A Useful Insight
I am writing this post immediately after a workout because I just had a useful insight into training. First off, I will mention again that VO2MAX intervals are a weakness of mine in biking, running and swimming. Being aware of this, I planned a workout last week that I thought would help to eliminate this weakness. It was 5 x 5 minutes @420w with 4 minutes recovery. I knew this would be very challenging, and if I could complete it I would feel more confident. I did it late at night, so admittedly I wasn't feeling very energetic, but regardless, I got burned on the third 5 minute interval, and could not get things rolling again from there. I ended up cutting the workout short and scrapping the final two 5 minute intervals. Fast forward to today (November 21st). I was a bit upset about last week's poor performance (and not consoling myself with the fact that VO2MAX intervals are challenging for me) so I decided to do an even harder workout. I planned on doing 4 x 7 minutes @420w with 7 minutes recovery. Once again, if I could complete this I would feel much more confident. And once again, I got burned. I made it through the first interval and then after about 5 minutes into the second interval I got burned. On the third interval I got burned after only 2 minutes. After that I couldn't get the wheels rolling any longer, so once again I scrapped the workout. But, I believe everything happens for a reason, and from these two instances I have learned a valuable lesson.
Instead of acknowledging the weakness and working to improve it in small increments over a long period of time, I was impatient and wanted to improve it in just a few workouts. Unfortunately, this is impossible. What actually ended up happening is I became even less confident in myself because I wrote up very hard intervals that I was unable to complete. In a sense, it was a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.
The smart decision here would have been to acknowledge the weakness and start off with a moderately challenging workout. For instance, 8 x 3 minutes @420w with 3 minutes recovery. Hopefully, I could make it through this one. Then, instead of immediately jumping up to a very hard workout, I should have increased either the wattage or the time very slightly. For instance, 8 x 3 minutes and 30 seconds @420w with 3 minutes recovery. By this process, perhaps I could work up to the initial workout that I got burned on (5 x 5 minutes @420w). Then, in my next build, I could repeat the process, only the beginning interval wattage or time could be slightly higher. For instance, 8 x 3 minutes and 30 seconds @430w with 3 minutes recovery. And, with micro-increases, perhaps by the end of that build I could work up to the workout I got burned on today.
This is an important insight that I will apply in all subsequent bike workouts, but additionally in swimming and running. VO2MAX workouts have often been discouraging for me, so I think this may be a possible way to alleviate this outcome. The difficult part is that it requires patience (the weakness will not be alleviated over night) and confidence (that over time i.e. several years, and with small increments, you can eventually eliminate a weakness).