Training Zones

First off, I made in error in my last post. I am utilizing a Garmin 500 on my bike, not a Garmin 405 (that is what I use for running). Additionally, I forgot to mention that immediately prior to the FTP test I weighed in at 159.4 lbs.

Now, this time round I would like to determine my training zones that I will utilize for the next 2.5 months. First, I should mention that my first encounter with the scientific basis of training came when my friend Gary Hutchinson introduced me to the book Jack Daniels’ Running Formula. I now look at everything related to training through that lens. In Daniels’ book he claims there are basically four paces in running (one more when prepping for a marathon). First is EASY, which is “59-74% of Vo2Max.” From my experience, EASY pace is not all that easy…in fact, I only had one week this year where I was able to hit the EASY pace for all of my easy runs. EASY is much different then joy running or active recovery jogging. The second pace is THRESHOLD, which is “85-88% of Vo2Max.” For an adult, this is approximately the maximum pace you can hold for an hour. Third is INTERVAL, which is “95-100% of Vo2Max.” If you’re an adult in decent shape, this is approximately the maximum pace you can hold for 5 kilometres. Forth is REPETITION, which is considerably faster than INTERVAL. For a distance runner, this is about one notch under an all-out sprint.

I mention this because Coggan’s seven zones most closely resemble this- and so I think I may be partial to his training philosophy. As a side note, I think Coggan’s zones (listed in the link) better depict running than does Daniels’ zones. For instance, if Daniels’ included Coggan’s Zone 7, he could perhaps change the subtitle of his book to “Proven programs 100m to the marathon.” Anyways, Coggan’s zones are what I use in bike training.

In order to calculate what your zones are all you need is your FTP and a calculator. The first zone is ACTIVE RECOVERY, which he defines to be any wattage less than 55% of your FTP. My FTP is 387w, so: .55 x 387 = 213w. Therefore, I am riding at ACTIVE RECOVERY pace anytime I am below 213w. The second zone is ENDURANCE, which is defined to be 56-75% of FTP. For me that would be: .56 x 387 = 216 and .75 x 387 = 290. You’ll notice that there is a gap between the high end of ACTIVE RECOVERY (213w) and the low end of ENDURANCE (216w). This would have been eliminated if I had kept more decimal points in my FTP, but for my purposes I am cool with just rounding the low end of ENDURANCE pace down to bridge the gap i.e. I am riding at ENDURANCE pace when I am between 214w and 290w. The third zone is TEMPO and is defined as 76-90% of FTP. For me this is 291-348w. The fourth zone is LACTATE THRESHOLD, which is defined as 91-105% of FTP. For me this is 349-406w. The fifth zone is VO2MAX, which is defined as 106-120% FTP. For me this is 407-464w. The sixth zone is ANAEROBIC CAPACITY, which is defined as 121-150% of FTP. For me this is 465-581w. The seventh zone is NEUROMUSCULAR POWER, which is undefined in Coggan and Allen’s book, but I define as all-out.

I find it helpful to have at least a slight mental image of what is going on physiologically when you are training in each zone. As a wise-man once told me: “you need to train deliberately and purposefully.” Thus, I often refer to the chart explaining the adaptations which occur while training in each zone (found in Training and Racing with a Power Meter) before I begin a workout (a different chart with the same explanations can be found at the bottom of the page this sentence is hyperlinked to). These zones will become your new best friend, so I suggest converting them into a chart and printing several copies. I prefer to write by hand than to type, so here is a scan of the chart I made with my training zones:

Scan of Training Zone Wattages

In my next post I will explain my logic for the first block in the first phase of my bike training. This phase will last three weeks and started last Tuesday with the FTP test. I will quickly follow this with another post explaining my first workout on the CompuTrainer and the difficulties I experienced. I will say, that once the difficulties have been resolved (i.e. you achieve a certain level of competency with the CompuTrainer) it is singly the most amazing biking tool I have encountered. I now totally see why and how CompuTrainer offers a Performance Improvement Guarantee.

By the way, check out this sick set up (shout out to my girlfriend for letting me turn our one bedroom apartment into a bachelor pad with a training studio):

Shot of Projctor Screen