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.

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 



Monday, March 28, 2016

Traveling With Your Bike - Options

You have this epic vacation planned. A place that will have world class rides and you have the time to ride. But how do you get your bike along safely?

We had some questions come in on this topic and we asked our coaches what they use. 


Here are the results:


Coach Len Pettyjohn:

I’ve easily used more than a dozen different bike carriers over the years with teams as well as solo trips. A few years ago I purchased the Bike Box Alan and now have the most versatile and secure carrier ever. A lot of thought went into the design and Alan took all the best features from the options out there and built them into his box. It’s only available online from the UK, but fortunately the dollar is strong so it’s a relatively good value.

Here are a couple of links, one of which rates it as a 10 (pretty much what you will find from all the reviewers.


Coach Julie McKenzie: 
Concur; especially with TSA not understanding how to repack a case, bikeboxalan has been awesome. There maybe be trouble with the clamshell shutting perfectly to re-clasp; per Bike Box Alan, ensure you store the case properly clasped to encourage the mold and works well!

Coach Todd Scheske: 
Gavilan BFF. No airline charge. Great bag. 
I've used it at least 6 times last year and never paid a bike free. Easy to use too!


Hunter Allen says:
“SCION” all the way.  All you have to remove are the wheels and pedals.
This soft case has traveled with him around the world.  Use extra packing materials just to be safe.


Happy and safe travels

Thursday, March 24, 2016

PCG Coach James Schaefer Reviews ErgVideo

So are you suffering from the trainer blues? No motivation to once again climb aboard and watch a stale video of other guys ride in the warm weather? Yup, that's me too!  Until a month ago I was riding a fluid trainer and watching old Tour of Battenkill videos. That has all changed!! Three months ago I made the best winter investment I could have, next to a snow blower… I got a CompuTrainer. What a great way to ride indoors. Until last week I thought indoor training couldn’t get any better, then I got a set of 3 ErgVideos, and that changed everything about indoor trainer riding… TrainerTainment! (Thanks to Tim Cusick for the new expression).



My first ride up L'Alpe d'Huez – yup, an hour and a half of climbing with a couple of pros. 

What makes this so different from any other trainer ride I have ever done is the "ERG" in the ErgVideo. When you start an ErgVideo you input your FTP into the program and your computer and CompuTrainer do the rest. You don't change gears, you ride at the same percentage of FTP as the guys on the screen. So if their FTP is 350 and yours is 250 the program creates enough resistance for you to ride at 250watts. At first this just didn't sound right… how do you change your cadence to pedal slower if you want to stand up… we are not changing gears, right? You just slow your cadence and the resistance is adjusted and you are still generating 250 watts. Yes, it’s that easy, and it feels as close to riding on the road as I have ever done on a trainer. The scenery is spectacular. You see every landmark that you see on the Tour. About 15 minutes from the end you climb into the clouds and just as you enter the Village of Huez the sun comes back out… just like in the Tour.

The next day I tried a different ErgVideo, microbursts and a tempo ride. I thought, "How is this going to work?" Climbing is one thing, but a workout on rolling terrain that has three by ten minute efforts that are 30-seconds at VOand 20-seconds at endurance, then a 30-minute tempo ride in a rotating paceline? Yes,this workout christened the pain cave - it is a hard workout. Remember,changing gears does nothing. The program sets the power output you need to produce. If you miss the beginning of the 30-second VO2 effort you really struggle to get the cadence back up before the end of 30 seconds. Well, there is a way to give yourself a little relief from these really hard efforts. You have the ability to adjust your FTP with the CompuTrainer handlebar controller. That is what I had to do near the end of this sufferfest.


This is my ride data for the microbursts and tempo. Check out the last 30 minutes at tempo.  The ErgVideo recreates a rotating paceline and the undulating terrain of Bedford, Virginia. You feel every pull you take and every change of road grade.  


Last but not least was the two by 20 minute under/over. This has a nice set of fast pedaling at the end to work on your efficiency. After the first two days of riding I was really intrigued as to how the fast pedal section was going to work. This is another really cool feature of this set-up. The power is kept low so you can really spin up. You see the guys in the video accelerate and there is just enough resistance so your knees don't hit you in the head at 180 RPMs.

You can get all these videos at http://ergvideo.com/, the Hunter Allen PowerPack. All of the ErgVideos run on PC but according to Paul Smeulders can run on a Mac with the proper Windows interface software.

Looking for some more motivation to get through those tough trainer sessions? Take a picture of yourself and give it the #onmytrainer, and see how everyone else is suffering along with you. Just think, some of the most significant snowfalls on the East Coast have occurred in March. So far the rodent was right!!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Using Nervousness To Win

By Hunter Allen, PCG CEO/Founder and Master Coach

 peaks coaching group hunter allen

There it is again, your old pal. It always shows up right before that big presentation at work, before you ask for that raise, and before each and every important race that you do. Nervousness. Are you nervous? Do you feel that old queasy feeling before your race? How do you deal with it? Do you get upset? Do you let it get to you? Or do you revel in the feeling and let its energy flow through your body?

If after all these years of training, and racing you still get those feelings, you’re probably in one of three camps: (1) you hate it and feel it’s the worst part of being a competitive athlete, (2) you’ve learned to deal with it and accept it as part of the experience, or (3) you’ve realized that it’s an essential part of you and your race (or project, etc.). Those in the third camp have recognized that feeling excited before a race is actually a great thing and something to look forward to. They realize that it’s just their bodies telling them their muscles are strong and ready for a peak performance. 

