End of Phase II—Two Steps Forward, One Step Back? Using HRV in a Training Plan

31 12 2014

I’ve found curious results when considering heart-rate variability (HRV) readings in the training plan. For the most part, the two analysis domains followed the proper trend, that is to say when the LF/HF ratio was high, the dominance level of HF power was low as was the index for the natural log of rMSSD x 20. That being said, I look back over the respective phases and think about where I am versus where I thought I would be. Maybe there’s more “art” to this than “science.”

Back in September, I wrote about a phased training plan that I would use to organize my off-season training. Soon after, I learned a bit more about HRV and it’s value as a factor for day-to-day training decisions. There are two types of analysis that I pay attention to: time-domain and frequency-domain. Fortunately, the Kubios HRV software puts the results side-by-side for easy comparison.

There were roughly 21 medical and sports journal articles that I studied when I decided to check what I call the “big picture.” That is to say, I would watch the Mean R-R, SDNN, and rMSSD variables from the time-domain analysis, the LF/HF ratio (Fast Fourier Transform,) and LF/HF ratio and HF (AR) variables from the frequency-domain analysis. The reason I did this was because most of the journal articles held conclusions for particular domains (and metrics.) Since I was extracting the report variables all at the same time from the Kubios software, there wasn’t any extra work involved to create the tracking graphs. (I feel that I should at least mention that the “non-linear” group of variables were available, but that I didn’t see enough recommendation or acceptance within the art to call for tracking them.)

Day-to-day decision rationale: I mostly consider the following graph (Figure 1) for training vs. recovery decisions. If the index is low (near or below the lower standard limit,) I opt for a day of rest. If the index is between 47 and 52, I’ll workout, but maybe with a lesser duration. If the index is higher than 52, I’ll definitely put in a hard or extended workout. I do look at the other tracking graphs, and if they point the other way, I’d re-consider…again viewing the big picture. Thus, a higher index indicates increased capacity to engage a tough workout and benefit from it.

Line graph of the natural log of rMSSD times 20

Figure 1. rMSSD variable from the Time-domain analysis

Some remarks about the various phases:

  • Resistance Phase/hypertrophy (P1h)—I had the impression that my legs mass-gain would be more…granted I added 16 pounds of body weight and a 5% increase in body fat compared to this time last year. Then, the BF calipers indicated less than 10% so the current level of 15% objectively puts me at the “fat body” self-ranking. On the other hand, my wife says my thighs definitely got big and my butt got rounder (she says she likes it, whatever.) Graph-wise, I thought I should see larger swings as I lifted the big weights and then into rest/recovery.I still think that I goofed my 1 repetition max test by attempting six lifts when I should have attempted a higher set by using only three lifts (instead of wearing myself out faster with six.) The hypertrophy part was characterized high lifting volume with moderately high resistance.
  • Resistance Phase/strength (P1s)—this portion was characterized as reduced lifting volume and increased resistance. There were some definite sore points within this period, although at the end my system seemed to spring back with some better index numbers at the end. I think the percentage lift points would’ve been higher…noted for next time.
  • Resistance Phase/power (P1p)—characteristics include increased lifting speed, reduced resistance, and sprint interval workouts. This was a volatile combination. Most of the period saw lower index points where near December 10, I forced a couple of recovery days less I continued to dig myself into over-training. The need to lift “faster” eventually found me lifting the squat bar enough to “hop” into the air. Again, these workouts were draining, and it reflected in the index plot.
  • Aerobic Endurance Phase (P2)—the graph shows a higher index trend, which I believe reflects the lower measure of time spent on riding near/above the 76% FTP minimum target. There were sprint and muscle endurance intervals intended to complement the endurance riding, most of the time the difficulty was not in completing the intervals. The problem was in accruing time-in-the-zone (TIZ) at the minimum target for the specified duration. Try as I might and even with best effort, the most effective extraction to stay in zone two (above 76% FTP) was only 44% to 51%. In other words, I could ride for three hours, yet only have half the ride time above my target. If I rode for five hours, again roughly half would be credited towards correct TIZ. So, to accomplish four to six hours at zone, I would have to ride for six to eight hours…not a realistic idea. The cause was this: riding outside, I’m subject to traffic, stop light and signs, pedestrians and speed limits on multi-user trails, etc.—constraints to my effort. There’s nothing I can do to omit those factors. On the other hand, I could decide to do that time requirement on the trainer, and I did for most of it. However, about 3 ½ hours was all I could muster on a trainer, any more than that I just could not get my brain around. Note: the 76% figure comes from Morris’ designation of the lower limit for the endurance zone on his scale. I figure he’s got a good reason for making it that way. Overall, I did not gain the volume target for this period, and that’ll likely hurt me later on. Because the phase intensity/impact was less extensive, the graph shows higher index marks. (My reasoning anyway.) I had played with the idea that this phase indicated that some type of “form” had incurred, but then I hadn’t done much riding comparatively for me to truly accept having any “form.” I had also extended this period by two weeks to try to meet requires. Next year, I’ll try to find a longer, uninterrupted stretch of road like a secondary state highway to meet the TIZ requirements.
  • Aerobic Endurance Phase/rest week (P2r)—this is the built-in rest week for the second phase. It has its own training regimen oriented around rest days and a few (but more intense) short interval workouts. This is also the week that I spent out-sick courtesy of the local flu bug, so not really much training to speak of, nor of much quality rest either. Kind of a waste of a week progress-wise. It’s why the graph’s index numbers are swirling around the bottom of the plot, again, dashed lines indicate non-training days.
  • Phase 3 Supermaximum Sustainable Power Intervals (P3)—the first two days of this period were sick/non-training days. Although I did try part of the first workout during the second day. Not bad results, I made the target wattage, but was not able to complete the full workout. I deemed it “OK” after being sick for a week.

