My second workout of the day was a 1 hour 20 minute bike also with a MAF emphasis. What I am noticing is how my cycling is speeding up and my technique is becoming more and more effortless.
This brings up the reason I've focused so heavily on training slowly and deliberately this year. While I was on the bike today I watched a guy fly by me in aero position pushing a much bigger gear than I was using but when the road started to incline, he stopped pulling away and I pulled closer. I experience this a lot. My effort never changes, my heart rate stays steady and yet I gain ground on people who fly by me otherwise. I have noticed I also can gain ground or pull closer in a headwind.
The thing is most training programs focus a great deal of time and energy directing athletes on ways to increase and maintain effort. And I don't deny there is a place for this in training. What I don't understand is why in most cases it precedes developing efficiency - both muscular and aerobic. And this is what I was seeing as I rode uphill into the wind and gained on my timetrialing friend.
A funny thing happens when you ride and run slow. If you can get past how slowly you are moving, you can notice just what is necessary to move you as quickly as possible, what muscles are needed to contract and which ones you must relax. You learn how to use free momentum. You learn how to just feel speed and separate it from effort. And in the world of triathlon, this is a good thing.