Balance: An Introduction to Left/Right Power Data

Hunter explains the concepts, analysis, and benefits of data collected with a power meter that measures each leg's power output separately from total power.

Annual Periodized Planning, Part 2

It has been said that if you fail to plan, you may as well plan to fail. If you want to get the most out of your training program, you need a plan. Click to read more!

Periodizing Your Transition Period

The days are getting shorter, the big events have passed, and our attention is turning to preparation for next season. Tim explains how the proper design and execution of this off-season phase pays big dividends later.

Five Key Attributes of Winning Athletes

Winners think differently. They are constantly focused on moving forward, getting things done, taking action, and improving. Click through for more about why winners win!

Power Training Zones 101

Determining our power zones is one of the most basic elements of power training. Click through to read more about each zone and how they work together.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

10 Tips for Junior Racers

10 Tips for Junior Racers

By PCG Elite Coach Mark Orton

Racing as a junior can be very rewarding, but it can also be very stressful. Here are some quick tips that will help aspiring junior racers keep enjoying the sport, and keep from burning out. 

   Take school stress into account. Don't plan any big race events within a week on either side of finals, midterms, prom, homecoming, or anything else that may stress you out. Don't have a tough training week on any of those weeks either. If you can work it into your schedule, make those weeks your rest and recovery weeks. 

   Try all kinds of disciplines. Give cyclocross, track, trials, bmx, mountain bike, road, or gravel a try. Different disciplines allow different strengths to shine. I’ve seen racers struggle to be an XC racer, then transition to Enduro and Downhill and excel! You’ll never know if you missed your calling if you haven't tried them all.

   Have fun and don't take things too seriously. If you get too serious, and specialize in one thing too early, you will burn out. We ride bikes because it's fun, don't forget that! Even if you’re on a serious training plan with a dedicated coach, be sure to work social and fun rides into your plan. 

   Play other sports and do other activities at least up until mid-way through high school, if not through college. A well rounded athlete is more attractive to college programs, and has developed a better sense of themselves, resulting in higher overall confidence levels.

   Do well in school, take school seriously. Your biggest supporters are your parents, keep them happy and willing to support your sporting endeavors by keeping your grades up. Most of us won’t make a living on the bike, so keep your options open by keeping your grades up. Plus, cycling is expensive, so when you move out you’ll need a good job to pay for this sport!

   Work with a coach that has experience with juniors and knows the differences between training juniors and training adults. Junior racers are not just small adults. When interviewing prospective coaches, ask questions about their training plans, ensure that they know the differences between coaching masters athletes and junior athletes. 

   Junior females, learn about the female athlete triad. If you are a female racer, you need to know about this. A great place to start is If you are working with a coach, this is something you need to make sure they are aware of as well.

   Enjoy your success, and always strive to get better. Don't assume your success as a junior racer will automatically lead to success as you grow and progress. Differences in development create situations where there are imbalanced race fields. Junior racers each mature at different rates, so someone who may be underdeveloped this season, could have a growth spurt and be the most developed in the field next season.

   Work skills and the fundamentals more than you think you need to. Skills can keep you and other racers safe. Skills can keep you out of trouble. Skills will help you win. No matter the discipline you race, having well rounded skills can pay dividends and get you out of a tricky situation. It can mean the difference between touching wheels and riding away, and touching wheels and causing a pile up in the peleton.

   HAVE FUN!!! I can't say that enough, HAVE FUN!!!

Racing bikes is fun and rewarding. It will keep you in great shape, it teaches you lessons that you can apply to your everyday life, and it helps you develop into a responsible adult. However, if taken too seriously, too early, it can be a recipe for burn out. Using these tips will help you get the most out of your time on the bike, and add enjoyment to your training and racing.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Preparing for the Main Event

Preparing for the Main Event
By PCG Elite Coach Jordan Whiley

Whether it's a national or state championship race, a multi-day epic ride, a grand fondo, or your first century, preparing to peak for your “A race” is a multi-faceted process that can last from 6 months to several years. Here are a five tips that can help you achieve peak performance on that big day!

