Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Losing weight and gaining FTP

So, I've been playing with numbers, again, to see if my 2008 training goals are realistic. My goals are:
  • Raise my FTP (Functional Threshhold Power; my maximum sustainable 1-hour power output) power from about 265 Watts to 276W.
  • Break the 19-minute barrier up the Old La Honda Road climb.
It's impossible for me to predict how much of a power increase I can achieve, though my friend and coach Mark Edwards assures me my goal is achievable. But beating the 19-minute barrier up OLH can be reduced to numbers. Play along here:

First, we need some hard data. My body weight when I tested myself up Old La Honda on 10/03/07 (154 pounds), plus my bike and gear (21.45 pounds) yields a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 175.45 pounds.

Then, using 1190 seconds (19:50 minutes) for my elapsed time up Old La Honda, with 1330 feet elevation gain, and that 175.45 pounds GVW, I can enter those numbers here to calculate the power required to lift my sorry carcass up that hill at that speed:

http://www.chuck-wright.com/calculators/watts.html

I get 265.9W as my FTP power on that day, which seems very much in line with what many other cyclists produce.

Playing around with the numbers I can explore what it will take to drop my elapsed time below 19 minutes:

If I want to beat 19 minutes up Old La Honda I will need to either increase my power to 279.2W (higher even than my ambitious goal of 276W!), or lower the GVW to just 167.1 pounds. Barring a super-duper lightweight bike, not in my budget, that would require a body weight of only 145.65 pounds; about what I must have weighed as a Junior in High School! No way!

Or, I could raise my power to a more realistic 275.3W and lower the GVW to 172.95 pounds. It just so happens that I weigh 2.5 pounds less today than I did on 10/03/07, yielding that GVW of 172.95 pounds (yay!), so "all" I now need to do is raise my power to 275.3W. That amount of power seems possible, according to coach Mark, but who really knows?

But if I get the GVW down to 169.45 pounds I will only need 269.7W of power to beat 19 minutes. That 4W power increase seems very achievable. The weight is not impossible either, as I hit 148 pounds about two years ago, before I panicked and started overeating! Sigh.

Here's an ideal scenario: I somehow raise my FTP power to my goal of 276W (all it takes is tons of intense training!), and lower my body weight to 148 pounds (definitely achievable, assuming I can skip the doughnuts!) for a GVW of 169.45 pounds. In that scenario I would be able to climb Old La Honda in 18:27. Very cool!!!

So, a sub-19-minute climb up Old La Honda is theoretically within my reach!

All of this assumes that I can lose weight without losing any power in the process, and actually realize those power gains through rigorous training. Hmmmm. Calculating my full potential is a lot easier than realizing it!

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