Max Gains, Bro

I just finished a classic, good old fashioned 2x20 FTP interval workout. On my last ride, I got an automatic FTP increase notification, bumping my threshold up to 270 and this was my first ride with the new zones. 

The ride itself was fine. It was uncomfortable the way a 2x20 set should be, which is a good sign. Sometimes those automatic notifications can be off a bit so it was nice to know I'm right where I should be. The numbers at the end of the ride however were solid, but nothing real special--I hit top threes for 10:00, 20:00, and 1:00:00 but no PRs. 

The idea that I can push out 270 watts for twenty minutes at a crack got me thinking about what kind of progress I've made over the last few months. I decided to take a look back in my calendar and compare today's ride with my first 2x20 of the year.

That ride came on February 19, three weeks into getting back on the bike. I was getting my power numbers from zPower, which I now know was reading a little low, but the contrast is still pretty stark. In 1:20:51, I rode 16.7 miles with 1148 ft of climbing. My Normalized Power was 131 with an average heart rate of 153 bpm. 

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Today's ride was 1:24:15 in which I covered 27.1 miles with 1086 ft of climbing. Normalized Power was 232 with an average heart rate of 164 bpm. Over 19 weeks you definitely expect to see some gains, but that's massive. Also—most notably—for the last six weeks, my schedule has been preventing me from riding more than two days a week. Needless to say, I'm happy to stuff those results in my pocket. 

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So how do we account for such a rapid gain? Certainly, getting set up with an actual power meter versus relying on Zwift's zPower calculation gave me a few extra watts. I'm also sure being a formerly trained athlete isn't working against me. Having built up that cardiovascular architecture once definitely has to account for some of these rapid gains. Getting a proper bike fit and a saddle that isn’t crushing my hardware is a big part of it, too. The rest? All this fancy bike coach book learnin' I've been doing has really helped me figure out how to make the most out of limited opportunities to ride.

I'd love to show you how to make the most out of your time, too!

Eric Johnson