So I have been swimming and running very consistently over the offseason. My cycling was a bit secondary because it is my strength, and I despise the trainer. As it has finally begun to get warmer I have ramped up the cycling, but I feel like I have no power. My threshold power seems close to what it was last year, but riding with a group I just can't stay with the surges if I have to go above about 550 watts more than a few times.
Last season it was the opposite. I could sprint and push hard, but my endurance was limited early in the year. The other weird thing is that last year my limiter was always my lungs. This year I just can't seem to put out the power with my legs, but my lungs are fine. What in the heck is going on? I cannot decide if I just have poor bike fitness and need time In the saddle or if I need to do a bit of work on one minute power?
If you are being dropped after multiple surges than typically that means your ability to recover from the efforts is what is holding you back. Endurance can mean doing multiple hard efforts repeatedly (think of a soccer player doing sprints for 90’) or a long sustained effort (think marathon runner). In this case, you don’t have the ability to go well over your threshold power, recover, then go again, which is more along the lines of your anaerobic endurance.
I would guess that with endurance being your limiter last year, you took some time and built that up. Even with a bit of a layoff, you likely still have a solid base, or at least more of a base than you started with last year. So if you want to stay with the pack as they surge, I would suggest you work on your 1’ power. A great way to do this is simply warm up, then 5 x 1’ all out with 1’ recovery, 5’ easy then repeat. It’s only 10’ of intervals but if done right it is extremely effective. This will work your legs as much as your lungs and build that explosive leg power you are missing. You do still need to do some standard, aerobic based zone 2 rides and I would recommend two interval and two aerobic sessions per week.
One final thing you should ask yourself: does increasing your 1’ power and covering surges help you with your triathlon goals? Typically, even for short course events, long, sustained efforts with minimal surging is what you should be most focused on. Hammering for 30’ is very different than going hard for one minute time and time again. The only reason I can see to work on your 1’ power is if your main focus is staying with your training group or if you are going to get into road racing events.
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