Testing & Setting Benchmarks


In my last post I mentioned that I'd recently performed a FTP test on the bike.  The purpose of the test was to ascertain my current fitness level, so that I could set my current training zones and intensities.  Once my threshold power was approximated, I knew what ranges of power (measured in watts) would equate to different intensity levels.  As I expected, threshold power was lower than it was pre-Ironman, however, not by a large amount. For the last 18 months I've been using a Quarq power meter, which allows me to quantitatively track every single ride.  There's no ifs or buts with the power meter, just data.  The best thing is - the numbers don't lie.  Then again, when you're struggling that's the worst thing too! 
This morning I did an equivalent test for the run - a 5km time trial at the track.  Whilst the results were largely unspectacular, like on the bike, the goal was to find out my current fitness level so I could set my current training intensities based on the performance.  Online sites such as the McMillan Calculator allow you to input your time for a certain distance, and it will then give you your training paces for different intensities.  Simple. Now if I'm doing a tempo run, I know my pace.  If I'm doing mile repeats, I know my pace.  It tells me what training paces are suitable for me and my current fitness.  Repeating the bike and run tests at 4-6 week intervals will allow me to monitor progression and determine the effect that training has had.  In an ideal world I'd be well rested before testing, however, whilst in training this is rarely the case, due to the lost training time that would occur as a result.  
I'd like to do a similar test for the swim, but unfortunately as the pool is currently under construction, that will have to wait.  For now, I'll have to make do with going down to the beach at sunrise for my early morning swims, which makes it a little easier to stick to my goal of increasing swim frequency!