Quantify "Ouch".

When I first started doing sprint intervals, I used to go back and look at them via WKO. I'd see how the power spiked, what the max power was, and what the average power was for the interval. Then I'd dutifully record each one in the notes, commenting on why this one was likely higher or that one was lower. I'd obsess over a shift outside the "normal" that couldn't be explained. Why wasn't I hitting the numbers?
Now I don't worry about it too much. If I am gasping and barely able to pedal after an interval, I call that "good enough". I play around with the timing, the ramp-up to the sprint, cadence... I'll jump far before the line and see how long I can go before I blow up. Comparing one sprint interval to the next when I'm constantly shifting the parameters is pointless, except in a general sense. In a dynamic sport like bike racing, all that matters is that you're the first one across the finish line.
I try to figure out where I might be stronger (nowhere) or weaker (everywhere) than the competition, then leverage that as best I can. I don't have a diesel like some of the TT monsters I race against, so going long is going to mean I will initially get a gap before I'm chased down and eventually dropped. I'm too fat to climb, so any excess power expended on anything more than a speed bump will likely result in quiet detonation. What I'm left with is waiting until the last couple hundred meters of a race and then spinning my chubby little legs as fast as they will go. On rare occasions, it actually works.
Of course, most races last more than a couple hundred meters. The race of attrition before that point is what gets me. I'll miss the break. I'll get gapped off the back. The big diesels will start turning the screws and I'll eventually crack. The featherweights will flit up the hills putting out half of the wattage I am. Mostly I'll get to "my time" in the race and be so gassed that I won't have the energy to get into the perfect position to avoid being last across the line. That's racing, and I suck at it.
So, "good enough" when it comes to sprint intervals usually means "ouch". If I've gotten to "ouch", no matter what the power meter says, that's what I had to throw at it. Some "ouches" are more efficient that others in certain situations, so it's good to have a whole bag of different "ouches" at your disposal. It all depends on how things play out near the end.
We'll see how my current theory of sprint training works as compared to my old, number-centric method. Something tells me it's going to hurt either way.


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