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I'm six weeks in to my first twelve-week plan. Time for a quick progress report

I'm doing training – like, proper training with a timetable and rules and stuff – for the first time, and I'm halfway through the the first twelve-week slab of stuff that Dave Smith has mapped out for me. So how's it going? Positively, pretty much. Here's where we are.

First things first: one of the main things I was keen to focus on was my weight. I was about 104kg when I started this plan. I've been heavier (110kg and more) and I've also been lighter. I tend to gravitate to just above 100kg and stay there.

Now I'm 96kg. So that's 8kg lost in seven weeks (I skipped a week of sessions when we were in Italy) and I'm now as light as I've ever been in my adult life. That qualifies as a success in my book. The diet that I'm on is carb-light and vegetable-and-nut-heavy, and I haven't found it that much of a struggle, most of the time.

Most of the time. I do have a sweet tooth and I'm a sucker for biscuits, cake, ice cream, sweets, whatever. Some weeks I'm more disciplined than others. Last week, and the incident with the home-made salted caramel baked alaska chocolate cake, wasn't exactly a triumph. But generally I've been good. Santa take note.

It was easy to lose weight at the start, and now it's getting harder. That's to be expected, I guess. The last couple of weeks my weight has remained steady, rather than fallen. That's coincided with one really busy week where I didn't  get a lot of time on two wheels, and last week where I was struggling with a cold and more or less off the bike completely. So no big surprise. That being said, I've never managed to stay at 96kg before. The only other time I got that low I gave myself a big pat on the back and went straight back on the Yorkies, with predictable results.

How low can I go? Well I'm not exactly lean at 96kg, let's be honest. There's more weight to lose. I'm aiming for 92kg by the end of this 12-week plan. 92kg has always been one to aim for for me. If Magnus Backstedt can finish a Grand Tour at 92kg, I'm pretty much out of excuses.

All of this would be pointless if it was just muscle mass I was losing, and I was chuffing more and more slowly up the hills. But that's not the case, happily. I've been getting faster. Strava said so, and anecdotally it feels that way too. I've managed to stay with riders on rides where in the past i'd have been off the back pretty quickly. It's encouraging. I feel fitter. Three interval sessions a week isn't exactly fun, but hey. It's doing some good.

I'm using the Kurt Kinetic Rock 'n' Roll 2 for a lot of my session work and that spits out a bunch of numbers I can compare. And when I do compare them, what I see is a very slight increase in power for a given type of session over time. Nothing significant, a couple of watts. But it is significant that it isn't going down, because that means the weight loss isn't affecting my output. And that means my power to weight is going up as I get lighter, and that means I go up the hills more quickly. I don't really know what my functional threshold power is, but whatever it is my watts-per-kilo number has increased by over 8% for any given value of W.

My goals here are pretty lowly. Last year I entered my first Cat 4 race, and got my arse handed to me in short order. So I'm working on my fitness and overall condition to ensure that when I line up next year I can at least stay in the mix until the end. And then we can move on from there. I'm painfully aware that the work I'm doing now with Dave is to get me to a point where I can do some proper training. But it's progress. Onwards, &c.

* those PRs in the Strava pic are all different bits of the same hill, but it looks good

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

13 comments

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zanf [1028 posts] 4 years ago
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Quote:

The diet that I'm on is carb-light and vegetable-and-nut-heavy

Vegetarian by any chance?

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Dave Smith [47 posts] 4 years ago
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The diet Dave has been given isn't vegetarian, but it could be.

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notfastenough [3734 posts] 4 years ago
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The idea of getting 'fit enough to train' is an interesting one. I'm by no means race-fit (probably about the same as you, Dave A), but I can manage 60 miles at a reasonable pace (not massive, but longer than any local circuit race), and, already knowing my FTP, I am hitting the required power numbers on my wattbike sessions. So what would I gain by training to be fit enough to train? Would I just be looking to improve recovery time enough to train more often?

PS. Well done, you're also motivating me to try and match you for progress!