Know Your Enemy
When I use the word “enemy,” I don't mean just your competition. Your enemy is anything that is an obstacle to you achieving your best, so consider every potential enemy and learn what you can. Pre-ride the course, or at least examine the profile and/or learn about the course from someone who has ridden it. Where could the race be won or lost? What will it take to succeed? Consider the weather and temperature conditions for the event and how that may impact what you wear, eat, and drink. Finally, learn about yourself. Are you your own worst enemy? What choices or mindsets need to be addressed and changed so that you can be at your best?

Set Goals, Objectives, & Benchmarks
Once your obstacles have been identified, you can set up goals, objectives, and benchmarks. Your goals are the general things you want to achieve, but they should be specific and measurable. For example, you might have a goal to “improve watts per kilogram at FTP.” Objectives represent specific accomplishments that help you reach a goal, and typically have completion dates. Using a previous example, you might set up two objectives that help improve w/kg - “lose 5kg by May” and “increase FTP by 20 watts.” Finally, benchmarks are how you measure your progress with your objectives, e.g. weekly weigh-ins and periodic FTP testing.

Specify Your Training
Training plans are essentially the “lessons and activities” you will do to achieve the objectives you have set. Working backwards from your event, plan the training and recovery you will do based on the specific demands of the event. Keep in mind that training isn't just workouts – it includes all aspects of preparing for the event, like strengthening mental skills, managing nutrition, acclimatizing to heat/altitude, or practicing taking a bottle at 25 mph, to name just a few. A good coach or nutritionist can help immensely with this process, since there are so many aspects of preparation to consider.

Include “Fatigue Weeks”
A recent article in Velonews discussed the concept of getting in a fully fatiguing week of training as preparation for an event. This is nothing new - I recall Hunter telling me 10 years ago, when we first met at a PCG training camp, that I would be flying 4 weeks after the camp – and he was right! These “fatigue weeks” consist of about 6-9 days of heavy volume and/or intensity, with a total TSS that is around 120-150% of normal weekly training. I recommend two of these before the main event. The first is 8 weeks prior, consisting primarily of high volume tempo riding, followed by a recovery week and two normal training weeks. The second happens at 4 weeks to go, and includes both volume and intensity. This is followed by a normal training week, and then a 2-week taper.

Taper, Taper, Taper
Based on a review of the available research on tapering[1]1, a 2-week exponential taper has been shown to be the most effective for achieving peak performance. An exponential taper is a progressive decrease in training volume from 100% to 40% over the course of the 2 weeks. While volume is decreased, workout frequency and intensity are maintained. Managing the taper can be one of the most psychologically challenging aspects of your preparation, but it is also one of the most important! Avoid giving in to either the fear that you are de-training or the desire to ride harder or longer because you feel so fresh.

[1]     Bosquet, L., Montpetit, J., Arvisais, D., Mujika, I. Effects of tapering on performance: A meta-analysis. Med Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol 39, No. 8, pp. 1358-1365, 2007.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Crit Racing Tips 102 - Beyond the Basics

Crit Racing Tips 102 (Beyond the Basics)
By PCG Master Coach BJBasham

The Peaks Coaching Group are the leaders in training and racing with power, but even if you have tons of power, if you use it wastefully, you likely won’t get the results you hope for. When it comes to racing criteriums and circuit races, where you have to react quickly, and mistakes can mean the end of your day, being smart with where you use your matches can mean the difference between being in the race, and just fighting to survive.

I wanted to write an article about Criterium racing, and give some tips, but looking around, most of the tips like “get in a good warmup,” “line up early,” “stay up front,” etc. have pretty much been covered.

So I thought about the advice I give my riders beyond the basics

That’s a lot of sprints
Back in the 90s, I went to a race, and a friend of mine and I were sitting in the parking lot before the race. He gave me some great advice which now seems really logical and intuitive. In a race with 4 corners, and 20 laps, that can mean 80 sprints, not counting the sprint to the finish or primes etc.
That’s a lot of sprints.

I watch riders at every event stomping their way out of corners over and over again, until they just can’t do it anymore. But the most successful riders ride their bike like they would drive their car, shifting down going into turns, and then spinning up through the gears as the speed comes back up so they could save more of their matches for trying to win the race.  

