How I am finding faster by using Zwift
At the end of last year, I decided to take a break from long distance events. I have always been satisfied training to complete rather than compete at events but that changed for me, after experiencing a very, very long day out in Lanzarote. Although I felt pleased to finish, I was disappointed with my time and specifically my bike time. My run was hideously slow too but I was less bothered since I was unable to train properly due to injury. Just being able to jog-walk-jog the course was always going to be the way my race would end. Unfortunately, it just ended about 2 hours longer than I had anticipated!
For a long time after that event, I pushed my disappointment aside and focussed my energy on helping Adrian train for his big race of the year which was Kona. That gave me a few months of not following a training plan at all and just helping to support and motivate him while he got through those last big sessions in the lead up to race day. In Kona, I watched and cheered on so many amazing people take part but I did feel envy to be so far removed from those athletes in terms of my own fitness and ability.
But while I was envious, it was a strangely motivating experience. I talked to Adrian about my frustrations of being so slow and he suggested spending a year really concentrating my training efforts on going harder and faster but at shorter events.
I began back to proper training with a focus in January. Out with the long, steady endurance sets and in with short sharp sweetspots and snappy tempo sessions. When lockdown hit in March, I ramped up my sessions on Zwift and also joined in the #frodissimofriday workouts, which were all V02 max sets. I began training daily on Zwift, finding it easier to recover than before as I was not doing double sessions or any long stuff.
To help build my power further I joined group rides that really pushed me to the limit of my w/kg and I started to race on Zwift. I began with individual time trialling, which was less intimidating than a race but still a great way to push myself. I then progressed to short crit style racing, where I got completely dropped at the start of each event until I realised there are some tactics involved – basically go hard from the off and hang on! After racing a few events my FTP noticeably started to increase. Over the last few months, I have increased my ftp by almost 50 watts and I am still progressing. Perhaps, best of all I can see my fitness endurance has also come on and I can hold power at my old ftp number comfortably for a 2 to 3 hour period, which is significantly more than I could a year ago. My weight has come down too, I am not overly focussed on it but I have lost a little during lockdown and the bonus about being lighter is it means I can race slightly competitively on hilly courses as well as feel the benefit in real life once I am back out on the road again.
Now that I have started racing on Zwift, I have also joined a Ladies race team which is pushing me even further as they are super strong. I am pleased that six months into the year and without the motivation of an actual race, just by changing my training I have made good progress. The benefits of not having a race means I have the luxury of concentrating on my bike without worrying about the swim or the run too much.
That said the next half of the year is about keeping the momentum going and now starting some real efforts and focus on my run. I will let you know how that goes. Swimming can wait.