Training With (virtual) Power – TrainerRoad

I recently finished the Tour of Sufferlandria which worked in conjunction with a pretty cool application called TrainerRoad. Now that I am starting down the road to Ironman Boulder, I wanted to talk about how useful TrainerRoad can be to your indoor cycling training.

The way TrainerRoad works is it uses the Ant stick that can talk to your Ant enabled bike devices. I use it with my Garmin speed/cadence sensor and heart rate strap. It will work with a variety of other Ant enable devices like a power meter if you have one. I don’t have a power meter so that is where TrainerRoad really does its magic. TrainerRoad will use the data it gets from your devices coupled with the type of bike trainer you are using and give you virtual power. Then, you can use one of the workouts in TrainerRoad to find your FTP (functional threshold power) and use that as the basis for all your workouts. It may sound complicated but it is really quite easy.

Now one of the reasons TrainerRoad works so great for training is because power is so much easier to train to instead of HR. Specifically, you can train immediately to power whereas heart rate is a lagging indicator. If you are doing short efforts at prescribed intensity levels, you can see the power output long before you can see the effort reflected in the heart rate data.

PowerHRGraphYou can see above that my HR doesn’t peak until well after I have done my 30 second interval. This was all achieved using TrainerRoad without a power meter. While you are riding TrainerRoad will display what percentage of your FTP you are riding. This way, if you coach tells you what zone to be in, you can easily use TrainerRoad to ride to the correct effort level. You can find information  about training zones just about anywhere. Below is the information I found on Joe Friel’s blog regarding zones.

Zone 1 <55% (active recovery)
Zone 2 56-75% of FTP (endurance)
Zone 3 76-90% of FTP (tempo)
Zone 4 91-105% of FTP (lactate threshold)
Zone 5 106-120% of FTP (VO2max)
Zone 6 121-150% of FTP (anaerobic capacity)
Zone 7 >150% of FTP (neuromuscular power)

TrianerRoad is a very cost effective way to use power if you don’t have a power meter. It costs $10/month or $99/year. They have a variety of workouts as well as amazing integration with Sufferfest workouts. TrainerRoad will make your time spent on a bike trainer more effective then training to rate of perceived exertion alone. If you have to use a trainer, you might as well do it right!

2015 Tour of Sufferlandria Race Report

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What a way to get back on my bike! I had only ridden a bike twice since Ironman Arizona in November but I wouldn’t dare think of missing the Tour of Sufferlandria. How could you possibly miss a virtual staged bike tour though a mythical country that takes pride in making you suffer? I know huh? Sounds amazing!

Honestly, this is a pretty amazing experience. Through the use of the Sufferfest videos and the amazing application TrainerRoad we rode with over 2700 others all over the world and raised over $100K for the Davis Phinney Foundation without ever leaving our homes!

The tour lasted over 9 days and you essentially had 50 hours to complete each stage. If you didn’t complete the stage during the window it was open you were dropped. Everyday we would log on to see how many people didn’t make it on. For us, the best part was there was no question we would finish the Tour which actually made it easier to get on the bike day after day; quitting wasn’t an option! The crazy part for Stuart and I was we had to fit a 50k trail run in the middle of the  Tour! Luckily, due to the 50 hour window to complete each stage, we started the tour as soon as we could which allowed us to fit in the race. You can get an idea of the effort from the picture below.Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 9.33.18 AMAs you can see the last two days were a doozy!

If you haven’t looked into The Sufferfest or TrainerRoad and you use an indoor bike trainer YOU ARE TOTALLY MISSING OUT! This is truly the best way to make good use of your time on a trainer for very little money.

Week 8 of 17 Ironman Arizona Training – #noangrykitty

Another week done and I feel great (touch wood!). I had 16 hours on my schedule this week and I was able to have another Hulk Mode week, all green!


