Cycling Challenge - Zero to Hero or 3.8 w/kg to 5.16 w/kg by summer 2021

Ciao,

This is a diary inspired by Coach Jonathan’s challenge to get his FTP up to 350 by 2021 or so. I’ll be documenting my training, diet, feeling, training etc. first to have some accountability and two to learn from the awesome folks with plenty of knowledge on this forum.

I read Nate’s forum rules and didn’t find any rules against having a personal diary here but mods are free to move this in case it’s not in line with the forum’s ethos (this is my first post after all).

BACKGROUND

I am 31 years old from Santa’s home town in Finland, former semi-professional (alpine) ski racer and a proper tifosi. I quit skiing when I was 26 after I ran out of money and realized I won’t be winning a “real” olympic gold medal in this life nor the next (did get one in juniors though :partying_face:). I’ve been cycling since I was 13, mainly over the summers and for conditioning for skiing but got really into training when I moved to Ireland in 2015 and found Trainerroad (and the podcasts!). I raced on road for three years, tried TR plans (burned out every time), got a coach, raised my FTP to 4.3 w/kg and eventually got to A1 level there and finished the Ras (8 day UCI stage race) quite unceremoniously. You can check my cycling history here: here or here

I moved back to Finland last year to take over our family business and due to burn out after Ras, work stress, new puppy and plenty of new things I just didn’t have the energy to work out properly and have been clocking about 3 hours or so a week for the past year. At the moment I am slowly getting back at it, have done 4 solid weeks of training and starting to feel alright again. I have about 10-12 hours of training time during the week of which half I like to do over the weekends. I got a MTB last winter and my plan is to race both road and MTB in some capacity in the future. Bigger goal is to hit the magical 5 w/kg FTP because, as Justin Rossi said “to be just incredible fit…and feeling like give me another gear I got this” is something I got a taste of and felt like thousand bucks when I was there. The goal is pretty lofty considering where I have been but with 360w 5min record at 64kg I can’t see that unrealistic. 360w six minute record alongside with my goal weight of 62kg (strategic measures currently are 168cm/68kg with stocky legs and no upper body.) would put me at >70 ml/kg vo2MAX. 88% of that would be about 317w FTP which so the goal shouldn’t be impossible.

THE PLAN

Season here in Finland starts around May so I have plenty of time to work on my limiters and improve my fitness. As most of my athletic career I’ve been focusing on efforts below 2 minutes my cardiovascular capacity would seem to be a proper place to begin (or continue) to reach the goal. I did previously respond quite well on Eddy Merckx’s training regime so I am trying to get as much consistent work in as possible following the basic periodization of increasing more stress as I move ahead. After this first block of getting back at it I’ll do a 12 week Base phase (mix of LSD, tempo, SS and occasional vo2max) and go to Build phase (SS, Threshold and Vo2Max) after that. As I have plenty of time I’ll probably do another round of Base and Build but shorter, before getting ready for the race season. We’ll see, I am not too set on this yet and hope to get some critical advice on this.

This got rather long already so I’ll leave this here. Feel free to comment, ask questions, criticise, encourage and everything in between.

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Part of being time-constraint athlete is that you always need to make compromises. I KNOW I should incorporate some core and strength exercise into my plan but I really don’t want to reduce the volume on bike as I feel that’ll be the most bang for the buck in order to reach my goal. While I was preparing for RAS I did 2 months of gym work but I was sore the entire time and that reduced the quality on the bike. It was quite surprising as I have spent hundreds of hours in the gym over my skiing years.

Nevertheless, strong body and core translates to better power (and fewer injuries) so I suppose I need to get after it sooner rather than later. I was thinking reducing my on bike time by 15 minutes and add 15 min total time to my workouts and get that work done after the ride. Planning on doing core and strength on every other day. Not sure if this is enough stimulus (hope to avoid DOMS) but something is better than nothing they say.

I also got quite unintentionally an opportunity to get blood drawn and tested for biomarkers. Not sure how useful this will be but I need to look more into that if there’s something to it. What I know now is that you’d need quite a bit data over time to make any meaningful interpretations.

