Wednesday, October 31, 2007

t-max interval report

I did my first interval workout today following the t-max plan. As expected, it was pretty hard. So here is what I took from it.

As I went into my first to sets I realized pretty quickly that fighting a gusty 30mph head/cross wind was not going to make this workout any easier. It was a challenge in itself to keep the wattage at 310.

I also noted on my first set that sometimes the county doesn't strategically place stop signs and round-a-bouts at 2 minute intervals. What were they thinking when the put in this intersection!?

Later this week I'm going to try the interval workout on a more controlled platform. The dreaded wind trainer.

After recovering for about 3 minutes I felt pretty good and ready to go into the next set. But with my t-max, I get a 4 minute recovery period. So I waited that extra minute following the plan.

I managed to squeak out 5 sets of the intervals. At that point I had a little bit of vomit in my mouth and shut it down to cruise easy back to the car. Soon my legs will look just like Jan 's (above).

Kirk out. (and off to bed!)

The Cycling Off Season

If you live anywhere near me then the days are getting quite short and the wind is beginning to kick up while the temperatures drop. Sure the leaves are pretty and the occasional sunny day feels warm, but it's getting harder and harder to find a good time to ride.

Just this weekend we bagged a 50 mile ride because of cold, wet, rainy roads. Today as I look out my office window I can see my bike on top of my car waiting to be ridden. Just behind it, the trees are bent sideways in a 27mph wind from the South West. (hrrrm... If I could just get somebody to drive me about 40 miles south of here...)

So what are your plans for this off season? You could:

  • let your saddle sores heal up
  • see how big you can get your waistline by 2008
  • start trying to break in that new couch while watching the latest Greys Anatomy
Or, you could be productive even if you aren't out braving the elements. Here is my plan:
  • teach 2 spinning classes per week
  • do 2 short interval workouts on the trainer (60 minutes at most)
  • get 1 long ride outside each week (30-40 miles)
I also have some things I'm going to work on off the bike that I usually don't have time to do.
  • set cycling goals for 2008
  • work more on my blog!
  • plan a cycling vacation
  • tune up all of my bikes (including my wife and kids)
So what are you going to do!? Post your comments and let us know.

Check out Bike Snobs post about off season training.

Monday, October 29, 2007

1700 watts

If you search around on the web or read magazines you might come across a mention of pro cyclists being able to top out at 1700 watts or more during sprints. If any of you have a powermeter, you know this is a big, big number. Most of the athletes we test will hit a max in the 700-900 watt range. We can also look at data and project what type of wattage you will need to be competitive at a particular level of racing.

So, how do you get to those magic high numbers? Assuming you have some decent genes and a few fast-twitch fibers in the legs, a combination of strength work in the gym and sprint training on the bike will yield some quick gains. Here are a few basic guidelines for becoming a faster sprinter:

  • Two sprint workouts per week max! More than this and you cannot recover and become faster. If you think you can do more than two, you are not pushing hard enough.
  • These workouts need to be MAXIMUM EFFORTS! Sprinting at 8 or 9 on a 10 scale is the quickest way to get beaten to the line. True sprints should leave you needing 5 minutes or more of easy spinning to get ready for another effort.
  • Gym work should be explosive and non-isolating. Heavier weights in the 6-20 rep range with every set taken to complete failure (use a partner for safety). Major movements (squat, leg press) are best with isolating movements (leg extension, leg curl, inner & outer thigh) only done to address muscle imbalance, if at all. You don't pedal the bike with hamstrings only, etc.
  • Sprint in a variety of gears and terrain. Work on increasing your ability to push a big gear and spin that gear quickly. Uphill and downhill sprinting are very different and you should be ready for any type of terrain. That's why you have all of those gears - use them.

In the next post I'll talk a bit more about how to measure and track your sprinting training progress.

Good riding - Coach Kevin

Thursday, October 25, 2007

T-Max Time (re-test)

Well, today I re-tested my T-Max time. This time I only used my PowerTap and the trainer.

The result? Much harder than last week.

After a 20 minute warm up I rode 3:16:57 at 310 watts. Here is some data from WKO+.

Duration: 3:17
Work: 61 kJ
TSS: 8.4 (intensity factor 1.242)
Distance: 1.332 mi

Min Max Avg
Power: 227 428 311 watts
Heart rate: 138 184 173 bpm
Cadence: 77 109 99 rpm
Speed: 20.1 26.6 24.3 mph

So, now I have my PPO and Tmax time. My intervals look like this:

Interval = .6 x Tmax or in my case .6 x 3:17 which is 1:58 (almost 2 minutes) at 310 watts
Recovery = 2 x Interval Time or about 4 minutes

The goal would be to do 5 - 6 intervals. We'll see how many I can crank out early next week. Tomorrow I teach Spinning and Saturday and Sunday are long endurance rides.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Client Testimonial - Fred Evans

As you may have noticed my weight is coming down nicely. The day we did the first prologue in mid September, I weighed 206 lbs. As you may recall over the next 2 weeks or so it ballooned up to 214 lbs. Of course some of that was edema which initially took some medication (over a 3 day period) to correct. But that accounted for maybe 4 -5 lbs.

