When I lived in London, I used to catch the number 65 bus to get into town. Most times, I would wait for ages with no bus arriving, then all of a sudden 4 busses would arrive at once! In the end I mainly would just walk the 1.5 miles into town because it was just quicker than waiting forever for 4 busses to come at once.
My fitness this year has felt similar… I’ve been diligent in getting the work done, but I’ve had no real indication of fitness improvements at all. And then suddenly in one week, I had breakthrough workouts in both running and biking!
Last Friday (June 24th) I went out for a long 18 mile run. The idea was to start out by feel at an “easy effort”, then finish with some faster efforts. Up until this week, I’ve been stuck in “ultra mode”, unable to really get comfortable at paces faster than 8:00/mile. But on this run, it was different. I started off by feel, and was hitting 8:00/mile feeling very easy for the first 9 miles. Then I picked it up, and was comfortable running low 7’s for the remainder of the run. Overall 18 miles with an average of 7:40/mile – slower than my fast days, but a huge improvement over any runs I’ve done this year.
Then on Sunday, I went for a long ride. In the beginning I didn’t feel great, but I just kept the effort easy for the first couple of hours. Then after 3 hours I picked up the pace to a higher effort, just under “Ironman race pace”. At 4:45 into the ride I stopped for a quick coffee, then I started heading back home. I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to do a quick loop north of Boulder (Nelson, 36, 66) which is a hilly part of the Ironman Boulder course. As I started the loop, I felt very good, so I spontaneously decided to do an FTP test (usually performed as a standalone workout of 20 minutes all-out). Ever since moving to Boulder last August, I’ve struggled to sustain any efforts over 300 watts, but today I found myself easily riding over 330. So I pushed it a bit harder, and ended the 20 min TT with a normalized power of 344 watts, which was a huge step from all my previous efforts here at altitude, and it’s pretty close to my best sea level efforts.
Both of these workouts have been huge confidence boosters. They took a while to happen, and unlike the #65 bus, they have actually come just in time to give me a nice boost before Ironman Boulder, taking place on August 7th.