Monday, December 29, 2008

Power Profiles of Elites, Others

I received this comment recently for this blog, and felt it asked a great question...

"Hi there

I was wondering what a pro male triathlete power profile looks like
if you don't mind that would be cool


Haley asks a great question, as many people don't know what good power values are. Many athletes think the higher the numbers, the better. Generally, this is true, especially when compared to a single person over time, but comparing person to person, this is not the case. Power is relative to two values, weight and aerodynamic drag.

Power to weight is a key value in general, but is especially meaningful when considering a hilly, or mountainous bike course. If a course is flat or lightly rolling, which allows athletes to stay in the aero position, then aerodynamic drag is the limiting factor. Weight can actually help in some instances, as the mass moving allows it to maintain higher speed much easier than a low mass person, especially on a flat course.

Also, the quality of these values depends on whether you are a cyclist or triathlete, as well as the distance or event you focus on. A match sprinter on the track would not care about their CP 180 value, and in contrast an Ironman athlete doesn't really care too much about their CP .2 -6 values.

Haley is an Ironman triathlete, so it would seem obvious she is looking for a good value to base on for that. She asked for males, so here is what I have come to find, as well as talked with other coaches to be the standard for CP 60, or what we call FTP, Functional Threshold Power. This is the value you can hold for 60 mins.

If you want to qualify for Kona as a male age-grouper in the more competitive age groups, you need to have an FTP very close to double your body weight in pounds. For example, a 150 lb male in the 30-34 age group needs to have a FTP of close to 300 watts.

If you're a male pro, wanting to be competitive and qualify for Kona, (which means top 7-8 places overall), you need to be over 2, closer to 2.2 times your body weight in pounds for FTP. For example, this year I had an FTP at Ironman Coeur d'Alene of 350 watts, and weighed about 165 lbs, giving a value of 2.12 times my body weight. I finished 7th at that race.

Heading into Ironman Arizona, I was seeking an FTP of 375, and weight around 160-162 lbs. This would give me a value of about 2.3, which would be very competitive.

It should be noted that my background is running, and this assumes you run competitively in your category, and swim middle of the pack to front of the pack. If this value of FTP to weight was the end-all, be-all, we wouldn't bother racing, we'd just all submit our FTP's and determine the results from that. So there is a lot to consider besides these values, but when someone comes to me and tells me their goals, this is a standard I use to see if their goals are realistic.

This was a very good question, and I will take the time to answer it over the course of a few posts, with regards to females and other age-groups. Thanks Haley!

Coach Vance

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Client blog...

An interesting post from one of my recently added clients...

This client doesn't even know that I know it's him, so it makes it even better.

Coach Vance

Monday, December 15, 2008

Critical Power Chart - Season Review

I use Training Peaks with my athletes, both WKO+ and also their online interface software, which acts as a great communication tool between them and I. One of the best charts for tracking how the season went, can be found in the online software of Training Peaks, called the Critical Power Report.

This chart illustrates some great data, to assess the season and how the training went. You can review the year according to the annual training plan and the different periods of training, such as Base 1 or Build 1, etc.

If you click on the chart to enlarge it, you can see this athlete had their best power performances of the entire season over 60, 90 and 180 mins on November 23rd. That was Ironman Arizona, which helps illustrate he reached a bike fitness peak on race day. I normally don't care if that is the best value on race day, since they still have to run after the bike, but you want to see the peak values still to be similar to the raceday performance.

You can also see that most of the shorter time CP values happened much earlier, which shows how the training focus changed over time to reach the more important values for Ironman, (CP60-180), later in the year and closer to the Ironman event.

I even highlighted the key things I saw, which was the pattern of improvement over the different periods of training for CP90 and CP180. It wasn't always an improvement, but in general the trend went up, which is what we want to see.

Just another example of how technology can give us feedback to see how the training response is for the athlete. As a coach, this information is invaluable.

