February Training Recap

The Y Pool

The Y Pool

February was a good training month. I found my groove in the pool again and my power on the bike is slowly returning. I finished the month off with completing 26:47 hours of quality training time.

As a side note, I have decided to separate out my personal writings from this blog and created another blog … Diaries of a Wandering Lobster, so I can keep this one more focused on my triathlon life. I will be writing about life, travel, personal finance, etc. on Diaries of a Wandering Lobster so don’t forget to check it out! 🙂

Now back to my monthly training recap! There were a few days I took off due to not feeling well. Remarkably I have not been seriously sick, especially compared to last year. Knock on wood of course! The weather was terrible a few days in February and by a few days I mean it snowed a lot and was just down right cold!

I managed to bundle up and run outside for a majority of my runs, but there were a few times that I aired on the side of caution and ran on the dreadmill. The pool closed early a few times on me due to snowstorms and I had to shift my training days around a bit.

I started taking a pilates class the end of January and it kicks my butt every time! Unfortunately, we didn’t have class 3 out of the 4 weeks in February because of a snow day, school vacation week, and the instructor took a vacation. I’ve already noticed a big different in my core and hip strength, which is exactly what my hips need.

Speaking of my hips, they have been behaving themselves lately. They were quite sore a couple weeks ago due to my recent long run on hilly terrain. I saw my chiropractor the next day and informed her that I may or may not have strained my piriformis since it was super tight and sore. She stretched me out and said my hips were actually really good, but my hamstrings were still very tight. Story of my life!

I’ve spent a lot of time on Azul and also making friends again with the spin bike as I teach spinning on a regular basis now and love it! I completed my first FTP test of the year last week. My results were better than I expected, but still not anywhere near my 2012 bike fitness levels. I’m working hard to get back to that fitness level so I can crush the Timberman bike course in August!

March Goals:

  1. Continue perfecting my flip-turns! I have finally decided to flip-turn all my workouts after 4 years of intermittingly doing so. I know how to flip-turn since I swam in high school, but was too lazy to do so in triathlon training.
  2. Continue to build my power. Now that I know where my current bike fitness is at, I can work to build up my power through my workouts. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to ride on the road soon because I’m getting antsy on the trainer these days!
  3. Continue to strength train to ensure my hip issues are not a problem this race season!
  4. Dial in on my nutrition to reach race weight in the appropriate timeframe.

Do you set monthly training goals?

 ~ Happy Training!

How to Conduct a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) Test

Power meters are becoming the new standard on bicycles today, especially for competitive athletes. They are certainly an expensive investment, but a worthwhile one if you’re serious about training with data.

Powermeter = LOVE!

Powermeter = LOVE (somedays)!

I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions that I have a love/hate relationship with my power meter. Heart rate-based training on the bike is a great training metric, but it can only do so much. I always liken my power meter to a truth-meter because it does not lie about my current bike fitness and riding abilities.

Power meters are extremely effective tools for training and racing. For long-course triathletes, like myself, I find my power meter acts as a governor for my bike leg because I know if I go out too hard, it will only be time until I blow up.

Most triathletes love spending money on new gear, whether we truly need it or not. A lot of triathletes want fancy race wheels because they make our bikes look fast and cool. Race wheels can easily set you back a couple of grand and the same with a power meter. Now if you had to choose between a power meter or race wheels, what do you choose? A power meter should probably be the correct answer and here’s why:

  • A power meter can help you build your engine. Sure, race wheels can shave a few seconds to a few minutes off your time, but an effective and strong engine (aka YOU) can shave even more time off your bike leg!
  • A power meter can help you monitor your efforts over time and keep you working within your correct zone. For example, if it is extremely windy out you will work harder (i.e. push more watts) than if there was no wind. If you have a power meter, you know you are working harder and thus not fight the headwind by pushing a faster pace (i.e. speed) like your competitors sans power meter.
  • A power meter can give you a highly accurate measurement of your bike fitness over a season. A power meter can be used for benchmark testing unlike a lot of heart rate testing that can have multiple variables with results.

There are various metrics that you can measure over a season with a power meter. I won’t get into that today because the terms can be confusing. If you work with a coach or train with a power meter regularly you are probably familiar with the terms such as normalized power, functional threshold power, critical power, etc.

Today I want to discuss Functional Threshold Power (FTP) because it is often used as the main benchmark testing for bike fitness.

Functional Threshold Power can simply be defined as the wattage an athlete can produce and maintain over a 1 hour time period without fatigue. FTP is relative to nearly all cyclists. It is important for an athlete to test their FTP at the beginning of their base training cycle to determine the correct training intensity zones and also to determine the benchmark for the season. Athletes should periodically re-test their FTP to compare against the benchmark test to observe fitness.


You might want a Puke Bucket!

You might want a Puke Bucket!


