This Is What 40 Minutes of Hell Looks Like

Today was the good old functional threshold test again. Basically, I ride hard enough that at the end of twenty minutes, I feel like I died. Possibly some vomit involved. Then I rest for two minutes. Then I repeat and die again. What is the purpose of this torture? Do I like the feel of fire in my legs? Do I enjoy being covered in sweat and drool? No, not at all. Okay, well maybe the second thing. Besides that, the real reason for this protocol is to test the effect of my training on my fitness level.

Those in the medical field and athletes may be familiar with the term Lactate Threshold. This describes a point during exercise when my muscles begin to build up lactic acid, the byproduct of energy metabolism without oxygen. Lactic acid is responsible for that burning sensation in you feel in your legs when your running from the police. The “higher” this threshold, the better ones predicted performance in endurance events.

Normally, to get the lactate threshold in the past, it involved riding a bike really hard while getting repeated blood draws to test the level of lactate in the blood stream. Thankfully, we can now measure LT indirectly using power output, or watts. As wattage production depends not only on LT but also cycling efficiency, its an even better way to determine performance. We call the wattage equivalent of LT to be the functional threshold power.

There are a couple of ways to do this, including the above ride. Since I started with the powermeter back in December, Ive been able to raise my FTP by 28 watts. Not too shabby, especially since Ive moved to a state with EXCELLENT beer. Here’s what 40 minutes of hell, or an FTP test, looks like on the WKO+ software. Check out that heart beat!


Im happy to report a 10 W increase to 178 today.No reason to get cocky though: some guys on my team have an FTP pass 300!!! Im just hoping to make it into the 200’s this year.

Of course, this is an over simplified explanation of a very dynamic and fascinating parameter. For more information, check out this link by Andrew Coggan.

Now, time for some compression socks.

About Ironvan

From couch potato to Ironman triathlete in 2 years.

Posted on April 6, 2010, in Training. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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