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Episode #108 – Refining Your Yearly Review Process

Episode #108 – Refining Your Yearly Review Process

It may be a little early for you to start reviewing your season. But it’s never too early to start preparing for it when it eventually comes around. Discover how to review your season by maximising the data you have collected over the year.

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I’m making this a practical example using an athlete that officially wrapped his season in mid-August. Covering his race requirements, training, performance and race results. Plus recommendations for next season to take him to the next level. Learn how to do the same for yourself.

Alex Krill

Alex is a 27-year-old male. He is single but works a demanding job and had never been cycle-racing before 2014. Two years ago he had competed in one long distance (500km) event, and found he enjoyed it but Alex was studying and did not pursue riding any further.

A year ago he started riding over the summer and become increasingly interested in the idea of doing everything right to see what would happen. Partly to pursue something fully, and partly to push his physical limits.

His goal was to compete in National and local races in Norway, and complete in bigger events like the Tour of Flanders Sportive and L’Etape du Tour. Both events require endurance, while Flanders requires 3-5 minute power for short climbs, L’Etape requires Functional Threshold Power (FTP) for the longer climbs.

He also wanted to race locally and is a big fan of smashing out new Strava climb records, both of which require power to achieve a high speed on each climb.

THE EVENTS

 Sportives

Each sportive takes 4-6 hours to complete. An endurance base is extremely important as the cyclist has to ride consistently for the entire time. Alex then has to create speed through accelerations at crucial times during the event. Any sportive cycling event uses the aerobic system as its main energy system. While racing events use all three energy systems: the aerobic system, the anaerobic lactic system and the anaerobic alactic system so the training program would have to reflect that.

National and Local Road Races

Road races take between 2-5 hours to complete. Consequently it is a mainly aerobic event but the athlete must have the ability to handle shorter efforts from 15 seconds to 8 minutes. This component requires strength and speed which produces power. Each race has a unique combination of efforts that can be trained before the event.

THE TRAINING PROGRAM

The training year was from mid-September to mid-August.

As Alex is from Norway, considerations had to be made regarding winter.

The prep phase consisted of 10 weeks of base building, that was interrupted by December – cold and bad weather – no place for training outside.

It was during this time we moved into a short maintence block to preserve the endurance built up in the 10 weeks prior. This was also the time when we started to incorporate traditional weights-based resistance training into the program. This was in preparation for the transfer of strength to power before the Tour of Flanders Sportive where 5 minute power was critical for success.

This was done for 2 days a week and was periodised over 12 weeks total.

After a snowy winter break that was focussed on maintaining endurance and building strength I divided the year into two cycles of 12 weeks each.

The first cycle consisted of 12 weeks (Jan-April).

The first 4 weeks of the cycle were focussed on indoor training at Alex’s local gym, where he was using spin bikes. This was due to not being able to use a trainer at home. To make the most of his time we focussed on tempo/SS and big gear efforts.

Alex was able to get outside in February – the weather was still unpredictable but manageable most of the time. The focus here shifted to Zone 2 workouts with a little bit of freedom to get out and do long hilly rides. While slowly incorporating hill repeats and building the intensity.

Which as March rolled around turned into V02 Max repeats to focus on the short climbing efforts needed for the Tour of Flanders Sportive. All the time maintaining Zone 2 with either long rides or sweetspot intervals.

After the Tour of Flanders we moved into a 4 week race period using V02Max to maintain fitness while not putting in the extra time in endurance zones. Following these for weeks, we had a mid-season break towards to start of May.

The second cycle consisted of 12 weeks (May-August).

After the break we focussed on endurance and sweetspot to rebuild the base before hitting some intensity again.

The next block after this was focussed on raising Alex’s FTP and consisted of a lot of steady state work at or above FTP. Which moved from the flats to the hills as L’Etape du Tour drew closer, and a short taper before the event.

After L’Etape du Tour there was 5 weeks remaining before the final A race of the season. A 15 minute group hill climb. Alex was on holidays in Europe for 2 weeks after L’Etape and his CTL started to take a tumble. I prescribed sprint workouts to account for the fact that he had limited time to train, and I wanted to see how he would react to these shorter efforts after a long season.

There was no real need for a taper. But as expected during the race, he was unable to stay with the leaders, and didn’t put out any best power numbers.

THE RESULTS

What were the results of this training?

