Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Poor FTP testing?

I received this email from an athlete with a common question about what to do if you just don't tend to be a good at testing for FTP, with results that seem to match what your race performances show.

Happy New Year Sir,

I've recently gotten through Triathlon 2.0 and Run with Power and have found them to be quite helpful. I was familiar with most of the concepts in 2.0 but you provided a lot of additional context that I was missing before. 

The question, or problem that I have really, is an inability to FTP test well. Over the past few seasons my FTP hasn't risen above 228 (averaged 240 in 20 minute test) but my overall fitness and endurance has steadily improved. Is there a way you would recommend "backing into" threshold power based on a long ride, etc? I'm getting more fit, just not any faster. Comparable 40 mile rides from 2015 and 2016 are done at the same speed, avg power, etc, but my avg HR is 18 bpm less.

I raced Ironman Mont Tremblant in August and while only my second fastest Ironman, it was by far my most complete and well executed race. I knew my FTP wasn't right so I rode race day by feel with an occasional glance at HR. Based on an FTP of 228 my NP was 174, IF was .76, Pw:HR was -0.84% and TSS was 350.2. That amount of stress should have ended my day but I followed that up with my best and first sub 4-hour Ironman run. Clearly my feel for the bike was spot on, but the numbers are not. Is there any way I can derive a more accurate FTP?  

I've recently FTP'd again to assess where I am as I prepare for IM 70.3 Puerto Rico and my test numbers were even worse (avg 217 watts for 20 min) but my average power / heart rate is close IMMT values when I do 1.5-2 hour moderate effort rides.

My apologies for such a long email and I sincerely appreciate your time if you've made it this far.

Thank you,


My response to Steve:


Thanks for the email. You're not the only person who has struggles testing, as that intensity is definitely a bit higher. I tend to find the older the athlete, or the longer they have been doing longer, aerobic training, the harder it is to test well. 

I think part of it also can be how well an athlete responds to a taper. You might be responding very well to a taper, which raises your FTP more than you realize. Also, you need to make sure you are using the same protocol to test, especially in the days before the test, so the results are reliable and the test is repeatable. So if you take a day off in the 2-3 days before the test one time, you need to do that each time. If you don't do this, then you're not comparing apples to apples, as the fatigue you carry into a test can affect the result. 

In general, you are on the right track, using your perceived exertion to better handle the raceday intensity, especially if you feel comfortable with your sense of the intensity, so you can better maximize your performance. 

Hope this helps!

Coach Vance

Friday, September 16, 2016

WADA and TUE Leaks

Hackers this week have released data on athletes, from Olympic stars to elite cyclists, and more are coming.

For clarity purposes, WADA stands for the World Anti-Doping Association. TUE stands for Therapuetic Use Exemption, which means an athlete has filed the proper paperwork with a doctor, to get to use a certain substance, which meets a personal need they have, such as asthma, where an inhaler might be needed. TUE's are the official approval of WADA for the athlete to use the substance, for a given time and for a given need only.

These WADA leaks about prominent athletes having TUE's, is simply a smear campaign. Filing for a TUE, and having it granted is NOT cheating or doping. It is actually playing by the rules and being honest and open about your individual needs and conditions. Now, is this TUE policy being abused? Absolutely, by some I have no doubt. But a TUE is not proof of cheating, in fact, it is the opposite, these athletes are following the rules and being honest about what they're taking. (If you don't like TUE's, well that's another argument in itself. Although, I would be hard pressed to find anyone who wouldn't take some type of medicine if their doctor prescribed it to them, and it was a serious ailment for their daily living and career).

WADA is a world governing body, not a national, so these athletes aren't being sheltered or protected by their national governing bodies from the rest of the world. This is the authority.

Is there corruption within WADA? I believe at times, yes. Is there abuse of the system to gain an edge? Certainly. I've written on this blog about athletes and coaches who do that, specifically. I am not a fan of this, and certainly think the number of TUE's which can be granted to an athlete should be limited. Maybe the TUE's length of time it is granted needs to be discussed or debated, but in the end, we do rely on an honor system to a degree.

Now, if this hack and leak begins to expose positive tests which WADA has swept under the rug, that is an entirely different story, and all bets are off. However, testing positive for a substance which you have a TUE filed for and is current, is not against the rules, and isn't hiding a positive test, or sweeping it under the rug.

So before you read headlines and make quick judgements on athletes, be sure to understand the system, and read the facts.

Coach Vance

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Guest on IM Talk - Run With Power

I was a guest this week on IM Talk, the most popular Ironman Triathlon podcast there is. I was discussing my new book, Run With Power. You can check out the interview here.

