Of the three disciplines I would say that the bike leg is the one I favour. Having always ridden mountain bikes, and lately becoming a MAMIL and riding the inaugural Velothon in Cardiff I have some confidence that I should be ok riding 112 miles. Running a marathon afterwards is going to be another matter. But anyway back to to the bike.
I am sure many triathletes share the same logistical problems when trying to fit in training around family life and work. Also having the support of your family is essential. My dear wife has certainly been playing her part in helping me realise my goal of completing an Ironman by buying me a turbo trainer for my birthday.
I cannot thank her enough for this, even though it is a thing of torture on times I kid you not. Especially when you have your 85 year old father living with you, as he likes to have the heating on almost 24/7.
So I have Tacx Flow Smart trainer, which is probably the cheapest entry level smart trainer. What I mean by a smart trainer is that the training resistance can be controlled by software such as ZWIFT or Trainer road.
Why do you want a smart trainer?
Well if you are anything like me, first and foremost I love to be outdoors. It is why I love to cycle, run and swim/thats kind of the order in which I like each discipline 😉
But in the real world where I have to be a husband, look after my two gorgeous boys, and my Dad, time is pretty thin on the ground. So being able to jump on the trainer and follow some structured training I thought would be of great benefit. I have recently being trying to follow the 4 week FTP booster training plan which you can find on ZWIFT. To start off you have to complete an FTP test, which stands for F- Functional, T- Threshold, P- Power. Here’s some more reading on FTP by Wattbike and triathlete.com
I can confirm that it is not a nice experience. If you do a test and you think that it wasn’t to bad, then you did it wrong ! You should be spent when you finish otherwise you aren’t going to get an accurate reading of your FTP.
Once the dreaded FTP test is done, you then have a figure to plug into your workouts so it can adjust the intensity according to your currently ability. It is recommended then to repeat the FTP every so often, so you can see your progress and to ensure that your workouts are given you the right training stimulus to keep improving.
I completed an FTP test a good while ago in Coleg Sir Gar on a Wattbike with the clever man that is Rob Kirk, head of the sports science department there. That time I recorded an FTP of 201 watts. After my FTP on my trainer I had an FTP of 180 watts. Now I know that there may be some discrepancy between the Wattbike and my trainer, but I’m not kidding myself. Since the last test I have probably only ridden my bike about twice. So its no shock that my power has diminished. So with my ego well and truly spanked I have been working my way through this FTP booster plan. I haven’t been totally strict with the days, and life has got in the way as it usually does. But I have certainly put in some miles which I would never have been able to to if I didn’t have it. Just the other day I was able to cook tea for the kids, place it in front of them and then I jumped on the trainer for an hour. Yes an hour, it takes our youngest at least an hour to eat pretty much anything these days! Thats another story!
So just yesterday I was finally able to get out for a proper real world ride, and whilst I havent yet re-taken and FTP test, my legs certainly felt like they had more power in them. Until I re-do the test we wont know.
Bike training benefitting my running
Now I cant say scientifically that the bike trainer has helped my running, but based on the fact that all I have really done the last couple of months is to ride the trainer, and at most I run 7 miles in one go. I was very surprised, pleasantly I hasten to add, when I ran a trail half marathon last month in a decent time for me. But not only that, I didn’t suffer from my usual cramping or painful hips which I tend to get at about 10 miles.
So just maybe, the fact that I have been training more regularly than I would normally and lost a bit of weight is helping across the board.
So as the journey continues and I shall be reporting in soon on my latest FTP test. Im hoping its going to be a bigger number, fingers crossed.