In closing, I’ll keep watching the “big picture.” Next year this time, I’ll use the lessons learned after this evolution to make the program better.

Thanks for reading. My next post should show how I was able to integrate the BSXinsight Lactate Meter into the training program…and I’m really looking forward to learning that! See ya.


Black is the New Black & Training to Meet the New Season, Part 1

31 12 2013

Damn. A lot has happened since I last posted. I re-built the training hoops with Pacenti SL-23s, built-up some tubular race hoops, and mortgaged the farm to pay for next season’s kit. Ha. The last one’s not too far off the mark. I wonder what other team members pay for their kit? Am I correct in thinking our annual kit cost ($400+) is outrageous? At any rate, I suppose the annual “sticker” shock is just part of being a roadie.

Let’s get on with it. The first part of this post will be about how my off-season training has changed a bit since last year at this time and why. I have no doubt that racing as a Cat 3 will put me through my paces, on the other hand, successes should feel really good in that I have accomplished something worth remembering. The last part of this post will discuss a couple of product reviews. Now I usually don’t do reviews outright, but I think the two items are at least worth mentioning.

So after the pummeling I received at last season’s Longbranch race, I needed to take a closer look at what training factors helped me race better.  Having added the results of my various races to the time spent training and racing in the various zones gave me an idea of what input can produce a particular output. At this point this idea is simply anecdotal because one of the biggest questions I have about racing and training is to quantify exactly what input will produce exactly what output. Here is what the data looks like:

Stacked bar graph of accrued HR endurance time and mid-level power zone time

Time in Zone (all data)

The main yellow color represents the amount of time I spent in the heart rate (HR) zone two.  I use HR Z2 to quantify how much training I have completed at the endurance intensity level. Next, you might notice the dashed vertical lines. These lines represent events on the timeline such as races or changes in the annual plan such as “off-season.” Last, each dashed-line number represents my finish placing in a particular race. (Yeah, I did more racing in 2012 which is why the event labeling is crammed together.) Just as the graph key denotes, shades of blue denote the accumulated time in each power zone. Note that the power zones 1 or 2 are not included as I use my HR metric (yellow bar) to represent that. In the years previous I accrued training time in the following distribution:

Year HR Z2 Pwr Z3 Pwr Z4 Pwr Z5 Pwr Z6 Podium1-3 Finish4-10 Finish11-20
2011 50% 1% 8% 1% 1% 1 2 1
2012 45% 1% 12% 1% 1% 2 3 5
2013 18% 1% 11% 2% 1% 1 1 1
2014 YTD 85% 4% 2% 1% 1%

Naturally, one should refrain from concluding causation from perceived correlation. Here, it would be premature to say that the extra time during the 2012 race season spent in power zone four caused the increase in placings. I know there seems more to the story than just that one factor. Specifically, what factor(s) of my training benefit me the most? Is the answer simply that the successful performance criteria experienced during the above races matched or were exceeded by the same metrics undertaken during training? If this is true then the process of backplanning or benchmarking a particular races winning performance should produce a training regimen, which when completed properly, would produce the needed adaptations to closely mimic those performance requirements. Or in other words―if you can do it in training, you can do in a race.

