Here is a flashback to mid September, 2014 when I recorded my strongest sprint session. My power output was 66 W average over 20 minutes. Two of my four sprints were at about 80 W average power, and the work output was 290 met minutes.
By comparison, one of my worst sprint sessions recently was in mid February 2016, when my power output was only 22 W average over 20 minutes. My first sprint was at 55 W average power, but it fell to less than half of that subsequently. The work output was only 100 Met minutes.
Moral of the story? Don’t get discouraged when you have a slump. Though I haven’t yet surpassed my original record, I have recovered significantly from this past winter’s slump, and now average about 45 W in a 20 minute sprint session.
Just before the end of 2015, on December 28 in fact, I reached a new benchmark and the goal I was aiming to achieve by the end of the year: 10,000 km ridden on my FES bike in 3 1/2 years (4200 km in 2015 alone). that’s a lot of distance covered by a pair of paralyzed legs! If you are able-bodied, how far did you cycle last year?
Here is a copy of the summary page of the online log of all of my rides, as recorded by the bike manufacturer. In addition to the total distance ridden so far (6329 miles as of January 15, 2016 = 10,185 km), you can also see the distance I covered in each session (in red, and by others with my same physical condition in blue), and the average power output during each session. I appear to be working much harder than others in my situation. I have no explanation for this other than that I love cycling!
I also manually log all of my rides on Strava, and you can see my profile and stats there.
My workout warm-ups are important, and not just for the role they play in getting the muscles moving. I do pretty much the same routine all the time, only occasionally making slight changes to my workout. By sticking to one standard, I can look at my performance during the warm-up and use it to tell me whether I should go easy or hard during the rest of the workout. If I am weak during the warm-up, perhaps it will be a good day to just take it easy. On the other hand, if my muscles are performing better during the warm-up, this might suggest that I have the energy to try harder workout.
Below, are the results from two of my workouts. You can see how the resistance (and also the RPM) increase over a number of steps during my 20 minute warm-up session. During my good warm-up, in the first graph, you can see that the average power on the hardest step of the warm-up was 26 W. In the not so good warm-up, in the second graph, the average power on the top step is only 19 W.
2014 was a good year for me, exercise wise, as logged in my training calendar on Strava. Thanks to my FES bike, I was able to cycle around 3600 km in spite of being a high level quadriplegic. I rode 200 times during the year, mostly exercising my legs, though I also exercised my arms once a week for most of the year. That’s an average of 70 km per week, every week of the year.
How did you fare with your own physical activity program last year?
( Since I don’t have any hand function, here’s a big shout out to my fiancée Julie, my daughter Ceara, my son Andrew, and the therapists at Spinal Injury Alberta, without whose assistance none of this would have been possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you!)
Most people that get to ride an FES bike typically do so for an hour or less. That is because they are using the bike in a clinical setting, and their assistants schedule one hour for each client. Since I’m using my bike in a home setting, I don’t face this time limitation, and I have had the luxury of exploring the limits of endurance. Over the course of the past two years, my longest sessions have gone from 20 minutes to 45 minutes, then to an hour, 90 minutes, two hours, and once 2.5 hours. This past weekend, those marks fell by the wayside.
In a unique situation, I was able to ride pretty much as long as I wanted, so I rode for 3.5 hours. Actually, I was not looking for a duration record, but rather a distance record. My previous record was 38 km. I wanted to see if I could break the 40 km barrier. Whoops, I went over that just a little bit: I rode 52 km!
The interesting thing is that I did not feel worn out and fatigued at the end of that ride. I mixed up the pace during my workout, alternating between harder periods and easier periods. I can’t say I felt as fresh as a daisy at the end of my ride, but I certainly didn’t need to go and lie down. As a matter of fact, the very next day I rode for three hours and covered 42 km.
About three hours into my ride, I did a short sprints session. With each succeeding sprint, my power output increased (27, 50, 65 W), as you can see in the graph below. It sure doesn’t look like someone who is fatigued!
None of the therapists I have talked to have ever heard of anyone riding this long or this far on an FES bike. But I don’t feel I have reached the limit of what is possible. Perhaps my next goal should be to ride 100 km in one day!
Previously during my warm-up routine, I had been exercising with the stimulation frequency around 40 Hz, and a pulse width of around 300 µs. Now I have made a change, and increased the pulse width to 500 µs. Immediately I noticed an improvement in the warm-up results: at each level of increased resistance, the stimulation required is lower. A couple of times I have been able to go all the way up to a resistance of 5 Nm before the stimulation hits 100%. Why is this? A higher pulse width causes stimulation to reach more muscle fibers. Something to consider for those of you that are riding FES bikes.