FTP Test Protocol:

  1. Warm-up: 20 minutes at endurance pace/easy to moderate pace; 3 x 1 minute fast pedaling (100+rpm) with 1 minute rest between; 5 minutes easy pedaling
  2. Main Set: 5 minutes all-out effort; 10 minutes easy pedaling; 20 minute time-trial
  3. Cool Down: 10-15 minute easy pedaling


  • Keep cadence normal (i.e. 90-95rpm) throughout the test
  • Pace yourself during the 20 minute time trial – it helps to break the time into small sections
  • If you are conducting this test outside, try riding up a steady climb or into a headwind

How to Calculate Your FTP:

  1. Download your data. TrainingPeaks is my preferred software program.
  2. Figure out your average power for the 20 minute time trial. In TrainingPeaks you can highlight the 20 minute interval and it will show average power for that time period.
  3. Take your average power number and multiple it by 0.95 for your FTP number.

Note: The reason you multiple your average power number by 0.95 is because you are subtracting 5% from it. A true FTP test would involve an athlete holding their highest average watts for 1 hour, but since most of us cannot focus that long, we shorten the test to 20 minutes. The 20 minutes is a shorter time period, and thus the athlete generally uses more of their anaerobic capacity and this skews the wattage data by about 5% over a 60-minute effort.

Now what? You know your FTP number and now you can use it to calculate your power-based training zones. The zones are below:

  • Active Recovery – Less than 55% of FTP
  • Endurance – 56-75% of FTP
  • Tempo – 76-90% of FTP
  • Lactate Threshold – 91-105% of FTP
  • VO2max – 106-120% of FTP
  • Anaerobic Capacity – 121-150% of FTP
  • Neuromuscular Power – N/A (maximal number of watts you can push for less than 30secs)

Most triathletes will train predominantly in the endurance and tempo zones, but it is important to include the other training zones in your training plan as well. A coach can help you better plan this type of work with your training plan.

It is important to periodically re-test your FTP to see improvements. If you don’t see improvement over time, it’s probably time to change-up your training routine!

~ Happy Training!

Cleared for Take-Off: My Return to Running (or some semblance of it)


One of my favorite movies! (source)

One of my favorite movies! (source)

Last week I finally got cleared by my chiropractor to run again after a long 10+ week hiatus. Back in September I signed up for the Thanksgiving Day 4-Miler in Portland, but I made a wise decision not to run it even though I probably “could” have.

Casey, my chiropractor, said that I could run on a flat surface and no more than 3 miles. Well, obviously the 4 mile, very hilly course on Thanksgiving was out. Fine by me! I secretly hate that race anyway; however, I’m the idiot that continues to sign up for it because all my friends run it…

Between the holiday craziness, the icky cold weather, and work I wasn’t able to run until Saturday morning. I put just about every winter layer of running clothes I had on, since the last time I ran was back in September in shorts and a t-shirt. Apparently, I have become a cold weather wuss… I normally have no problem running in rain, snowstorms, hurricanes, and on ice, but now that the temperatures have dropped below freezing my body has decided that it prefers warm weather. I blame hot yoga…

I’m a veteran of returning to running after an injury. You’d think I would be used to the pain and mental mind-f*** of sheer lack of any aerobic fitness that a person has due to running. I brought my dog, Reagan, with me on the run for motivation (okay, maybe I was hoping that she’d just drag me around the trail…). That dog loves to run (and chase birds and chipmunks).



I felt good the first mile. I was running again! Yippee! I wore my Garmin but didn’t really pay attention to pace or time. I knew I would be slow. I just ran by feel. Around the Mile One mark I looked at my watch to check my pace and heart rate. I was going just a hair-below a 10-minute mile. Not bad for a slow, long run pace! Then I looked at my heart rate… 178bpm. No wonder I was sucking wind and felt like dying. I was running damn near my zone 5 heart rate!

Time to slow down a bit before I succeed to keel over from a running-induced heart attack… the “return to running” pain started to set in a bit during mile two. Argh, this process is going to suck. I was starting to get a small twitch in my right knee again. Please no! I was hoping with my running hiatus that my knee/IT-band issues would start to resolve! It was getting better post Ironman as I was focusing on rebuilding my lack of running fitness in August and September. Grr…

The knee was really starting to bother me after my Garmin beeped at the Mile Two mark. I held out until 2.25 miles and then surrendered and finished with a walk home. Why make the problem worst now?

Over all, it felt good to run again. I miss running. It’s going to take a long while to regain my running fitness, since I never really had any all of 2013 due to the knee/IT-band issues that began fairly early in my season. I’m okay with that. My big “A” race in 2014 isn’t until August, so that gives me some time to really ensure my body is healed enough to begin picking up the intensity and volume of training.

I will continue to run a couple times of week now, but my main focus right now thorough the early winter will be rebuilding my bike power. I’m hoping that we’ll get a lot of snow this year in the Greater Portland area so I can do a lot of cross-country skiing in place of running. And stay tuned for more pathetic stories of my return to running. J

~ Happy Training!