Coach Vance

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Marathon Training Plan Emails

I recently had some email correspondence with a reader who was following my 20 week marathon training plan, which was published by Competitor in their September issue. For many of you who may have read it online only, the webmasters forgot to include the key to the initials in the plan, so I wanted to re-post it here, along with an email I received and my responses.

Here is the plan, as an image, click on it to enlarge:

Here is the key to the plan:

E - Easy jog
A - Accelerations of 15-20 secs at high speed, with quick turnover, plenty of recovery between each.
S - Steady paced run. Not easy, not hard.
F - Fartlek - Speed bursts as you like, from 1 to 3 minutes in length, unstructured. Allow time for warm-up and cooldown.
MGP - Marathon Goal Pace - Time spent running at goal pace for the marathon is in parentheses. (MGP 90) means 90 mins run at marathon goal pace.
T - Tempo Run - Hard effort at faster than marathon pace, around 10K to half-marathon intensity. (T30) means 30 mins of tempo.
TT - Time Trial test - 30 mins HARD, with average pace and HR measured for the last 20 mins. These should improve over the course of the program.
XT - Cross Training - Your choice of cycling, elliptical, stairmaster or swimming, as well as any weight training you might enjoy.
Off - Rest day - Focus on recovery techniques, (hydration, stretching, massage, nap, etc.)

I did a quick Google search on the plan, and found it listed as a plan on the Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon website, under their training guidance. That was a suprise to me!

Recently, I recieved the following email, along with my replies, for any of you who might be interested in something similar....

Hello Jim,
I found your 20 week training program in the Competitor So Cal magazine I picked up from a Jamba Juice facility. It was in the September 2008 issue titled " 20 weeks to your first Marathon". All I have to say is THANK YOU!! This training program is very amateur friendly and i love it!! I have one question though, i am on the 14th week of the 20 week program but I need to go one more week since I signed up for Carlsbad Marathon on Jan 25, 2008. question is do I repeat any week in the 20 week course to help make it to 21 weeks or rest for a week? I am at a loss and need your assistance. Once again thanks for this great training program i could not have done this without you!!


My response:


Thanks for the great email. I'm always happy to hear how my work helps people who need it. Believe it or not, I don't hear much, so sometimes I wonder if anyone takes my advice. :-)

Here is a week I've come up with which should placed between weeks 18 and 19, that helps stagger-down the taper a bit more. I call it week "18a".

Monday - off
Tuesday - 75 XT
Wednesday - 60 (T 30)
Thursday - 50 E
Friday - 60 A
Saturday - 90 E
Sunday - 120 (MGP 60)

The abbreviations are the same from the original plan. I think this is the best adjustment for adding in a week toward the end.

Let me know how the race goes, and good luck!


Her response:

Thanks for the feedback, i will definitely let you know how it goes.... your program changed my whole outlook on running,,, thanks again!

If you're following my training plan, I'd love to hear how it's going, as I'm always looking for ways to improve things, or see if something works for a lot of people.

Coach Vance

Saturday, December 6, 2008

WKO+ Software Consulting

For those of you out there who read this blog and like what you see from the charts and articles regarding WKO+ software, I also offer consulting on the software, to help set up the charts, athletes, read files etc. This is available for $80 for a single 60 min session, to help you learn all you need. TrainingBible clients and coaches get discounted rate.

Contact me at jvance at trainingbible dot com.

Coach Vance

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Video Training Plans Available - Core and Leg Strengthening

If you saw one of my earlier posts, you know I've been working on training plans which are iPod video compatible, for athletes to take with them to demonstrate the skills or exercises they are doing.

I have now completed my latest training plan, which is for core and leg strengthening exercises, which can be done at home or a gym, with minimal equipment.

One of the things I notice when I go to the weight room is how many people are using an iPod to entertain themselves as they work out. Now, with these plans, athletes can use the iPod not only for entertainment, but as a coach for certain exercises as well.

This plan consists of 30 exercises requiring only a swiss ball, medicine ball or just body weight.