The key to saving your matches in a race is to avoid the big peaks in power, and that includes not making huge acceleration out of the corners. Positioning plays a big part in this, but even if you are sitting right up in the top 10 all day, you can still be wasteful or inefficient with how you ride.  
This can take some thought and practice. Looking at the course before the race and even doing a couple of hot laps taking the turns at speed is a useful part of any warmup. But also doing workouts where you practice accelerating quickly on a lighter gear and working your way through the gears as your speed builds, can help you to know not just what it feels like, but might also might highlight parts of the equation such as leg speed, your gearing choices, or even how brake/shift levers are positioned, that might need to be improved or adjusted.

Race your strengths (if you are not a sprinter, don’t wait for the sprint)
Criteriums tend to be thought of as events tailor made for sprinters, but we have all seen crits won in other ways like a late race attack or even a jump from the gun. I once knew a rider who was not a good sprinter at all, but he got many of his upgrade points in criteriums. His trick was to lead out every finishing sprint so that he was at the front and the sprinters would have to get past him if they wanted to win. He knew that there was no way, with his power, he would be able to come around a good sprinter at full speed, but if he led out the sprint, he was likely to at least hold on to a top 10 spot at the finish if not actually win the race.

The point is that any rider can try to win a criterium with tactics that fit their specific strengths and weaknesses. A strong time trial rider might want to go for a long break away. An all-arounder might try to reduce the group that they have to fight it out with at the finish by launching attacks late in the race when the field starts to get tired. Even a strong sprinter might want to approach the finish of a specific race differently based on who they are racing against. Maybe a late attack in the final kilometer that catches faster sprinters off guard.

At your next crit, if you are not chomping at the bit for a bunch sprint, think about how you can go for the win in a way that suits you. If you are not a sprinter, don’t wait for the sprint.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How to come back from injuries as a Masters Athlete

How to come back from injuries as a Masters Athlete

By PCG Elite/Master Coach Gordon Paulson

In cycling, things can change suddenly.  A moment’s inattention, a touch of wheels, and the next thing you know, you’re heading for the ground, and unfortunately sometimes the ER.  It makes no difference whether you ride road bikes, mountain bikes, or a commuter bike.  Accidents aren’t limited to riders who do criteriums.  So far this summer, I’ve seen injury producing accidents in easy rides and hard racing, in road races, mountain bike races, time trials, criteriums, group rides for fun, challenge rides, training rides…and the list can go on and on.  Face it, injuries from accidents can happen to anyone who rides a bike.

“Coming back from injuries is part of being a bike racer, because no matter what level racer you are, you’re virtually guaranteed to get hurt at some point.” ~ Jim Rutberg, Guidelines for Returning to Training After an Injury (TrainingPeaks).
The bad news is that as a Masters athlete we are more likely to have an accident, and when accidents happen to us, more likely to get injured.  Statistically, older athletes are much more likely to injure themselves than younger athletes who are doing the same sport.  When injured, a Masters athlete is more likely to experience a longer recovery time.  “In general terms, a younger person will heal from injury more quickly than an older subject with a similar injury; the recovery rate is directly related to the speed with which the body can grow new cells to repair itself.  Various sports science studies have illustrated that an injured athlete of age 45 and over will recover at a rate of between 15% and 18% slower than a similarly injured 30-year-old person.” ~ Age-Related Response to Injury, (World of Sports Science)

Management and treatment of athletic injury must take the athlete’s age into account.  With odds like these, it’s best to plan ahead.  While training your bike skills to reduce the chance of an accident is essential, you should also prepare a plan in the event you unfortunately get injured from an accident.

Tip 1:  Even before an injury occurs, you can aid your recovery by accepting that injury is possible, and spending time reconciling yourself to this fact.  This frees you up to think through a healthy approach to recovery.

Tip 2:  Following an injury, begin your recovery as if you are lost in the woods.
Step 1: Stop and Think - Take Stock- Hold Your Horses - Settle Down!  Panic doesn’t help.  Don’t dwell on how this is messing up your plans to win the Wednesday Night World Championships.  Rushing in to “Recovery” will only lead to a longer recovery period or, worse yet, an exacerbation of the injury.

