Can She Do as She’s Told (Part 5)

Our little experiment is coming to an end, and as such, this is the final submission to the Can She Do As She’s Told?” saga. The end of the year is typically quiet for me workwise, so was able to catch up on things and “chill.” Monday, January 4 hit like a ton of bricks. Straight into strategic business planning and presentations to the team and then our executives. Suffice to say that I’ve been busy, hence the delay in updating you until now.

I know I mentioned strength goals in my first post. I’ve been focused on and working towards being able to do chin ups without any support. I have been progressing and about two weeks ago felt, “really strong,” like I had gotten past a plateau of sorts. Still not at chin up strength yet but I was able to do full pushups. 10 in a row. That may not sound like a big deal to you if you are a man or a smaller woman but for me, it’s a big deal. Anyway, pretty stoked (or “chuffed” as they say on the Great British Baking Show) that in addition to the cycling improvements, my strength gains have been significant. I also mentioned in the first write up that I would like to lose about 10 pounds. 12 weeks later I am 5 pounds lighter and feel much leaner.

The last four weeks of the plan have been another testament to, “Doing as I’m Told.” Honestly. Recall in Part 4, I shared that after Half Monty my MAP and FTP both increased. I didn’t mention the numbers, I just gave the percentage increases. Well, that’s because I was overwhelmed and doubtful. My MAP went from 294 to 316 and my FTP went from 235 (the Full Frontal at the start of the plan put me at 221 but I believed due to extenuating circumstances and have been operating with the manual adjustment to my former FTP of 235) to 254. That is significant, isn’t it? I should have said more about it in Part 4, but I was so concerned that the numbers were inaccurate and inflated that I didn’t want to share them. My apologies to Sir Mac for doubting Half Monty. My coach, Sir Spencer, suggested I leave the new numbers and see if I could hit the targets. That scared the hell out of me. These numbers surpassed my Mt. Sufferlandria (what I thought would be stretch) goals for May, 2021… in December. Here is a look at my 4DP history since 4DP and Full Frontal came out in 2018.

4DP March 24, 2018 April 4, 2020 November 1, 2020 – Week 0 Goal for May 2021 December 26, 2020 – Week 8
FTP 242 234 221 (235) 250 254
MAP 287 287 294 300 316
AC 394 370 386 400
NM 792 847 863 875

And, yes, as you have already guessed by my apologies to the outrageous sports scientist, I was able to hit those targets. Hit and hold the targets. Team Scream. Angels. Joy Ride. The Bat. It has definitely been harder. I have even stopped complaining about reduced numbers and easy days following the hard workouts. Completely. (I know, right?) I have come to rely on those easier days. Due to the busy work schedule since the start of the year, I have not had time to do both my strength workouts and the other, easier cycling workouts scheduled for me those days, but I have done all the other workouts on my schedule.

Since Half Monty, I have experienced a significant boost in my confidence. Riding strong, lifting strong, feeling strong. Until…I had a ISLTA failure at the end of Week 10. It was a reduced workout so I went into it with a ton of confidence. AC and MAP were reduced to 70% but I was shocked to see that FTP was only reduced to 96% (Really Sir Mac?) and it came after some significant volume the day before. I did fine until I got to the Thin Air portion and then just could not maintain any sort of power. My legs did not have it in them. Sir Spencer encouraged me to stop. I rode easy for a while and finally just got off the bike. I was seriously disappointed with myself. I ended at 2:06. Getting off was the right thing to do. Now, as I type this, I realize that my FTP increase just two weeks prior makes what I was able to do that day, if not impressive, then certainly, acceptable. I’m glad I gave in and got off, it allowed me to recover and not pay for it in the subsequent days.

Week 11 provided me the opportunity to do Attacker and Who Dares at 100% and I was able to crush them. This past week has been a recovery/prep for Full Frontal week. I have Primers today and then Full Frontal tomorrow. I will finish this up tomorrow with the results. But, before I get my new Pactimo liner bibs on (shout out to Stephanie Clark, I’ve had some serious issues of late) and tackle Primers, I’d like to share my reflections before the final test.

This experiment was a fabulous idea if I do say so myself. Can a fit, dare I say, very fit person, with coaching based in sport science and focused on them as an individual and their individual goals, significantly improve their cycling fitness? Yes. Not only yes to improving but, to a degree that shocks said, “very fit person.” Regardless of the results tomorrow, I am beyond impressed with what I have achieved. I’m a little giddy about it. Maybe even a little embarrassed that I’ve not taken advantage of these plans, and especially the coaching, previously. Sir Neal and Sir Mac, SUFCoaching, Sir Spencer, “Chapeau!” Seriously. Wow! Thank you.

