June 10, 2009

Training Theory Applied - Part 2


In the first post of this series(is it a series?) I wrote about The Athletic Mindset, and the triangulations that form it: Zen Buddhism, The Flow State, and Expertise. Now the trick is to employ these elements in a manner that helps drive development. For the most part that can be summed up in one word - Consistency.

If we take the precepts of the Athletic Mindset to be worth striving for, then bringing consistency to your workouts is an elemental first step. Yet, it is often difficult to master. There are too many distractions, too much work, too few hours in the day. Whatever the rationale it really boils down to a question of committment. Instead of striving for consistency, many athletes follow the 'too much, too little' paradigm. They'll have a world class ride, better still a world class week or two and then, because the training was so focused, too focused, they over cook themselves and training plummets for a day, a week, or a month. Or perhaps training is steady and work/life/family/stress gets in the way and training plummets. Whatever the reason it's these 'ON/OFF' patterns that result in sporadic fitnes gains. The challenge is to establish a new pattern...


Consistency is really just making the committment to steady progress with your training. My recent ToolBox article on Pez Cycling News covered some of the traditional approaches to organizing your training week, including how some of those traditions may contribute to sporadic fitness. As noted in the article it is often a good idea to take a larger view of your training. One way to do that is to look at your goals for a particular block (threshold development for example) AND how that fits into the big picture of training towards that marquee goal you've set vis-a-vis training load. Another way is to look at the individual rides and better manage their efficiency. First let's look at Training Load.

Thanks to people like Andy Coggan, Hunter Allen, Eric Bannister, Phil Skiba etc. we have any number of ways to track training load for both individual workouts and over time. Personally, I like the Coggan model because it is built from a solid platform of research and it's pretty intuitive to understand (you can brush up on it here). I also like it because it's part of the WKO+ software that I use, so I don't have to do much to keep track of the numbers.

There have been several good threads about training load on the Wattage forum. They have dealt with the imposition of training over time - usually reflected in one's Chronic Training Load (CTL). The consensus seems to be that a gradual ramp rate of 5-8 TSS points per week (20-35 points per month) is sustainable long term up to an athletes as-yet-unknown optimal training volume. Of course the duration of this 'gradual build' is set by ones current CTL and, therefore, may not be the best tracking method for those alread close to an optimal training load (then again do YOU know YOUR optimal training load?). One thing is certain, by approaching your training load in a more longitudinal fashion you will likely build fitness at a rate you can maintain, and still see improvements throughout.

Let's say you have 10 hours a week to train. Theorhetically you have a maximum training load of 1000 TSS points (1 Hour at FTP = 100 points) per week. It is much more realistic to expect between 500 and 800 points in a given week for the same 10 hours (really, how many hours per week can you do at FTP!). You can then make an educated guess as to your individual capacity and set your training load accordingly. You may find it quite liberating to know that you only have to hit 550 TSS points this week and 555 TSS points next week to meet your long term training goals (hint - have long term training goals!). This awareness provides a great starting point for another element of consistency - the individual ride.

While variations in weekly training volume are easy for most athletes to see in the real world, they have a much harder time with the idea of moving training specificity from theory to application. By this I mean simply that they waste valuable training time goofing off. You know exactly what I mean...you start out on a two hour training ride and spend the first 30 minutes just riding along "warming up" then you knock off your 2x20minute intervals and roll back home at 'cool down' pace and call it a good day. While that is a 'specific' workout, it is not an efficient one. Consider that if you only have 10 hours to train in a week, you've just wasted 10% of your training time in an endurance or recovery zone that wasn't necessarily needed. Instead maximize the time you have by remaining cognizant of the goals for that workout and adjusting your efforts accordingly. Often I'll advocate starting a ride at the top end of Endurance, or even Tempo, to try and kickstart the workout while maintaining a higher average power. This is especially true on longer aerobic and tempo interval rides where the variability index would be lower than a higher intensity VO2 or Anaerobic intervals workout.

June 09, 2009

Matt's Training Update

Awhile back, well late April actually, I posted a short summary of my training year so far. Of note was the vast scarcity of miles and consistency. It wasn't that impressive, but it was motivating!

Since then I've been more focused, yet more relaxed as well. This goes to my embrace of consistency over haphazardness. I started to look at my training in the long view - eg where I want to be when Cyclocross season hits. I know that I want my Chronic Training Load (CTL) to be at or above 100 points/day. I also know that getting there in 12-16 weeks is a much more responsible approach than doing it in 8 weeks (recall that my starting point was a CTL of about 30). This realization brought with it a certain tranquility. I've repeatedly stressed a gradual build in fitness to my athletes and now here I am living my own advice. There is a certain comfort that comes from knowing I need to do about 500-600 TSS points per week in May and early June. Frankly, it's pretty easy - I can do that volume on about 8 or 9 hours a week of mostly structured training. Those totals step up a bit for the next 6 weeks to between 600-700 points, and therefore a few more hours, but it's still a very stable, steady, and do-able progression. Here is the CTL Progression:

and the Performance Manager Chart since December:

June 03, 2009


Cyclocross Team Returns With Enhanced Program For 2009

SUNNYVALE, CA (June 2, 2009) – Sterling Sports Group is pleased to announce the kickoff to our 2009 Cyclocross Race Program. Built on the foundation of our successful 2008 race team, version 2.0 offers prospective team members a comprehensive racing experience. We are looking for select riders in Northern California, Colorado, New England, and the Pacific Northwest who are committed to a focused training and racing program

The Sterling Cyclocross Team will support a core group of approximately 20 local riders with a cyclocross specific coaching program, a team race mechanic at marquee events, access to substantial pro-deals from sponsors, and great prices on the best looking kits in the peloton. Team training programs start in July and we will have a team house at Cyclocross Nationals in Bend, OR this December. This year the team will include up to five riders on each of our Regional teams: Colorado, New England, and Washington/Oregon.

Sterling Sports Group President Matt McNamara noted that “the team was a such a blast last year that we just had to continue and expand it. As a performance coaching company I cannot think of a better way to support the racing community, and build awareness of our services than through the team. I was proud to see our jersey appear on podiums throughout the season and have our program attract great racers like Mike Sayers and Liza Rachetto, and sponsors like Leopard Bikes, SRAM, Ritchey, and Northwave. I’m really excited that we are able to expand in 2009.”

Maybe you’d like to ride with us? Interested riders should submit a team application between June 2nd and June 28th . Preference will be given to those athletes who most ably demonstrate the balance between competition, camaraderie, and fun in their approach and attitude. Applications and program descriptions are available on the company website www.sterlingwins.com. The final team roster will be announced June 30th, and training programs start July 1st. Team clothing orders will be submitted July 15th and racing starts in September!

Cost for the program is $350 ($175 for Juniors) and includes:
• A team kit (Jersey/Short)
• Cyclocross Specific Training Program, including an online training log: July – December
• Optional Personalized coaching program for $99/mo ($175 membership)
• Team Training Camp in August including – performance testing & bike fit,
• Race Mechanic/Support from Bay Area Mobile Bike Repair, at top tier events like Bay Area Super Prestige, NCNCA Cup and Districts.
• Regular Team Training Rides
• Access to Pro Deals on team bikes and equipment thanks to our sponsors.

Sterling Sports Group (www.sterlingwins.com) is the result of over 20 years of passion for the sport of cycling. Launched in late 2003, Sterling Sports is a growing company focused on creating a seamless interface between athlete and coach, technology and personal attention. They can be reached at 408.891.3462 or info@sterlingwins.com