Power Intervals are efforts done at an intensity which is above lactate threshold. In other words, they hurt a lot. Every time I mention this to Mary Lou she asks the same question: “Where does it hurt?” My answer is always the same: “Everywhere.”

It takes a lot of motivation to maintain an all out effort for any given period of time so imagine what it takes to repeat it five times during a workout, twice a week for three weeks in a row. I used to feel nauseous just looking at my training schedule every time my former CTS coach Tim would prescribe five times one minute Power Intervals. Imagine my reaction when my new CTS coach Jason put three minutes Power Intervals in my training schedule for December. The first week I had to do four times three minutes twice. For the following two weeks I had to do five times three minutes twice a week. I was convinced he had made a mistake.

A lot of things go through your mind when you know you will have to put yourself through pain for three times as long as what you already think is too long.

I went back to the CTS Cycling Manual and found this quote to motivate myself: “Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie are among the athletes who use this interval. Since the addition of this workout to Lance and George’s training programs, CTS has seen them further develop their extraordinary ability to attack on steep hills late in races when everyone else is gasping for air.” That got me through the day.

I then got a highly inspiring message from BMC Team rider John Murphy. That got me through a couple days.

I also got a lot of encouragement from my coach via text during some of the workouts.

I also thought a lot about this great Lance Armstrong quote: “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”

My last set of intervals was planned for last Sunday. When I got to the gym I realized that it was closing early because of the holidays. I didn’t have time to do the Power Intervals. I felt relieved. And I had the perfect excuse. I decided to do the last set of intervals on the Monday. But when I got up yesterday I couldn’t find the mental strength to get it done.

I then got an email from CTS coach Jason asking me how the week end training had gone. I had not sent him my power files so he was unaware that I hadn’t done the Sunday Power Intervals. In his email Jason congratulated me for battling through these hard workouts. I didn’t deserve the congratulations. Not yet at least.

I went straight to the gym, picked up my bike and went outside to do the workout. I was determined not only to complete the last set of Power Intervals but to complete all the intervals within the prescribed range of 330 to 340 watts. The picture below is a summary of all the December intervals.


Three minutes of pain

As you can tell, the first workout (December 15) was a bit ugly as I only able to complete three of the four intervals – I quit after two minutes on one of the intervals. The second workout (December 19) was better but I was only able to maintain the prescribed range for one of the intervals.

Now fast forward to yesterday (January 3). All five Power Intervals were solidly within range. What an improvement in only three weeks. John was right, Power Intervals hurt a lot but they are as good as gold.