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.

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Article Re-posted with Permission

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