If you’re not in that third camp, I’d like to encourage you to recognize the inherent positive in the energy of “nervousness.” In fact, let’s stop calling it that. I think the word nervousness itself can bring on bad connotations, so I refer to the feeling as excitement instead. At some point in my career I decided to change the way I viewed excitement. I decided that instead of fighting the feeling and using essential race energy to fight it off, I would instead just let it run through my body and be used for a better performance. I’ve coached many athletes since then, and it’s interesting to see how each has a different way of dealing with this subject. 





The true professionals, Olympians, etc. are all in the third camp I mentioned above; they use the energy and make it work toward their advantage. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Summer Sanders, and even the great one, Wayne Gretsky -- they all get excited. You just can’t tell it from watching them on TV. These top athletes have recognized the feeling of excitement as good, and they use it to raise their performance to even higher levels.

Have you ever been at a concert or gone dancing when a loud band was playing? You’re up there close to the stage, the music is good, the company is great, and you’re really enjoying yourself. It’s loud, but the rhythm is great and you can literally feel the music running through your body: the deep thump of the bass, the smooth rhythm of the guitar, the steady beat of the drums. What you’re feeling is the vibration of the music and energy coming from the instruments and the musicians themselves. You don’t resist this feeling; you just enjoy it and let it flow through your body. Bingo! You made a decision. Whether or not it was conscious, you allowed yourself to become part of the energy created by the band. 

Now, how does this relate to athletics and pre-event excitement? Well, it’s similar because when you get excited before a presentation or race, your body naturally creates energy that moves throughout your body. It’s a powerful force, so strong that many people aren’t comfortable with it at all. Many of us learned incorrectly somewhere in our past (maybe in the fifth grade) that it’s bad. Let’s say a kid is really excited before a school play because of holding a major role, only to have his belt come unbuckled during the play and his pants fall down, causing all of the kids to laugh at him. Boom, his brain now begins to associate excitement with embarrassment and failure. For the rest of his life, every time he gets excited he feels those impending signs of doom.

Your job is to change your thinking and your paradigm and to allow your mind to relax and enjoy the feeling that your body-mind connection is creating. Change the false beliefs about yourself and your body’s energy. Here’s the key: pay attention, allow yourself to let the feelings flow through you, and decide to enjoy them. Feel the energy flowing into your arms and hands and legs, through your chest, into your back, and up and down your spine. The next time you get excited, take a minute to sit back and really feel that energy. Once you’ve done that, compare it with the energy you felt when excited about a great success, maybe your wedding, your first race win, the birth of a child, a great training run, or a big promotion or raise. How does it compare? It’s the same feeling, right? It’s the same exact feeling as when you’re excited. They’re one and the same. It’s just our incorrect thought patterns and false beliefs that create a difference between the two supposedly different feelings.

The energy of your excitement is of great benefit to you in your everyday life and races; it opens you up, allows you to perform at your maximum, and gets you focused and ready for the effort. You must use it and realize how important it is to have those feelings. They’re good! Allow your body to flow with the energy. The next time you feel that excitement, you’ll know it means you’re ready for a peak performance in the office, in your training, or in your event. Recognize it, allow it, accept it as good and important, and then put it to good use.

Make it a healthy day!


 Hunter Allen is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach and former professional cyclist. He is the coauthor ofTraining and Racing with a Power Meter and Cutting-Edge Cycling, co-developer of TrainingPeaks’ WKO software, and CEO and founder of Peaks Coaching Group. He and his coaches create custom training plans for all levels of athletes. Hunter can be contacted directly through PeaksCoachingGroup.com

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Training And Racing In The Rain

by Marianne Holt, PCG elite coach
Peaks Coaching Group Racing and Riding in the Rain

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.”
- Bob Dylan

Whether you love rainy days or hate them, it’s very likely that you will find yourself riding in the rain at some point; probably racing in it, as well. And rain changes things. As you watch the weather report, here are a few things to keep in mind when faced with the drips.

Road Hazards

There are several places that can become slick as glass even if just mildly wet or damp:
  • Painted lines
  • Railroad tracks (hopefully there aren’t any on the course, but you never know)
  • Manhole covers
  • Intersections where cars stop. These are usually worse when the roads are just damp versus very wet. When cars stop at intersections, oil drips down and accumulates on the asphalt. Combine that oil with just a little bit of water, and it’s crazy slick.
  • Dirt and gravel that might have washed out on the road. Be on the lookout for this, especially in the turns.

Braking

    If the roads are very wet, water will accumulate between your bike’s brake pads and rims, essentially giving you zero slowing and stopping ability. So be sure to feather the brakes frequently to squeeze out the water and keep it out.

    This is so obvious I almost hesitate to include it, but I will: Allow extra room between you and the rider in front of you. Even if you do a great job of keeping the water away from your brake pads, it will still take extra time to stop or slow down on wet or damp roads, so give yourself plenty of room.

    Racing

      Ride at the front of the pack. My athletes get to hear me preach about not riding at the front of the pack, but while that is still my advice in general, at or near the front will for sure be the safest place to be if it’s wet. Personally, if it’s raining, I like to go hard from the gun to try to whittle down the field. You’ll have to use your judgment on this one because you don’t want to burn all your matches from the beginning, but the fewer riders in the field, the better your chances are of staying safe and having a good finish.

      Hands in drops is even more important when it’s wet. It’s easy for wet hands to slide right off the top of the brake hoods. Keep your hands in the drops; you’ll have more control and won’t risk losing your grip.

      Gear and Clothing

        This one is important! If it looks pretty certain the roads will be wet, run a little less pressure in your tires. I usually go 5-7 psi less than I would normally have. Yes, you might increase your risk of a pinch flat, but you’ll get better traction on the wet roads.

