Computrainer – The first 20 weeks
Firstly apologies for my tardiness, I got married 2 weeks ago abroad and its been a lovely few weeks off but my final CP20 test was done just before we went and I haven’t had time to blog.
In December I won a competition to be the amateur face of ‘Computrainer’ in the UK, the competition was also run in the US and my counterpart across the pond is Maria Simone, her blog is here, she is more of a blogger than I will ever be but I am trying not to be completely overshadowed lol.
Since then I have using the Computrainer to help improve my cycling (and ultimately triathlon) and then blog about it.
My main aim of using the Computrainer as an Ironman athlete is to increase my endurance and speed and thus increasing the watts I will eventually try to hold at an IM race in September in Wales. Part of the Computrainer package they provide you with is a PIG (performance improvement guarantee) thus by using the trainer and following this plan the aim is to gain 10% on your CP20 score. This guarantee also has some caveats, using it 3 times a week to consistantly improve and then proving that you have used it are pretty much fair game in my eyes.
However, ‘my’ aim was to try to achieve this while at the same time train as an Ironman athlete using my normal coached sessions, this meant I didn’t have 3 turbo sessions a week but 2 at the most and an outside long ride at weekends (the bonus is in the UK that could be on the Computrainer if the weather was bad as the CPT is that good).
My 20 weeks.
So to the challenge, 2% increase per month for 5 months.
On day 1 in December, I posted an initial wattage of 292w for my CP20 test, a little green behind the ears in terms of TT’ing but I couldn’t push any harder at the end.
After 4 weeks use I tried again, this saw a superb increase in the initial 292w to 304w, an increase in the first month of 3.75%. Looking good
Month 2 again saw a steady increase and one which I think was also down to consistency of training in all 3 disciplines. The figure had gone up to 311w, an overall increase of 6.1%, not the large increase of the first month but good progress.
Month 3 showed up the break in training I had for a cold, the new figure of 316w although an increase the jumps were decreasing and this now gave me an improvement of 8.2% from December. Still ahead of the target but with my aggressive goals not what I had wanted.
Month 4 was a disaster, I have wondered how to put this into words but to be honest there is only one way, I failed !
Yep, I had put myself under pressure to perform the test before I went to the Lake District for the Fudge Packer camp and I wasn’t feeling 100% in the build up. I needed to post a number and if I left it to after the camp I would need to recover and that would basically mean leaving it 6-7 weeks between tests, not what was required.
I lined up my previous months test as a ghost rider, an awesome feature of the Computrainer which is explained in more detail here. This was to enable me to pace and then beat the previous month.
I set off well, in fact I know I went too fast but after 5 mins I was up on the ghost rider. After 10 minutes I was struggling but I was at 317w and the ghost was still at 307w. From this point though it went a bit pair shaped, I couldn’t push any harder or maintain what I was doing. I already knew that the ghost was going to get stronger as I had had a good last 3 mins in in the previous month, at 16 mins my legs were burning and the ghost had caught me. At 17 mins as the ghost moved away and I knew I couldn’t chase I bailed, yes, I gave in, demoralised I had to concede that I wouldn’t be improving my position that day.
Don’t misunderstand the point of the pacer/ghost, it is an awesome tool to use but at that very moment I understood where I was, and it wasn’t on par with the previous month.
To the present
Month 5, the 20 week test, once again as an Ironman athlete I was still training all the time and didn’t feel like I was as fresh as I could be but I was off to get married in 2 days time and I needed to post a figure or I would be delayed by a good 2 weeks.
I removed the ghost for this one as I wanted to focus on the figures. I still hadn’t got the hang of TT’ing yet and going off too early was my downfall but I needed to concentrate.
I set off knowing I had to hold a good 310w for the first half and then build, and build I did, I was approaching the 15 min mark but I could feel the pain building again and memories of the previous month came flooding in but so did an article that Simon Ward had sent me that morning, THIS article popped into my head.
Simon had spoken to me the day before and we had chatted about the testing, we had gone thru the failure of the previous month which on a positive note he didn’t see as a failure, it was something to build on, everyone has a bad day. I have no idea whether it was good timing on Simons part but even as the 17 min mark came up and I felt like my lungs were burning and the legs were giving way and although I knew I wasn’t going to make my magical 321w target I couldn’t give up. Post a figure, thats all that counts.
I tried to hold, the watts went down (as you can see from the chart at about 18 mins) as I fought to regain some power for the last 2 mins, I had nothing to lose, Kelly actually came into the garage to see what was wrong as I had my headphones on but I was shouting at myself not to stop, my final watts stopped on 317w.
You can see on the image below on the wattage line that at 18 mins I nearly failed and then had to put in an almighty effort to finish, the hard way to do it and nearly upchucked at the end but I feel good for completing the test.
My conclusion to this point.
I have not followed the PIG plan to the letter, I have trained like a normal Ironman athlete, swum, biked and run, and when relevant (Jan-Feb = essential) I have used the Computrainer as my indoor trainer for longer rides when the weather is bad.
I have STILL increased my CP20 wattage by 8.5% in 20 weeks.
To put a tiny perspective on the results, its difficult to put a time reduction on an IM course as they are all different and its also hard to say what the 8.5% at CP20 will result in over an IM distance but for arguments sake, based on an existing time of mine, using only half of the 8.5%, so 4.25% reduction on the IM Wisconsin course I did in 2008 in 5hrs15min, would have given me a 13.5 min faster time and if I had run the same I would have qualified for Kona. Thoughts welcome …..
Its not the target I set myself of the 10% even though I wasn’t on it 3 times a week but at my level 8.5% is great.
For those who are considering a power based turbo, it is not the only indoor trainer on the market but I have had a few and some pretty hefty ones, all with power and this kicks butt. The plan to improve your cycling and power needs you to do the work, nothing comes for free but the CPT actually makes you want to get on it, the ‘toys’ that help you focus encourage the use, yes its nice to train outdoors and I do regularly, however, only yesterday I did a 2.5 hour solid race pace effort on the Computrainer as it was bucketing down outside and we are now in June – the UK weather isn’t as predictable as we would like.
It doesn’t stop there though, I have spoken to Simon and I will be going again from the start of 20 weeks with my new figure as the starting point. I have the same aim, general improvement but now I have a target for me to chase, beat the 8.5% gain the next time !
And finally, for those that like to train indoors and feel that they want the tools to improve but aren’t sure whether its going to give them enough to compete, have a look at this article sent to me by a triathlete friend.
Til next time, Rosey x