Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Threshold Test Fun

Any of you who know what a threshold test is know that it is not the most fun thing in the world, but it can at least give you some good data points to go on.  It helps set heart rate zones and you can compare them to prior results of yours to see how you're doing in relation to other times.  You get on the bike and the resistance increases until you literally cannot pedal anymore.  It's exceedingly uncomfortable at the end, given the fact that the heart rate (or mine) is usually in the 190's.  But for a while at least it's not so bad. 

We haven't done one of these for me in a couple of years.  Last year was more than sort of a mess on my end and the year before we would just use the data from some indoor time trials to figure out basically the same information.  But, well, it was time again.  After giving so many of these and watching other people suffer in those final moments when I start to feel really bad that they might throw up on my floor, it was my turn to suffer a bit. 

I drove down to Jesse's last night, of course nervous as anything as I drove.  I'm always nervous when I go, which is kind of stupid because I am always feeling better about things when I leave.  Before Jesse I had a coach I wouldn't talk to that often, but we did talk sometimes.  Not one of those times did I feel any better about the training than I did before I talked to him.  That is just one of the reasons that it is so nice to have the coach I have! 

Right away I hopped on the bike and did the usual warm-up.  I really had no idea what to expect from this test.  The first time I did one of these was at the end of 2008, when I first started with QT2.  I was in the worst shape of my tri career after a terrible, terrible season and I hadn't trained much in the fall.  The test was brutal, my heart rate was outrageously high and I lost it after not pushing all that many watts.  A couple of follow-up test went quite a bit better, but that first one is the most memorable. 

This time I was sort of expecting something similar to that first test, or maybe a little better.  The summer of the broken foot made my quad muscles disappear.  The test started, and as usual, it was pretty painless for a while.  I had no idea what wattage we started at and then no idea how long it would take before it started to get difficult.  It's amazing how the hard part in these tests really sneaks up on you.  You go from totally fine to gasping for breath in a matter of like two minutes.  So of course that end part was not so fun, although still less painful than the end of an indoor time trial, but the results were better than expected, which was nice.  I don't think anything relating to my triathlon performance in, oh, two-and-a-half years has been better than expected, so I'll take it!  It actually matched my best of these tests with QT2, after three months of training, and was 30 watts less than my best ever which was done in 2006, before my best season ever.  Except that one was February, so I'm feeling good about this. 

We made some adjustments to the schedule based on the results, and I get to do a lot more intensity instead of base due to my extraordinary aerobic capacity.  That's not a huge compliment, since extraordinary aerobic capacity means I have vastly inferior anaerobic capacity, so that's what all the extra intensity stuff is.  Really my physiology is best suited for like, a double Ironman, but, well, no thanks. 

All in all it was a good meeting that left me really starting to feel good about where things are headed this season in spite of my still feeling fairly out of shape.  The threshold test doesn't lie.  And today I'm just irritated that I rode the trainer thinking it was going to rain all day, only to find out that there was going to be an extended period of the afternoon that would not only be dry, but also around 60 degrees!  Oh, well.  I'm skipping winter anyway so a little trainer riding won't hurt me.

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