Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Training and Racing this Winter


The main thought behind racing during the winter is that it provides great training. A hard training sessions is a good training session, and I personally never go as hard as when I race.

As of writing this blog post I have in fact already done three races: A cyclocross race which I did on my mountain bike (as I don't own a cyclocross bike... yet).  Then a race in Hässleholm CK Wintercup. Also a Marathon MTB Race in Denmark, but I punctured there. However before puncturing I recorded my best FTP yet!

This of course again proves that racing is the best training as you're never as motivated to give your all as you do when you race.

How can I have FTP data from a race then? I got myself a Quarq power meter for my MTB!


This Danish MTB Cup has six races of about one hour from November to March. I raced in this cup both in 2015 and 2016 and places 2nd and 3rd respectively. It's a great length of time to race because an hour gives you absolutely max intensity but also quick recovery.

Heino Fall Race

This Danish MTB marathon in the beginning of November is a lot of fun. I've raced it for many years. All the good riders always turn up and the trails are quick and flowy. The only problem was in 2015 when there was so much snow that I wasn't able to complete both laps of the race.

Hässleholm CK Vintercup

A local Swedish Cycling Club, Hässleholm CK, have their own winter MTB cup. It's only an hour's drive away and a good opportunity to get race pace training.


In-door training and Motivation

When I still lived in Malmö my main winter training was doing spinning classes at the local gym. The bikes there had watt meters and so it motivated me to score as high on the watts and kcals as I possibly could. This led to good intensity workouts. However since we moved outside the big city there are no spinning classes nearby. 

Last year was the first time that I started using the stationary bike (Monark 828 Strip) at home. The Monark is an excellent training platform but it's sort of weird to set up for a training session: The bike has to be set to a certain resistance in watts at a certain RPM. After that you can't touch the resistance lever or you ruin the calibration, i.e you don't know what watts you're running at. Last spring I got a Stages watt meter for the Monark and that made all the difference: I didn't have to set a certain watt level to run the training session at because the Stages had the watt output. Also this meant that I had a log of the watts after the session. Since I got the Stages getting on the Monark has been a lot more interesting and motivating.

Looking at my training sessions from last Winter I felt that perhaps I wasn't all that motivated. My training discipline has never been my strongest side and I always need a clear goal to shoot for. So this winter my goal will be... WATTS! I've already done a few training sessions on the stationary bike where I've really felt motivated in achieving the highest possible wattage and it has worked great! The intensity (heart rate) has been super high!

Motivation is everything

I decided to try another benchmark this morning: 4 times 4 minutes (with 4 minutes rest in between)

I remember also attempting this in May when my goal had been to crack 360W but when I had failed and ended up with 350W. However looking at my heart rate from that session I wonder if I really tried. 27 in Suffer Score and 15 Points In The Red.

Today I managed a 373W average. The H/R analysis looks like this. 33 in Suffer Score and 24 Points In The Red.

I guess motivation is everything

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Nine nine minute intervals @ 279W

I tried a new type of interval session this morning: Nine times nine minute intervals. One minute rest in between and during that rest you have to stay perfectly still - no pedaling. It was probably the most painful session I've ever done indoors

The first interval was warmup @ 240W
The other eight intervals had average watts of: 280W, 285W, 282W, 280W, 279W, 272W, 272W, 279W
Average H/R for the intervals: 160, 165, 170, 173, 176, 177, 178, 183

This is pretty much the most painful thing I've ever done.

Also observe the heart rate graph: It starts up easy but then just climbs. The rest does very little to lower the H/R and within one minute into the next interval it's back up at the highest point from the previous.

Lots of points in the red:

And a looooong recovery period:

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Summary of 2017 season

With the last of the regular summer races done with it's time to summarize the 2017 season:


Yeah, I had higher expectations.

Things didn't start off well with the heel injury just prior to Andalucia Bike Race which meant I couldn't train properly (and also gained weight before the start of the race). Then I suffered my catastrophic mechanical failure and had to abort the race during the fifth stage. Well, at that point I didn't care that much anymore.

The next goal was the Swedish Marathon Cup (Långloppscupen). I had a fourth place in the cup from 2016 to improve upon.

The cup started of with my favorite race: Billingeracet. I had trained well before the race and my weight was good. The year before I had come in second place so expectations were high for this year. I finished sixth. A bit of a disappointment but I felt that I had done a good race. Looking at some of the Strava segments during the race also told the same story: I was quicker than the year before. So I guess the opposition was tougher.

Things didn't get much better; In the next race, Lång Lugnet, I came in seventh place. In fact that was the theme for the rest of the races in the cup: Mediocre results. Well, that's when they weren't out right awful, I had a few of those as well.

I finished the Swedish Marathon Cup in sixth place overall. Two places worse than the year before. Also not a single podium finish in any of the races.

The middle season goal was the stage race Beskidy Trophy in June. In 2016 I finished in fourth place, just 60 seconds down on third. Again this year the preparations involved a big push to lose weight and I got down to close to 70 kg just before the race. Pretty much the same as last year. I ended up finishing in sixth place, mostly due to a terrible second stage with lots of punctures. If I deducted the time that I lost during that stage it looked like I might have finished in fourth again. A good result, but not what I was looking for.

There was also the Swedish Marathon Championships: I had a good training period before them, weight was not perfect, but good. But then I suffered a puncture within the first kilometer. The way I was able to catch up and finish in 10th place in spite of this tells me that I was in good shape. Especially as I the day after had my best placing in the Marathon Cup: 5th place.

So what went wrong?

I don't know. I think that I'm going to sit down and have a good think about it. One of my theories is that I don't do enough high intensity training. Someone may say that I need to be more structured in my training. And they'd be right in saying that. I have an idea for a separate blog post about this. Coming up!