Here are the results:

4DP November 1, 2020 – Week 0 Goal for May 2021 December 26, 2020 – Week 8 January 24, 2021 – Week 12
FTP 221 (234) 250 254 254
MAP 294 300 316 311
AC 386 400 416
NM 863 875 878

I could not have gone any harder. I wanted to grab 900 on the sprint but could not get there. Thought I would die on the 5 minute section; surprised I did as well as I did. Told Sir Spencer to stay away but he kept coming in during the 20 minutes. He’s lucky I was suffering as much as I was – no way was I going to ruin the test just to kick his ass. I did ask him to come into the room during the 1 minute to cheer me on. He scared the dogs, but it helped me.

I will say that having my husband/life partner coaching me was both a challenge (looking over my shoulder, giving me grief, knowing what I was supposed to do, etc.) but it was also an advantage. He knows me and what makes me tick, and how important this is to me. He also knows how important balancing it with the rest of my life is. So, I’ll leave you with a bit of advice: Sign up for the coaching, think about your Mt. Sufferlandria, and share yourself with your coach. Let them know what makes you tick so they can make sure the plan they customize for you is the perfect plan for you and your Mt. Sufferlandria.

IWBMATTKYT

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That’s a top report.
I’ve done 3 of these myself.

Congrats on your (massive) improvement over just 3 months.
I think you hit the nail in the head about having the person who’s coaching you right beside you all the way. I think that is a crucial element.

That’s just a huge jump. Kudos.

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Awesome write up as always.
Thank you very much for sharing this series.

Your results are a real testament to the quality sport science and “do as your told” concept.

I hope you’ll achieve your chin-up someday (soon).

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BEST LINE OF THE ENTIRE SERIES!!!

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And the answer lies in the Sufferlandrian motto. I Will Beat My Ass Today To Kick Yours TOMORROW. Sir Spencer, watch out.

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Really interested to hear your comments on your half Monty results, your concerns about them, how those concerns were unfounded, and how you ‘verified’ those results in FF.

I’m about 6 weeks behind you on a Sir Spencer plan and I just got some great half Monty results. Like you I was worried the new numbers were more to do with my rider type and half Monty testing versus FF testing. Now I can carry on trusting the science and enjoying the second half of the plan.

Chapeau dame steph!!!

Thank you for sharing all of these insights and experiences with us, as well as your hard work, @DameSteph! It’s been very inspiring to read your posts.

I’ve only used the existing plans so far, but even those work really well. The results are definitely worth the effort of giving the coaching team the chance to show us what we can do when we train correctly.

I’ve taken your advice and signed up for a customized plan. I am a similar creature to you, in that I love my daily suffering and endorphin rush and always feel much better after kicking my ass. I am hoping to drop the 10 pounds that I have carried all of my 40-50’s (age matters but I’m tired of the 10#s) and after dropping the 10#s schedule a century for the Fall of 2021. If I can successfully drop the 10, following my coaches advice, I’ll sign up again to get coached to the century challenge. Thank you for your honesty, humor and awesomeness during your experiment. The most important comment I’ll make is I’m so sorry about your training partner pup crossing the rainbow bridge. Someone told me once the reason dogs have shorter life spans is so that humans can experience more than one dog throughout their own lives. I truly believe that. Here’s a pic of my training partner, Juno. She was a pregnant teen when she found me out on a run at our lakehouse. Been training alongside her for 10+ years. She’s slowing down a bit, but always close by when I suffer.

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@DameSteph This. Was. Awesome. Congratulations on the improvements. I am at week five of my fourth custom plan with Sir @Coach.Spencer.R and have (obviously) been pleased with the results of the last three. I did two consecutive plans in 2019-2020 preparing for an event that was cancelled, then started the third plan just to keep busy into last summer.

I decided to do another custom plan this year as I did not feel like I was getting anything out of one of the stock road plans (although I had previously), I needed to up my volume and drop the COVID 5 (ok 10). The last 4DP was in June and was actually lower than at the start of the plan. A LOT of mental stress at work this time last year was really throwing my game off. Was hard to focus, complete the workouts. It was surprising because when I got outside, I was crushing it. I was breaking Strava PRs from 5-9 years ago. I thought it was odd, but did not think much more about it.

Fast forward to January when I signed up, work situation resolved, stress is way down. I thought I would just go with the last 4DP results but knew I needed to do it again. I did. My numbers were nearly where they were one year ago. FTP was dead on. The only thing that was down was V02 Max. Wow.

So, getting the head right is really important. I have used the Mental Toughness training in the past and am doing it again now as a refresh. Glad I did the 4DP again so I am really getting the most out of the program.

As everything has gone DIY/ Self-Serve over the years, the stock plans do work, and work well. You can go on a forum to get advice, but there is something about being able to discuss your specific needs with someone who knows what they are talking about. I too said to Sir Spencer on our check-in call last week - “some of these seem too easy” and he told me to wait a couple of weeks and see if I felt the same way. Well, I did this morning’s session and I rescind my comment about “too easy.” Ouch.

I got out on the road this weekend and felt great. Looking forward to putting all this fitness to use in the next couple months. Whatever my “numbers” are. Thanks @Coach.Spencer.R!

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