This morning (October 23) I was down to 201.7 lbs. I've not been at this low a weight in over a year, maybe even 18 months. The workouts are doing good things for me. Prior to my being on those hormone cancer drugs for 2-years my weight was 180lbs +/- a couple of pounds.

I'm going to need to do an easy ride on the trainer today as I'm a bit tired from the last 3 days of biking. Things are looking up.

Even Bigger News -- During my last 3 rides my back pain has gone. The stretching exercises, the exercise ball work and weight reduction are sure helping me to drop back pain like a pesky drafter. Keep your fingers crossed on this point. Riding pain-free is a joy. As you know I've struggled with this back pain for about a year.


T-Max Time

So I'm a little slow to post this, but I tried out my T-max test on Thursday while home at lunch.
I was talking to Kevin about the T-max intervals and he suggested trying them out on the CompuTrainer so that I could lock in the wattage at 310 and focus on just pedaling my legs off. Hrrrm... sounded like a good idea!

I hooked everything up and started to warm up. After 10 minutes or so I calibrated the CT and started adding some wattage on. Strangely, the CompuTrainer and my PowerTap didn't match up wattage. The PowerTap showed me about 30 watts lower than the CompuTrainer. Strange I thought. So I tightened up the resistance unit and re-calibrated. It was still off.

Well, I thought I'd go ahead and run the test anyway. So I cranked it up to 310 watts and waited for the pain to set in. I purposely didn't watch the timer when I started for fear of saying "5 minutes is pretty good and this is hard, so I'll shut it down".

After a few minutes I thought "this is actually pretty easy". I checked my PowerTap. 280 watts. Well, I know I can push this for quite some time. I've been doing it on the Nebo Ridge Trainer every Tuesday for an hour at a time. I attempted to wind it up a little to get the PowerTap in sync with the CompuTrainer. Ok, that was harder!

After what seemed like forever I was pretty spent and gave it up. Upon review of my data I spent over 7 minutes on the test. Well, that just can't be right.

Either I should be able to push more wattage in my PPO or I wasn't pushing out 310 watts for my timed test. I feel that the latter is the case.

My plan now is to retake the Tmax time test on my trainer just as I set it up when I did the PPO test. I hope to find some time tomorrow to do that test. We will see.

Until then... pedal on and be safe!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Interval Training - Power vs. Heart Rate

Intervals are the key to breaking through training plateaus and achieving new levels of speed and fitness. At Two Wheels, we prescribe lots of interval workouts for our clients, based on their current fitness level and training goals. We have seen dramatic increases in performance for clients who are using power-based (wattage) training for their interval work over clients who are using HR or RPE (rate of perceived exertion). I want to briefly address the differences and touch on a few FAQ’s we receive.

- Measuring power for an interval workout gives near instantaneous information concerning the intensity of the effort. Measuring HR is practically worthless for most intervals unless they are 5 minutes or more and your HR has a chance to catch up to your effort and level.
- Repeating the interval effort is critical to increasing fitness. If wattage numbers are not available, speed can be used on the trainer or on the road (assuming the terrain and wind are identical). Speed/pace is how we will prescribe intervals for runners. A wattage based workout interval is hard to mess up – work for 30 sec. at x watts and recover for 30 sec. at x watts. No trying to guess at the RPE, either you hit the wattage or you don’t.
- How to determine when you have done enough? Typically we recommend the end of an interval session when you can no longer be within 10% of the target wattage for a work piece. If the goal is 60 sec work pieces at 300 watts and you only hit 270 after doing 5 intervals at 300, time to stop.
- What we find is most people tend to stop early (they could have hit 300 a few more times) because the effort seemed too difficult or they did not feel as though they recovered enough. Even more common is for someone to thrash themselves well beyond the point where they should stop. They typically do more intervals (because more is better right?) at intensity slightly lower than they need for maximum benefit. Repeated sessions of this type can quickly lead to overtraining.

The bottom line is if you are serious about making gains with a minimum amount of training time; get a power meter and a coach to help you utilize the data. As an alternative, leave the HR monitor at home on your interval days and go by feel (RPE) or use your speed.

Good riding – Coach Kevin

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Peak Power Output Test

This morning I got up early and threw on the bike shorts and headed to the garage for my Peak Power Output test.

I warmed up for about 8 minutes and threw in a little climb to push my HR up and get my legs used to the stress. I hit about 400 watts. I continued to spin easy for two more minutes then did another climb. This time I pushed it a little harder around 450 watts.

At 17 minutes in I cranked up the iPod and White Zombie told me to GO! Well... go at 100 watts for a minute. And then add 30 watts every minute there after.

Let me tell you. This test doesn't really take long. I sat there at 100 watts going... this is silly. Why not just start at 200? Well, at 220, 250, and 280 I realized this was getting pretty hard. I hit 310 and kept it there about 40 seconds and I was done! WHAT? I thought I'd hit 400 or something.