There is a lot more information on the plans at:

If you're a coach, the two plans, (swim drills/skills and core/leg strengthening), are available as one package, for you to buy and add to your file library on Training Peaks, and use with your clients for years to come! You can also just purchase one plan if you're more interested in that.

If you've been looking for some new strength exercises in the weight room, at home, or are worried about not having quality instruction, this strengthening plan is for you!

Check it out and let me know what you think. Best of luck!

Coach Vance

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Season Review Interesting Findings

This image I sent to a client of mine, who was pretty amazed at what he saw. In our talk, he told me this was the chart which showed him the most impressive aspect of coaching and his training.

This gentleman came to me about 2 weeks before Ironman Arizona in April. Because there was little we could do to physically prepare, we focused more on his race strategy, and I gave him some guidelines on designing his taper. I really didn't want to interfere with his training and his routines so close to the race, so there was no training plan written from me basically.

In the above image is the combined weekly TSS scores from bike and run workouts, (click on the image to make it larger), from when he first came to me before IMAZ in April, until now. As you can read in my comments, he was training at such a high level of TSS on a daily and weekly basis before, that when he started training me we were no where near the same TSS levels. He stayed very healthy all season long, and the result was a three and a half hour improvement!

In fact, I was able to show him power files from his bike workouts that were actually much better than what he did at IMAZ in April, despite the lower TSS scores. We were able to better balance the intensity and volume to get him to improve so dramatically.

When we talked, he said it best, "Just goes to show that more is not necessarily better." Well said.

Coach Vance

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Coaching Lesson Learned

I recently read an interview with Joel Filliol, who is the coach of the successful BAMF group, (Simon Whitfield - Olympic Silver Medalist, Tom Evans - 2 Ironman wins this year, and many more). He talked about being a development coach at the NTC in Victoria, BC. One thing he said which really resonated with me was, "as development coach I was working with a number of other coaches and didn't have the autonomy to make and be accountable for my own decisions."

I really appreciated this, because the way you learn is in the mistakes you make as a coach. (Show me a perfect coach, and I'll show you a coach who doesn't have any clients).

So many coaches don't take responsibility for their decisions with athletes. Because it's a two-person dance, it always seems easy for coaches to say the athlete was responsible for the performance when it wasn't as good as hoped. It's also easy for me to know what I'm doing right, but I think it's more important to know what I'm doing wrong. Most coaches will also never publicly expose their mistakes, so it makes it hard to learn from other coaches on what not to do.

It is the end of the season, and I feel it's important to look back on the season with my athletes, and see where I, the coach, went wrong. Where did I make mistakes? What could I have done better to prepare my athletes. I have sent some of my athletes these year-end reviews, but not all yet. (Be patient if you're reading this, these take some time!) These are becoming invaluable to me, especially for those athletes who gather data via power meters and speed-distance devices for running.

One athlete I finished the season with I was especially disappointed about, because they are the first athlete I've ever had who was not able to compete at their A-priority race. This athlete was doing extremely well, improving to levels which were surpising even me. Then in one big day on the bike, the back tightened up so bad, they were unable to move for a few days. We were about 4 weeks from the start line of IMAZ. It only seemed to get worse, and it became clear the race would not happen.

There were some signs of nagging tension with the back, and perhaps the athlete didn't communicate it well enough to me to make me take notice, but I had a sense something could have been done by me to prevent it. Or even worse, that I contributed largely to the injury.

When I went back and looked at the Performance Management Charts, it became evident that when I spiked the stimulus too much, the athlete did not respond well. I was too aggressive in this athlete's training.

Click on this image, the PMC, with my notes that I sent to the athlete:

This was a great tool for me, in seeing that I got too aggressive, and need to be more aware of the risks I am taking with an athlete's health and season. I've certainly had an excellent track record, as again this was the first athlete not to compete at their A-priority race, but sometimes you need to be reminded.

This is just another advantage of collecting data, not only as an athlete, but as a coach. I'm glad it's helping me "be accountable for my own decisions" as a coach.

Coach Vance