Friday, December 28, 2012

New 70.3 Podium Training Plans on TrainingPeaks

If you're using a power meter and GPS with HR monitor, and looking to take advantage of what TrainingPeaks has to offer for training feedback, check out my new 70.3 Podium Training Plans with Power and GPS.

If you're looking to try and qualify for Vegas 70.3 Worlds, or do really well in your local race, this plan will help you get there. I have listed it as a single 25 week plan, which can be changed to 24 or even 23, with different plans for Saturday races, and even Sunday races. If that is too long, which for many athletes might be, the plan is divided up and available as a Base Plan, and another as Build and Peak.

What makes these plans "podium"? Well, I know the training load and effort it takes to be prepared to do well in one of these events. I also know what specificity is, about how long the specific phase should last, and these plans give the athlete specific guidelines for specificity, in terms of TSS, Intensity Factor, and race preparation details. The plan also gives guidelines on the metrics to follow, and if you haven't reached a certain a threshold or mark, how to adjust the plan accordingly. The hours are right in line with what it takes to be successful and contend for a podium spot as well.

If you don't use a power meter, then I would suggest some of the other plans I offer, but if you do, this is right up your alley. Best of luck!

Coach Vance

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

30 Indoor Trainer Workouts Posted at @TrainingPeaks Store

If you're looking for something to break the monotony of indoor trainer rides thru the winter weather, then you will want to check out my indoor trainer workouts for sale in the Exercise Library section of TrainingPeaks.

The workouts range from 36 to 90 mins, and I give intensity prescription for zones, (power or HR), perceived extertion, (RPE 1-20 scale), and even some Critical Power value ranges. If you use a power meter, that will be perfect for this, but even those using HR or RPE will enjoy this.

I also list the workouts by goals, if you wanting to do some sprint work, endurance work, or other needs.

For those of you looking for something for the really LONG indoor rides, I have one in this which is a great set I use with my athletes to break-up those 4 hour rides on the trainer, while still working on the endurance needs of the athlete.

Enjoy, and if there is more demand I will create even more of them. Thanks!

Coach Vance

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Analyzing Ironman Run Training Prep - Part 2

(Click on image to enlarge)

The last post was rather popular, and sparked some email conversations from readers, and got me wondering about some other things. Some suggested that execution or heat/conditions from the races probably had more effect than necessarily judging the performance strictly by run split time. Others suggested that specificity of the run training mattered more in the weeks preceeding, rather than the volume of miles run. 

I agree with all those statements, and I believe there is not one clear cut answer to find out what we should do next, what training this athlete has responded well to, which race performance was actually best, and more. 

Before we get started with some analysis on this, let's define some of the items above:
NP = Normalized power from the race
IF = Intensity factor of the ride, (NP/FTP)
VI = Variability Index, (how well paced was the ride, steady = 1.00 or close, big variance = 1.05+)
bTSS = Bike Training Stress Score, the stress the bike put on the athlete, faster/harder bike will have 300+
rTSS = Run Training Stress Score, the faster run should have higher rTSS, as the athlete is able to hold faster pace, relative to their threshold

It is absolutely true that the training must be SPECIFIC to prepare the athlete, I can safely say that each of the 12 weeks leading into the races for this athlete was specific to Ironman. So if the training was specific in it's intensity and designed adaptation, then the type of training is consistent and isn't going to skew the data interpretation.

From this, what I want to see as a coach is, was there a mileage that gave us the most benefit? Was there a mileage number which was high, and not really any better than the lower mileage of specific training? If I can pinpoint a number for this athlete, a bell curve where I can keep the mileage range, and instead of doing more run miles, maybe do more bike or swim? 

Also, one thing I am considering with this athlete is that their highest mileage times have always come in the weeks preceeding their Ironman event. What I manipulated the timing of that volume to come before the 12 week out mark starts? Now the athlete comes in strong, and I can lower the volume, increase intensity. Definitely something I am considering. 

Some might say he ran great when he was just doing 32 mi/wk in 2008, why not go back to that? The main reason is that this was a new stimulus to the athlete back then, and expecting to get the same result is probably not realistic. But certainly it is strong evidence that mileage volume isn't the biggest determinant of run performance in an Ironman.