The red you see is because I did an extra run to warm up for Tower 26 so I did the other run that night. I feel so strong! I am still not running as fast as I would like but this race won’t be about speed, it is about endurance. Most notable workout was Sunday for sure. I had 5 hours on my bike followed by a 30 minute run. We are having a heat wave here (September is always the hottest month in Southern California) so I got out as early as I could which was just before 8. I rode the same route as last week out towards Camarillo/Oxnard to get to flat quiet roads and my beloved fruit stand. Difference this week was I had to turn around and come back instead of meeting up with Stuart at the beach. Ride went well. I made sure to drink a lot of water, eat consistently, and take an S-Cap every hour. I had a Coke at the fruits stand after about 3 hours. The ride back was hard. Very hot, very still air, and uphill. I was a mess when I got home and started crying. I couldn’t bear going back outside. Stuart suggested a big glass of ice water and then the treadmill. I started running and felt great! I could have easily run another hour plus! I didn’t feel bad about taking my run inside because I don’t expect to have those conditions on race day. Had I gone back outside I would have made myself sick. Click here for the Garmin details.

I name this week #noangrykitty because I continue to be amazed at what a great kit my Coeur kit is. 5 hours in the saddle and NO issues to speak of. My sit bones were tired but whose wouldn’t be. I have ZERO chafing uncomfortable rubbing in their seam-free chamois. I will be ordering another kit soon. They had some cute stuff at Interbike so I am hoping to get one of the new patterns.

I am sticking to my plan to keep things simple and plan ahead. It is paying off for me and I am getting the training done. Of course, I couldn’t do any of this without the support of Stuart and the kids. Stuart picks up so much of the household duties so I can get in my training. The kids are fairly tolerant of the training but truly have an appreciation of what I am doing. My oldest is running cross country so I get up extra early to get my run in Saturday’s so I can meet up with his team and run with them after. It has been an very cool experience!

Here are the totals for the week:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 12.26.47 PMAnd here are a few pictures from my ride Sunday:

Behind me are pumpkins and in my jog bra is a tube of S-Caps.

Behind me are pumpkins and in my jog bra is a tube of S-Caps.

I passed this total hotty when I started my ride. We totally missed the Unicorn!

I passed this total hotty when I started my ride. We totally missed the Unicorn!

The heat brought out the bugs and I was covered in them! YUCK!

The heat brought out the bugs and I was covered in them! YUCK!

I am a Trainer Road Ambassador!

You may have seen some extra chatter from me lately about Trainer Road, a great product you can use with your existing trainer set up to get more focused training out of your time.  Well all my enthusiasm has landed me an Ambassador spot!  (more to follow on that)  I was a late adopter of this software and have really thrown myself into it over the last 7 days because of the Tour of Sufferlandria.  Now I can see the error of my ways!  Just look at the picture below.  That is the same ride on the same trainer done 9 days apart.  I put a line on both graphs at 16 mph to show you the difference in intensity.  If you want success on your trainer, you really need to use Trainer Road.


Trainer Road Will Make You Stronger

Well at least in my humble opinion it will.  If you don’t know what Trainer Road is it is an application that works with your Garmin sensors to give you virtual power while you are riding your turbo trainer.  Obviously if you have a power meter it will work with that but I don’t have one  of those…yet.  I have dragged my feat about using this because there was a little extra set involved when you need to ride your trainer.  I am a fan of just getting it done with as little hassle as possible.  But once you get it set up properly there is very little you need to do at each ride.

Very recently I did the same Sufferfest Video, The Wretched; first without Trainer Road, and then with Trainer Road.  See the graphs below…

speedwoTRSpeedwTRHRwoTRHRwTRI can see an increase in intensity as well as focused riding by using Trainer Road versus not using it.  I feel like I am getting WAY more out of my time when I used this focused approach to my trainer riding.  Why even get on the trainer if you don’t want to get something out of it!?

And, as you can see below, the data you get after doing a ride in Trainer Road is pretty awesome.

TRDataWretchedWell worth the $10/ month…in my opinion.

The Sufferfest: Hell Hath No Fury Review

I have been using the Suffestfest videos for guided indoor cycling training for a little over 6 months.  There is something about chasing professional cyclists for an hour that makes the workout on a trainer bearable; as well as the awesome music and outstanding commentary. So when I heard that The Sufferfest was doing an all women video I wasn’t quite sure it would have the same draw for me…I was totally wrong.  I wanted to kick those chicks a$$es more than when I ride against the dudes!