Have a listen, and let me know your thoughts!

Coach Vance

Friday, June 24, 2016

Run With Power E-Book Now Available

Many of you have been asking, and it is now out and available. Should help many of the international athletes on here who have been waiting. You can find it here:

And I am always appreciative of a review on Amazon or other online retailers for the book. I want honest feedback, as the planning for a 2nd version, or a more in-depth sequel will begin soon.

Thanks, and good luck!

Coach Vance

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What a triathlete can learn from US Soccer in Copa America?

Tonight, (Tuesday, June 21st, 2016), I watched the US lose to the #1 team in the world, Argentina, in the COPA America Centario Semi-Final, which is one of the most prestigious soccer tournaments in the world. (I know many may say the UEFA Cup is better, but the US can't play in that, since they are not in Europe.) Tonight the US lost 0-4, to a team which was flat out better than they were. There is no shame in losing to a team that's better than you. But it is an opportunity to review.

As the game went on and I was frustrated to watch as a fan, I realized so many of the feelings and things I was saying out loud at the TV were things I see in triathletes, and frustrations I have with many of them, from elites to age groupers to elite juniors. I can make it very clear in 2 simple concepts, which if you are a triathlete, you need to seriously consider if you value your performances in the sport.

Lesson #1 - Fundamentals are Key
Passing a soccer ball isn't cool on the playground. Scoring is cool. Being the best passer on the field isn't cool. Saving shots from the goalie position are cool. Headers into goals are cool. Passing isn't cool, that is, until you see a team that has such a basic fundamental skill down so well, they make it beautiful. Argentina passed the ball like it was effortless, while the US passed like they didn't know where it was going. It was such a clear depiction of what the difference of what the best do and what the US does, that I had to write about it, in relation to triathlon. It's a fundamental skill.

What are fundamentals in triathlon? They are bike fit, proper run shoes, basic swim skills, pacing skills, basic aerobic conditioning, injury prevention and therapy, race nutrition, equipment maintenance and its preparation for race day, proper rest and recovery, and of course, consistency of training.

So many triathletes are chasing the highest goals against the stiffest of competition, and don't bother making these fundamentals a focus. They are more concerned with hours of training or their FTP. And it's no surprise when many don't reach their potential or even close to their goals when they haven't addressed the fundamentals! I've literally had athletes supremely prepared and ready to perform exceptionally, only to get in an Ironman and realize they didn't charge the battery of the Di2, and they can't shift! There's no training plan or world renowned coach who can overcome that basic fundamental of making sure your equipment is ready for race day!

There are no nutritional plans which can overcome poor pacing. If it could, then whoever ate the most would win! You can't run your first few miles off the bike at 10K pace in a long course triathlon! There's no way I can help you with training to perform at a high level if you don't have a proper bike fit, giving up effective watts. I can't help you if you treat the swim and transitions as times for photo opps with the family or warm-ups for bike and run, instead of opportunities to close the gap on the best in your Age Group.

There is no training plan a coach can write, or workouts you can do, which can make up for a lack of consistency in your training. You must be committed, and you must put in the work, EVERYDAY.

These are the fundamentals of triathlon, which too often get overlooked. They aren't sexy, like a power file, or bike split, or even passing in a major soccer game, but as Argentina proved, the best in the world are masters of fundamentals.

Lesson #2 - It doesn't matter how good or bad your competition is, if you are your own worst enemy

This concept is related to Lesson #1, but it needs to be stated by itself. If you're ignoring the fundamentals, you are your own worst enemy. If you think you can brush over the fundamentals, as though they are just fodder for a blog, then you will be exposed, especially as your goals get higher, and you face stiffer competition.

There's no way around it, you need to address the fundamentals. If you don't know what they are, or feel like you're never racing to a level which is indicative of your performance potential, then you need a coach, and they should address the fundamentals with you. You can even watch the best, and notice they have the fundamentals down. They don't screw up the basics, they are well beyond them.

I'm pissed off to see a US Men's National Team perform so poorly on the biggest stage, against the best in the world, in a way which shows they lack the fundamentals. I would be embarrassed as a coach of a triathlete if they did the same.

In the postgame, Alexi Lalas stated, "The number of times the US lost the ball, clear unforced errors which have nothing to with the fact you're playing Argentina..." What he was saying is it doesn't matter if they are more talented than you if you give them the victory anyway. Think about that. How much are you giving your competition just because you are not addressing or doing the things which are basic?

Address your fundamentals, stop being your own worst enemy.