I decided to spin easy for 10 minutes and try again.

This time I did worse. I could barely get it to 300 and sure wasn't going to set it there for a minute or go up to 340. I thought to myself... "OK, this is my PPO!"

I hope to get my T-Max time figured out tomorrow or Friday. I teach Spinning on Friday morning, so that is a bit of a challenge.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Try T-Max Intervals

I've been pretty busy recently with my home life and my training has taken a turn for the worse. Finding any kind of consistency has really been a challenge. Then yesterday on an easy recovery ride I was involved in a crash with a teenager goofing off. (perhaps that story will appear on another post in the future) Needless to say, I've continued to see my CTL drop on the Performance Management Chart.

So... all that said, tomorrow morning I'm going to fire up the Cycleops trainer and see where my Peak Power Output (PPO) sits. This is found by riding at 100 watts and increasing power by 30 watts every minute until you can't take it up any more for a full minute. My guess is that I'll end up somewhere around 500-600 watts based on a fairly recent Time Trial on the CompuTrainer.

I hope to get a day or two of rest, then fire up the trainer again to find my T-Max. The duration at which I can hold my PPO.

From there it's pretty simple math. Do intervals of .6 of your T-Max time at PPO. Double your work phase to find your recovery time.

So let's plot this out. If I push 500 watts tomorrow for my PPO and I hold my PPO for 6 minutes on Friday; then my "Ultimate Interval" will be 3.6 minutes at 500 watts followed by 7.2 minutes recovery. Then repeat as many times as I can! They say most people vomit and die after 5 or 6.

We'll see what happens!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

T-Max Intervals

I've been thinking about blogging a little about TMAX Intervals. I found this link this morning that sums it up pretty well. Sadly, it looks like this guy (Sean) was killed last month in an accident.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Intro to Performance Management Chart in WKO+

Have you ever heard the saying "You don't know what you don't know."? Nothing could be more true when talking about training with a power meter.

This season has been an eye opener for me even after 15 years of cycling. I've been using a PowerTap on my newest bike and learning quite a bit about WKO+. WKO+ is basically software created to log and analyze your data captured during training. The software was created by legends in the cycling world; Hunter Allen, Andy Coggan, and Kevin Williams.

Performance Management Chart
In WKO+ there are several charts and tools to monitor your performance on the bike. One of my favorites is the Performance Management Chart. I tell people this is my "feel good" chart because my mood is usually directly related to how much training I've been doing. This week, I've been pretty moody!

I'm going to attempt to break down the PMC (feel good) chart in plain ole english for those of you that are new to WKO+ or Power in general.

Out of the box, you can customize all of the charts in WKO+ to fit your needs. I've set my PMC up with the following additions:

  • NP60 - Normalized Power for 60 Minutes (top 10 instances)
  • NP30 - Normalized Power for 30 Minutes (top 10 instances)
  • Top 10 Max Power Outputs

These customized settings help let me know when I've done something on a ride that was a top 10 performance. Good to know!

The "standard" measurements on the PMC are:
  • TSB - Training Stress Balance (how "fresh" you are)
  • ATL - Acute Training Load (recent training loads)
  • CTL - Critical Training Load (overall fitness)
Now, it gets fun... Let's simply analyze one ride on the chart right now (click it to enlarge).

Notice on 6/10 the pink line spikes way up. That's my ATL. On that day, I did a really long and hard effort with a group down in Brown County. There were a lot of hills and it was a fast group. (I eventually fell off the back and limped home solo).

If you look at the yellow line in the same area, you can see that my "freshness" DROPPED the next day. Let me tell you, the chart doesn't lie. I was super sore the next day. You'll notice that days there after where the ATL is less, my TSB comes back up. When your TSB is at 0, you are ready to rock at maximum performance.

Another interesting note to point out is the blue line. My CTL or over all fitness jumped up with that ride. Just like a race or a tough training day, with proper recovery you WILL get stronger.

On the customized side of the chart, I show one of my top 10 power outputs that day at 1032 watts, an NP60 of 268 watts and an NP30 of 222 watts. Definitely an all around top 10 ride for me this season. One that clearly sticks out in my mind.

In my next blog, I plan on talking about training with a plan and what happens when you can't make the plan fit your busy lifestyle? I'm living proof of how much you can gain and the chart above won't lie!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Hilly Hundred Blooper

Well, our ad was placed in the upcoming 2007 Hilly Hundred 40th Year Celebration Catalog Photo Thingie. I got my copy in the mail just this weekend. I was quite excited to see our ad!

I shuffled through the pages and found our ad on page 33.... Uh.... what? This isn't our ad... there is surely a mixup!

Well, some how the art files we sent over weren't printed correctly. We are still investigating the whole matter.

What we can do is show you what it was supposed to look like! AND offer you the same great deal as seen in the ad. Mention the Hilly Hundred and sign up for 3 months of coaching and we'll throw in a 4th month for free!

Ride safe!