        I highly recommend wearing eye wear with yellow lenses, or some other light color. If you go without, you’ll get tons of road spray in your eyes (from the wheel in front of you or your own front wheel) and won’t be able to see well. The lenses will of course get wet and dirty, but I find that a quick swipe with my finger will clear them off enough for me to see the road ahead.

        If you’ve been using the same helmet for a while on these hot, humid days, chances are you’ve accumulated a lot of sweat on the pads and straps. If the pads get very wet and water drips in your eyes, you’ll feel a serious stinging (think salt water in your eyes). So now is a good time to clean your helmet and get that sweat and grim out of the pads and straps.

        It’ll probably be a little cooler in the rain, so don’t forget to pack an extra base layer and maybe arm warmers. A vest is good too, but you’ll need your race number to be visible at all times, so if you plan to race in your vest, be sure to pin your number on it. And I KNOW you all know how to pin on your number!

        Getting it Done

        Remember: rain shouldn't stop you. It simply creates another opportunity to become a better athlete!


        Marianne lives near Charlotte, North Carolina, where she enjoys all types of riding, including criterium races, road races, GFNCS, mountainous centuries, time trials, and the occasional cruise on her mountain bike or cyclocross bike. She is a Category 1 racer with the PainPathways Women’s Team and a USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach. She has extensive road racing experience, including NRC and International Stage Races, UCI races, and elite and masters nationals championship races. She is a former masters nationals time trial champion and has numerous silver and bronze medals from masters nationals criteriums and road races. Marianne can be contacted through info@peakscoachinggroup.com or www.peakscoachinggroup.com.

        Tuesday, February 23, 2016

        A Powerful Foundation of fitness

        I know you have spent a lot of time this winter on the indoor trainer doing workouts watching videos of everything from Rambo to “real-life” cycling videos like the ErgVideos.  

        These are great tools to increase your fitness in the winter, go to the next level and also to maintain your hard won fitness from last season. It’s always a battle in the winter with cross-training exercises, cold weather (for most of us!), indoor riding and just how much intensity to do indoors and outdoors on the good days.  I prescribe a lot of tempo and “sweet-spot” work in the off-season in order to limit the upper intensities. If you ride at the higher levels in the winter, you risk peaking too soon and creating a lull in your fitness in March, right when most of the racing starts in the US.   

        To prevent this from happening, it is important to continue this building of your power foundation.
        I really don’t like the phrase, “Base Training” because it produces images of long, slow distance training where your watts are at 60% of your threshold and you just putter along in your ride.   Too many athletes and coaches believe that an athlete has to do “Base training” first and before any other type of training can be started.  Now, I’ll concede that if you are a Pro cyclist and training for a huge season in Europe in 2014, then yes, you should be doing some serious “Base training”.  Riding your bike for 4-6 hours a day at endurance pace will help continue to develop your aerobic system and also prevent you from peaking in January.   But, everyone else?  Forget it.   

        We don’t have the time to put in 4-6 hours a day at a slow pace, stopping at coffee shops along the way and enjoying the sights. For most of us, we have only 1-2 hours a day to train and we have to make the most of those hours, optimizing our training for the highest ROI.  If we took that 1-2 hours a day and rode at endurance pace, then what would really happen?   We would lose fitness and get slower. For most of us, riding that slow will not be challenging enough to create any training stress and therefore adaptation (improved fitness).   There is a relationship between time and intensity that must be respected and when you ride at lower intensities, then you need to ride longer in order to create enough stress for adaptation.  Therefore, I like to call what most of do in the winter and early spring, your “Power Foundation”.  This is the type of riding that contains more tempo and sweet-spot work, essentially more intensity (but not too much!) than riding around at endurance pace.  Building your power foundation, I believe, is critical for the coming season in improving your FTP, and also preparing for the entire season of racing, so that you are consistent throughout the year.   In the late winter/early spring, you should be finishing the power foundation phase and transitioning from indoor riding to outdoor riding.  This signals the time in which you need to solidify your winter fitness, especially if you have risen up a level (!) and begin adding in more and more work at your threshold and a little above.

        Before beginning to ride right at your FTP for extended periods of time (longer than 10minutes) I would recommend you to do some final work at your sweet-spot (88-93% of FTP) and then move onto work right at your FTP and above.    This is one of my favorite workouts that I use for many of my athletes regularly in February and March.


        Sweet-Spot with bursts

        Warm-up:

        15minute warm-up with (1) 3 minute effort at 90% of your FTP, then 5minutes easy,

        Main Set: Nail it at 88-93% of your FTP for 60 minutes, with 20 bursts (every 3 minutes!) to 120% of FTP, hold for 15 seconds, and return to previous pace (88-93% of FTP)

        EASY 10 minutes riding at endurance pace 56-75% of FTP

        Then do 30 minutes at 88-93% of FTP and this time do big gear intervals- every two minutes.  Slow down to 12mph, put your chain in the 53:13, stay seated and then use strength to explode on that gear and push it hard for 30seconds or if you reach 90rpm, stop when you reach one of those criteria first and return to 88-93% of FTP.

        In order to start transitioning into race fitness, finish with 5 hard sprints – Start in your 53:16 from 20mph and sprint for 250 meters each, 4-5 minutes rest between each.

        Cool Down: 10 minutes easy spinning at less than 56% of your FTP.

        To remind you of the Coggan power training levels, see figure 1.


        During February and March, along with continuing to ride at sweet-spot, you need to begin incorporating riding right at your functional threshold power and also doing some forays above it to prepare for the higher intensities of racing.  I recommend at least one day a week of training specifically at your FTP and then one day in which you incorporate shorter intensity as well.  I like to incorporate the shorter intensity on the weekend when you are doing a longer ride, by including it in the first two hours and then using the last hour or two to focus on your overall aerobic endurance through tempo and sweet-spot work.

