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Visualizing Training Duration, Intensity & Performance

October 4, 2013

Figure 1: Training volume (total hours), average threshold interval performance, number of 30:30 repeats per week, and threshold interval best time by week, July 1, 2013 through October 3, 2013.

Here is an experiment in visualizing what I think are the relevant training stimuli that I have been applying over the last few months as I explore the sport of cyclocross.  My training schema is overall very simple.  I do some long rides on the road bike (reflected in “Total Hrs” column), and I do 2 activities on grass in a local park: 1) “30:30’s”, which are short hill climb repeats, about :30 in duration up a ~15% grade with about :30 rest on the way down in sets of 5-10, and 2) “Loops”, which are Tempo/threshold intervals on a grassy loop of about 2.5 miles (which for me is 10-15 minutes of riding).  The graph in Figure 1 plots aspects of those activities over the period from July 1, 2013 to October 3, 2013.  Below is the table that this plot draws from.  The 4 aspects that I have plotted are as follows:

  • Total Time training, in hours (does not include warmup & warmdown time) – in blue.
  • # of 30:30 intervals completed for the week – in orange.
  • Average Loop interval times for the week – in red.
  • Best Loop interval time for the week – in green.

Looking at threshold Loop interval performance, my times remained fairly static from July through the month of August – hovering around the high 12 minutes to low 13 minute range.  During the first week in September they began to drop fairly substantially, moving to the low 12 minute/high 11 minute range.  A couple of things worth noting, preceding that drop in the first week of September I managed to put in over 8 hours in the saddle, though that was followed by a week where I barely made 2 hours of total time.  The week prior to that I also began doing 30:30 repeats in earnest.  Also, though it is not reflected in the graph, my 30:30 repeat time improved from about :33 seconds per repeat in July to :26-:27 seconds per repeat by the end of September even as I increased the number of 30:30 repeats that I could do in a single session.  The target level of effort that I put into each 30:30 repeat is approximately that which I think I could sustain for a 2:00 all out effort.  The increase in number of repeats is a direct reflection of how fatigued I became after repeated efforts – my ability to recover from successive repeats improved dramatically over time.  Another notable aspect that coincided with this last month of training was my ability to “step on the gas” in a given interval.  Prior to September my fastest repeat and my slowest repeat were fairly similar, maybe :30 faster at the times that I really put the hammer down.  As the month of September wore on into October, my top-end capacity on these loops increased dramatically, with my fastest time for a single repeat dropping to 10:30, about a full minute faster than my sustainable tempo pace which settled in at roughly 11:30 per loop.  I think that much of this performance improvement was due to my ability to recover quickly after pushing it up the short uphill portions of the loop course – I was able to push it harder up the climbs, and recover at a faster pace.

Table 1: Training volume (total hours), average threshold interval performance, number of 30:30 repeats per week, and threshold interval best time by week, July 1, 2013 through October 3, 2013.

Week End Total hrs Loop Avg (min) # 30:30 Loop Best (min)
7/7/2013 3.42
7/14/2013 3.08
7/21/2013 2.38
7/28/2013 1.25 13.50 13.00
8/4/2013 4.13
8/11/2013 3.77 12.92 8 12.92
8/19/2013 4.49 12.80 12.50
8/26/2013 3.73
9/1/2013 3.42 13.28 20 13.28
9/8/2013 7.20 12.02 12.02
9/15/2013 1.30 11.65 6 11.65
9/22/2013 4.03 12.00 25 11.67
9/29/2013 2.50 12.00 27 11.33
10/6/2013 1.06 11.17 10.50

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