Step 2: Take an inventory.  Be honest.  What’s injured, and what’s not injured?  Accept that you will need to step back a bit from your preinjury physical performance capability, and accept that it’s not the ‘end of the world.’  There may be other things you can do that help your overall fitness and help keep you from sliding toward ‘detrained.’  For example, consider following through with that core strength routine that you never seem to have enough time for, or start that nutritionally healthy eating that you always meant to do.

Step 3: Gather information…  Get the facts.  For example, depending on location of fracture, severity of the break, and age and nutritional status, average healing time for bone fractures is 6-8 weeks.  Ligaments in the knee don't take that long to heal.  Minor damage will heal within 7 to 10 days.  More severe damage can take three weeks, and up to six weeks to be fully strong and completely back to normal.  Are there things you can do to maintain fitness using uninjured body parts, for example, swimming?

Step 4: Formulate a Plan.  Find care providers who work with athletes.  Ideally, find folks who share your passion for the sport.  They will appreciate that you place a priority on returning to your sport as quickly as possible.  Plan your recovery as carefully as you would plan training for your “A” Race.  This is where an experienced coach can really make a difference.  A coach may have seen many injuries among athletes, and may have even experienced some his or herself.  A coach’s ability to know what needs to be done, and how long recovery will take, can be reassuring and help you stay on track.

Step 5: Be Patient.  If you were lost in the wilderness, the best advice would be ‘stay put and wait for help to come.’ The post-injury parallel is give the healing process time to work its magic.  Be patient.  Healing takes time.  Time is the most important component of recovery.  Accept that and don’t expect to hurry the process.

Tip 3:  To overcome the likely mental challenges from an injury that disrupts training, focus on the positives.  Establish goals.  Set priorities.  Develop a realistic timeline.  Focus on intermediate goals for recovery.  Set yourself up for some early ‘wins.’  It helps to think about all the other athletes you know, or know of, who have had similar bad luck and have come back even stronger.

Tip 4:  Commit 100% to recovery.  Make recovery your ‘training plan.’  Get organized, follow the plan persistently and diligently.  Dedicate the same level of commitment to recovery that you brought to your performance training.

Tip 5:  Never Quit.  Avoid the ‘slippery slope’ of waiting to get better and, consequently, not taking a proactive role in your recovery.  Trying to force an early recovery can be a bad thing, but equally dangerous is becoming ‘resigned’ to your fate.  Believe in the plan, and have patience. Just as patience is a powerful resource as you train to improve, patience can be indispensable for a full and satisfactory recovery.

Injuries that prevent athletes from training and competing are an unfortunate part of the sport of cycling.  Experiencing an injury does not, however, signal the end of either.  An injury may delay some accomplishments, but they should only be a temporary inconvenience.  As the saying goes, ‘if it doesn’t kill you, it only makes you stronger.’  Get stronger.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

So You Are Fit, But Do You Know How to Win?

By PCG Elite/Master Coach Todd Scheske

Over the past 10 years, power meters have become much more prevalent, and during that time the analysis involved has become more refined and advanced as well.  It is common to hear even beginner riders talk of FTP and thinking in terms of watts for outputs.  These are certainly all great advancements, but there is something that I find missing in many riders’ pursuit of racing.

That is: how to actually win a race.

It is true that without the fitness portion you will have a harder time implementing any strategy or tactics, but strength, without good strategy or tactics, isn’t going to win you a race most of the time.  I know, personally, that I’ve won races against stronger competitors.  I have a saying that goes something like: “the strongest rider almost never wins, but the smartest rider almost always does.”  Being smart in a race is likely more important than what your FTP is, or your 5 sec power.