What might those benchmarks look like? If I use the above structure the Ravensdale road race intensities distribution would look like this:

Race Pwr Z3 Pwr Z4 Pwr Z5 Pwr Z6 Pwr Z7 Podium 1-3
Ravensdale RR 0% 6% 2% 2% 14% 1

But these numbers really don’t break-down into the essential parts needed to form a training session, namely, duration and intensity. What if we use Dr. Coggan’s power-profile structure to describe the same data?

Duration Watts W/kg
5 seconds 983 13.05
1 minute 520 6.91
5 minutes 333 4.42
60 minutes 196 2.60

A stepped, progressive training program could produce the  durations and intensities identified in the above structure. What might this program look like? This is the data record from the weeks before the Ravensdale road race:

Stacked bar graph for intensities, 2013 off-season to Ravensdale road race

Data Record for Intensities in Zone, Off-season to Ravensdale Road Race

The Ravensdale RR is indicated by the vertical, dashed-gray line with the “1,” and the off-season start is denoted as “rs13.” At the time, I used Carmichael’s “energy string theory.” thinking that the adaptation to stresses from the higher intensities would include those from the lower intensities, albeit with the decreased benefit timeline also mentioned by Carmichael.

The bench-marked race has the following intensity distribution compared to training beforehand:

Data Period  HR2 Pwr Z3 Pwr Z4 Pwr Z5 Pwr Z6 Pwr Z7
Off-season/training prior to race  15% 1% 11% 2% 1% 4%
Ravensdale RR  – 0% 6% 2% 2% 14%

At this point I regret not wearing my heart strap so I would know how much time I spent aerobically. Power-wise, I spent 76% of race time in zones one and two, so that helps a little. To characterize the course, my PowerTap’s PowerAgent file shows that most significant efforts 5 minutes and less (Pwr Z7) at wattages greater than 333 occurred in the last 5 minutes of the race. The remaining efforts of 10 minutes and more at wattages less than 257 occurred earlier in the race for a total of about 2 hours and 6 minutes. This suggests to me that the Pwr Z7 intensities were used to win the race with a sprint to the finish line, and that lower intensity efforts were used to sustain, maneuver, and finish the race with the pack.

How did the training effort support this win? Examining the data periods shows two key areas in my opinion. These areas are power zones 4 and 7. I think training in these areas, along with the supporting base layers of endurance and tempo training, enabled me to perform in these two areas during the race. I also think this microcycle is a good example of how specific and quantified training can lead to adaptations enabling equal or higher performance during racing.

That will do for Part 1. I will have to decide to benchmark a Cat 3 race (if data is available) or use Coggan’s Power Profile Output (w/kg) to derive the training schedule. Part 2 will deal with my decision and how I planned my training for the up-coming season, stay tuned.


So here’s the quick gouge on two pieces of gear that I really am pleased with buying. The first is the Gore Countdown Glove.

Picture of the Gore Countdown Glove

Gore Countdown Glove

Thus far this glove has prevented my fingers from transforming into painful ice picks while out riding and training in Seattle’s wonderful fall climate. They are warm, comfortable, waterproof, and windproof. As in many examples of product design there are trade offs. For me these trade offs are breathability and tactile feel. I use Shimano’s STI Ultegra shifters and I had to get used to the slight extra length of finger-space off the tips of my fingers when pushing the down-shift levers. (I use USA size XXXL.) The second quality- breathability is not as good. Whenever the temperature is greater than 40ºF and my effort level stays in the endurance zone, my hands stay dry and warm. However, when pushing into tempo effort levels and higher, my hands will get damp with a bit of chill.Temperatures below 40ºF will have my finger tips feeling a bit cold but generally they are fairly comfortable. Last, a bit more on the tactile feel. The median and ulnar nerve bundles traverse the base of the palm near the wrist. I’d like a bit thicker/denser padding on either side of these nerve paths to isolate the bundles from compression and vibration for increased comfort during rides longer than two hours and up to five hours long. Overall, these gloves were well-worth the ~$80 retail price from the shop that supports my team.

