When planning for your season, we talk about working backwards. I think too often athletes put themselves into programs that fit into their current abilities. That could mean the things they like to do, or it could mean they live in a cold environment and it’s what is most available to them i.e. indoor trainer versus outside.
Its complete understandable why athletes think like this, and by default it can really be a pretty good way to go. The trend is definitely more towards long course for the last several years. With long course doing short hard workouts indoors is not a bad recipe for having a great season plan. We have to be careful though, because while general fitness is a good thing to develop; you want to make sure you start to develop specific fitness as well.
One of the features we offer in our AMP pro, and to our coached athletes is Best Bike Split. I think it’s another great tool to use. You can select the race you wish to do, enter your specific metrics, what your goals are, and BOOM! You’re give an “ideal” race plan. Pretty cool! Now we just need the World to always be an “ideal” place when we are trying to race and compete. Often times wrenches are thrown in but none the less, it can be a great tool to help you prepare physically and mentally for the challenges you have ahead of you.
Remember, we want to work BACKWARDS to get ahead. So we want to take a look at the ideal race strategy. Whether it is generated from a program, or old school by talking to people and doing self-reflection.
- Figure out the demands you expect to deal with for the race
- Figure out the things that you need to get better at to deal with those demands
- Come up with a plan of action to work on them in training such as “key sets”
- If you have the time (which is why the “off season” is really important) then what things can you be doing now to help set you up for success in those key sessions which will intern set you up for success in your race
Let’s look at a simple example, using Best Bike split. California 70.3 is a race that is coming up which I also know well. I have had the experience of having my ass handed to me at that race, and then eventually being the overall AG winner, and everything in between. I can’t control who shows up, but once I figured out that race, I was able to have A LOT more success. We can get into the details in our forum about the tricks of the race, but for now, let’s just use the BBS profile and gain some insight on how to work backwards.
In the attached images you will see the race plan. I used the IF (Intensity Factor) setting because this will be the most universal for all to relate to. I set it to 80%. Basically this means I would like my overall average effort to be 80% of threshold. Some may need to go slower; others may be able to go faster but I had to pick something. I feel 80% is a solid 70.3 distance effort that if trained well, you can still run off the bike.
The program will also use your FTP (Functional Threshold Power). This is the power you can produce at you LT (Lactate Threshold). It will use this number along with the overall average intensity factor you want to race at and compute based on the course what is the best way for you to spend your energy to get around the course the fastest.
For this model I used an FTP of 100. I did this so that the model can be essentially expressed in a percentage of FTP. So where you see it say “89” for example, it really would be saying 89%.
Knowing the time is irrelevant because if someone had an FTP of 100 they would be out there awhile, the graph is best looked at in miles. Assuming people will ride 20 mph on average (just keeps the math simple) you can start to predict the demands of the race.
If we look at the Map we see we have about 25-30 miles of flatter course. Wind depending and assuming you are traveling 20 mph we know it’s going to take us 75-90 min to negotiate that part of the course. It has some ups and downs but we can see that it is calling for us to average between 75-85% on this portion of the course for some sustained periods of time.
We then have about 15 miles of some pretty significant ups and downs. If we look at the power outputs its calling for us to have it can range from 85-116% for several minutes at a time! We need to be ready for that. This is also a great example of blending the technology with the experience of advice from people who have been there. I say this because I can tell you that HOW you are going to be doing those efforts can range from standing up grinding the pedals and your legs screaming because the hill is so steep, to being aero and aerobically your lungs are on fire because you are trying to get up a roller or a false flat.
If we look at the last 15 mines (45 min or so) we see the chart has us doing a lot of 65-7% efforts because it’s mainly downhill (false flat). Again though, I can tell you that if you have a headwind coming back. It’s not going to be that easy and this is the part of the course that eats a lot of people up and takes their run from the, as well.
For a lot of reasons.
- - People haven’t trained right or specifically enough
- - They are mentally rusty from having to push nonstop for 2:15+. That’s a completely different animal then pushing harder off and on in spin class – trust me.
So if we were to set up a training set to help us prepare for this, it would look something like this:
Warm up 15 min
In the warm up include 3 x 1 min big gear low RPM standing with 3 min rest between. (There are some good climbs to get out of the harbor. Practice staying relaxed under high torque.
3-4 x 8-12 min @85-89% Half way through each interval do 30 sec. HARD!, then right back to working intensity (3 min easy spin between)
2-4 x 4-6 min @ 95-115% alternate however you want seated and standing. Can break them up in intervals, or within the intervals, but throw in some sustained hard gear standing (recover 4 min between)
2-3 x 12-20 min @85-90% (2 min easy spin between)
You can mix and match those how you want. You don’t have to progress every set equally. You can do all the longer ones for example and fewer short ones, or some combination you choose. The important thing is knowing and identifying what YOU need to do. We can help you with that.