        The one focused day of threshold work needs to be highly focused and designed to just address your FTP and nothing more.  This allows you to dig deep into the “well of courage” and push yourself for maximum training effect.  I recommend doing this workout for improving your FTP.

        FTP “Well of courage”

        Warm-Up: 20 minutes-endurance pace 56-75% of FTP

        MS: 5 x 1minute fast pedal over 120 RPM to get legs opened up with 1 minute rest between each. Ride at 10 minutes easy at 56-75% of FTP after those warm-ups. Now, dig in the well of courage and do (4) x12 minutes at or just above FTP- so 100-108% of FTP - Nail these and push in the last minute up to 110% of FTP!  Do NOT kill it in the first 2 minutes though, so start out and ramp up to your 100-108% of FTP.  REST for 5minutes between each.

        After completing the (4) x 12 FTP intervals, ride for 20-30 minutes endurance pace (56-75% of FTP).Finish with one more 12 minutes at FTP interval to completely bury yourself!  Make sure you push it hard and do your best completing a total of 60minutes at FTP for the day!

        Cool Down: 10 minutes at least than 56% of FTP

        On your weekends, make sure you are getting in at least one day of group riding as this is fun and it will also help to develop your race fitness with short, hard bursts and simulated attacks. 
        I recommend to my clients to do a group for an hour or two and then go longer afterward if they can.  

        This really makes a difference in your endurance and stamina for the upcoming season.   On the other day during the weekend, it would be great to work on your shorter, more intense efforts.  I recommend this workout:

        Weekend: “A bite of it all”

        Warm Up: 15minutes at 56-75% of FTP.

        Main-Set: Do (3) x 1 minute fast pedaling. Then do (4) sprints- BIG RING –Put your chain in the 53:15 and start from 22mph. Only do two gear shifts in these sprints to 14, then to 13. Rest for 3-4 minutes between each and get psyched for the next sprint!
        After you finish your sprints then do (2) x 12 minutes JUST BELOW threshold- so about 88-93% of FTP watts in order to get in a little more sweet-spot/FTP work. Do your best to hold it there!   Rest for 5minutes between each.

        Now, finish the workout with 4 x 2 minutes on a flat section of road. 2 minutes ON, 2 minutes OFF.

        Do your best to hold 130-140% of FTP on the effort.  Lastly, ride at endurance pace for 20 minutes (56-75% of FTP)

        CD: 5 minutes (<56% of FTP)

        Training this early spring should be focused around making sure you have the overall power foundation developed and then building your threshold power on top of that.  It’s critical that as you get closer and closer to race season, that you begin incorporating shorter, more intense intervals that stress your anaerobic capacity(30sec-2min efforts) and neuromuscular power (5-15 sec.).  The transition from winter to spring training is more important than most riders think as the demands of racing are very specific you must be prepared for them along with prepared for the entire season.   One important final note to discuss is the importance of entering the race season with your “battery” 100% charged. This means that you should make sure you rest between hard workouts and keep yourself relatively fresh.  Digging a hole in this transitory time can be a recipe for disaster. I recommend taking a rest/easy day after every 3 hard days of training, as this will guarantee that you are well rested for the next block of training and are not getting fatigued.
        The phrase, “Power Foundation” is how I prefer to talk about winter and pre-season training as it doesn’t conjure up those dreaded thoughts of LSD training, and more focuses one on the ‘power’ side of the equation, since your goal is to increase your power at threshold this season.  Overall aerobic fitness improvement is always something that we all want to accomplish every season as more fitness=more fitness and you will be riding faster than previously.    These workouts are for riders that don’t have 4-6 hours to ride each day and will keep your fitness higher throughout the winter than normal, but that means you don’t have that far to go in order to peak for your key event in the spring.  Give these workouts a shot and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with your new higher threshold this spring!




        Hunter Allen has many of his threshold and sweet spot workouts available within the TrainingPeaks.com website store.  Check them out and you can download them for your own use. Hunter is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach and former Professional Cyclist. He is the co-author of “Training and Racing with a Power Meter, co-developer of TrainingPeaks WKO+ Software, and is the CEO and Founder of the Peaks Coaching Group. He specializes in coaching cyclists with wattage meters and is on the forefront coaching with cycling’s newest tool.   He has online training programs available at www.TrainingPeaks.com/hunter   and you can contact Hunter directly www.PeaksCoachingGroup.com

        Tuesday, February 16, 2016

        Four Great Cycling Workouts To Do Right Now

        Spring is here! The first races of the season are always a little tougher, simply because you haven’t gotten into the race rhythm yet. Spring races are always fun, challenging, and aggressive. All the cyclists who pushed themselves throughout the winter are eager to show off the hard work and hard-won fitness. If you are one of those few, spring races are lots of fun and filled with success. If you’re a little behind on your fitness or planning on peaking in the summer, then spring races are a little tougher to handle.

        The spring has always been my favorite time for training, because I get to start doing some of the things I’m actually good at and really enjoy about riding.  Those of you following a training plan have probably been working on endurance (Level 2), sweet spot (sub-threshold), threshold (Level 4), and training your weaknesses.  Most of you are going to be doing a variety of races over the next couple of months. Most of them won't be “A” races, but you still want to do well in each one, so you’re preparing for long, hilly road races; windy, wet time trials; and maybe an early season crit. You may even be doing them all in one weekend in a stage race.  

        In order to train for these random abuses, you need all your training zones ready to be worked.  Now is the time to start putting it all together, focusing on your strengths, and practicing your sprints. This month’s article is full of workouts for you, to make sure you’re performing at your best. These workouts will help you keep the sword sharpened, or maybe just get it sharp in the first place so you’re competitive.

