After two long months of lockdown the sunshine has appeared and the Waldy season is full flow. This months challenge is all about consistency and repeat rides. I've had Hot Chip's "Over and Over" going through my head all week so it seemed appropriate to steal a lyric from that song as the title for this blog. On paper this would seem to be an easy challenge but many of us will find it difficult to achieve consecutive rides due to work, life, motivation and fatigue.
Firstly, we need to find the time in our busy lives to grab 30mins to ourselves and get on the bike. Pre-Covid and lockdowns this challenge would have been really easy as we would all have found very good excuses for getting out on the bike every day. Riding to the office, riding to the pub, riding to the park for a picnic etc but this year It is all little different. So this challenge is as much about finding time and having the motivation to keep getting on the bike as it is about effort levels and recovery.
We know we should all be trying to carve out time in our days to do some exercise but I know its not easy to do, my Strava feed looks strangely empty for the past few month and this for me has been mainly down to a lack of time and motivation. So how can we generate the motivation to keep getting on the bike?
Getting out on a ride is much easier if we have organised to meet someone. The fear of being late or letting someone down is huge motivating factor to most people. We are currently allowed to ride with one other person during lockdown as long as we observe social distancing. Why not organise to meet a fellow Waldy or friend for a cycle in the local area. In thirty minutes, you can cover a reasonable distance around south west London.
Challenge within a challenge
Why not try a challenge within a challenge. I think there are at least 25 active Waldys in the Teddington area (Richard will no doubt correct me !) Why not try and cycle with as many different Waldy's as you can over March?
Celebrate the wins however small!
Mini rewards are a really good way to keep motivated, set yourself short term achievable goals and importantly reward yourself. Whether it’s a piece of cake, glass or wine or Friday night takeaway, Its important to celebrate the small wins! If you are riding with someone else there is nothing quite winning a race the other rider never even knew they were in! So try and be the first up the hill or too the lamppost.
Get some more Kit!
There is nothing more motivating than getting some new and sparkly stash to have on the bike. Who could resist a bidon with a pink cap? Not me!
Training Intensity Levels - Over and Under Training
For those who are trying to meet a goal, following a training plan or training for an event then fatigue is going to be a big issue in this challenge and it will possibly be a demotivating factor in your attempts to undertake consecutive rides.
Managing training fatigue is very important and very difficult to do but luckily there are some useful tools available to help you with this.
To build strength and fitness we need to place the body under a certain amount of physical stress, if we don’t get enough then we undertrain and lose fitness, if we get too much then we over train which often results in injury or serious fatigue.
Building stress into your muscles should be done over a long period of time allowing time for your body to adapt and recover from the gradually increasing stress. Increasing the stress too quickly will lead to over training. There are tools that you can use to help measure your training stress. Training Peaks created a system call Training Stress Score (TSS) . Its also in Strava but called Relative Effort .
The calculation is basically the same for both TSS and Relative effort and is based on How hard is your effort when compared to your benchmark effort (i.e. FTP) and how long did you hold it for.
So if you hold your FTP for one hour then your TSS is 100. If you held 20% of your FTP to get the same TSS or Relative Effort you would need to hold the effort for five times as long to get the same stress level and benefit. The calculation is a little more complex than the simple explanation above as it has to account for the time you spend over your FTP for which it ramps up the training stress exponentially with time spent above your FTP.
Its important to note that TSS works off data from a power meter, Strava use algorithms to work out an equivalent power and hence can create Relative Effort data for all your rides based on HR and estimated Power.
This calculation is the reason why many coaches say that if you are a time pushed cyclist you should undertake interval workouts around your FTP level to give huge fitness benefits very quickly.
TSS and Relative Effort allows you to monitor your training stress and understand if you are under or over training. Many coaching guides will look to build the weekly stress from around 300 points per week up to 500 to 600 points over the period of a training plan. Training plans follow a four week rotation with every fourth week being a recovery week and will be 100 to 150 pts lower than the previous week.
As you get fitter and stronger your reference point also increases and therefore the calculation is relevant whether you are pro rider of casual cyclist as its relative to the rider. A pro rider could push 400watts for an hour and get the same TSS as a rider holding 80watts for 3 hours.
I don't know why I left recovery to the end, it is possibly the most important part of the blog and is essential to any successful piece of training especially repeat training or consecutive days of training. To keep motivated and to keep your training stress at reasonable levels you need to allow your body and mind to recover, heal and build strength. Recovery isn't just siting on your sofa trying to work out how Huw Pym does so many consecutive nights on the BBC News, recovery is a dynamic situation which requires time exercising at extremely low intensity levels. Essentially the stimulation of blood flow through your muscles helps heal and feed the muscles with nutrients. The Sufferfest have written an excellent piece on their blog about recovery between intervals and Active recovery after hard workouts. Enjoy!