So what things should you be thinking about in terms of being a smarter rider?  First of all, STAY OUT OF THE WIND.  Sounds simple right?  Look around at how many riders will ride next to the group, or (try to) move up when it is single file into the wind.  Racing is about conserving energy until you need to unleash something, not dribbling out power sitting in the wind, accomplishing nothing.  Learn to flow with the pack.  I’ve seen race files of clients that did the same race as I did, and yet they had half the percentage of zero pedaling.  This is where you can also start to use the “power” of the analytics available as well.  Look at your road race files and see how much time you spend generating less than 5 watts.  If you have a low percentage of (near) zero pedaling, and you were not in a breakaway, then you may need to look at why and find ways to save energy.  Remember it is not a contest of who does the most KJ of work!

Secondly, ask yourself two fundamental questions: “What am I doing?” and “Why am I doing it?”  This will help you with the first point above and also help you start to correct for mistakes on the road.  I hear often from athletes, “I just found myself….”  Don’t just let things happen to you.  Own what you do.  If you find yourself, say, sitting on the front, ask the questions:  Q: What am I doing?  A: Sitting on the front.  Q: Why am I doing that?  If you aren’t setting up a teammate or helping chase something, etc., then stop it.  Even if you are chasing something, ask the same questions!

Third, respect everyone and fear no one.  If you ride with respect, you mitigate the tendency to ride dumb.  Kind of like the proverb that says, “Pride cometh before a fall.”  I’ve seen strong riders sit on the front, pulling people, because they think they are “hurting them”.  Most likely, the reality is you aren’t.  So respect that they are fit and strong, and don’t just pull people, or don’t lead out a headwind sprint from 500 meters, and then expect to win.  When you respect other people’s ability, you recognize that you cannot be foolish in the race and waste energy.  Along the same lines though, don’t fear anyone.  Don’t negate your chances by thinking that you aren’t good enough.  You are lining up to race, so you deserve to be there.  Ride like it!  Confidence and respect set the stage to make good tactical decisions and plan solid strategies.  

So yes, use the power meter and be strong, fit and fast.  However, make sure you are a smart rider too, so that those tools are put to good use.  Use those tools to be even smarter by knowing yourself even better.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Recovery is Training Too

By David Ertl, PCG Elite Coach

The 2016 training and racing season is cranking up, and so is your training.  You are accumulating miles, hours in the saddle, and loads of training stress score (TSS) numbers.
Your fitness is increasing, and you are getting stronger and faster.  You are also getting more fatigued.

As a coach, I rarely have to encourage athletes to get on their bike and ride.  Most athletes who are motivated to seek out and pay for a coach are also motivated to train hard.  More often than not, I have to encourage the athlete to train a little less and spend more time recovering.  It’s true, the more and harder one rides, the stronger they will get, but only up to a point.  If they don’t allow their body to recover, their hard work won’t get translated into increased fitness.  In fact, it will work against them, and drive them into sustained fatigue, which can lead to over-training if not addressed.

I like to remind people that riding, what people consider training, actually breaks the body down.  It creates injuries to the muscles that must heal.  It’s the rest and recovery that allows this damage to heal.  In the process, the healing results in increased fitness.  Shortchanging the recovery process shortchanges your training.  You need to balance the riding with the resting.  In this regard, resting and recovery is an important component of training, as much as the working out.  It will serve you well to remember that recovery is as important as riding for increased fitness, and is indeed part of training, as are proper attention to nutrition and hydration.  Focusing only on riding will not address all aspects of fitness and training. 

The training stress balance metric (TSB) is a way to monitor your fatigue and need for rest when training with power.  As you workout longer and harder, your TSS will increase and your TSB will decrease.  The lower the TSB value, the more accumulated fatigue you have.  In order to get stronger and fitter, you must sustain fatigue and drive TSB into negative territory.  But you can’t keep it there indefinitely as you pile on the miles.  You need to ‘come up for air’ periodically and allow yourself to recover and get your TSB back above zero.  Experiment with your own ability to tolerate fatigue by watching your TSB and discovering the point where you need to rest and recover before piling on more stress.

