Quarter 3 Review 2023

At the end of each quarter since the start of 2023 I have reviewed and reflect on my previous three months on the bike. This allows me to see how my fitness and ability is progressing on a wider timescale than week to week. For previous quarterly reviews please click here

I think I could summarise Quarter 3 2023 by saying it has been more positive than Quarter 2, but still down on where I really want(ed) to be.

For reasons that still escape me, I am unable to shake my gradually down trending graph, but I think I am starting to turn that back around. More on that below.

Before diving in, I should cover off the week just gone. With the bike away for major surgery between Tuesday and Saturday, riding days were few this week. However, the two I did get were as follows:

This post is mostly about the FTP test being the culmination of three months cycling.

The race was purely to tick off completing all races in Zwift’s September virtual cycling series.

Quarter 3 covers July, August, and September 2023.

At the end of Quarter 2, things were pretty bad. I’d had an absolute shocker of an FTP test where I basically blew up and posted a hugely disappointing result.

For reference that number was 216w, which at a weight of 67kg (which hasn’t changed between then and now) put me 3.22 watts per kilo.

If I’d taken that result and gone with it, the training over the last three months would have been largely pointless. I knew I was capable of more than that. But I accepted my limitations and decided to manually set my FTP to 235w in Zwift.

In my head, this figure was somewhere between 5-10w below where I probably was maximally capable over the 20 minute test. But crucially would give me an easier, confidence building starting point to grow from. Hopefully that makes sense.

I actually think that strategy mostly worked.

The aim was to bump up by 5w at the start of August, and then finally bump another 5w at the start of September.

In my head this meant I’d be training at the level I wanted to get back too, after the FTP test was done at the end of September. Pull up from above, rather than push up from below.

July went fine enough.

And August was OK after bumping to 240w as my FTP figure.

I reckon I could have bumped it up to 245w in September, and whilst I may have been able to complete the SST session, I think I would have had to max myself to see it out. Which isn’t the point of that session.

So I kept it at 240w for both August and September, which is still above the figure I ended up with as my FTP (236w). I feel that’s quite interesting, as the SST session at 240w is ‘comfortable’ for me. I could do that several times in a week without issue, yet is apparently harder than I ought to be riding. Confusing.

As it stands then I ended up with an FTP of 236w at 67kg, which is 3.49 w/kg.

My year goal at the end of 2022 / start of 2023 was to ‘Achieve an FTP of 3.72 w/kg or better’.

Truthfully, I don’t see myself hitting that at this point.

Not unless I manage to figure out the root cause, and dramatically reverse the current trend. As I can’t understand what’s changed, I am not yet close to figuring out how to ‘fix’ this.

However I think I can get a little closer to it.

I could definitely improve on my FTP test performance. I made several correctable mistakes in September’s FTP test. The big one right now seems to be finding a way to hit my ideal cadence whilst on a free ride. If I could dial it in such that I’m hitting approximately 95rpm for an output of ~250w reliably, I would be in the best position to perform.

One last thing before I move on from focusing on the the FTP test is that my earlier ‘road test’ result was improved upon during the actual, final test. That’s a positive. To me that feels like I continued to improve as time went on, which ties back in to what I said at the start about – hopefully – starting to reverse the trend?

Reviewing the targets and things from the end of Quarter 2 I had:

  • Beat (or hit) 262w average on the 20 minute test
  • ‘More’ structure and endurance, alongside the SST sessions
  • No change to diet
  • Lose a kilo
  • Race day Tuesday, and then SST on Wednesday.

Beat (or hit) 262w average on the 20 minute test: OK, so obviously didn’t hit 262w average. I managed 249w I believe.

13w, unlucky for some.

I think that target was way too ambitious for 3 months in hindsight.

More structure: Hmm, I’d say so, but not really more endurance.

Endurance is a challenge for me, as my average ride length is between 45 minutes to 1 hour. I can’t change this due to real life commitments, so it is what it is.

No change to diet: Victory! No changes were made.

Lose a kilo: Yup. I have had two weigh-ins at 68kg in the last two months. Everything else has been under.

Race day Tuesday, and then SST on Wednesday: No, this didn’t work. SST Tuesday, easy ride Wednesday, Race on Thursday. That works. Back to back harder rides is a bad idea.

Goal For Quarter 4 2023

I want to get the FTP figure at or above 240w, or 3.58 w/kg by the end of December this year.

As this will include the Christmas period, this does probably mean doing the next FTP test in 10 weeks – i.e. a week before Christmas – rather than in the week of or after Christmas.

At least for October the plan will continue to be pretty much the same as it has been for the last three months.

  • 4 rides a week with a long walk on Sunday
  • SST, easier ride, Race, climb – or rides of similar intensity

I suspect all rides from here on out will be turbo sessions. I can’t see me heading out again any time soon.

I guess that’s it really. A strong focus on upping the FTP figure. I know it’s totally ego driven. I have no actual use for the figure improving. It’s just an objective target to measure myself against. And I like that kind of thing.

So yeah, overall a better three months than Quarter 2, but I think I can have an even better three months between now and 2024.

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