Thursday, January 14, 2010

Training: SportTracks Training Load 2009 Review

As I start to plan the year ahead in the bikeospehere of my bikesandbuildings world (OK a poncey way of saying 'forming a training plan') I thought I'd look back at 2009 and see what I can learn from my first year of keeping digital logs of all my rides.

Firstly, an introduction on what these fancy charts above mean. It's basically my year in cycling fitness expressed as 2 graphs- the first as January to June, the second as July to December. Each time I go for a ride (or a run) with my Garmin and upload it into SportTracks it automatically analyses my heart rate data and gives it a score to objectively say how hard it was depending on time spent in heart rate zones. Therefore a 1hr time trail might score more points than a casual 2 hour ride. It's worth noting that if you didn't bring along your Garmin / the batteries died you can enter a manual value.

The blue block represents my long term fitness as a result of these efforts. This is accumulated over 45 days so you can pretty much write off the first 2 months of data collection unless you were standing still for the 2 months previous to starting keeping these records. It stands to reason that the peak of this blue block came at the end of the Trans Pyrenees, an 8 day, 10hrs / day mountain biking epic through the Pyrenees, which is pretty recognisable as a big peak in the middle of August. The second highest 'peak' was the Tour of Friendship in Thailand, another stage race type event, this time on the road at the start of May.

It also stands to reason that my freshness was at it's lowest after these events (yup the legs were knackered in each case for some days), which is where the green line comes in. This measures freshness and is the direct mirror to your 7 day 'fitness'- the red line. The way you can use this to your advantage is to use it as a way of projecting a taper in the lead up to a big event- you sacrifice your short term 'fitness' and a little long term fitness in order to arrive fresh and willing to give your all. If you look at the graphs you will see I did this for both of these events as there is a little spike just before Day 1.

Of course, there is a point at which your freshness gets so high you're just losing fitness, which is basically my December. But you know what? Everyone needs a break and now it's January 2010, I'm motivated to train and I have goals. Making the move to keep all my training logged in this way at the start of 2009 was one of the smartest moves I've made as a rider and has been worth so more to me than any fancy wheels as it essentially allows me to self coach. That's not to say I do it as well as a professional coach would but it's not bad considering it's free. I've learned a lot about myself this past year as a result of using this system, and while I don't think these graphs are the be all and end all, they do help visualise what you're doing, the gains / losses you're making and provide a motivational way to 'stay on track'. Let's see how 2010 goes.

n.b. that was about 500hrs of training and 9500kms covered in all disciplines over 2009... yikes!

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