Some of you may be interested to know that Strava added some training plan functionality at the start of the year for premium subscribers in partnership with Carmichael Training Systems. I wound up trying it out when they launched and I just finished my program over the weekend. Although I did it as an experiment, it turned out pretty nicely and I’m going to be using the feature again soon.
I have some books already and a bunch of articles saved on training but I kept blowing off making a schedule or plan. I was periodically doing intervals on Wednesdays, but I wasn’t consistent about it. So when Strava announced their program I was intrigued.
So how does it work? You basically select a program you’re interested in and in an area you want to improve. For me it was the 15 Minute Climb. I wanted to improve my Hawk Hill times. And yes, although I can already do Hawk Hill in under 15 minutes, you’re supposed to pick the plan that’s within your already established range. For example, since my HH times are about 12 minutes, it’s better for me to pick the 15 minute climb plan, rather than the 10 minute plan.
So how did the plan work? Basically for four weeks I would get an email in the afternoons telling me what workout I should do the next day. It would read – “hey, tomorrow don’t ride- it’s a rest day” or “ride for 1 hour at EM pace” or “tomorrow do 1 hour 30mins total – OverUnder Intervals”. And there would be links for the definitions of the terms used eg EM Pace (endurance miles) or OU intervals. And yes, the intervals were very defined (3 sets of 10 mins of OU intervals at 4U1O).
Here’s an example email screenshot (click to embiggen)
Most of the program was varying forms of intervals, which I hate. It’s because I’m not used to “training”- I’d rather just ride and have fun. But the problem is that I want to do more group rides than the SFCC Coffee Ride I sometimes tag along with.
So in the end it worked out for me. Mostly it all worked because of the daily email reminder. That would prompt me to make sure I had a workout created and saved on my Garmin and ready to go for the morning’s ride. Then I knew what I was supposed to do.
The emails would also force me to think about where I’d be riding the next day. I couldn’t be vague about it like I normally am. I wasn’t thinking, oh I could ride around Lake Merced and back and do Twin Peaks if the email said “only do 1 hour of easy riding”. Or what was harder was thinking about where to do 6 minute climbing repeats if most of the hills on my way to work are 4 minute hills.
Overall I think it helped me and I did hit a PR on Hawk Hill when I rode it on Sunday (under less than perfect conditions- ie after the wine and empanada fest the night before). Am I super-fast and super-fit? No. Am I better than I was before? Yes, a little bit.
What did I do incorrectly? Or what should I do better next time?
1. I didn’t really record a “before” ride on Strava (like the CTS Field Test). I tried, but the Garmin didn’t record the data for some reason- one of the few times it’s failed me.
2. I skipped or moved around a workout at least twice. They were the “EM rides” I think- I liked to do those on the weekend and my social life was interfering with the training. (I’m not complaining about that).
3. Although I like to ride when I can, I felt that if I worked out on the way home from work one day (at night) then my morning workouts felt harder, or I’d be more tired. I’d like to try to stay consistent about times.
4. My heart rate strap died during week 1. I wanted to know if I was really pushing myself with HR data vs “perceived effort” and wasn’t able to do so. I have a new replacement so the next go I’ll be able to use this data more. (this could be my #1 thing to change for next time).
Training plan info is here: https://strava.zendesk.com/entries/59668670