Testing Times – Endurance Exercise and FTPs

When Jack told us he was leaving the office early ‘for a study’ we thought it was a creative excuse to beat the traffic. However it turns out he was helping out in a PhD study at Loughborough University. As well as takeing part, Jack kept a log of the study (as well as some flattering photos) and put together the blog below – looks like it was gruelling work!

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been taking part in a PhD study on the “Psychological Aspects of Endurance Exercise” at Loughborough University.  The premise was a simple one, ride a stationary trainer as hard as you can for 16.1km (10miles) on three separate occasions. During each effort I was asked to indicate how hard I was trying and my mood. This was done by pointing at a clipboard where one side had a scale for effort and the other for mood. Monitoring took place at 2KM intervals starting at 3KM into the effort, so four times in total per session. The only data on the stationary trainer visible during the effort was distance travelled and apart from a big fan that was the only distraction on offer for the first session. I was super excited to take part in the study, as rider who doesn’t use a powermeter or a heart rate monitor I thought it would be a great way to collect some data on my current fitness (spoiler alert! Not great!) as well assisting in an interesting study in which several Universities were taking part. For the second ride, data from my first effort was used to group me with 9 other participants of similar abilities (phew!). A second screen was set up next to the trainer to show me my placing within in the group. This would update every 2KM showing me where I ranked (i.e. giving research data on if my mood and effort changed based on ranking). My standing from the second ride was again used to re-group me into a different group for the third and final session. If I though the first session went well, the second appeared to go even better. The inclusion of a monitor showing my ranking within a group of ten helped push me into going harder as I saw my participant number slowly move up the rankings. With 2KM to go, I hit second place and nearly went blind with trying to get to the top spot. As well as the kudos of having my participant number being top of the leader board there was also a £15 amazon voucher up for grabs as well (so well worth the effort!). Sadly, though the second place was as good as it got (no amazon voucher for me this time). If the adrenaline boost of success saw me dig deep on my second effort, the despair of finishing last got me to go even harder for the final time. At 10KM in my standing within this new group had plummeted to eigth place. I made the mental note not to lose another place and spent the last 6.1KM in a state of exhaustion euphoria. Once it was over I meekly asked John (PhD researcher) if that was my worst effort? As it was the final session, he could share some data with me. Turns out my final effort was my best, and I averaged 39.4KPH at 255watts for 24mins, 30secs. For the numbers guys out there, this gives me an FTP (Functional Threshold Power. How hard you can go for an hour basically) of around 240 watts (just to put this into context, Bradley Wiggins produced 440 watts for his Hour record ride in 2014. So nearly twice mine!) and for someone of my weight (72kg) a distinctly average 3.33watts per kilo (A Tour De France champions watts per kilo would be around 6.6, so again twice as much as mine. Machines!). So, plenty of work to be done there. I’ll certainly be taking on the tips and advice shared by the NLTBMBC guys in last week’s blog. Just over 7 weeks’ till ThunderCrit, see you then!



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