Last year I started training moderately seriously and I improved my FTP from a very sad 130w to a somewhat sad 180w. Now, I had to take some time off the bike(moving cross country twice, new jobs, school, etc) and I tested my FTP last night and it dropped to 150w. I really would like to join the "200w Club" this year.
What do I need to do? Should I just do straight SST training with some VO2 intervals thrown in or what?
I don't have a coach yet, but plan on dropping the cash in a few months for one, need to pay of some debts from moving first. So I need some BF advice in the meantime.
My goal is to be a solid Cat4 racer by the middle of the summer, both in wattage and "racing skill".
Something just doesn't sound right. What PM do you use and when was the last time you calibrated it? How do you test FTP? How do you do on fast group rides? What strengths do you have (e.g., killer sprinter or 1' power)? Last, what's your athletic background?
When I first started to race back in '90 I had been on the couch for many years (playing ice hockey 1-2xs/wk) and it took me almost 2 years to get fit. My learning curve was STEEP. But after 2 years of training long and hard (probably over-training) I started to see results.
If you come from an athletic background (running, swimming, etc) and your FTP is really low after a year of sustained, dedicated training, something is wrong. In your case a coach might be the right way to go in the short term to get a reasonable evaluation of your current abilities, prospects, and to get some insight into a training regimen that might help you reach your goals.
Just thinking out loud here on what might help you. One big "aha" for when I started to train w power (summer of '06) was the composition of my training. In years past I did lots of group rides that work 30" and 1' power, but rarely work FTP unless you are the one doing the pulling. When I did structured intervals they were high intensity, short duration (which was my strength). I rarely did the kind of workouts that build FTP.
When I got back into the sport (after 7 years off) in '06 I really focused on building FTP. I went from a relatively untrained state (golf is hardly aerobic) and an FTP of 240 to roughly 290 this year. That said I was pretty disciplined, putting in 600+ hours, 10k miles, avoiding group rides, doing lots of SST and TH work, and using the Perf Mgr in WKO+ to manage training load/balance fitness and freshness.
If you look at the composition of your training over the past year were you doing lots of FTP building work?
Here's an example of plan that was surfaced by one of the FTP-building power gurus that would certainly build your FTP (based on the Coggan schema)...
M: 1 h at upper level 3/low level 4
T: 1 h w/ 2 x 20 min at 100% FTP
W: same as M
Th: same as T
F: same as M
S and S: 1-2 h at level 3
If you did that for 6 weeks I'm sure you'd see adaptation and would be able to raise your FTP. It's a pretty tough regimen though.
At 135 lbs if you wanted to get to a respectable level of fitness (where no one could call you slow), say 3.8 w/kg, you'd need to be able to put out 230 or so watts at FTP.
If you were able to get to an FTP of 180w wt. focusing on building FTP (doing mostly L2/3 stuff) , and you are just starting out (my interpretation based on the info you've provided), you should be able to get there in time.
You can go the coach route or adopt/adapt a program like the one above, or buy one that will build power across the power spectrum like the ones that Hunter Allen sells.
I've used all three approaches over the past couple of years and all work well. Using a coach (if you find a good one) will accelerate the learning process. I see you're in Colorado but if I were seeking out a coach here's one guy I would hire, although he's based in California. He's made the journey you are on and really understands how to train with power and build FTP. I know of him from reading his posts on the various power forums.
I'm a smiliar boat as LT, it's taken me a few years of fairly unstructured training to get to a "pretty good" but not great state, and now I'm just starting with power and making great gains in both FTP and shorter term power. He can vouch for that