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Dave Smith [47 posts] 4 years ago
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What do you mean by hitting 'required power numbers'? For what? Road races are random chaos, with periods beyond threshold. I'm interested, not being grumpy  1

Fit enough to train is about being able to handle more race specific training and from a functional point of view, not firing a cannon from a rowing boat.

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crikey [1251 posts] 4 years ago
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Hmmm...

It's important to realise very, very early on that racing really isn't just about power or numbers. Anyone who has ridden for a while can relate tales of the club run world champion, of the KOM king of the Sunday run.
Racing is way more subtle than 'most power = good".

It's really vitally important to learn how to race rather than learn how to train, learn how to compete rather than learn how to churn out big numbers.

Training your muscles without training your mind is a waste.

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dave atkinson [6527 posts] 4 years ago
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crikey wrote:

Hmmm...

It's important to realise very, very early on that racing really isn't just about power or numbers. Anyone who has ridden for a while can relate tales of the club run world champion, of the KOM king of the Sunday run.
Racing is way more subtle than 'most power = good".

It's really vitally important to learn how to race rather than learn how to train, learn how to compete rather than learn how to churn out big numbers.

Training your muscles without training your mind is a waste.

training your mind without training your muscles isn't a lot of help either. the best way to learn racing is to go racing. which is what i'm doing. but if i'm not fit enough to stay on, all i'll learn is how to ride round on my own. i can do that already.

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crikey [1251 posts] 4 years ago
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Ah Grasshopper, I have been you.

Be careful that you don't get good at training...  3

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notfastenough [3734 posts] 4 years ago
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ffflow wrote:

What do you mean by hitting 'required power numbers'? For what? Road races are random chaos, with periods beyond threshold. I'm interested, not being grumpy  1

Fit enough to train is about being able to handle more race specific training and from a functional point of view, not firing a cannon from a rowing boat.

Well I've never raced, so don't have that experience to refer to. I'm using a wattbike and have recorded my FTP. I'm using sufferfest videos to structure my sessions, and they also provide a power zone map so that I can match the required RPE (as suggested on the video) to a required power output on the wattbike screen. So my point is that I am (hopefully?) at least working at sufficient intensity during those sessions, in order to drive adaptation.

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fustuarium [248 posts] 4 years ago
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 41

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Dave Smith [47 posts] 4 years ago
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Ah OK, wasn't sure what you'd meant. How have you found the WattBike for training on?

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notfastenough [3734 posts] 4 years ago
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ffflow wrote:

Ah OK, wasn't sure what you'd meant. How have you found the WattBike for training on?

It's really good. It was a bit of a reality check, firstly when I could see just how poor my pedal stroke was, again when I took the FTP test and found out just how puny I am, then again when, hitting all the required power output levels for a workout, I realised then all my previous turbo sessions simply weren't of sufficient intensity, and that no road rides offer the same level of structure. I think it's taught me the difference between riding and training.

Other than the '20 minute test' for the FTP I haven't used any of the workout programmes it offers, since I select the 'just ride' option then follow the instructions on the videos I use. I have yet to pair a HR strap to it.

The wattbike expert software is interesting (and free!) and I suspect would be most useful for someone like yourself where you could review clients workouts, power, pedalling efficiency etc.

The weak points are all things that would be solved by owning one; I can't seem to get on with the SPDs, and just end up using the clips and straps on the flip side of the pedal (the gym don't permit pedal changes), setting up the bike position each time I use it etc. Also, the process of plugging in my USB stick, logging on as me, then remembering to log out and remove the stick when I finish is something where I often forget a step and so don't get the workout saved properly. Again, if I owned one, then I would have a cable connection to the PC so it wouldn't be a problem. At £2250 for a bike that doesn't go anywhere though, I can't see one ending up in my garage!

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truffy [649 posts] 4 years ago
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Well done, Dave. I'd noticed that your weight had been dropping over the last few weeks' reviews!

I need to shed a few kilos myself (I'm currently around your starting weight). But I'm afraid that I'm not as dedicated.  2

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backflipbedlem [1201 posts] 4 years ago
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Way to go Dave! Keep going dude!!!