So far Jeremy has passed all of the challenges of the early Performance Series rides, and has learned a little something about himself and training with Power. This week's ride highlights the brute strength necessary to endure two minute Level 6 intervals. These type of intervals challenge your Anaerobic Capacity and are always going to be hard no matter what your Power Threshold is and no matter how strong you are. They have been known to leave a few tears on the studio floor and even have made the strongest of cyclist beg for mercy.
Level 6 intervals are intended to stretch your limits and break down barriers not only in body, but mind, which actually could be the most positive training adaptation to come from this ride. Besides developing more raw Power to be used while sprinting or climbing steep grades, Level 6's also help make all of the other training levels feel that much more comfortable to sustain.
Although I didn't see any tears on the floor after Jeremy's ride he admittedly was very thankful when the ride was over and it pushed him in a way that he wouldn't normally make himself do. Even though he wasn't as confident about his performance as he usually is, this was his first Level 6 experience and it is not one to overachieve on, but more basic goal of just surviving.
Jeremy posted some heavy numbers on his first four intervals with an average of 429 watts-which was a good 20 watts into his Level 6 Power range. He enlisted a cadence in the upper 90's on the first two intervals but then decided that he could control his heart rate a little better if he loaded on some extra resistance and lowered his cadence into the 85-88 rpm range. This higher cadence strategy is what Lance Armstrong has made so popular in the cycling world because you are then able to put less load on your legs when producing higher Power outputs, much like what was necessary when climbing something like Mount Ventoux.
On the last two intervals Jeremy rode a more "human" type of Level 6 effort and averaged just inside his Level 6 Power range. The Power profile of his last interval shows that his legs were just about shot when at the one minute mark his leg speed started to slow down and he knew the only way he was going to be able to finish the interval would be to lighten up the resistance and pick up the cadence (115 rpm average over the last minute) because as Jeremy reported to me after the ride "There was no way that I wasn't gonna get that last interval."
You may ask "Hey, Jeremy is a triathlete, why would he care about his sprinting capacity?" Well, these intervals benefit Jeremy in three ways really. The first way is to develop greater climbing Power; even though he typically isn't faced with really steep grades on triathlon courses, if he can condition himself to sustain Level 6 Power for 2 minutes at a time then the typical 30 second-1 minute hill will feel very comfortable and because the hill won't have taken so much out of him he will be able to ride that much stronger once over the top of the hill.
Secondly, when his legs feel the load of producing a top end effort like a Level 6 all of the Tempo and Threshold riding that he typically does feels that much easier.
Last of all, the mental strength that you develop by taking yourself out of your comfort zone is quite liberating and can be applied to many situations in the future. I like to call it my "2 minute rule"; when I am within two minutes of finishing up a hard interval whether it be a hard Level 5 segment or a longer Threshold effort, I go back in my mind to these experiences and how I was able to hang on during these Level 6 intervals. It is just what I need in the moment to convince myself that I have what it takes to finish up strong.
This week's ride should be very interesting as Jeremy will be asked to dial in his effort right at his Power Threshold and some comparisons should be able to be made back to his first ride in the Series.