Ahead of Schedule
image by Elizabeth Kreutz
From what I can tell from this video (it’s hard to understand), Lance’s Lactate Threshold is ~450watts. Unbelievable! And he’s still not even peaking! Watch the video of his testing
Twenty-five watts in two weeks. Lance Armstrong is gaining fitness so fast that his maximum sustainable power output improved 25 watts from an informal test in late November to a test in Austin, Texas a few days after he returned from the Astana team camp in Tenerife, Spain. One of the biggest questions I had going into this comeback was whether Lance’s body would adapt to training the way it used to. Well, the improvements I’m seeing are roughly equal to what I saw before he retired. Neither age nor three years out of professional cycling seem to be slowing him down. In fact, he’s improving so rapidly that he’s ahead of schedule. Initially I thought the short timeline between Lance’s announcement and his return to ProTour competition would make it difficult for him to be in decent shape for racing, but now I’m actually having to back him off a bit so he’s not too fit too early.
That doesn’t mean you should expect him to go to the Tour Down Under in Australia and win in dominating fashion. He’s going there to train and while he’s ahead of where I expected him to be right now, he’s still near the beginning of a trajectory that should see him start the Tour de France in optimal condition. He’ll do well in Australia, but keep in mind that the primary purpose of that race is to get back into the groove of elite-level road racing and all the off-the-bike routines that come with it.
The biggest impact of his rapid progression has been a constant shifting of his schedule. Originally, we were going to go to Napa, California, a week or two following the Tenerife camp for 7-10 days of big-mileage training. The testing in Austin showed that wasn’t necessary and would have provided too great a training stimulus. So Lance got to stay at home more, which is always a good thing because it means more time with the family and that leads to a happier Lance. Just as with any athlete, the more “normal” Lance’s life is (in terms of the daily balance of kids, training, foundation work, friends, etc.), the better he trains.
Over the past few weeks, Lance has been doing more back-to-back volume, meaning he’s been doing three-day blocks of 4-, 5-, and 6-hour rides. The intensity is steady and reasonable, right now he’s averaging between 200-230 watts for the duration of those rides. The idea behind the three-day training blocks is to build the kind of endurance needed to compete in stage races. It’s one thing to ride three long days in a week, but separate them by an easy recovery rides or days off. It’s another to ride four hours one day, recover overnight and then go out and put in five hours at the same intensity the next day, and the next. Physically, these blocks induce a lot of training load (more than you could reasonably accumulate in one ride), which in turn leads to adaptations that improve the ways working muscles utilize fuel. Psychologically they help riders get into the routines that will sustain them through stage races: good eating habits, proper recovery techniques, going to sleep early, etc.
Around Christmas/New Year’s, Lance traveled to Kona, Hawaii for more training. He went out there he can continue putting in the miles, and I’m going to put him behind the motor for some motorpacing as well. With the Tour Down Under coming up quickly, a few hours of race-pace training behind the motor certainly wouldn’t hurt – well, at least it won’t hurt for me. Here’s what his pre-Tour Down Under training looks like:
December 29-31—3-day training block
3-4 hours daily at endurance pace staying below 315watts, climbs at 340-380watts
January 1: Recovery ride
Jan 2-4—-3 day training block
Day 1: 4 hours at endurance pace staying below 315watts, include 1hr at Tempo power, 350-380watts, low pedal cadence during Tempo (60-70rpm).
Day 2: 4 hours at endurance pace staying below 315watts, include 2-3 10-minute MuscleTension Intervals at 45-50rpm, uphill at 350-400watts with 8-10mins recovery between intervals.
Day 3: 4 hours at endurance pace staying below 315watts, include 1hr at Tempo power, 350-380watts, low pedal cadence during Tempo (60-70rpm).
January 5-6: Recovery rides
Jan 6-8—-3 day training block
Day 1: 5.5 hrs with 3 climbs of 15-30minutes at 380-420watts, last 60mins behind motor for leg speed.
Day 2: 4.5 hours with 2-3climbs late in the ride of 15-30minutes at 380-420watts, last 60mins behind motor for leg speed.
Day 3: 4 hours at endurance pace with 2 climbs of 15-30minutes at 380-420watts, last 60mins behind motor for leg speed.
January 9-10 —recovery rides, maybe on the TT bike
Day 1: Recovery ride
Day 2: Recovery ride
January 11 : Possibly an Ironman test on the TT bike??
January 12: Depart for Australia?