results but wasn't expecting much I was just looking to rebuild fitness. If you got 5%, that's good.
    Yes, it was the “Step Test p/b HPTek”. I found it on one of Shane Miller’s YouTube videos. I didn’t necessarily need the result to be “the truth” from an FTP standpoint, but something that could easily and consistently be applied for comparison over time. The trainer is +/-2%.

    Thanks for for your thoughts.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by sswitzky View Post
    After a dozen years of highly inconsistent saddle time (three kids) I finally started to ride more regularly last spring. I’ve never trained in a structured manner, just alternated hard and easy days based on my heart rate. Anyway, I purchased a smart trainer, did an FTP step test, and completed a 6 week FTP builder plan in Zwift. I retested today and the implied FTP is 5% higher.

    So here are my stupid questions:

    1. Is a 5% increase good progress for a generally untrained guy in his fifties over a 6-7 week time frame?

    2. Does the 5% increase imply that I should be able to ride my local 12 mile loop 5% faster than before?
    Q1: I don't really do much reading on training methods, but I think that FTP increases take quite a lot of training/riding.

    I often do a much harder effort in a group ride than I do solo. When I'm trying to hang on with a group that's just a little too fast for me. Or solo steep climbs require a strong effort, just to keep moving.

    So, I'd try to get out on the road if the weather is reasonable. Find a group ride for next year, it can be great motivation, and lots of fun. (And it keeps me riding every week, otherwise I won't be able to keep up. I need that motivation.)

    ~~~

    Q2: On moderate to steep hills:
    Your power increase is fairly proportional to a speed increase while climbing. More power is needed for gravity compared to wind resistance. You might knock off 15 seconds on a 5 minute long climb, not bad.

    On flatter roads: not very much!
    It takes a lot more power to go just a little faster. Power requirements increase by the cube of wind speed.

    BUT--you can also ride longer at speed, I think. The training will help to hold a pace, instead of surging and coasting.

    See this online speed-power calculator: Bicycle Speed (Velocity) And Power Calculator. You can enter your height and weight, and the grade, then it will either calculate power from speed, or speed from power--blank out the power entry, and fill in the speed entry to calculate power.

    It's also good to show the very large watt increases needed to increase speeds on flat roads. For instance, for me: 150 watts=18.6 mph, 200 watts=20.7 mph, that's a 33% increase to go 2 mph faster.

    Power vs speed, with mechanical and tire power losses in purple, wind in orange:
    Attachment 324365
    Last edited by rm -rf; 12-13-2018 at 08:32 PM.

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