So as you attack this training and racing season, remember that recovery is just as important as training, and in fact is an equal part of training.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

5 Training Secrets - David Ertl

by Coach David Ertl

I am going to let you in on a little secret.  My secrets of coaching.  Shhh.  Don’t tell anyone. But here they are.
1. Ride consistently.  There is no better way to get better riding a bike than to ride frequently. Every day is great if you can manage it, but 4 days a week is better than 3, which is better than 2.  The idea is to get your body used to riding and by doing it almost every day, your body will respond and reward you by feeling stronger and more comfortable on the bike.  Even if all you can manage is 15 minutes, that is better than an hour on the couch. Get out there and do it.
2. Ride far. Cycling is an aerobic and endurance activity.  To get fit for cycling you first and foremost have to have aerobic, or cardiovascular, fitness so that you can pump blood to your lungs and working muscles efficiently.  The best and first way you should do that is by getting out and riding, lots. It doesn’t have to be fast. Time in the saddle and distance are the most important metrics here. Especially for a ride like RAGBRAI, the ability to ride for a long time is preeminent.
3. Ride fast. Intervals aren’t just for racers anymore. If you want to ride faster, you need to ride faster than you normally ride.  Makes sense, right?  But like eating right, it’s harder to do than say. Riding fast is hard, and uncomfortable and some people don’t think it’s very fun.  So you have a choice. Be happy riding the pace you ride now, which is perfectly acceptable for RAGBRAI as long as you are able to ride 10 mph or so. But, if you would like to be faster, then build some speed work into your training.  This can be done in a number of ways but here are a couple.  From time to time on rides, just increase the pace by 2-3 mph and hold that for 30 seconds or a minute and then go back to your normal cruising speed.  You can do these at regular intervals (hence the name ‘intervals’) or just stick them in randomly during a ride.  Or you can find a house with a mean dog that chases you and ride by it several times.
4. Rest is training too. Many people I coach think that they have to keep doing more, more, more, when in fact what they might need most is doing less. If you do 1-3 above and do them a lot, you may be reaching a point where you are doing a lot of training (damage to your muscles) without giving them enough time to heal.  Remember an important rule of training:  Training breaks your body down, recovery is what makes it stronger.  If you feel tired or your muscles are sore the day after a hard ride, take it easy or take the day completely off (couch, anyone?).  As long as you are putting the training in, it’s okay to be lazy the rest of the time. You can tell your spouse I said so.
5. Cycling is a great exercise, but not perfect. Sorry to tell you, but if you want to have well-rounded fitness, you should add in some other exercises into your exercise program.  Consider some weight training to build muscles other than your legs.  Make sure you are working your core muscles – no sit-ups but things like planks and Pilates are great. Do some cross training like running, hiking, rowing to work your muscles differently and to work different muscles.  It’s also good for your mental health to add variety to your routine.  Running away from the refrigerator before bed is another good exercise.
6. Okay, I lied, I just thought of another one.  Eating is fueling.  Eating isn’t just for recreation anymore (really!). Your body needs energy from food to move. When exercising the body burns fat and carbohydrate (sugar, starch).  The harder you ride, the more carbohydrate you need.  Therefore to have energy for a good ride, be sure to include good quality carbohydrates in your diet, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.  You don’t need to increase the amount of fat you eat, even though you are burning fat while you ride.  I’ve heard that the average human has enough stored body fat to ride from New York to Utah.  That’s farther than RAGBRAI by the way.  You should also get in adequate but not excessive protein.  Lean meats, fish, non-fat dairy, beans, nuts are all good choices.
There you have it, (almost) all you need to know about training.
David Ertl is a USA Cycling Level 1 Coach. He coaches the Des Moines Cycle Club Race Team, JDRF Ride To Cure Diabetes and individual cyclists through the Peaks Coaching Group. He also provides cycling training plans and ebooks at his website: . He can be contacted at

Virginia's Ben King Wins Tour Of California Stage Two

Stage 2 Tour of California Race File analysis!
By Hunter Allen

Virginia boy shows good…..AGAIN!

Ben King won stage 2 of the Tour of California in great style.  Ben is known for success in his long breakaways, as he won his first big race, the Pro National Championships in a long break and just recently this past fall, he was in a 90 mile breakaway at the World Championships in Richmond, Va.  True to his successful pattern, Ben was aggressive on the first climb of the day, where his best 20 minutes of the race occurred at 411 watts up the initial climb to Angeles Crest Highway. He and Evan Huff battled for both KOM’s with Ben getting second on each, however their aggressiveness in going for the KOM points is what created the separation for the breakaway.  At the very top KOM, Ben sprinted with some of the biggest watts I have seen him ever do, averaging 1182W for 13 seconds, and a max of 1408W!

