Monday, February 1, 2016

Kona Threshold Bike Fitness

by Gordo Byrn

“Go fast when the race is slow”
- Robbie Ventura

Once you’ve demonstrated a deep understanding of my Principles of Pace, the next step in your development is considering how and where to apply additional effort into your event.

I’m going to share a case study that will help illustrate strategic hammering!

Below is a chart of my ride from California 70.3 in 2011 [click to expand] -- to keep things simple, I’m displaying speed and elevation. The purple shading is my best 60-minute power output for the race (about 300w normalized). My best 60 minutes were 8% higher than the hour that led into that key part of the course. I didn’t go crazy but I shifted one full intensity zone upwards through a hilly and “headwindy” section of the race.

In reviewing files post race, Alan noticed that the athletes with the faster bike splits were the ones that were able to lift strategically. It’s nice to be able to access really fast AG files.

I coach a speedy athlete that consistently runs very well off the bike. He raced Cali this year and wanted to close the gap on the bike split. Now, one way to improve the bike split is ride the course a lot. However, that’s not an option for my guy so we needed to figure out another way to prepare him. Before I drew up his plan, I used TrainingPeaks to produce a chart of his best efforts from 2011.

Does anything jump out at you from that chart?

Perhaps the 16% reduction in season best power from 30 to 60 minutes? That sure caught my eye -- especially because I was laying out the training plan for 2011!

Specific prep is a multistage process:

  1. Figure out what’s required for the event
  2. Prepare the body generally (training to train)
  3. Prepare the body specifically (training to compete)
  4. Have the presence of mind to execute the strategy on race day

Collectively, we “knew” what was going to be required a year in advance. However, it wasn’t until I did a season review that I discovered a physiological “hole” in his preparation. Adjusting the focus for 2012 has produced a very different chart.

Tips specific to this case study:

  • If you happen to identify a work-rate limiter then you’ll find it easiest to close the gap going uphill, first.

  • You’ll see a February benchmark that was set on a steep climb -- long climbs are highly valuable for improving threshold performance.

  • Once we knew best FTP, we focused on the ability to operate under that FTP, on terrain that’s specific to the goal event, in TT position.

  • Remember that you’re going to be running after the bike (!) -- my 2011 bike split looked fantastic, my run split less so.

Summing up, the overall process can be described as:

  • Figure out where/when the race is “slow” (the run for most events).
  • Tailor your race strategy to go fast when the race is slow.
  • Look backwards and see how your actual training compares to what’s required for success.
  • Once base is established, do a handful of demanding sessions that challenge the gaps in your race day tool kit.
  • Save your best for race day then operate under your best training performance.

Gordo is the founder of Endurance Corner. You can find his personal blog here.

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