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OPINION

Halfway house

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I'm six weeks in to my first twelve-week plan. Time for a quick progress report

I'm doing training – like, proper training with a timetable and rules and stuff – for the first time, and I'm halfway through the the first twelve-week slab of stuff that Dave Smith has mapped out for me. So how's it going? Positively, pretty much. Here's where we are.

First things first: one of the main things I was keen to focus on was my weight. I was about 104kg when I started this plan. I've been heavier (110kg and more) and I've also been lighter. I tend to gravitate to just above 100kg and stay there.

Now I'm 96kg. So that's 8kg lost in seven weeks (I skipped a week of sessions when we were in Italy) and I'm now as light as I've ever been in my adult life. That qualifies as a success in my book. The diet that I'm on is carb-light and vegetable-and-nut-heavy, and I haven't found it that much of a struggle, most of the time.

Most of the time. I do have a sweet tooth and I'm a sucker for biscuits, cake, ice cream, sweets, whatever. Some weeks I'm more disciplined than others. Last week, and the incident with the home-made salted caramel baked alaska chocolate cake, wasn't exactly a triumph. But generally I've been good. Santa take note.

It was easy to lose weight at the start, and now it's getting harder. That's to be expected, I guess. The last couple of weeks my weight has remained steady, rather than fallen. That's coincided with one really busy week where I didn't  get a lot of time on two wheels, and last week where I was struggling with a cold and more or less off the bike completely. So no big surprise. That being said, I've never managed to stay at 96kg before. The only other time I got that low I gave myself a big pat on the back and went straight back on the Yorkies, with predictable results.

How low can I go? Well I'm not exactly lean at 96kg, let's be honest. There's more weight to lose. I'm aiming for 92kg by the end of this 12-week plan. 92kg has always been one to aim for for me. If Magnus Backstedt can finish a Grand Tour at 92kg, I'm pretty much out of excuses.

All of this would be pointless if it was just muscle mass I was losing, and I was chuffing more and more slowly up the hills. But that's not the case, happily. I've been getting faster. Strava said so, and anecdotally it feels that way too. I've managed to stay with riders on rides where in the past i'd have been off the back pretty quickly. It's encouraging. I feel fitter. Three interval sessions a week isn't exactly fun, but hey. It's doing some good.

I'm using the Kurt Kinetic Rock 'n' Roll 2 for a lot of my session work and that spits out a bunch of numbers I can compare. And when I do compare them, what I see is a very slight increase in power for a given type of session over time. Nothing significant, a couple of watts. But it is significant that it isn't going down, because that means the weight loss isn't affecting my output. And that means my power to weight is going up as I get lighter, and that means I go up the hills more quickly. I don't really know what my functional threshold power is, but whatever it is my watts-per-kilo number has increased by over 8% for any given value of W.

My goals here are pretty lowly. Last year I entered my first Cat 4 race, and got my arse handed to me in short order. So I'm working on my fitness and overall condition to ensure that when I line up next year I can at least stay in the mix until the end. And then we can move on from there. I'm painfully aware that the work I'm doing now with Dave is to get me to a point where I can do some proper training. But it's progress. Onwards, &c.

* those PRs in the Strava pic are all different bits of the same hill, but it looks good

Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

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