Setting yourself a goal and sticking to it takes some doing and even involves re-learning what you thought you knew about fitness; but it’s worth it in the end says Andy Clift, BDM at SPAL Automotive UK in his latest inspirational Lockdown Story.
“As you may or may not know, cycling has been my activity of choice when it comes to fitness. Last year I took advantage of the quieter roads and put in more miles than ever and upgraded to a better bike as a reward for my commitment.
“As the long days gave way to the cold winter nights, my focus turned to the indoor rides using the virtual cycling platform called Zwift.
“I’ve had my indoor smart trainer and Zwift subscription for a couple of years but only just started to use it in a more training-based manner since December when I set myself a goal......
“Zwift features a monster of a climb known as Alpe Du Zwift, it’s a virtual replication of the famous Alpe d’Huez cycling route in the French Alps featuring 21 hairpin turns as the average 8.1% gradient meanders up to its 3,674ft summit.
“For my age/fitness/weight, a time of 1h 30min I thought would have been fair. On December 8th, 2020 I made my first attempt, missing my goal by a mere 5 minutes. A few general rides later, I attempted it again on December 28th and was shocked that I was slower with a time of 1h 37mins.
“This bothered me. I was riding fairly regularly and putting in a strong effort each time, but I seemed to be getting slower. I used the remainder of my Christmas break to learn how to effectively train on Zwift and to my surprise, longer/easier efforts would build my sustainable power output and hopefully improve my time.
“This in mind, I set about riding for longer but staying well within maximum heart rate and power zones. It went against everything I thought I knew about getting fitter, but the proof would be in my next climb attempt.
“January 18th was a little ahead of when I thought I’d give it another go, but I was feeling good and hadn’t been on the bike in 4 days so was well rested.
“By the time I was halfway through, I was trying to calculate if I was on or off pace to get inside the 1h 30min, but with the onset of fatigue as you hit into the tougher top half, it’s almost impossible to know.
Dripping, Sweaty Mess
“With two corners to go, a fellow Zwifter who I managed to drop a couple of messages to and told him what I was trying to achieve, was convincing me I was on target which kept me pushing to my time of 1h 27min. I was a dripping, sweaty mess but I’ll take that as my fitness goal achievement for January 2021 and recorded an increase in my overall FTP (Functional Threshold Power) from 176 to 189!”