Sunday, January 30, 2011

Off-season "Fitness"

Yesterday was a harsh lesson in the differences between peak fitness and off-season "fitness".  Instead of my usual Saturday ride with the fitness group out of Rockwall Cycling, I joined the race-pace group.  The advertised difference is about 3mph faster, reality is usually much more.  I popped off the back of the group a mere 8.5 miles in, my heartrate refused to recover, and I was never able to close the gap back.  Very disappointing.  Here's what made the disappointment greater --- the group was not riding any faster than I have gone before on the same route.  This was all about my personal fitness ..... and I can prove it.

I've become a big fan of SportTracks for tracking my activities, especially the wide array of plug-ins available to customize the experience.  In this case, I used the Overlay plug-in to compare yesterday's ride with one I did late last August (a mere 9 days before "the wreck").  First, the proof the routes are similar (though not exact due to road construction, etc.).
Blue: Aug.28, 2010 / Red: Jan.29, 2011
As you can see, very similar profiles.   No idea why there's an offset.  My computer has a barometric altimeter and I have the elevation correction plug-in (which uses actual survey info).  Both methods produced the same offset so perhaps Rockwall has sunk 40ft in the past few months?

Now, for the real kicker ...... my heartrate(HR) data:
Blue: Aug.28, 2010 / Red: Jan.29, 2011
My HR is higher throughout with noticeable surges upward at mile 5 and mile 7.  It never recovers and settles into a similar pattern after that about 30bpm higher!  At mile 16 you can see where I stopped for a bit before turning around and heading back to the shop with one other dropped rider.

So what happened in that first 8mi that caused my HR to soar?  Surely, it was due to riding faster with the race-pace group, right?  Well, let's take a look at the speed comparison .....
Blue: Aug.28, 2010 / Red: Jan.29, 2011
Notice anything about that first 8 miles?  Yeah, couldn't be much more identical if I had tried riding that way.

In total, I ended up completing the route at an average speed 1.2mph slower while maintaining an average HR 15bpm higher.  I think it's time to kick the training up a notch.  Shouldn't be a problem seeing as the next 7 days has 4 rides and 2 runs (jogs) scheduled.  The real question pertains to the next group ride ..... fitness group or race-pace?

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