        These four workouts will make you faster and help you ride with more endurance and overall fitness:

        1. Hill work: doing hills of various lengths with a sprint at the top of one section to simulate an uphill finish.
        2. Time trial: get used to FTP in the aero position, working on form and getting the back, hips, and hamstrings accustomed to being aero while working.
        3. Kitchen sink: putting it all together and ending with sprints.
        4. Team ride: with faster people, learning to suffer and be economical.

        For hill work it’s important to be able to sustain your power through the hill and on different length hills. On shorter and steeper hills, the highest absolute power you produce (500w, 650w, 700w, etc.) will be most important. The longer the hill, the more your power-to-weight (watts-per-kilogram) ratio becomes a part of the equation, and the higher your w/kg is, the better you excel on the climbs. Keeping this in mind, let’s focus on shorter hills in this workout, as you’ll excel in longer hills as the result of specific FTP work.

        Hill Repeat Workout

        Warm-up: It’s important to get in a solid warm-up before your hill repeats, so if possible, ride for 30 minutes to an hour before you get to your favorite hill. The hill should be approximately 1 minute long; a little shorter or longer is fine, but nothing over 2 minutes, since that will become too aerobic. One trick I’ve found helpful for these is a visualization while doing the efforts: in your mind’s eye, picture yourself attacking out of the peloton on the hill and winning the KOM points at the top of the hill with your final sprint.
        Main Set: Do 10 repeats total (build to 20) of a 1-minute hill. (If you don’t have a hill suitable and want to do it on a longer hill, no problem; just make a landmark at about the one-minute distance so you have a goal for each effort.) Glance at your power meter three or four times on the way up to make sure you’re between 130% and 175% of your FTP, with a goal of averaging around 140%. If you have incredible anaerobic capacity, your numbers might be higher. You know you’re doing it right when your legs start to burn after 20 seconds and you have to suffer like crazy to keep the wattage up. Hammer all the way, then get out of the saddle and sprint in the last 30 meters.

        Completely BLOW at the crest of the hill or at the 1-minute mark. REST plenty (3-4 minutes) between each one. As you get more and more tired toward the last repeats, you’ll have to lengthen your recoveries, which is perfectly acceptable. After you’ve completed all the repeats, ride home at your tempo and sweet spot paces to get in some solid aerobic work.

        Cool-down: 10-15 minutes easy riding.

        When you get home, your job becomes recovery and analysis of your hills with your downloaded power meter data. What you’re looking for is how much and how quickly you fatigued from effort to effort. Figure 1 below is a comparison of ten hill repeats. This athlete’s wattage drops from 437 to 418 by the tenth one, which is only a 5% drop in power. What this means is that he could have done more efforts. When you have a 10% drop in power, that’s when it’s time to go home and call it a day. Have a look at your data and find your power drop; that will help you determine how many intervals to do in the next session.

        The next workout you should incorporate into your training regime is the “Time Trial Sim.” This simulation of a time trial is a great opportunity to work on your Vo2 max energy system and get comfortable in that TT position while at full gas, while also building your confidence in time trials. If you have a TT bike, use it, but if you don’t, it’s fine to go Eddy Merckx style. The goal is to put you into a simulated time trial so you can learn how to focus, develop a rhythm, and push your wattage in the Vo2 Max zone(106-120% of FTP).

        Time Trial Sim Workout

        Warm-up: This is another workout for which your warm-up is important; riding at least 30 minutes is highly recommended. Within the last 10 minutes of your warm-up, complete
        (5) 1-minute fast pedaling efforts with your cadence over 110rpm and rest for 1 minute between each at 80rpm. Don’t worry about your wattage; keep the watts relatively low and focus on the cadence.
        Main Set: Get psyched and ready for some time trial efforts! Do 6 x 6 minutes, starting out hard with your wattage at 120% of FTP for the first minute, dropping your watts to 110% of FTP for the next 4 minutes, and in the final minute pushing your wattage back to 120% of FTP and finishing strong. Rest for 6 minutes between each effort. The beauty of these efforts is that they are miniature time trials, designed to contain the same emotions, intensity, and focus that a longer time trial would have. Make sure to do these at a “self-selected” cadence, which is whatever cadence feels best to you. Really focus on using your gluteal muscles and staying as low as possible with the upper body. The best time trialists work on their flexibility; if you can’t touch your toes easily, you need to start stretching! Finish the ride with 20 minutes of tempo at 80-90% of FTP.

        Cool-down: 15 minutes at your endurance pace (56-75% of FTP).

        Remember, the more you practice something, the better you’ll get at it. To become a good time trialist, you’ll need to do a bunch of time trial sims. When you analyze your power file, look for how your power dropped over the intervals, but you’ll also want to learn how well you adhered to your pacing strategy. Learning to time trial well is accomplished by proper pacing strategy and adherence to that strategy.

        The “Kitchen Sink” is my absolute favorite workout and great for everyone. All your energy systems are worked, you get to go for a big ride, and you come home with that wonderful feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that only cyclists know. The goal of this workout is to address all the different energy systems needed for successful racing. I also want you to come home fatigued and tired, having pushed yourself a little harder and farther than before.

        Kitchen Sink Workout

        Warm-up: 30 minutes at endurance pace (56-76% of your FTP).

        Main set: After you’re warmed up, do 2 x 20 minutes at or just a hair below threshold (93-100% of FTP). It's hard, and you’ll have to push to maintain it. Rest for 10 minutes between each at endurance pace. Next, ride at your endurance pace for 30 minutes and then do 6 sprints, 3 in the small ring for 75m (starting from a slow speed and spinning the gear at 140rpm by the end of the sprint) and 3 in the big ring for 250m (starting from 20mph and getting the 53:13 turning over, but resisting the desire to go into your hardest gear). Ride at endurance pace for 5 minutes between each.