Last, I would be remiss if I did not mention the fine cycling jacket issued by Showers Pass.

Picture of the Shower's Pass Elite Pro Cycling Jacket

Shower’s Pass Elite Pro Cycling Jacket

This Elite Pro jacket is likely the finest piece of outer wear I have ever purchased. I wear a size medium. This torso-hugging jacket breathes really well and is equipped with side vents via water-resistant zippers. Additionally, a rear zipper just below your neck allows any hot moisture to vent away (in my experience.) Furthermore, the extended tail of the jacket is long enough to cover you while tucked into your drops.

Two minor features that I also like are the off-set main zipper near your neck. I have many center-sewn zippers on base layers, jerseys and the like that stack-up on the front of the neck where the zipper pulls can foul each other. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the product designers had the foresight to specify the sleeve length under bent-elbow conditions…like when you are tucked-in. This way your sleeve cuff does not retract and open a wind gap when you bend your elbow. That is some intelligent product design huh? Windproof, waterproof, small-packing, with seamed tape panels. This jacket is a GOOD piece of gear.

As an aside, our team had designated the jacket’s color black. I rather like it as it doesn’t matter what design the new annual kit will be, black goes well with anything.

Training Update…Adaptation Revealed

9 02 2010

It’s been just over three weeks since my last post. So I feel myself delinquent in sending this out. Nonetheless, some key events have occurred since then, namely, starting a new job. Not a problem though. During a recurring road trip last week, I thought of my new employment from a fresh perspective–as a somewhat fresh service retiree, I’m now enjoying my “fun job”.

I think about bikes (road bikes and road racing that is) all day. Now I’m surrounded by bikes inside my areas premier bike shop–North Division Bike Shop. I awake in the morning thinking, “Right on!” I’m very pleased.

Back to task. In my earlier post, I discussed how I would execute my plan to arrive at my training goals. In this case, increasing my functional threshold power (FTP). Since February began, I’ve been conducting interval training and measuring my output and results in wattage via the meter I use. I’ve also ensured that I rest sufficiently between the increased intensity sessions. Eating per the information in a previous post, made certain that I had the fuel I needed to do the work and adapt from the training stimulus.

I can tell that all those base miles and endurance training sessions has had a positive effect–I have a lot more air to breath (perceptively) at the 87%-94% range of my heart rate. I’m moving more lactate out of my muscle groups with the added aerobic capacity. The result is that I can turn a bigger chain length (50/15) to get more watts at the same training stress I felt before. Here’s the results graph:

FTP Plot over Time

The blue line represents data, the red line is a trend line projected to the end of March. If I maintain the same progress, I should break the 300 watt level around March 15th. “Adjusted FTP” means I decreased 30-minute test results by 2.5% and 20-minute test results by 5%. Coggan and Hunter explain the 5% adjustment in their text. I threw-in the arbitrary/proportional 2.5% just to be conservative. That’s a 9.76% increase since November 30th, not bad I think.

Nonetheless, I’d like to expect that boosting my training stimulus with VO2 max. interval sessions near the end of February will act in accordance with Carmichael’s “endurance string theory.”

I’ll test again at the end of February. At that time, I’ll need to make any adjustments to keep me on-track for the season’s opening races.

Race hard…train harder. See you when it’s all over.

Specialization Phase…the Dark Side of Training

15 01 2010

Periodization post link

This is where the rubber meets the road, concerning off-season training. I’ve spent the previous months building my aerobic engine by completing 1 to 2-hour efforts in power zone two and later by integrating resistance training. I read an analogy somewhere (wish I’d remembered the source), which said that foundation training is like a pyramid–the wider the base, the higher the peak.

I call this phase the dark side of training because until now the efforts have been easy to moderate on my rating of perceived exertion (RPE) scale. Near-term efforts will having me training just underneath, at, and beyond my FTP point. VO2 max efforts will arrive at the tail-end of the phase. There’s going to be a lot of pain and soul-searching during this time. That’s the price of goals in the road-racing world though.