First of all I generally train for endurance events (marathons and soon my first full Ironman) so I am not great with workouts that are about short fast intervals.  My body doesn’t work that way.  I think that is why I liked this Sufferfest so much.  It was broken up into four stages (the Tour of Sufferlandria) and the two middle stages were both 20 minutes each.  That length of effort works really well for me.  They both were broken up enough to keep you on your toes with breakaway efforts, hill climbing, and of course sprints.  This Sufferfest, of all the ones I have ever done, really had me feeling like I was in the race.  When you do it you will understand…

Here are the details of the workout:

  • 3:30 Warm-up
  • 5:30 Stage 1: Easy, flat terrain at effort level of 6/10 with a few accelerations
  • 20:00 Stage 2: Rolling terrain with a series of attacks as the pack tries to take the lead from you
  • 6:00 Recovery
  • 20:00 Stage 3: More rolling, attacking racing in which you try to break away to get the lead back
  • 4:00 Recovery
  • 3:30 Stage 4: Team Time Trial in which you have to crush yourself in order to take the lead, and the Tour of Sufferlandria victory
  • 6:00 Recovery, featuring Mental Training Reflection from Athlete’s Audio

It really was the best workout I have done from the Sufferfest.  It had a story that took you from the start to the finish.  I really wanted to make  the Sufferlandria team proud (and I didn’t want to be boiled!)  You must pay attention to the interview during the second recovery period, and enjoy the Mental Training Reflection at the end.  The music was great, the workout was challenging but rewarding, and the footage during the team time trial was amazing!  It is well worth your time because it really simulates real racing scenarios and give you an awesome workout!

The Sufferfest…A Very Dark Place

The bike trainer…we all hate to use it.  But for people like me who have a full time job as well as a family, it is a necessary evil.  Then the Sufferfest comes in to make the trainer a dark place to be… a very dark place (but in a good way).

I was lucky (not so sure about that) to get an advanced copy of the newest production from The Sufferfest, A Very Dark Place.  If you don’t know what The Sufferfest is, you need to educate yourself ASAP.  They are a series of videos that you can use while riding your bike trainer.  What I love about them is that they make your time on a trainer worthwhile.  The music is awesome, the cycling video is inspiring, and the attitude makes you want to beat your ass! (IWBMATTKYT, I will beat my ass today to kick yours tomorrow, their theme)  If you have to use the trainer, it might as well be fun (but don’t tell them I said that) and focused.

So last night I downloaded the workout, set up my new bike on the trainer, and went to bed knowing that in the morning I was in for a world of hurt.

The work out consisted of a warm up, followed by a couple of sprints, and then a trip to some dark places…very dark places…  The main set was 4:00 min on with a 3:00 min recovery.  Each 4:00 effort was structured a little different so you were always on your toes.  There was a lot of changing cadence and resistance, sprints and attacks thrown in, and some climbing both in and out of the saddle.  The rest periods almost made you forget the dark places you had just been; scenic rides with blue skies and fluffy white clouds…

Overall it was awesome (in a painful, I want to cry out for mommy kind of way)!  The music that is used always rocks!  The commentary eggs me on to beat my ass way more than I would if I was just spinning away. It was a very effective use of 50+ minutes on the trainer.  I highly recommend this video as well as any of the other ones (Downward Spiral is one of my favs).

My legs trying to keep up with the high cadence sets

Half of those drops are sweat, the other half are tears

My heart rate data. The graph fails to show when I thought my heart would come out of my chest

Staying out of the bottom 2

“Staying out of the bottom 2”  has become a common phrase thanks to the prevalence of competition style TV shows.  But for me it has taken a new meaning.  While cycling this weekend, and doing a ride that had a few climbs in it, I made a conscious effort to stay out of the bottom 2… gear rings that is.  Whenever I was in a pretty decent climb I kept double checking my back cassette to make sure I wasn’t in my lowest/easiest gears.  We did the same ride last week and I know I bottomed out in my gears.  But yesterday,  I managed to stay out of the bottom two all day!  This is great for my confidence because it shows that I am making progress in the cycling.  Cycling is the most challenging discipline for me and I am pleased to keep making progress!