        After completing your sprints, cruise for 30 minutes at endurance pace and then do 5 hill repeats of various hills and lengths along your route, each at your Vo2 max pace (110-120% of FTP), with good solid rests at endurance pace for 5-10 minutes between each. Again, these are done along the way in the ride. If you don’t have any hills, it’s fine to do these as attacks into the wind or pretending you’re attacking on the flats.

        Your final hard effort is another 30 minutes at endurance pace. While riding at endurance pace, add in some bursts (little 8-second ones) every 5 minutes or so to simulate the constant movement of a peloton.

        Stop at a store with an hour to go and get your favorite caffeinated, sugary drink. You’ll want a little boost before the final push home. Finish with 45 minutes of sweet spot (88-93% of FTP) on the ride home. Push it and try to ramp up your pace as you get closer and closer to home. You should finish tired, but feeling satisfied. 

        Cool-down: 5-10 minutes with a recovery drink and STRETCHING.

        When you analyze your power file after this workout, the first thing you should look for is your training stress score. Did you score over 280 TSS? If not, you didn’t go long enough. If you’re closer to the 300-320 TSS range, announce it on Facebook and I’ll “like” it. In all seriousness, the goal is to create some big stress, so a solid TSS will confirm that.

        The second thing to look at is your normalized power for the last 45 minutes. This will give you another confirmation of your endurance. If you were struggling way below your sweet spot and had nothing left, you know where you need to spend some more time. If you were solidly in your sweet spot, mission accomplished.


        Your final mission this spring is to do some group riding. Group rides can be great opportunities to get in some guaranteed intensity when you don’t feel like training or when you’re too fatigued to push yourself but still have more to give. When you do these group rides, approach them with two different mentalities and strategies. For one of the rides, attack with reckless abandon. Don’t attack so much that you get dropped, of course, but come close! Your attitude should be one of pushing yourself to the limit and really digging deep in order to just get in the work.

        The next time you do the group ride, do the exact opposite and try to be as absolutely economical as possible. That means sitting in, riding on wheels, NOT pedaling, saving energy, staying out of the wind and away from the front (until the split comes), and making sure when you do have to ride hard you can easily make the move. Group rides are perfect places for you to learn economy through energy conservation.

        When you analyze your power file after your ride, it’s important to count exactly how many attacks you were able to do before nearly getting dropped. Look at the time each attack lasted and memorize the wattages you averaged in the attacks for later use in races. For the “conservation” group ride, look at your cadence distribution chart and see how much time you spent not pedaling, because that is a great indicator of your ability to conserve energy. 


        These four workouts each address different areas of fitness that are needed for those spring races. You might be really challenged by them and therefore get a great boost of fitness from the accomplishment of each. If you’re already super fit and peaking for the spring races, these workouts will only help you more to push yourself to the next level and ensure success. Plan these into your weekly schedule. You might even do all four of them in the same week, but I wouldn’t recommend it every week. Another plan might be to do the hill repeats two times in one week if you know you really need help improving your anaerobic capacity. Use your best judgment and make sure to give each of them your best. When you crack that 300 TSS for the Kitchen Sink workout, send me a message on Facebook or Twitter, and I’ll be sure to “like” it!

        Hunter has a monthly power newsletter you can subscribe to so that you’ll quickly learn the ins and outs of power training and gain some great insights into the best riders in the world. Hunter Allen is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach and former professional cyclist. He is the co-author of Training and Racing with a Power Meter, co-developer of TrainingPeaks WKO+ Software, and CEO and founder of Peaks Coaching Group. He has online training programs available at www.TrainingPeaks.com/hunter. You can contact Hunter directly through www.PeaksCoachingGroup.com and follow him on Twitter at “Hunterpeaks.”






        Thursday, January 14, 2016

        The World Championships in Richmond Virginia 2015


        Ben King's Breakaway Ride

        Worlds. Amazing. You had to be there.   Thousands of people, incredible course, the best riders in the world and stellar bike racing.   Richmond Virginia shined and really laid out the red carpet for everyone and it was heart warming and reassuring to have drivers honking at you with “Thumbs up” and taking pictures of cyclists as they rode around the outskirts of town for the week, instead of giving you the other finger.  Ben King, local boy makes good.   Ben not only rode in the breakaway for 90+ miles, but not was he only one from the breakaway to finish the race, but he in the front group at the base of Libby Hill on the last lap.  Only then, did he lose contact with the front group, finishing in 53rd place, 55 seconds down on Sagan.   Let’s have a look at this amazing power file from the World Championships.

        First off, one of the differences between the World Tour level and all the rest is the sheer amount of work that has to be done in the race, just to complete it.  Work is kiloJoules and 1 Joule is a watt per second, so 1kJ is 1000 Joules.   Ben did 6,402 kiloJoules of work in the 6 hour and 24 minute race.   For those of you that regularly get crushed after doing 3000 kJ of work, can you imagine doubling that?  This is equal to over 7000 kCalories burned and that’s a lot of burritos.  A normal Continental pro race here in the US, is between 2500-3000kJ,  and this is a critical difference between abilities of the Continental pros and the World Tour pros.   Translate this into Training Stress Score and reminder that 100 TSS equals the same amount of training stress as 1 hour at FTP and Ben did 418 TSS for the race, so the equivalent of 4 hours back to back at FTP.    Some other highlights include 7,838’ of climbing, an Intensity Factor of .81(81% of FTP for 6 hours 24minutes),  an average power of 276watts and normalized power of 323 watts.  Yes, 323 watts for 6 hours 24 minutes.  Three. Hundred. Twenty. Four.  6 hours. 24 minutes.   Can you do 323watts for 20 minutes? An hour?   How about 6 hours?  Oh yeah,  he weighs 148lbs.  So that’s 4.88 watts per kilogram for the entire race.   Those are the statistical highlights of an epic world championship race.    Let’s dig into some of the finer points.
        Worlds in Richmond by Ben King.   The beginning shows his bridge to the breakaway and the initial part of the breakaway as it gets established, the middle section of the breakaway with a relatively smooth and steady pace.  The final part of the race in the peloton as the pace ratches up a notch with every lap completed.