My plan started with transitional training right after last season followed by general preparation with foundation and basic strength phases. Here in the specialization phase, I have 13 weeks to focus on shifting my lactate threshold “to the right” and improving the weak points found after completing Coggan’s power profile test.

After some sleuthing around whether to record peak wattage figures or the average wattage figures during the power profile test. I learned that you’re to record the highest average wattage figures for the 15-second, 1-minute, and 5 minute durations. Note–record the best 5-second portion for the 15-second duration when plotting your numbers on the chart. Since I hosed the test execution, I’ll have to re-take the test.

I completed my FTP validation, and reconstructed my training zones accordingly.  This was in December when my raw FTP was 266. At the start of specialization in January I had increased my number by 4% (277). Again, I reconstructed my training zones.

Power Zone % of Threshold Wattage
Z1 56% <150
Z2 56%-75% 151-203
Z3 76%-90% 205-243
Z4 91%-105% 246-284
Z5 106%-120% 286-324
Z6 121%-150% 327-405

During this phase I’ll have to constantly evaluate when to knock-off on any interval when I start to fade. Coggan suggests a metric based on a percentage drop in average power.

Interval Span Average Drop in Power
20 minutes 3-5%
10 minutes 4-6%
5 minutes 5-7%
3 minutes 8-9%
2 minutes 10-12%
1 minutes 10-12%
30 seconds 12-15%
15 seconds *

*When peak power drops by 15-20% or when average power for the interval drops by 10-15%

Carmichael recommends adding a minute to your recovery period rather than cutting your workout short when your power output starts to fade. I think I’ll try this method, although I’ll have to hit the “pause” button on my interval training software to do so. I usually program my interval routine into the software’s playlist and get started. The routine is straight–forward…I just follow the prompts.

I love this quote from Carmichael,

The human body is designed to respond to overload, and as long as you overload a system in the body properly and allow it time to adapt, that system will grow stronger and be ready for the same stress in the  future.

Thus, I began with the sub-threshold workout, an excellent place to start building my FTP.

Task Time Power level
Warm up 15 minutes <68%
Ride 5 minutes 100%
Ride, 15 minutes rest interval 2 x 20 minute 88-94%
Ride 105+ rpm, 2 minutes rest 8-10 x 1 min. 85-95%
Cool down 15 minutes <55%

I did this routine for a week-and-a-half before feeling I was ready for more. At that point, I added the next interval series to my software. According to Coggan, I can continually improve my threshold power. I’ll need to sustain one hour at FTP by the end of February (aggressive goal). Here’s the threshold workout:

Task Time Power Level
Warm up 15 minutes <68%
Blow-out effort 5 minutes 100%
Easy pace 5 minutes <68%
Ride, 10-15 minutes rest 2 x 20 minutes 96-105%
Cool down 15 minutes <78%

My friend Phil said Fitness Fanatics had issued a 20k time trial challenge to be performed on their TacX Virtual Realty trainer. I thought this would be a fun way to gain ride data. It was fun…in a strange way. The stats: 13.4 miles (20k), average power 222 W, peak power 617 W (sprint at finish), average rpm 110. Based on the “bin drop-off” method my FTP is likely between 226-240 on this TacX system. (Calibration unknown.) I thought these results were within expectancy at this point in my training.

Histogram for 20k TT

20k TT Power Distribution

All of my testing thus far has used a Kurt Kinetic power meter combined with their Road Machine.

Picture of Kurt Kinetic Road Machine

Kurt Kinetic Road Machine

I would like to do the same power analysis and planning using a meter which measures data using strain gauges or accelerometers, but that money will have to come at a later time. While the KK meter is a good product for what it does, it doesn’t have the capability for data analysis. I understand that a future version will have a data download feature, but that remains to be seen.

I particularly like MetriGear’s Vector, but apparently sales at the retail level might not happen until later in 2010.