For the next two hours, Ben was in the breakaway with three companions and Ben averaged 330W normalized power for the entire time, so needless to say, he was working hard in the break!  The break gained over 7 minutes at one point and they needed every bit of that gap in order to make it to the finish.  There were two additional Sprint points and two more KOM’s in the stage as well, and Ben won both of the sprint points, while Evan took the KOM’s.  Normally, you would expect the riders in the race to pedal only about 85% of the time, spending the remaining 15% coasting and resting for the finish, however Ben only spent 9 minutes NOT pedaling in the 2 hour and 5 minute breakaway or .07% of the time!  Clearly he was doing his share of the load.

In the finish, Ben and Evan were able to drop the other two companions and that was largely because they both drilled it hard over the remaining hill, averaging 444W for over 3 minutes.  This really put the hurt on his breakaway companions.   In the final sprint, it was just Evan and Ben battling it out for the win and Ben was able to rest his legs averaging only 136W for 46 seconds, before the final sprint of 16 seconds where he killed it with a max power of 1302watts and averaging 1152W for the win!

Many thanks to Ben King for sharing his file!!  Way to go Ben!!

Image Credit: Cycling News - Read More about Ben King

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Chris Myers - Pre-season Testing and Training

Chris Myers, Coach, Peaks Coaching Group; USAC Level 2 Coach; Sports Nutritionist; CISSN
Chris joined the cycling team at the United States Military Academy as a sophomore in 2002. He started as a men’s Croad racer, and by his senior year in 2004, he became a men’s Aroad racer and team cocaptain. Upon graduation and two deployments to Iraq, Chris began racing on the military and German professional road and mountain bike circuits with many podium finishes. 

Chris is a doctoral candidate in exercise physiology at Florida State University and is a researcher at the Navy Experimental Dive Unit in Panama City Beach, FL.

training is not all about numbers. They are a good indicator of your training performance, but you must look at every other aspect of your program, including your schedules, stress, nutrition, sleep, and most importantly, family. A good coach recognizes this and helps you balance all these factors. I learned these lessons the hard way. I want to pass on my knowledge of training, racing tactics, preparation, and all other aspects of being a holistic athlete in order to assist you in reaching your goals and getting to the next level. Your training program is yours; it is not mine. I firmly believe I am simply a tool to help you improve and achieve your objectives. I will listen and work hard to assist you to achieve your goals.

PC: Talk about your definition of the preseason

CM: It is the training period before competition. More cyclists have an “event," an “A” race that they want to peak for. It could be the national/state road race, a sportif, or competitive club even; part of it depends on when they occur during the year and how many events they want to do within their "competition” season. Preseason is also when some base training would normally occur from November or December through March or April, depending on where you live. But this is driven by when the peak event occurs. I have clients in the Middle East where it is so hot in the summer, that the period between May and July is their preseason.

PC: Let's assume there is a recovery period right after the season. The
next step is base training to higher intensity. How does all that work?

CM: It all depends on duration and intensity, but there are two approaches to base training. The old school of thought is that you do a low, slow distance and keep it at moderate intensity. I am a proponent of the new way of thinking, which we use at Peaks Coaching. It is often refered to as "sweet spot base." The athlete does 20% high intensity and 80% sub-thresholdtype/ endurance training. The time duration is not as long as the old school thought. However, you increase the intensity a little bit while still working in the upper aerobic intensities. This method works well with those who have time constraints and do not have the ability to ride 20 hours a week. A lot of research produced by Dr. Andrew Coggan has substantiated the validity of this type of training. If you have the time, we have a period called “pre-competition,” where you still play on the two variables of duration and intensity. You do more work at threshold with high intensity and maybe some moderate Zone 6 work. As you move from base to pre-competition if you do the periodization correctly—the intensity increases and the duration shortens a bit. This is the period you can start to focus on higher intensity areas such as supra-threshold efforts and speed. Yet, the typical main focus is usually threshold and some Zone 5/VOMax work. Remember, the client’s strengths, weaknesses, limiters, and goals determine the focus. I tend to make client’s limiters the primary focus followed by a secondary focus that will drive training towards the client’s goal. For example, I may have great sprint abilities with a high 10 second output, but my 20 minute output is not so good. The goal is to do well in a road race, so I must work on my 20 minute power output to increase my time at threshold. Knowing your client’s strengths, limitations, and weakness helps the coach to determine the type of work that needs to be performed during the competition build and this is why it is so important to know your client.