        There were three main obstacles in the Richmond Worlds’ course,  the first being Libby Hill with its’ cobblestones and serpentine route up the hill, the second being the super steep 15% gradient cobblestone climb up 23rd street and then the third was the drag up Governor’s hill, right beside the Virginia Governor’s Mansion.   Each of these were not long hills, but all were hard with the addition of cobblestones, and gradient.   Libby Hill was certainly the most packed for spectators and ignited the fireworks for the riders, with a stinging one minute and 20 second sprint over the top of the hill and then a charge to the second obstacle, the 23rd street hill, which was the launching platform for Sagan’s winning attack.   Ben’s climbs up Libby hill were hard, but consistent.  The hardest was second climb up the hill, while the breakaway was being established and Ben averaged 471 watts.  Laps 12, 13, and 14 were the most aggressive as Ben put out over 900 watts for a maximum on each of these trips up the climb.




        The Sprint up 23rd street came on the heels of Libby Hill and to add insult to injury, the hill was at a 15% grade and cobbled, with thousands of people cheering at the top of their lungs.  This climb was done using in single file in the peloton and in the small breakaway, the width of the road still only allowed them to go up two abreast.  This hill while hard in the breakaway, wasn’t that decisive until the final lap, when Sagan launched his winning move.




        The difference in his wattage between when he was in the breakaway and when he was back in the peloton is significant.  As you saw in Figure 1, the time Ben was in the break had much lower maximum watts with a lot more smooth and steady power output.  This is classic of a breakaway and the ability to keep your power smooth and minimizing the bursts of power contribute significantly to the conservation of energy.    The difference in Variability Index (normalized power/average power) is only 5% between the two time periods, but that is significant in a race as long as this one.   Clearly, the last 5 laps of the race were difficult for anyone in the peloton, but to survive the breakaway for 90 miles and then sit in the peloton having to respond to all the surges in power, really goes to show you just how incredible Ben King is as one of the best pro cyclists in the world.



        The World Championships in Richmond were a real spectacle and Ben King put on a show.  What a great ride by a good ol’ Virginia boy that made all American cyclists proud, not to mention the thousands of Americans watching the race.   This was a special day and a very special ride by Ben.   The power that he released on this day is equal to any of the classics in Europe and goes to show that he has what it takes to win a big, big race. 

        I predict his 2016 season will contain one of these wins.

        Hunter Allen has online training programs available at www.TrainingPeaks.com/hunter  including some great winter plans.  Hunter attended the Richmond World’s with some of his Peaks Coaching Group coaches and got to cheer on Ben King up all the hills.  You can contact Hunter directly www.PeaksCoachingGroup.com for personal coaching and camps.

        Reprinted with permission from Road Magazine November 2015 Issue

        Tuesday, December 29, 2015

        Power and the Trainer: Planning a Season of Change


        Power training and indoor trainers simply belong together. The pure efficiency and controlled environment of training indoors partner amazingly well with precise training based on specific targeted power numbers. The combination of accurate power measurement and controlled smart trainers have taken this to new levels, and because more and more people are now training indoors with their bicycle power meters, we are seeing significant improvements in the effectiveness of indoor training.

        But there’s always a catch.

        Training indoors with precise performance numbers can have some negative effects on your training. The introduction of clear training targets measured by watts has brought about some bad training habits, and they’re often disguised as the desire to improve performance as we focus on increasing just one number: average watts.

        Here are two ways to look at indoor power training differently to improve your results.

        Power vs. Duration

        The Challenge

        The introduction of power to indoor training has created a focus on “more power” that can actually be detrimental to long-term improvement performance; I often see athletes striving constantly for more power (increased watts) as the key to their breakthroughs, often repeating similar workouts in their pursuit to track their improvement by tracking their power numbers. This obsession with power leads to problems with training focus. We can become overly focused on increasing power and forget about increasing power duration and fatigue resistance.

        The Solution

        Change your thinking this winter. Focus more on power duration instead of pure power output.

        Here’s a simple example. Say you do a lot of 2 x 20s at tempo, sweet spot, or FTP training levels. This probably means you’re trying to get more watts each session, often turning tempo and sweet spot work into FTP intervals. I recommend that you focus more on increasing your time in those zones and let the power come up more naturally as you grow more fit. Instead of doing each 2 x 20 a few watts higher, progressively expand the duration of your time in that zones. You could start at 2 x 15 minutes of SST and progress to 2 x 20 minutes and then then 3 x 15 minutes, which leads to 3 x 20 minutes of SST. I progress my athletes incrementally (often 1- to 2-minute increments) over the course of their base training, but there’s no reason to sit stagnant; I will rarely plan more than three workouts at the same time length before increasing the time demand. Just remember that your power numbers will be coming up as the time increases, so you’ll need to test and monitor other data to gradually move up your power targets.

        The Reason

        Why give this a try? Results! Increasing your power duration/fatigue resistance is more likely to improve your results than adding a few more watts of pure power in the base training phase. How many times have you made the break and got into the lead pack only to be dropped or be unable to hold? You had the power, but you couldn’t sustain it. It’s time to change that.

