Baseline

It's been a few years since I've done base line testing on the bike - partly because the focus was more on building tolerance to the workload. Coming from the running and triathlon background, I wasn't as strong on the bike as I needed to be for my goals so increasing threshold wasn't as important increasing my ability to handle increased workloads at threshold. I've gone from doing shorter workouts at lower power levels to longer and more intense intervals. I've also been able to stack more workouts together with less recovery. Looking at the TSS on Training Peaks has shown the trends of what I can tolerate and when I need to step it down for a recovery week. All of that work was done based on the threshold and ranges established on the last field test I did. With the improvements I've been seeing, I figured it was time to for another field test and to establish new ranges.

But threshold testing isn't something to be taken lightly and when I picked up the nasty head cold and crud that was floating around at work, I had to postpone. I wasn't in shape to get any kind of decent numbers with that crap! Finally got to doing the testing this week - hid in the garage, just me and my bike and a fan. It was time to suffer and turn myself inside out. In a way, I was looking forward to the testing - I was sure that I would have some good numbers and see a nice increase in my FTP. At the same time, I wasn't sure I was healthy enough to be doing it just yet. I was still coughing and fighting a drippy nose. But I was tired of waiting and I wanted to get going on the next block of training. Besides, even with being sick, I was still turning out some steady times on my running workouts. So off I went, setting it all up and running through the field test

When it was all said and done and I'd looked over the data and done the math, it was less then inspiring. Surely I would have seen an improvement in my FTP and be able to adjust my training ranges up right? Well, there was an increase, but not enough to be statistically significant. For what I got, I could have just done some intervals and not stressed myself out about the testing. I was all prepared to have a nice mope fest given the numbers I'd gotten. Then I realized - its more then just numbers. How can I really compare two tests so far apart? One done at CTS, on the Computrainer with all the variation that entails. Inside, with people around, cheering you on, driving you to push harder and dig deeper. The other done in the garage, on a brand new trainer and with changing temperatures throughout the test. All alone with nothing but my thoughts to encourage me. Not to mention the coughing fit between two efforts. Too many variables between the two tests to accurately compare the numbers. For all I know, the ranges I had back then were too high and I have just now developed into being able to accurately push myself. In order to really compare two tests, I have to be more precise. Same trainer at the same tension if done inside. But preferably, the next time I do a baseline, I'll be outside. The road doesn't change - the might be a headwind one day vs the other, but the road stays the same.

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