Next week is a rest week with some bike and a hiking trip after which I’ll test for TR Ramp test and the power profile test (5min, 2min and 30sec) to get benchmarks.

The grind begins with that.

Not necessarily better power but ‘connective power’, for lack of a better term. Basically, the rest of your body can handle and support the power your legs are producing, thus creating a kind of symmetry. Lacking core strength creates an asymmetrical/unbalanced system resulting in faster fatigue (and perhaps possible injury). We could all use more, but most of us rarely do enough. That said, not sure it takes a ton of time to develop decent functional core strength.

Good luck on your adventure! :+1:

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Core is a bill that comes due a little bit at a time or all at once when your back seizes up. Learned that the hard way this season.

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I know it’s just a phrase, but didn’t want anybody to be discouraged if 3.8w/kg is considered a ‘zero’.

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I don’t think you qualify as a ‘zero’ when you have a junior’s olympic medal. :smile:

Good luck anyway :smiley:

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Thanks for encouragement and for a illustrative description! - cool way to think about it! I’ll need to take all low hanging fruit along the way and a functional core strength is definitely part of that. Hope to get this going soon.

I am already getting some ache in my back too and that woke me up that I need to get going on this.

Definitely didn’t want to offence anyone. Just a euphemism. Merely referencing to my experience as a racer in Ireland.

Cheers man!

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Went for a long 4 hour ride today and reducing carbs to lose weight caught me up real good. Didn’t really bonk but legs felt like two steel rod and even figs, raisins and nuts didn’t help me. Note to self: you need carbs when you train.

Which gym equipment people have at their home? I was thinking two 24kg kettlebells, balance board, pull-up bar maybe TRX and a swiss ball would go a long way.

That depends on your space availability and desired exercises. I went for a squat rack, an Olympic bar, and more weight plates than I ever expect to actually need… as well as other “accessories” I’ve been collecting over time however I’m fortunate enough to have the space to dedicate an entire room to my “gym”.

I do have a spare room that I can use. Quite tempted on a squat rack, too small for olympic lifting unfortunately as snatch and C&J are probably best strength exercises.

No worries – it’s a great story!

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Back at it after the rest week. Did some hiking&fishing with buddies and took the bike out few times. Nothing special there apart from the fact that I got a new Quarq for my Orbea Oiz MTB and noticed it doesn’t fit but rubs the chainstay. Apparently this is a thing but I didn’t see anything before I bit the bullet. Classic me! I’ll be most likely reporting similar accidents since this is not a first time. I always order the wrong part or install something incorrectly and it doesn’t work. I have, however, made a pledge to myself that I will do most of my maintenance to my bike by myself. Oh well, we’ll see if it can be fixed with spacers.

As I have a bit of work to do over the weekend in form of a building a warm shed, I jumped the gun and did a tempo workout on Monday. Didn’t feel particularly good. Today I didn’t feel too good wither while I was banging my head against the Ramp Test. Feelings don’t always correlate with the form and I managed to do same numbers as 2 weeks after the RAS. Pretty stoked to start with that level!

Did 352w as a last ramp and 40 seconds of the next one. Felt afterwards that I should’ve hang on there until that level but no hard efforts in over a year (especially indoors!) probably brings your mental game down a notch. TR suggested FTP of 272 and with the current weight of 67kg that puts me just above 4w/kg. I did also do my 7 minute power PR of 315w! Watched Vuelta afterwards and I’ll be damned if Roglic cocks this up. Movistar is not in a bad place either but how the team is run at the moment (Soler incident) I don’t think they’ll pull it of. I did also get the blood work done and nothing suprising there. Hemoglobin was 154 and hematocrit was at 44. All the others were mostly on the upper end of the suggested range.

Next 8 weeks is a modified SSHV with weekend rides made longer with some long tempo efforts. Hope to clock around 12 hours a week!

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Just stumbled upon this. Any updates?

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