Sunday, May 16, 2010

La Plagne (1400)

GPSies - Aime, La Plagne - Short

Short 700m climb, working on power at Lactic Threshold.

Our valley has not seen the sun for weeks now and each day has seen more rain or snow at higher altitudes. The place is beginning to resemble the west coast of Scotland – except there are no midges here thank goodness. Decided to use the bad weather to carry out short high intensity workouts on the bike because long trips are just not too appealing at the moment. On this workout, due to going up to 1400m and temperatures dropping below 5°C I wore my neoprene shirt as a “vapour barrier”. Well, I now know for sure that neoprene is not waterproof – the sweat came straight through to my insulation layers and I felt a bit chilled on the descent. The idea of a vapour barrier is to prevent moisture from accumulating in the insulation layers – but I will need to find something else – neoprene works a bit but not well enough. There is fresh snow all around the top of the valley. The cold started in November last year and it is still cold in mid May now – so much for global warming!

The CTS (Carmichael Training System) program that I’ve been studying bases itself on high intensity short duration interval training. CR (Climbing Repeats) are the second highest intensity intervals and should only be maintained for a few minutes – for me that means a heart rate of 155 to 158 bpm. The idea is to train the body to produce and then re-cycle lactic acid and to become efficient at doing so. Well so much for the plan! On this session I sustained an average heart rate of 155+ for 35 minutes and much of this was above 160. Now I know why I feel tired after workouts like this! I also know now that I’m not going to stick to the CTS program because I can already cope with considerably harder training than it advocates.

There are two useful things I’ve learned from studying the CTS approach. One is the idea of RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion). RPE is a subjective rating of effort levels based on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being no effort and 10 being maximum. Lactic Threshold work as around the 7 to 8 level. I’d rate the climbing yesterday at 8 to 9 (Very Hard) getting close to 9 but not quite. The other thing I have learned is that PI (Power Intervals), requiring an RPE of 10, are something that I’ve been missing in my training. For a PI my heart rate need to be 163bpm or above (max 183) It makes a lot of sense to me to do PI’s as intervals because there is no way you can sustain an RPE of 10 for very long – it’s like a full on sprint. I can see how working on this should bring performance benefits - so I’ll have to figure out the best way to incorporate them into my training. I know that with training however I can sustain a heart rate of 167 – effort of between 9 and 10 – for an hour. What’s new for me though is pushing the body at full on 10 for intervals.

The time taken to complete the climb was only one minute slower than at my peak last August – yet I weigh 7kg more just now and my fitness level is only starting to improve – so things are looking good for this time of year. Just need to find a way to stop overeating now.

Conditions at Aime just now...

Cracking photo of Cadel Evans winning yesterday's stage in the Giro d'Italia - they are having some pretty bad weather too! - link to more great photos of that epic Giro stage.

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