Elevation profile from ride on 6/18/2011

Click here for complete Garmin data from the ride (I know some of you like the data as much as I do!)


Celliant Sock Review

I am really enjoying this blogging thing and I was hoping at some point companies would start sending me things to demo for them.  I love running and triathlon gear (probably half the reason I do it!).  So the first company to do so was Celliant.  Here is some information that can be found on Celliant’s website.

“Celliant is a technology that modifies visible and infrared light, recycling them into energy that the body can use more effectively. When Celliant is worn as clothing, or placed near the body (like in a bed liner or a blanket), it redirects this recycled energy back to the body increasing blood flow and blood oxygen levels in the tissue.”

They contacted me thru twitter that they wanted to send me a sample.  A short time later a package showed up with two pairs of socks, some wrist bands, and a gift card (thanks!).  Small problem…the socks were too big for me.  But not to worry, my husband is a big guy (6’5”, size 15 shoes) so they fit him just fine.  Up until now I think I have been folding the same pairs of socks for him for up to 7 years in some cases!  He is happy to wear just plain old socks, nothing special. These higher-tech socks were a departure to what he is used to wearing.

He has recently picked up running (and is giving me a run for my money) and has always cycled on and off.  He has worn the socks for both running and cycling.  He is very happy with them.  He thinks their ability to wick moisture is excellent.  He finds the construction of the socks superior due to the practically invisible seams.  This makes them very comfortable in both running shoes and bike shoes.  He was also very impressed with how refreshed his feet felt when he wore them.  He wasn’t sure he could tell if that was due to increased oxygenation but he really liked the socks.

Overall they were great socks.  Celliant makes fabrics that are used in other products as well.  I bet they would be great in some compression gear.


Working on my art of the self portrait while riding (and not crashing)

My Achilles-heel in triathlon is the bike.  It is the last of the three disciplines that I picked up and it has been the most challenging for me.  I have found that the only way to get better on the bike is to ride it (well, duh!!!).  But you have to ride a lot.  Biking is time consuming and expensive.  You can’t do it easily early in the morning (riding in the dark is not a good idea).  So I have had a hard time getting in the time/miles needed to get better.  But two things have helped me immensely.

First, I joined a Computraining class.  Computraining is when you ride your bike on  a special bike trainer that you can adjust the resistance by using a computer.  What is special about this type of training is that it is all interval type work based off you own specific zones of exertion (we use P1-P5).  When you start  this training you do a lactate threshold test on the bike where they measure your lactate levels along with your hear rate and the watts you are pushing on the bike.  You keep increasing the watts until you can no longer keep your cadence above 90. They use this data to give you a range of watts and heart rate to go with your exertion levels.  You then use those levels to do the training (I hope that wasn’t too confusing).  In a nutshell, it is well designed and extremely effective bike training that you can do with others and not be left behind.  I experienced a lot of improvement in my biking as a result of these classes.

Secondly I joined a triathlon team, P5. What is great about the team is the opportunity it gives me to ride with people better than I.  Nothing will make you a better rider than being the worst one out there!  It gets kind of old being the one they are always waiting for when they regroup; or being the one that has to get pushed up the hill by the stringer riders.  In addition to making you work hard, just having the opportunity to ride with a group of people really makes the time/miles more enjoyable.

So today we went for a group ride.  It turned out to be a pretty big group.  20-25 people I think.  We rode one of the routes we had done before when I first joined the team.  Finally I could really see the progress I have made in the 7 months.  No longer was I the last one to show up when we regrouped.  On the hills that I had to be pushed up before, I was keeping up just fine with the pack.  I could finally see how much stronger I had become on the bike.  Since this is where I need to make the most improvement if I want to do better at my events; it was very helpful to see that my hard work has paid off.

Group regrouping and grabing a quick bite and drink.