So once again, overthinking has caught up with me. Seriously, will I ever learn? I’m either battling through some sort of cold while clearly making it worse or gritting my teeth through some muscular pain. This week it is the latter.
An acute pain struck my left knee on Sunday during an easy spin. I had such finished quite an intense week of training and was just settling into some recovery rides. I thought nothing of it as my left knee has been quite bad as far as I can remember. Even well before I got into cycling. Anyways, Monday rolled around and I completed another one hour recovery and felt fine. That was until Tuesdays ride. 20 minutes into yet another easy spin and my knee was twitching. I knew something wasn’t quite right. Yet foolishly, as I always do, I just spun on. It wasn’t until I completed the remaining 50 minutes that I knew I wasn’t going to be back on the bike for a little while.
I could honestly kick myself, if only I could support my own body weight on it. But I do this every time. I get so excited and invested in a new training plan that I don’t listen to what my body is telling me.
I know what the solution is now that I’m injured but what do I tell myself when I’m on the verge of injury?
If you’re not familiar with the world of Zwift then hopefully this will get you up to speed. Zwift is basically a gaming platform but your bike, along with a turbo trainer, is the controller with you powering it. You are riding in a virtual world with an avatar that displays the power you are putting out via your smart trainer. If you don’t have a smart trainer then a power meter, along with a turbo trainer, is the next best thing. However, after riding with both setups, I prefer the smart trainer simply for the ERG mode setting. More about this later.
Although I haven’t been racing on Zwift for very long, as well as racing in general for that matter, I feel as though I have learnt a lot.
For my winter training I have been using TrainerRoad since last year. TrainerRoad is great as it has highly structured plans that build up your strength and power over a number of weeks. Many of the workouts will have you at a range from 90% to 100% of your FTP for a length of time from 10 to 60 minutes to get your true hour power number. This is great if you have a smart trainer set in ERG mode but when it comes to real-world riding, these numbers fluctuate. This fluctuation is much more apparent when it comes to racing. This is mainly due to the range of pace by either the terrain of the course or my other riders trying to make a break from the pack.
So while TrainerRoad is excellent for gaining strength and even the confidence of knowing you can hold on to a certain power number, you still need to mix things up to find out your true abilities. This is where, for me anyway, Zwift becomes quite invaluable. Online you will find people using one or the other but I see the benefits of using both together.
Winter training is here for me but is also flying past me.
I began back in October by signing up for TrainerRoad again. I first signed up for it last year and find it to be very good at giving me a solid, structured training plan that meets my goals for the up coming season. Although I haven’t fully decided on what my goals this year will be.
Since reigniting my TrainerRoad account and purchasing my Tacx Flux, my performance has improved immensely. I find it so much easier now to just open the app and jump on my bike, which is already setup on the trainer. For me, just getting on and doing the workout is always the hard part but once I get going, I’m usually fine.
With it being the winter season, I have put on a little weight, six pounds in fact but I’m feeling good because of it. My numbers are up and I just feel as through I’m recovering better between each ride. Though I am missing riding outside, the snowy conditions out are proving that to be quite difficult.
I haven’t done much strength training to be honest but I’ve been catching up on some reading and I’m feeling pretty drawn towards it. I’ve currently got David Millar’s The Racer: The Inside Story of Life on the Raod on top of my reading pile and am finding it pretty difficult to put down. It’s been such a great read and has so much insight as well as a wealth of knowledge.
I like the sound of his winter strength training exercise to get back into things, in a sadistic sort of way. It’s a basically 30 squats, break for a minute times. Then ten minutes on the bike to spin the legs out. Then back to the 30 squats with the one minute rest. Then bike and finally another set of squats and finishing on the bike. It will add up to 270 squats with 30 minutes of spinning work. It sounds brutal but I will definitely be fitting that in at some point. Perhaps at the weekend when I have a little extra time on the bike.
The lonely truth
Although winter training indoors is very lonely, and almost reclusive in a way, I enjoy it very much. I think it’s more the excitement of getting out with my cycling friends and the cycling club I’m a member of and just showing them ‘what you’ve got’. It’s very alpha, I know, but I love it and it’s all in good fun between me and a number of cycling friends.
So with another couple of months of winter training left to do, I’m looking forward to the new year. Now, let’s decide what I should be racing towards…