        Power vs. Cadence

        The Challenge

        Power training is exactly what it sounds like: training by power. However, this has led to such a focus on output numbers of average power that I see more and more athletes not using their indoor training time to work cadence drills and focus on potentially improving efficiency. 

        The Solution

        Start using more of your available data to track and encourage the introduction of efficiency drills into your training. I have my athletes focus on three types of drills during their base build:

        1. Fast Pedaling

        This is the simplest of all the drills, but I add a twist. I suggest doing fast pedaling drills 2-3 times a week as 10 x 1 minute with 1 minute of rest, but I like to break them up by doing 5 x 1 minute just after warming up (before the actual workout effort), then completing the final 5 x 1 minute after the workout effort (just after cool-down). We want to get cadence above 125 rpm for the minute, to not focus on power, and to focus on spinning without bouncing.

        2. Over Fast Pedaling

        This is a slightly more complex drill (I call it “rate coding pedaling intervals”), but it’s very effective. Just like the fast pedaling drill above, these are 10 x 1 minute, but you need to start them in a mid-range gear, get your fast pedal up to max for 30 seconds, then shift into one easier gear, spin fast for 15 seconds, and shift again to one easier gear for the final 15 seconds. This fast pedal format will teach you to “over-spin,” as each gear shift will help you spin faster than you thought possible and help improve your neural muscular pathing and performance.

        3. Progressive Pedaling Intervals

        During the base training phase I also use cadence targets in my longer intervals to help develop efficiency and fatigue resistance. For example, I might prescribe a 45-minute Tempo effort with progressive cadence. This means the first 15 minutes will have a target of 75-85 rpms, the second 15 minutes 85-95, and the final 15 minutes above 95. This helps us focus both mentally and physically on the effort and on maintaining good cadence targets. This is harder than it sounds, but it’s worth it!

        The Reason

        Why give this a try? Improving efficiency is low-hanging fruit for many cyclists. Building both short-term and long-term efficiency can improve your ability up to 10% as demonstrated by this training response chart supplied by Dr. Andrew Coggan.




        The benefits of indoor training are clear: efficiency, a controlled environment, focus, and more. Just make sure your power meter doesn’t cause you to repeat the same old training focused only on more power. Make the most of this season. Do things a little differently to get the results you want.

        Want expert help with your training this season? Contact us to find out how we can help!

        Article originally featured on Pez Cycling News



        Tim Cusick is a USA Cycling Level 3 coach and a PCG master coach. He and our other coaches create custom training plans for all levels of athletes. Tim can be contacted directly through PeaksCoachingGroup.com or info@peakscoachinggroup.com


        Photo credit: Shutterstock


        Tuesday, December 15, 2015

        Recipe: Sweet Potato Apple Curry Soup

        Nothing beats sneaking in a wintertime ride and coming back home to something warm. What’s on the menu? Soup! Hearty, wholesome, nourishing, warm soup. It’s that time of year when you finish a ride with friends and quickly change out of that damp kit into some warm fleece, jeans, a touque, and a sweater (clearly I’m Canadian, but this can also apply to you softer California types who think 60 Fahrenheit is freezing!).

        Soup can make a quality meal paired with a nice whole grain baguette and/or lean protein on the side, or it can even serve as a starter to a meal or a healthy snack. The thing I love about soup is that just about anyone can feel quite accomplished in the kitchen after making a soup. It doesn’t take a seasoned pro to put amazing soup on the table. Trust me. Generally, if you have a few basics on hand like broth, garlic, onion, and ginger, as well as a few basic spices (salt, pepper, curry, chili powder, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, etc.) and maybe a few limes and lemons, you can pull off some good flavors.

        Sweet potatoes and potatoes are my favorite things to have on hand at this time of year, as well as beets, all of which make for amazing soups. Add a blender, and voila, your soup goes from chunky to creamy. Trust me, you won’t believe you made it. Neither will your friends.
        Sweet Potato Apple Curry Soup Recipe - Peaks Coaching Group

        Sweet Potato Apple Curry Soup

        Serves 3

        Ingredients

        • 3 medium sweet potatoes
        • 1 large apple (or 1 1/4 cups of applesauce)
        • 2 tablespoons butter
        • 1 small onion, chopped
        • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
        • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
        • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
        • 1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
        • Salt and pepper to taste
        • 2 cups chicken broth or water

        Instructions

        Peel and cube both the apple and sweet potatoes. Set aside.

        Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, nutmeg, curry powder, salt, and pepper and cook until toasted, about 1 minute. Add sweet potatoes and chicken broth; cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and add apples. The broth should just cover the potatoes; they may even stick out a bit. Cover and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Puree soup in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

        This pairs very well with a blackened white fish or salmon with a lime drizzle on top.

        Nutrition Info
        (entire recipe)

        730 calories
        119 gram carbohydrates
        12 gram protein
        23 grams fat


        Article originally featured on Pez Cycling News



        Anne Guzman is a PCG nutritionist, a registered holistic nutritionist, and a sports nutrition consultant with a degree in kinesiology. Her passion lies in sports nutrition for endurance athletes, as well as general health and wellness. Anne raced full time on the women’s professional circuit in North America with some bouts in Europe from 2008 until 2011, and before cycling was a provincial and CIAU champion and national bronze medalist as a Varsity Freestyle Wrestler. Currently Anne works with athletes to help them reach their potential by combining their own training plans with her nutrition plans. Anne believes that many athletes undermine their intense detailed training regimes by not backing them with sound nutrition. Her personal experience as a cyclist and athlete is a great asset to her business as she understands the needs and nuances that come with the sport. Anne can be contacted through PeaksCoachingGroup.com or at info@peakscoachinggroup.com. Read more nutrition advice on her blog.

        Photo credit: Taste.com.au