This is probably going to end up being another really long post, so I'll put a summary up front and you can decide if you want to keep reading after that.
- First FTP test on 11/4 - 209 watts and 3.3 w/kg
- Final test on 3/28 - 251 watts and 4.07 w/kg
- 20% FTP increase
- First run test on 11/5 - 5k for a vdot of 56.3
- Week 16 test - 5k for a vdot of 59.5
- Final test on 3/29 - snow and 30+ mph so I skipped it, I'll do a 5k next weekend and post again
- 3.2 vdot point increase over the first 16 weeks
My goal for this out season was to get stronger on the bike and at least maintain my run fitness. Therefore I selected the Endurance Nation Out Season Advanced Bike Focus Plan.
The plan was a 16 week plan including:
- 4 days a week on the bike, under an hour each day, but lots of time at FTP or harder
- 4 days a week running, under an hour each day, but tons of intervals at tempo pace or interval pace
- No swimming in the plan
I did a total of 21 weeks of the Out Season, weeks 1-16, then took a week vacation to recover, and then repeated weeks 13-16.
First off, I have to say that the plan was great, but the EN forum was even more helpful. I was routinely checking in with a group of other members that started the same plan on the same day as me. This was a great source of motivation and accountability. I am very proud that I can say I completed every scheduled workout for the entire OS, and never skipped one. I was sick twice and also had a conflicts with work that required 4 AM workouts, but I got every one done because I knew my November OS team was out there getting the work done also.
I did every single workout in the plan exactly as it was described for the first 16 weeks. I accomplished this by creating ERG files for my computrainer and using the coaching software that forced me to either push the watts or quit. There were many many times I wanted to quit but I never did...and I only puked once.
When I repeated weeks 13-16 after vacation, I began to add some extra volume in and gradually worked up to an extra hour at 85% of my ftp at the end of one of the weekend workouts.
Overall, I am very pleased with the bike workouts and wouldn't change a thing. They did exactly what they were supposed to...ROI. I put in less time on the bike then ever before and my ftp went up more then I was hoping for. It was really great not to have to find two or three movies to watch each weekend for the countless hours on the trainer that I have done in past years.
The feedback I kept hearing form other EN members was that the out season plan will seam easy at first and then get really tough and therefore everyone said not to do any extra workouts. Even though I was coming off of a huge running year and in great shape, I decided to listen.
For weeks 1-8 I did exactly as the plan said, however the running seemed really easy and I felt I wasn't making any progress. Then the week between Christmas and New Years Day, EN did a running challenge where we earned points for running every day. Since I was focusing on getting strong on the bike this year, I decided to do the run challenge but not let it impact my bike workouts. I ended up running an hour or more for 10 days in a row and didn't miss a bike workout. After that I decided to gradually start adding more runs in.
I started by adding easy runs on Monday. After a few weeks of that, I also started doing a 30 minute run after the bike on Thursdays. Finally weeks 13-16 (both the first time and when I repeated them) I added a semi long run on Sundays, starting at an hour and getting up to an hour and a half once or twice.
I really think the EN plan is great for the majority of people the way it is written. However, I had just spent the last year running 7 days a week and averaging about 70 miles a week so I had a really strong base and was able to do more running. Plus in some sick way, I just really enjoy running and the days off were killing me in the EN plan.
Well, the EN advice is not to swim in the out season. I completely understand why they take the approach, but I couldn't do it. Swimming is by far my weakest area and I was not comfortable completely giving it up. However, I did greatly reduce my swimming for a while though and I always made sure my bike and run workouts got priority by swimming on days off or at night if I had the time and motivation.
Weeks 1-8 I only swam when I felt like it which ended up being about once a week on Monday when I was not doing a bike or run. Weeks 9-12 I started to slowly ramp back up and swam on Mondays and Fridays. Finally I got to swimming 3 times a weeks for the last 8 or 9 weeks.
In the end, I made some progress in my swimming by really focusing on my form and drills. Since my life allowed me the time to swim, I'm glad I did it. However, if I was to do it again and didn't have as much time available, I would seriously consider taking some time off from swimming.
The one other area I focused on was my body composition and eating. Not that I have much weight to lose, but I could improve here and have some goals for my race season.
I said swimming was my weakness, but easting habits may be even worse. I can't help it, I love to eat. I actually have significantly changed my diet over the last two years and now I eat much healthier foods overall, however I still like to eat a lot, as in really large portions and all day long.
The first 8 weeks of the out season were a roller coaster for my weight, just keep going up and down but always ended up right back at the same place. During January and February I did great and dropped about 3 or 4 pounds, but I managed to put about 8 back on a 10 day vacation.
Since vacation, I have been really focused and I got rid of the extra 8 pounds I put on during vacation and am within a pound of my goal for racing this year. Now all I have to do is stay right around this weight.
For those of you that really want to see the details, here are my PMC charts from Training Peaks WKO+ for the Out Season.