Coach Vance

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Run Power Based Training Plans Now Available on TrainingPeaks

If you've picked up my new book, Run With Power, or are using a power meter for your run training, and are looking to use it with TrainingPeaks, I have run power-based training plans now available in TrainingPeaks. 

These plans are from the book, and are in Appendix B, so they are available there, but if you'd like them pre-loaded into your TrainingPeaks account, this offers you the chance to do that.

The current plans are all 14 weeks long, and are for the specific phase, where the workouts are designed to simulate the demands of the race, not a base training phase. The plans are:

Sub 16 min 5K
Sub 18 min 5K
Sub 32 min 10K
Sub 40 min 10K
Sub 1:20 Half-Marathon
Sub 1:40 Half-Marathon
Sub 2:30 Marathon
Sub 3:30 Marathon

All these plans can be found here:

Hopefully you'll have a great experience in using one or many of these plans, and your running power meter!

Coach Vance

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Efficiency Index Apps - Garmin & Suunto

If you've picked up Run With Power, or been listening to me on podcasts, you know that speed per watt is the key metric for running power meters, or what I call, Efficiency Index, or EI for short. Chapter 5 in the book is devoted to this topic entirely, and I discuss how a rolling 30 second average of your speed per watt in a race or workout can give you a good idea of how efficiently you're running, or the speed you're getting for the watts you're producing.

In this technology age, we can create these metrics to monitor during a run on our watches or head units, and I have a couple of fans of the book who created the Rolling EI for Garmin and Suunto users. The Suunto apps were created by Toni Cumplido, (twitter: @tonicumpli), so thank you Toni for these! I hope to have more Garmin IQ apps coming.

Here are the links for each, if you're using these products and want to see...

Efficiency Index by itself, of the entire session
Garmin IQ App

Suunto Moves Count App for Ambit

Rolling Efficiency Index, just the previous 30 seconds within the session
Suunto Moves Count App for Ambit

Power Training Zones
Suunto Moves Count App for Ambit - Allows you to see what zone you are in while training, based on your rFTPw.

Again, thanks for the help, and I hope you're enjoying Run With Power, and these metrics for training.

Coach Vance

Friday, May 6, 2016

Article from Competitor on Power for Running

Here's an article from Competitor on power meters for running, (written by Brian Metzler), which I contributed quotes for.

Since the 1950s, distance runners have trained by following structured programs and workouts backed by physiological testing and years and years of positive results.
Beginning in the late 1980s, heart-rate monitors added a new dimension to training, allowing for the advent of workouts based on specific heart-rate zones. Both methods have helped runners and triathletes of all levels improve their performance. By the early 2000s, GPS-enabled smartwatches made it easy to monitor pace, distance, elevation and other types of data.
As the modern age of wearable tech has started to unfold, a new measurement technology has the ability to revolutionize training for runners: the power meter.
Cyclists have used power meters since the 1990s to accurately measure how much power they’re outputting and how that effort corresponds with their physiology. Power is the primary metric for cyclists, although, granted, it’s a much simpler metric to understand on the bike—essentially a function of how much force is being exerted on the pedals, crank arms or rear hub to make it move.
Power meters for runners—and the corresponding training protocols based on power output—have only become available recently, so the art and science of using power for run training are still very much in their infancy. But those closest to the new technology—including pioneering coaches and elite athletes who are already incorporating power into their training—believe it can be a very important metric for running.

Read the rest of the article at

Coach Vance

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Free Copies of Run With Power with Power Meter Purchases

If you're interested in running power meters, there are some great limited time offers from the two power meters on the market, Stryd and RPM2, which come with FREE copies of my book, Run With Power, to help you get started on understanding how to use the tools.

RPM2 is offering $100 off their insole power meter, and an autographed copy of Run With Power. You can get the details here.

Stryd is offering a free copy of Run With Power with the purchase of one of their power meters, or packages. You can get the details at:

Keep following my blog to find out more and learn more about using power meters for running, and other cool offers!

Coach Vance

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Interview on Triathlete Training Podcast

I was recently invited to be a guest on another top triathlon podcast, Triathlete Training Podcast, conducted by Eric Schwartz. Eric does great work, and it was a great conversation, from my swim coaching to the books I am releasing this year, and a few laughs even!

You can listen to the podcast here:

You can also download the interview from the site:

If you read this blog, I know you'll love Triathlon 2.0 - Data Driven Performance Training, as it takes what I talk about on here to another level, and completes the picture. As of the date of this post, there are 7 reviews on Amazon, with 6 being 5-star, one being 4-star. You can order a copy here.

Enjoy, and please feel free to reach out to me on social media, via Twitter, @jimvance, and Instagram, @coachjimvance.

Coach Vance