Outcome (Racing)

Tour of Flanders Sportive – Fizzer

Ronde van Berg – 2nd (in breakaway)

Lågendalsrittet – 3rd

Nibberittet – 4th

Trollstigen Race – 3rd (first across the line)

Nordfjordrittet – 1st (out of 217)

L-Etape du Tour – 66th (out of 12,000)

Alex performed well at both sportives despite no other competitors and a big crash. In the Flanders Sportive…he recorded a quick time and ended up swapping off turns with the Belgian National Champion. It shows, however, the success of his strength training for 5 minute power.

The first 2 hours of L’Etape were hindered by slower riders before a series crash on the slippery downhill. After which the weather settled in which caused mental fatigue in the latter stages of the race.

In the road races he recorded his first ever win and two podiums. There were near misses due to inexperience and not understanding the race format, which was caused lower places despite at times crossing the line first.

Performance (Numbers) – First cycle.

FTP – From top of Cat 2 (4.4W/Kg) to mid Domestique Pro (5.05W/Kg) a 12.9% increase.

5 Minute – From mid Cat 2 (5.01W/Kg) to top of Domestique Pro (6.46W/Kg) a 22.4% increase.Performance (Numbers) – Second cycle.

FTP – (5.05W/Kg) to (5.15W/Kg) a 0.9% increase.*

No final test 🙁

If you want to take a closer look at the numbers in relation to load.

PMC

Start with the Performance Manager Chart. Take a look at your PMC since you started collecting data (if the start of your year was also the start of your saved power data then use starting ATL and CTL seeds to prop up the starting PMC values a bit) and see how the curves, especially CTL behaved relative to periods where you felt particularly good or bad and where you had your best days on the bike.

Plot things like your 20 or 30 days of peak recorded power for durations of interest relative to your training and your events. That might be plotting your days with best 20 minute power if you do a lot of hard 20 minute efforts or it might be other durations that better represent your typical training or racing like best 40-60 minute NP if you do a lot of crits or maybe best 3-6 minute power if your training or events push you to the limit there fairly frequently.

Just like where we specifically optimised for 5 min power while training base at FTP and increased his 5 min power by 22.4%, and FTP by 13.8%.

If you printed the chart then pencil in dates with particularly good or bad race performances to see when those happened and what led up to those days from a CTL, ATL, and TSB perspective. You’re not looking so much for individual workouts but patterns. Do you actually perform best on high TSB or do you perform better off a gradually increasing CTL ramp even if TSB isn’t all that high on the day of your good performances. Did your best days follow several weeks of a particular type of training or did you perform better after an extended period of frequent racing? Look for trends, don’t take them too literally as not all correlations are causal but see if you can draw out some of the recurring patterns.

Also, consider rest of life events and nutrition or weight. Maybe training was ok, but other factors had an impact. Tracking sleep patterns is really good for this.

CTL Peak: 111

 

Recovery floor: -55

rides.lts().max(1)

x y
13 July, 2014 111

 

rides.sts().max(1)

x y
6 July, 2014 164

 

rides.sb().max(1)

x y
2 September, 2014 56

 

rides.sb().min(1)

x y
6 July, 2014 -55

 

Best Performance

Race won*

22/6/2014

77.10 V02 Max Score

5.51 best Lim Score

LTS: 90

STS: 83

SB: 7

Other things to look at are weekly training hours throughout the year, weekly TSS, typical ride IF and duration, etc and again printing them and marking them up with dates where you exceeded or fell short of expectations can also tell you things about what worked and what could be improved. If you keep post workout notes (a good idea) then mark up your printouts based on those notes to help identify the better or worse than average days and to make note of things like business travel, family stress, illness, etc.

Total hours: 359:37:15

Total TSS: 19912

Total Load

rides.load().group_by(year).aggregate(sum).table()

x y
1 January, 2012 0
1 January, 2013 4528
1 January, 2014 19912

 

Total Moving Time

rides.moving_time().group_by(year).aggregate(sum).table()

x y
1 January, 2012 3:02
1 January, 2013 182:41:12
1 January, 2014 359:37:15

 

Total Work (Kj)

rides.work().group_by(year).aggregate(sum).table()

x y
1 January, 2012 0
1 January, 2013 57284
1 January, 2014 246434

 

Total Distance

rides.distance().group_by(year).aggregate(sum).table()

x y
1 January, 2012 0.65
1 January, 2013 4473
1 January, 2014 9309

 

