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What Does It Really Take (Part2)

Pinnacle Training Guides

In the previous blog  we identified what sort of power is needed to win on the highest level in this state. Now that we have recognized the benchmarks, let’s look the types of training and timing that went into getting these results. In doing so, I’m attempting to offer up tangibles that you can use to plan and analyze your own training/racing files.

In 2014, both athletes followed what’s called the periodized training model. To learn more about that approach, click here- For both, the early months were dedicated to base training. During this period, they both logged long steady miles in zones 2 and 3. In fact, 60-70% of their weekly ride time was done in zones 2 and zone 3. Staples within this phase included:

  1. Cadence drills- specific drills dedicated to increasing pedal efficiency, developing muscle endurance, and helping maximize and ultimately transition gym work that was completed prior to this phase of training.

  2. 1-2, 5-6 hour rides per each base phase.

  3. Controlled bouts of tempo in which the intervals were completed in a means to chart growth markers. Charting aerobic decoupling and EF (Efficiency Factor) during this phase of the training is a crucial. Without it there’s no plausible means of identifying if the training load and structure is working to the fullest extent.  To learn more about these metrics and their importance see-

Had the base not been established properly, the rest of process would have been limited with regards to the amount of volume and intensity they could have sustained. To simplify the analysis, we will label the riders as rider A and rider B. Rider A was the winner of the Rosewood Race and Rider B was the winner of Ice Cream Hill Road Race.

Base Phase Data points

 Rider A (2.22.14-6.01.14) Training volume and timing were delayed 8 weeks due to a lingering injury from cross racing.

  • During this period we saw his CTL rise from 47.1-94.1.

  • The gradual rise in fitness was accomplished by averaging  60-67 hours per month

  • Monthly TSS (Training Stress Score) was 1167-1192 while maintaining a weekly average IF (Intensity Factor) in the range of .63

Rider B (1.04-3.30)

  • During this 12 month phase this rider was able to raise his CTL from 75-112.

  • Monthly ride time was between 83-101 hours/ weekly average TSS 1000-1100/Average monthly TSS 3400-3800. This was accomplished by logging 25-30 hours per week.

Build Cycles (8-10 weeks) - The base portion makes the athlete fit, speed comes from the work done during the build cycles. This is always the most trying portion of one’s plan given the intensity of the workouts. Workouts during this phase of the plan must mirror the demands of events you are targeting.  Below are the key areas of concentration during this phase as they pertain to the two riders being analyzed.

  1. Increase the riders FTP (functional threshold power). A vital area of concern given one’s ceiling is indicative as to the level they can essentially compete at. A key energy range we targeted during this phase was the 88-93% of their FTP. Both athletes took well to sweet spot training given the intensity was such that it also allowed for large bouts of it while only requiring an incremental decrease in overall volume of riding.

  2. VO2 intervals- 3-5 minute intervals done in the 105-120% of FTP range.  This is vital given both athletes were targeting the elite nationals road race. The course was 80 miles in length with 7,100 feet of vertical gain. The course had a 5 minute climb each lap. In total they saw the climb 5 times before hitting the finishing climb. Proficiency within the 105-120% of FTP range was paramount given the manner in which the event has played out in previous years.

  3. Speed Work- Motor pacing in conjunction with B rate races to hone foot speed and timing. The importance here is two-fold. Stand-alone intervals work the energy range but rarely hold the athlete within the power/cadence quadrant specific to racing. This also helps to keep the rider sharp and helps us gauge how they are trending prior to targeted performances.  Training data is useful but dropping peak values during events in what its about.

Results- Rider A 8.31.14: On this day, the rider laid out his best ever values from 30 minutes all the way through 46 minutes- see image below which reflects the days power curve below.

When scrolling back from this day and looking at what transpired between 6.01.14 and the day of the event, the key takeaways are the following:

  • After one build cycle, the athlete retested his FTP and yielded personal best of 335 watts at 5.165 watts/kg.

  • He was fresh, motivated, and relatively sharp being he had 20 races in his legs prior to his solo victory. The bulk of his racing was geared towards the state road races, both of which he landed a spot on the podium. This is reflected by his CTL at 97.7 on 8.31.14 and a TSB of +9. The CTL and TSB balances are in line historically with the values needed to return strong power outputs for this rider.

  • An additional takeaway that can’t go without mention is the 10 day block of time from 8.01.14 to 8.10.14. During this period of training in California the rider logged over 30 hours of training and 1600+ TSS. Within this block, we saw sustained efforts of climbing at and above threshold. This work rose his CTL from 93-110 and truly served as a platform to deliver the results we saw thereafter.  A reference point we used was the Elite Nationals which is where he produced his best ever 5 minute value. At this point in time his CTL was 100 with a TSB was +11.  With this is mind, we knew once the fatigue was cleared and the speed work was rolled in it wouldn’t be long before we saw new personals bests. That said, we saw two more victories and a 2nd place finish in Boulder as we rode out the last bit of fitness for 2014.

Results- Rider B 10.05.14: Solo victory on one of the toughest courses in this state. When analyzing this rider’s growth, results, and the overall planning a few things need to be taken into account

  • As one of this states elite racer’s he was juggling a lot of travel with training and racing on a national level. In 2014, he competed in 55 events, 3 of which were national level stage races.  Without having the luxury of utilizing larger blocks of training, we leveraged the national level events to help grow his fitness.

  • Between the national calendar event,s his training consisted of 1-2 longer zone 2 rides per build, harder bouts of tempo riding  that were typically combined with SST intervals (88-93% of FTP) and strategically placed  Anaerobic Capacity (120-150% of FTP) and VO2 (106-120% of FTP) intervals. This blended approach was required to hold fitness, diversify his power profile, and keep him sharp a midst all the traveling. His fitness hovered around 110-118 CTL  for the season with his best values coming in the 101-105 range while his TSB was in the -10 to + 5 range.

  • During the run into to the 10.05.14 event, we had backed down the training and the primary focus was on clearing fatigue prior to his annual break period. On 10.05.14  the rider went on to lay down his best values for the calendar year from 30 minutes all the way through 2.5 hours. In fact, his peak 60 minutes on this day was at 274 watts and 4.951 watts/kg.

How to make this work for you

Take in the data points above and realize no two athletes are the same. On your end you need to establish hard data points such as:

  1. An accurate FTP- without it the values Training Peaks generates will be inaccurate and your tracking will not be such that you can gleam precise insight.

  2. Tangible weekly training hours, IF (Intensity Factor) and TSS (Training Stress) markers for different phases of your training. What ranges are ideal for you with your personal and professional obligations.

  3. Goals and a training plan. Write them down and follow plan. Upload your data and identify the trends by overlaying files.

  4. Track and record EF (efficiency factor) through various phases and ranges within your training to identify if what you are doing is actually working.

This annual diagnosis and the prior file review is being offered up to help you understand that these riders aren't 1%ers. They are racers that work hard, train with precision, and follow a plan. Take the above data points and tracking means and make them your own. If you want a second set of eyes on your data or can’t seem to grow your fitness, reach out to me I would be delighted to offer my thoughts. I can be reached at 845-629-8299 or .

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