20 min plus FTP Intervals

I wanted to share some thoughts I have had while working on raising my FTP.  I have been doing a lot of longer intervals (20-30 min) which has been mentally interesting for me.  I started my effort to raise my FTP after masters nationals in beginning of August because I have been struggling at the end of my races.   Since then, my rides both inside and outside have been focused on longer intervals just under my FTP or my at my max aerobic level of 280-300. 

Outside I have a few routes that I ride that range from 20 to 30 minutes of uninterrupted flat roads that end with a 3-10 minute climb.  I like to finish up these intervals on a hill so that there is no slacking at the end.  I always use my powertap interval function with my power out set for average power.  This allows me to ensure my power numbers are good for the interval but not worrying about the up and down you see when you see current power.  

Depending on my time, I will do 3-4 of these intervals for 2-4 hours of riding on the weekends.  During the week, I am riding the trainer, and I am currently doing 4×20 with 5 min rest for about 2 hour workout on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings.  I find that Tuesday is the hardest day, Wednesday and Thursday are actually easier to hold higher power numbers with a lower heart rate.  I am also working on keeping my cadence about 95 during these intervals.  I do these on my computrainer unconnected to the computer so that I can set the watts on the head.

Here is what I wanted to share, first these are much easier to do outside.  I can hold better power number on the road with the same heart rate, which I am assuming is due to me slightly overheating in the basement.  The two fans on high only can cool me off so much.  These intervals were a mental struggle for me in the beginning.  All summer, I have been focused on raising my top end so I was doing much short and more intense intervals.  These long intervals are not very intense, but require much more metal focus.  It is easy to fall into the thinking mode or be distracted by something, and then your power drops.  I found the first interval was easy but the middle two were always hard, and sometimes the last one was easy because it was the last one or hard because I was spent.  The rest never seems like it is long enough.  It was easy to find a reason to let off the pressure or stop pedaling, but the drive to keep the interval numbers on target always brought me back.  Physically, these were not hard but mentally it was hard to keep the concentration up to keep the cadence high.  One morning , I did not eat or have any energy drink and I paid on the last 2 intervals.  I was not able to hold the power at all. 

Now, the intervals have become mentally  “easier” to handle.  Mentally, I know how they feel and how to push through them.  I have eliminated the distractions and excuses to stop pedaling during the interval.  I also now know that I can make it each workout and can handle the weekly routine that I have set up for myself. 

Ride Hard,

Steve