Thursday, July 30, 2009

Timex Ironman Race Trainer Kit

Most of the athletes I coach train and race with a Power Meter. For those that don't have a Power Meter- I coach by Heart Rate. Although as not as good a tool as a Power Meter, a Heart Rate Monitor is nonetheless a good tool, and DEFINITELY better than training by Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). In fact, if any athletes are still training by RPE..they're not training SMART. And, I will NOT coach anyone by RPE. I just don't believe in it.

I'm often asked which HR monitor is a good one to buy..and often my reply is "doesn't really matter" since most HR montitors pretty much offer the same features for the same price. That is- up until now. Timex just introduced a HR monitor with a USB data exchanger that allows you to upload your workouts into the FREE Training Peaks software which will allow you to log your workouts. More importantly, it will allow your coach to monitor your workouts and chart your Training Stress. Additionally, it will help your coach monitor your prescribed interval workouts- without being see that they're being performed correctly. This HR Monitor is called the "Timex Ironman Race Trainer Kit". It retails for $200 and comes in two sizes- large and medium. Just make sure you get the kit that includes the USB data exchanger. And, the software works on both PC and Mac.

Before you buy/use the HR monitor you want to get performance tested using either a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) Test or a Maximal Aerobic Power (MAP) Test protocol. These tests are performed on the athletes own bike utilizing a cycling ergometer/power meter such as Racermate's Computrainer or Cycleops Power Beam Pro. An FTP test is nothing more than a 20 min. Time Trial which estimates your Lactate Threshold Power and LT Heart Rate. The MAP test is a ramp-up test where wattage is increased every minute until the athlete can no longer sustain the given wattage. The MAP test will estimate Lactate Threshold Power/Heart Rate as well as maximum Heart Rate. Regardless of which test you choose, each will provide data to establish your Heart Rate Training Zones. (BTW, I perform these tests w/ Todd Wiley Sports for $80) In addition to providing HR Training Zones, these tests give me (the coach) good baseline performance data on each athlete.

So, now what? You bought your Timex HR monitor and you've been tested. The next thing you need to do is to determine your goals/objectives. From there, your coach (if you have one) will be able to put you on an Annual Training Plan (ATP) to help you meet your goals/objectives.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cycle Sports Doylestown Race- Sunday Aug 2nd

I rode the course this morning and thought I'd pass on some info to those of you who may not be able to get out and ride the course or have never been here before.

The course is a 2.8 mile loop through a residential area. The yellow line rule is in effect..except for the final sprint (usually 200m out). Obviously for roads with no yellow line (there are some on this course) it's harder to enforce. You still have to stay to the right hand side of the road. It's hard for officials to enforce the "yellow line rule" when entering and exit turns, especially for roads that don't have yellow lines..because a rider can always maintain that they were forced into/onto the line by other riders. ALWAYS stay to the right hand side for SAFETY reasons...but be careful of storm sewer drains/grates. I whacked one last week during a race so hard I thought I broke my frame...let alone wheel.
There are 2 hills approximately 1/4 mile long with a 6% avg. grade each. The first hill is within the first 1/2 mile of the course. In order to maintain 20 mph up the hill I averaged 414w for 45 sec. The 2nd hill is about 1/2 mile from the finish line. The second hill I averaged 330w for 50 sec. to maintain 20 mph. The reason I didn't expend as much energy on the 2nd hill is because I had a max speed of 34 mph going into it- from the downhill that preceded it. I averaged 21 mph for the entire loop. I'm guessing the average speed for the race will be 24-25 mph.

So, wanna good interval workout this week, to prepare for the race and to simulate actual race conditions? Here it is. You want to do 9 intervals (simulating 9 laps of the race for 25 miles) of the following: 1 min. at L4, 1 min. at L5/L6, 5 min. at L3, 1 min. at L5/L6 and 1 min. at L4.

Good luck..and hope to see you at the race. I'll have a tent/canopy setup at 7:30 a.m. on top of the hill adjacent to the start line. Stop by and say hi. Coach Rob

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Climbing tactics for non-climbers

I'm often asked by athletes how they can become better climbers. There are many ways/tactics to become BETTER at climbing hills (and I'll mention them in a bit) but the BEST way (or tactic) to become a better climber is to improve your power-to-weight ratio. That is your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) in watts divided by your weight in kg. Just to give you an idea of some of the Power to Weight ratios out there, I've listed the w/kg from Professional riders down to recreational riders. They are as follows: World Class Professional- 6.5 w/kg, Domestic Pro- 6 w/kg, Cat 1- 5.3 w/kg, Cat 2- 4.7 w/kg, Cat 3- 4 w/kg, Cat 4- 3.5 w/kg, Cat 5- 3 w/kg, recreational rider- <3 w/kg.