At any rate, here’s where I’m headed, training at VO2 max is essential for cyclists to race. According to Coggan, there’s a high effort winning pattern–breakaway, establishing separation, settling to threshold pace, and finishing with short burst. I need the anaerobic strength for the breakaway, and the high-FTP capacity to sustain and exploit the separation. (Don’t forget tactics>>future post.) Here’s the VO2 boost workout:

Task Time Power Level
Warm up 15 minutes <68%
Blowout effort 5 minutes 100%
Recover 5 minutes <70%
Intervals, 3 minutes rest 6 x 3 minutes 117%
Recover 10 minutes <70%
Intervals, 4 minutes rest 4 x 2 minutes 113-120%
Cool down 15 minutes <78%

So this is my bottom line during the dark side of training…complete each level and move on to the next, measure accurately and consistently, plan appropriately, and be honest with myself. Not doing so will sabotage my efforts to compete in the coming race season.

Picture of Watt meter

More, more, more...wire me up!

Roll-Over on Recovery?

31 12 2009

We all know that our human bodies are designed to respond to increased workloads with increased strength. But this is a generalization. How do we know when we’re ready to continue training? There have been quite a few times after a hard session the day before when I’ve thought, “Nnahh, I feel OK. I’ll hit it hard.” Big mistake. Had I known the metrics to monitor, I wouldn’t have dug that hole-of-damage any deeper.

Academics to the rescue.

The basics:

  • Get your sleep (keep the laughter to a minimum please). The average person needs 8 hours of sleep. Some folks may need more.
  • Get your food and water. I wrote a bit more on this on an earlier post. Armstrong and Carmichael’s book recommends that your sleep schedule complement the benefits of proper nutrition. Burke echoes the same–rest and recovery is crucial during the heaviest training periods, and that proper nutrition and hydration is especially important.

But what signals should I look for? Good question. Lets investigate.

lists some symptoms of over-training:

Emotional and Behavioral Changes Physical Changes
Loss of enthusiasm and drive; generalized apathy Impaired physical performance; inability to complete
Loss of joy in and thirst for, competition Gradual weight loss
Desire to quit Looks drawn, sallow, and dejected
Lethargy. listlessness, tiredness Early morning heart rate increases by more than 5 beats per minute; abnormal rise in standing heart rate, during, and after a standard workout; slower recovery in heart rate after exertion
Feeling peevish; easily irritated, anxious, ill-humored, bored Heavy-leggedness; sluggishness that persists 24 hours or more after a workout
Inability to concentrate at work; poor academic performance Muscle and joint pains; persistent muscle soreness from session to session
Changes in sleeping patterns; insomnia; sleep does not refresh Swelling of the lymph glands
Loss of appetite Gastrointestinal disturbances, in particular diarrhea
Loss of libido Increased susceptibility to infections, allergies, headache
Poor coordination; general clumsiness Minor scratches heal slowly
Increased fluid intake at night; feeling thirsty In women, loss of menstruation (amenorrhea)

also gives us his interpretation:

  • Unexplained underperformance
  • Prolonged recovery
  • Reduced maximal heart rate
  • Reduced maximal blood lactate concentration
  • Increased sleeping heart rate
  • Excessive fatigue
  • “Heavy” muscles
  • Upper respiratory track infections…or colds
  • Increased susceptibility to illnesses and allergies
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Changes in appetite
  • Depression
  • Loss of competitive drive
  • Increased anxiety and irritation
  • Decreased ability to narrow concentration

The symptoms that I recognize in myself are in bold face. Additionally, Carmichael recommends:

…days between races or hard efforts…should be filled with riding at a reduced stress load…known as recovery rides. ride enough to stimulate active recovery but not enough to introduce a training load. Simple rides of 1/2 to 2 hours at a H/R of 60%-65% of your maximum and at a comfortable cadence.

My emphasis on comfortable, i.e. 80-90 rpm.

Picture of stationary trainer and TV

Pedal and a Movie!

I’ve read that stretching may help, although I’ve not perceived much benefit from doing so. Jeukendrup says that warm-ups–not stretching, actually improves flexibility.

So what’s the bottom-line here? Well, like Burke says, I need to pay attention to my body’s signals, keep a detailed training log, and learn from previous responses. Some of the first things I notice in the morning is what my pulse is doing usually followed by what level of soreness my legs have. These items are noted in my training diary later in the day. Next on the morning task list is measuring body weight, and as an aside it would help to have a more accurate scale. (One of the Tanita Ironman body composition scales would be nice.)