PC: Are there tests you do to measure these parameters?

CM: Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” The same holds true with data. In the context, we are talking about power. One still needs to consider heart rate, but it is a little different. Hopefully you have some past power data on the client to create a profile to analyze. You can build the power profile, but you also need to test it. I start from ground zero with testing. Most coaches(including me) have a systematic approach. I test 4 areas that can be broken down to aerobic and anaerobic realms. Anaerobically, we test the 10 second and 1 minute power with a couple of sprint protocols. On the aerobic side, we do the 5 minute and 20 minute power. The 20 minute power is especially important because it measures FTP, which determines the 6 different training zones that we use to design a program. Andy Coggan’s research reinforces the 20 minute test as being the most valid. Take the normalized power, multiply by 95% to get FTP, and from there we calculate the 6 different training zones. The entire test is 70 minutes in length with warm-up and recovery. The warm-up consists of 20 minutes with some spin efforts. The first portion is the 1 minute test. This can be done on a trainer or a flat piece of road with a 13% gradient. From a rolling start, they go as hard as they can for 1 minute, recover for 510 minutes, and do it again. They recover for 1015 minutes and then go into the 10 second sprint efforts. This can also be done on a trainer or the flat surface that the 1 minute test was done on. They do 3 x 10 second sprint efforts. They go hard for 10 seconds, relax, recover to around Zone 2 for 4 minutes and repeat twice again. The aerobic 5 and 20 minute tests are done at a different training session. We start with a 20 minute warm-up And do the 5 minute test to determine VO2 max. Recover for 10-15 minutes then go into the 20 minute test. In exercise physiology, you do the all out efforts first. You can do it in more than 2 sessions for the new athlete, but we try to get it done in two. We then retest after a training block as part of a periodization model.

PC: How do you consider the 5minute test a VO2 test?

CM: This test equates to the Zone 5 power in the short term. There is a correlation of doing these efforts in a lab setting. An athlete’s VOMax can only be truly test in a lab setting with a metabolic cart.

PC: What do you consider to be a successful preseason when?

CM: This is a subjective question; look at performance measures. In the annual training plan, work backwards from the “A” race to establish performance marks. For example, you set a goal of increasing your FTP by 2% or being able to hold and SST interval for 30 min. Another goal could be an increase of 35% in FTP by the end of the first competition build or holding FTP intervals for upwards to 20 minutes. During the preseason/base training , we know we are increasing the aerobic capacity, but we are also working on muscular endurance with the sub-threshold efforts. I consider a successful preseason/base training to be success if the client can hold a 2x20 min SST effort by the end of the base training block. However, it is not uncommon to see slight increases in FTP (such as a 12% increase in FTP) during the base training block. Another thing to examine is how the athlete performs in group rides or competitive settings. Do they hang on or excel? Its not all about the numbers; performance is the best measure of success I want to emphasize that every coach has their own approach. Most of us follow the same periodized theory, but there are different ways to train. I may work traditionally with one athlete, but train another a completely different manner. Sometimes you take an “outside-the-box” approach, so testing and knowing the client is crucial.

More info about Chris Myers click here

Article Re-posted with Permission

Original found in the Performance Cycling Conditioning Newsletter Volume 21 Number 3

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sync TrainingPeaks to Garmin Connect

Tired of syncing your workouts into multiple sites post workout?

Linking your Strava account to Garmin connect can take one step out of you post-workout activity.

Take it one step further and link your TrainingPeaks account to your Garmin connect account for painless activity uploads and syncing. 

Click Here to read a step by step guide