To determine what your power-to-weight ratio is you first need to know what your FTP is. Then, you need to know what your weight is in kg. To find that, just divide your weight in lbs. by 2.2. Here's an example: Know FTP= 270w, Weight= 171 lbs. Therefore, w/kg= 270/171/2.2= 3.5 w/kg which would be Cat 4 power. (BTW, these are my numbers and right where I'm racing- Cat 4.)

Ok, now how do you increase your w/kg? There are two ways (actually 3), they are: a) increase your FTP b) decrease your weight or c) both a. and b. I don't know if there is much written about what is a BETTER/FASTER/EASIER way to increase w/kg but I can tell you from personal experience the BETTER/FASTER/EASIER way is to lose weight. You can do all the hill repeats, threshold and VO2 max interval workouts you want to increase muscular power/strength but it's not going to make you a better climber faster/easier than losing weight. Since starting cycling seriously in 2003 I've lost a total 54 lbs. That's right OVER 50 lbs. I'm not sure what my FTP was back then but I'm guessing it wasn't much more than what it is currently. So, don't listen to anyone that will tell you that you'll lose power if you lose weight. Yes, if you're an elite athlete that may be true. But, how many elite athletes do you know that are overweight? So, drop that twinkie right now...drink one less beer when you go out to eat/drink or pass on that ice cream cone for water ice..or whatever...and start watching what you put in your mouth NOW. If you truly want to be a better climber you MUST be lean.

Here are some other tactics that will help you become a better climber: a) Pace yourself- if you know the hill you're climbing is going to take 5 minutes...ride at your VO2max pace, if the hill is longer..close to 20 minutes..ride it at your Threshold pace. Do NOT go too hard and end up blowing-up on the hill. I see this ALL THE TIME on group rides I go on b) Gearing- make sure the gearing on your bike is suited to your self-selected cadence and the hills you normally climb. If you think that you're pedaling too hard, change your cassette or maybe even switch to a Compact Crank. BTW, I ride with a Compact Crank and I LOVE IT! c) Drift- start the climb at the front of the group and slowly drift to the back. You can conserve a lot of energy this way. d) Stay seated- staying seated conserves more energy. Sure it's ok to get out of the saddle from time to time to stretch the legs and clear some lactic acid. e) Be a good follower- set your sights on someone in the group that you can follow..perhaps someone you know that went out too hard that you can reel in. It's fun to pass someone that went out too hard/fast on a hill..because they are SUFFERING big time...and you know they hate watching you blow by them. At least I think it's fun to pass them. It's not my fault they went out too hard/fast. It just shows their inexperience in my opinion.

So, drop that twinkie or dump that beer...get out on your bike and ride so you lose weight and when you climb that hill..climb smart by pacing properly! Power On!!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Interval Training

Why is interval training so important? Specifically Threshold and VO2max intervals. Well, that's because these intervals usually replicate (or should) your race day requirements/performance/conditions. Attached is my power profile from todays Criterium in Allentown, PA, a 25 lap (.85 mi/lap), with accelerations lasting approximately 1 minute followed by a bit of a rest of 1 minute. You can see when I was ON, the power requirements averaged approximately 250 watts and when I wasn't I was usually pedalling/pushing about 175 watts which is basically a warmup power. My Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is 270 watts so I was pretty close to Threshold Power...which coincides with my Threshold Heart Rate of 174 bpm.

If you're racing (particularly Criteriums) you should be fitting these types of intervals into your training plan at least once a week. That is, in addition to racing. You can either do 1 min. ON at L4 and 1 min. OFF at L2 for 50-60 minutes, or do 1 min. ON at L5 and 1 min. OFF at L2 for 25 minutes..if you're short on time or just want a good VO2max workout.

The idea is to replicate RACE DAY during your training.

BTW, I sat-in for this entire Criterium...finishing mid-pack. I tried to improve my position on the last lap but couldn't because the pace was too quick. (see graph)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bradley Wiggins 3rd place Time Trial Power

Check this out for a 20 min Time Trial (FTP) at the Tour de France. Bradley used his Power Meter to help him pace his effort for a third place finish averaging 446 watts for 20 minutes.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Peak Twice

I just got done reading an article in August's copy of Bicycling magazine. The article supports my previous blog (Half Time Break) regarding the importance of taking a recovery week mid-season. Jason Tullous, Carmichael Training Systems, says (on page 68, of the article PEAK TWICE) "If you rest now, you'll allow your body to adapt to the training stress you've put it through so far. The key is rest and avoiding high mileage. If you've been riding all spring/summer, you need shorter, more focused rides, not more miles. The payoff is a stronger, longer season".

During this time of the season I prescribe at least one Anaerobic Capacity (L6), VO2max (L5) and one Lactate Threshold (L4) workout a week. The rest of the workouts are group fun/social rides where the pace is more Tempo oriented. If you're NOT an Ironman Triathlete, I'd keep these fun rides under 2.5 hrs. There is no need to go any further/longer than that. If you do, you're just going to beat yourself up...leaving you open to injury or burnout!