Tuesday, 15 March 2011

"So how long are you going to keep riding?"

... must be the most frequently asked question of me these days when I'm out on a group ride. I guess people assume that sooner or later I'll stop, and I guess I will stop at some point. But when? Who knows? I always say in reply, "as long as I can!" then add that while I've never done gone through a pregnancy before and really can't predict what will happen, I'll continue to ride as long as I'm comfortable and healthy and happy with it. Which is true. I see no reason to get off my bike and with the days getting longer again and the weather improving, the last thing I want to do is stop riding!

The funny thing is, after a huge drop in fitness last autumn (that first trimester really kicked my ass), I've been bouncing back quite steadily. Late last summer, post-peak and post-holidays, my CTL was hovering around 100 with a few road races and a handful of hill climbs to go before taking a real break. Then I got pregnant and by Week 6 -- within two weeks of the embryo implanting itself -- morning sickness had hit and my life was turned upside down.

It was like suffering a two-month hangover. Energy I used to have disappeared, I suddenly went completely off some foods and couldn't get enough of others, training became a miserable chore (so I stopped training, though of course I kept riding), and generally I felt like crap for the next eight weeks. My CTL plummetted from 100 to 59 by mid-November and while I started to feel better around this point and managed to get out more (week 14 marked a big turning point), the bad weather and then going away for Christmas kept me from any consistent riding for a few more weeks.

In the meantime, I had lost a lot of power and had to rejig my FTP to compensate for it. Not wanting to do any proper FTP testing (and I suspect my power curve has gone a bit haywire these days anyway, what with my top end aerobic power dropping like a rock but my low level endurance dieselling along like it always has), I estimated my threshold using perceived effort and muddling with the intensity factor of various rides.

This meant my tried-and-tested 240w FTP in late September was cut nearly 15% to 210w in one fell swoop in early October (numbers from the National Hill Climb in late October, the only race I've cared about since I got pregnant, confirm this). Then from the end of November onwards I gradually gained some back, leaving me with about 215-220w these days, though I feel that may drop again as my lungs seem to become more and more encroached by a growing baby! So my PMC chart below is based on those estimates, meaning the TSS and CTL numbers will be a best estimate as well.

PMC from September til now (week 28).

I was interested right from the start in trying to stay as fit as possible throughout pregnancy, and scientific curiosity motivated me to track it as best I could. So much to my delight, about halfway through the second trimester I realised that I was getting stronger again, and actually wanting to push myself a bit harder. Within reason of course! My body simply won't let me push into uncomfortable territory for long these days anyway; I can hover happily around a sweet-spot tempo effort but any hard effort leaves me cranky and tired afterwards.

But I can still ride lots and often, as long as I stop frequently and put easy days between hard days. Last week I had a TSS of 780, putting in over 350km and 13 hours of riding, the most I've done in any week since September. And since my season's low of 56 CTL at end of December, I've managed to climb steadily back up to 75. Eventually I will have to stop riding, but if I can keep that kind of fitness going between now and then I'll be pretty happy.

Obligatory bump shot:

That silly look must be what they mean by "glowing"?

Bump in KW kit

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you look fantastic Maryka...Congratulations to you and your hubby

Jennifer Szorvas(Brian)