Biggest Week

Max week moving time

rides.moving_time().group_by(week).aggregate(sum).table().max(1)

x y
30 June, 2014 18:54:00

 

Max week load

rides.load().group_by(week).aggregate(sum).table().max(1)

x y
30 June, 2014 1094

 

Metres Climbed

rides.climbing().group_by(year).aggregate(sum).table()

x y
1 January, 2012 8
1 January, 2013 92585
1 January, 2014 198029

 

There are a lot of ways to review your historical data and a lot of custom charts you can craft but the main thing is to back way out and look for patterns and to make note of things like how many hours you could actually train during peak season before life and other responsibilities cut you off or what sort of training patterns really got you psyched up and led to good results and what training perhaps burned you out a bit or left you too flat at the wrong times. That sort of information can be very useful as you lay out your plans for the coming year.

One such chart is the O-I ratio between Effective Power:Avg HR

For performance, one way of using output-input ratio is to express how fast you are going relative to how much effort it takes to go that fast. Output can be measured with speed using a GPS device or power using a power meter. Input can be measured with a heart rate monitor.

So, for example, if in a 40km time trial in a bike race your average power was 280 watts and your heart rate was 150 then your output-input ratio was 1.87 (280 ÷ 150 = 1.8667). In either case what you’d like to see happen in future races is that you run faster or your power goes up but there is little change in your heart rate. Aside from the faster times, that would be an indicator of increasing fitness.

But it doesn’t have to be a race to use O-I ratio. This can be done with any standard workout, but works best with steady, as opposed to highly variable, outputs. And it also works best with relatively long efforts due to the lag in heart rate change when output increases. With intervals, for example, it works best when the work interval is around 5 minutes or longer.

rides.filter(function(ride) { return ride.has.power && ride.has.heartrate; }).map(function(ride) { return ride.summary.epower / ride.summary.avg_heartrate; }).group_by(month).aggregate(average).table()

x y
1 September, 2013 1.15
1 October, 2013 1.43
1 November, 2013 1.59
1 December, 2013 1.60
1 January, 2014 1.61
1 February, 2014 1.58
1 March, 2014 1.58
1 April, 2014 1.59
1 May, 2014 1.72
1 June, 2014 1.76
1 July, 2014 1.86
1 August, 2014 1.86

 

Line Power:HR

rides.filter(function(ride) { return ride.has.power && ride.has.heartrate; }).map(function(ride) { return ride.summary.epower / ride.summary.avg_heartrate; }).group_by(month).aggregate(average).line()

Outside of cycling I will also make note of 1rm changes to weights before programming next seasons weights program.

Just for fun.

Average Temp

rides.avg_temperature().group_by(year).aggregate(average).table()

x y
1 January, 2012 23.7
1 January, 2013 4.0
1 January, 2014 10.9


Average Speed

rides.avg_speed().group_by(year).aggregate(average).table()

x y
1 January, 2012 12.78
1 January, 2013 23.78
1 January, 2014 24.32

 

Cycling Analytics Charts

rides.load().group_by(week).aggregate(sum).table()

rides.moving_time().group_by(month).aggregate(sum).table()

rides.intensity().group_by(month).aggregate(average).table()

rides.avg_power().group_by(month).aggregate(average).table()

p.s. add this before your equation to filter rides by the year

rides.filter(function(ride) { var d = new Date(ride.local_datetime); return d.getUTCFullYear() == 2014; })

Changes for next season to take Alex to the next level…this is my recommendation.

On a macro level Alex has shown that he’s able to handle larges loads of stress, and we could miss training on the bike in the winter, and move to a more traditional training program. Where a ramp up occurs from Late Feb/Early March

While his numbers continued to increase, there was an obvious plateau regarding hs FTP. Aiming for races in May/June would give him the extra time to build with longer blocks before starting FTP, and subsequently V02Max work to get the bump in fitness later on.

No performance bests in races. Needs to race a higher level. Not only because his race results varied due to his riding skills, and tactical inexperience. But he was not pushed to his limits in these races. I recommended more and harder racing. In fact make everything about racing. No sportives.

There you go, hopefully that gives you a template to review your season. And make the changes necessary to improve next year.
If you want me to do this for you, your can sign up for any coaching package and I’ll do a review as part of planning the next season. Check at my coaching packages at semiprocycling.com/coaching.

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Photo credit: biker_jun on Flickr

 

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