In 2015, I graduated from the school of wood fire burning and enrolled in the school of cooking with gas, at least as far as it pertained to my training regime. No, I didn’t bust out the Coleman stove… I hired a coach, started riding with a power meter, and began following a very well defined training plan.
I will be the first to admit, that for 15+years, I was extremely inefficient with the way I trained, if you could even call it training. See, I was the quantity over quality kind of rider, more apt to go on a 4-hour road ride with friends than do 2.5 hours of structured training. Now don’t get me wrong, I love unstructured riding. In fact, that’s usually when I have the most fun on my bike, which I argue is the most important aspect of riding your bike in the first place. However, my fitness always seemed to plateau. I never had any significant spikes of good, or poor, fitness per se, which meant that my performances weren’t necessarily representative of what I was truly physically capable of. All that changed when I began working with a coach.
The first thing my coach had me do was take a lactate threshold test to gather my baseline power, lactate threshold and max heart rate numbers.
What’s a lactate threshold test you ask?
For cyclists, it consists of a ramp test on a stationary trainer where the exercise intensity is progressively increased and blood samples are taken at timed intervals. A quick pin prick to my ear lobe was all it took to get the necessary blood to measure the lactate buildup before I would commence the next ramp up. What’s the point of this? The point is to learn the highest intensity at which you race and train before hitting the wall from high levels of blood lactate. Your lactate threshold defines the upper limit of your sustainable efforts in training and competition, so knowing that limit is crucial to designing the appropriate power zones to be training in.
Speaking of training, one of the perks of being a member of the GU Crew for well over a decade is that I’m often asked to be part of an athlete testing pool for new product development. In this case, we collaborated with St. Mary’s College to undergo a testing protocol at their Human Performance Lab. Getting my VO2 Max tested was a first for me and involved head gear and a mouthpiece breathing apparatus that measured oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration of my exhaled air.