You can see that in 2011, we decided to do the most volume we have, thinking that would be the new training stimulus on the athlete, and perhaps give him the breakthrough he needed. You can see that didn't happen. He flatted in the race, but still, the run was not what we had hoped. 

As some have suggested, running at Wisconsin or in Florida is not the same as running in Kona, and the performances may be equitable, considering the conditions. This is always something which must be subjectively considered with analysis of the data, along with place in AG, course being in favor to an athlete's strengths or weaknesses, and even the mindset of the athlete. 

If you asked me, the athlete's best race all-time is probably Kona 2009, when he was 8th in his AG there, against stellar competition, in hot conditions. This takes into the account all the subjective things, and the fact this was a peak, championship event. His next best performance was his 8:59 at FL the year after, (because of the the significance of the 9:00 barrier), and the third best was probably IMWisc this year, where he just raced hard and well against a tough field, just missing a top 20 overall finish.

One colleague told me he thought VI mattered more in Ironman than even IF or TSS, but this athlete's two highest VI's we have were his fastest and third fastest runs. Also TSS seems to have very little reflection on his run times, as he either runs 3:13-14, or 3-3:05. Missing the bike data from Florida 2010 is a bummer, as the unit malfunctioned in the race and the data is incomplete, didn't want to draw conclusions from incomplete picture. So is it that this athlete handles courses which require higher VI better than steady state, flat courses? Could be. 

A lot of information to consider, and as a coach, reflection on the past is very important if you want to set the right path ahead. 

Coach Vance

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Analyzing Ironman Run Training Prep

(click on image to enlarge)

How much should you run in training for Ironman? It's a very common question, with the very common answer of, "Well, it depends." It depends on goals and run ability, and even lately I'm reminded that it depends on what you've done in the past. Experience is a great teacher, and the body tends to respond well to new stresses and fresh stimulus.

The athlete whose training is shown above I've worked with for 5 years, going from 11+ hour Ironman to the results you see, and this year we did something quite different, we raced 2 Ironman events in about 14 weeks, (Wisconsin and Cozumel). He podiumed at both events this year, and qualified for Kona, which leads me into planning for 2013.

When this athlete and I talked, we both agreed we would need a new approach if we want to accomplish getting on the podium in Kona. He believes he needs to run sub 3 hours off the bike in Kona to accomplish this goal. Well, after 5 years, we have tried a number of different approaches, and with 5 years of data we can look back and see the different approaches we've tried, what seems to have worked best, and how we might change it to accomplish running sub 3 off the bike. I had an idea in my mind of what we've actually done, and I have the Performance Management Charts, but I wanted to dive in a little deeper and examine the volume we've done in the past, and see the bigger picture.

I was able to go into TrainingPeaks and get all this run volume data in one chart, for the last 5 years. It is showing me as well that I have certain tendencies as a coach, and perhaps I need to try something different, or perhaps I am missing something which may be the breakthrough he is looking for.

I'm not going to share the plan for him based on the data in the chart, (that will be a work in progress anyway), but when I was putting this together, I found it interesting, and worth sharing. Many athletes read this blog, and there are certainly some great things to learn from the data within it, especially what type of run volume a perennial Ironman podium contender has done in his prep. I plan go back and do the same with some other metrics, might share those here as well.

Coach Vance

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The power of a power meter...

I am coaching a young triathlete with a lot of potential. He was hesitant to purchase a power meter, with the usual excuse of cost. I estimated this athlete had an FTP of about 400-410 watts. I was wrong, it was 448. He got the power meter finally and his first ride was a test for FTP. Here's where he stands now in his power profile in TrainingPeaks...

I think you can guess that when he saw this, from a single power file and test, that his confidence grew tremendously! He rates near a domestic professional cyclist, and his confidence will only grow as the numbers continue to grow.

If you're looking to get faster and better on the bike, consider a power meter. The data which comes from it can build confidence, and many times a belief in oneself is all that is missing from great performances.

Coach Vance