After three weeks of my training plan, I have reached my first recovery week. That means it is time to absorb all of the training that I did by giving my body the time to rebuild and rest. Woo!
And I, for one, am all for it. Last week had me biking for 15.5 hours with 19,000ft of elevation gain. On top of the bike workouts, I also had two separate hour-long core sessions and my daily 20-25 minute walk. It all adds up. By Sunday, I could feel the stress as it took a good 30 minutes for my body to really click into the day's endurance ride. Also, let's not forget that I got my second vaccine shot last Sunday, which knocked me flat for all of Monday. Overall, not a bad week, not bad at all.
Recovery week mostly means I take the first two days off completely and then have three days of easy rides before I start preparing for the next four weeks of training. And that preparation includes an FTP test. Ohhhh boy!
Let's start with the days off. By the end of the weekend (having spent 7 hours climbing in the mountains on Saturday and 30 miles of endurance on Sunday), Garmin was telling me that I needed 3.5 days off to fully recover from my efforts. Given the strain of the weekday workouts, the vaccine shot tanking my energy, and then my "fun" weekend, my body was pretty well wrung dry and hurting a bit. My calves were tight, my quads and hamstrings were sore, and even my chest felt a bit roughed up. Let's not even talk about my caloric needs, since I easily polished off an entire packet of Trader Joe's Speculoo cookies Sunday night.
So, today is Tuesday and my second, completely-off-the-bike day. This morning my resting HR was 48bpm, which while higher than normal is lower than Sunday's. Also, since I had a book at the library, I enjoyed a 4.5 mile round trip walk this morning. When I got home, my watch said my recovery time was down to only 23 hours. Progress.
The next three days only have me biking four hours total and always at a fairly relaxed pace. No hard efforts and no intervals; nothing but endurance riding. That's because Saturday is the FTP test!
No one really gets excited about FTP tests. In all honesty, I have to psych myself up for them. They are meant to push you hard and are used to determine what your training levels will be for the next block of training. After a warmup that gets the legs spun up and ready for some hard efforts, you do 5 mins at the maximum effort you can sustain. It tends to leave one feeling like Rocky at the end of a round–still standing but a little uneasy on the feet. And then, oh then, you switch to 15 minutes of endurance to "recover" before your 20 minute max effort.
That 20 minute max effort tends to leave me gasping over my handlebars, with a faint taste of copper in my mouth and a desire to collapse and moan "medic" at whomever is within earshot. Since I intend to do this test outside–weather permitting–I will complete the ride by ceasing the melodrama and biking my tired ass home.
And the FTP test signifies the end of rest week and the return to training. More and harder intervals, longer endurance rides, and continuing to build up my ability to maintain power when tired. I will be interested if the FTP test shows any improvement in just three weeks. I think I have noticed an ability to climb hills faster and also maintain my power when I am tired...but...it could all be in my head. When it comes to training, data matters.