As I am actually beginning to take my winter training a bit more serious, I thought I might as well do a couple of baseline tests. This was also triggered by a conversation with one of the coaches in the club as we were discussing doing a CSS (Critical Swim Speed) test set at the next swim session. I also decided I might as well do an FTP test on the bike too!
CSS stands for Critical Swim Speed – it’s essentially the pace you can maintain for a continuous 1500m (or hour), but rather than do a full 1500m continuous swim or an hour time trial – you can work it out from a 400m TT and a 200TT (go check out Swim Smooth here). Most of my plans and races next year are longer than the 400m swim in sprint triathlons so for me, working on my CSS pace is a good aim – I’m not too worried about my shorter distance speed (although I won’t be ignoring speed sets). I cant even remember the last time I did a CSS set so Friday morning I set out on a mission to work mine out.
I had an idea before hand that my CSS pace should be somewhere around the 2min/100m mark. I used one of the club sets – braving the longer set. I did my warm up, including a bit of speed as well as a bit of pull. My 400m time was 7:46:06 – respectable considering my swimming has been hit or miss in the last year due to injury. My 200m time was 3:49:06. I was genuinely over the moon with this as my last sprint triathlon swim time was 7:32:00 and that was at my near peak swim fitness. When I got out of the pool and plugged the numbers into the CSS calculator on the Swim Smooth website – CSS pace – 1:59m/100m – BOOM! Sub 2 minutes! Not as great as it used to be but I am still happy with this as a starting point – I’m planning on swimming four times a week!
FTP – if you cycle regularly or have a turbo trainer, chances are you have heard of an FTP test – Functional Threshold Power – the power you can maintain/produce – over an hour. Quite similar in some respects to the CSS really in my eyes. I had a debate about this with my mate and how accurate my turbo would be in comparison to the Wattbikes at the gym. But considering I’m using my turbo for my training, I decided that I would just keep it to the turbo so it was all consistent. I signed back up to Zwift and this morning decided to have a go at the FTP shorter test. It’s a while since I’ve done that too!
Forty-five minutes of sweat and hurt. I followed the FTP shorter test on Zwift – the 20 minute section from which they take the average for your FTP averaged at 164 watts – Zwift take this and work out your average watts at 95% of that (which is similar to how the CSS worked out with me). 157 Watts was declared as my FTP score – with my weight this works out at 2.5W/Kg – which, according to Zwift is Fair to Moderate fitness (see here for details from Zwift on this – its quite interesting!).
So what does all this mean?
It means that my Zwift sessions will reflect my FTP – helping make my turbo training more efficient and hopefully less dull – as I’ll be focused on following a plan. It might not be particularly accurate or my real actual power output but its a starting point. In swimming, it means that when I’m working on my threshold and endurance, I’ve times to go off – such as 100s off 2.10.
it also gives me a nice data point to refer back to in a couple of months to check on my progress.
Fingers crossed the training will kick in and I’ll see some results!