If there’s a good amount of soreness present, I’ll likely call for a recovery spin in lieu of the day’s scheduled training and do 1 to 2 hours in power zone 1 at a cadence of 80 to 95. During racing season or after particularly hard training effort this could take two days or so…just depends on what signals I’m getting.

When I awake and see that the “dashboard” is green, then I can look forward to training hard that day. (Like in the specialization phase fast approaching.)

By the way, Velonews puts out a great and simple log by Joe Friel. It’s the one I use and the version that I will purchase for my wife; who will start racing this next season. Note- I think the new price at Amazon Books is a typographical error. The price on the back cover is $12.95.

Jeukendrup has a nice seven-step plan for avoiding over-training:

  1. Monitor performance regularly
  2. Periodize and individualize your training program
  3. Monitor your psychological state
  4. Keep a training diary
  5. Practice good nutrition
  6. Screen for and manage infection
  7. Educate yourself

So there it is. Not only should we train and race hard, we should rest as well. Kind of obvious isn’t it? (Well, not as obvious to this y-chromosome guy.)

I regret to say that I omitted a very important piece of recovery information–your significant other. I save my recovery rides to do with my wife, who has taken-up cycling. This is an activity we can do together and so cycling is both beneficial for us and our relationship. I can ensure a ride in power zone 1 while she builds on speed and endurance within her own training plan.

That said, hopefully I won’t be “out in the doghouse” after this.

Periodization…What Time Is It?

8 12 2009

Hammer Time. Actually, it’s not time to hammer just yet. My first TT and the Frozen Flatlands race early in 2009 screamed the need for organized training quite clearly. This experience wasn’t the type of painfest I desired. Top racing effort is one thing, but blowing-up because of training mistakes is another. Enter periodization.

Edmund R. Burke, PhD defines periodization as “the long term planning and scheduling of training”. Periodization is conventionally divided into three main periods: transition, preparation, and competition. These might also be referred to as mesocycles by some. Some of these periods could be divided into phases based on your needs, but all modifications should lead to your competitive goal.

I keep a manual training log (Joe Friel’s version) and I also track my training/racing mileage with a spreadsheet. I’ll cover the workings of this tool in a future post, but for now, it’s a simple graph of volume vs. time with various totals at the bottom:

Mileage Tracking Sample

I’ll discuss each period or phase as it relates to my training program. As they say, hind-site is always 20/20 and last season I did not incorporate base miles as a foundation nor did I train to specific intensity milestones. The more I tried to step on the gas, the more evident it was that my engine couldn’t provide.

Burned-out, dropped, and going nowhere fast

Transition– This period began immediately after my last race in September.  It was roughly four weeks long and its purpose is to prepare for strength training. The general physical exercises involve only body weight with minimum training intensity. I constructed the following weekly program for core and legs:

(1 to 3 sets with 15 to 20 repetitions each)

  • Monday
    • trunk curls, leg extensions, and back extensions
  • Wednesday
    • leg press, and hanging leg raise
  • Friday
    • trunk curl, lunges, single-leg calf raises, and back extensions

I would also ensure that any miles that I turned on the bike were quantified in intensity as power zone 2, that is, endurance miles.  If I felt the need for a recovery ride, that intensity was in power zone 1. I accrued 361 base miles in this period (all power zone 2).

Preparation/foundation phase– This phase started in October and ended in November. This phase felt like I was making some progress as I felt improvement in the effort level. Here I focused on acquiring higher RPM as the norm and base miles for my foundation. Endurance miles (power zone 2) began at 90 RPM as a minimum. Later in the November, I was turning a minimum of 100 RPM.  This pace felt natural and 90 felt slow when I rode the trainer.

At the end of the phase, I completed a 30-minute maximum sustained effort test. Just to see if my aerobic capacity had changed. An average of 108 RPM produced an average of 266 watts. I thought this wasn’t bad for not having worked on strength-building yet. I limited stationary rides to no longer than two hours per session. I accrued 1,865 base miles during this phase (all power zone 2).

Training in Phil's "pain cave"

Stationary training during the off-season

Preparation/basic strength phase– My current phase/during December only. Here, I’ve incorporated resistance training into my endurance miles (foundation) effort.  The following program was tailored for me by my advisor at WSU-Spokane:

  • Monday
    • back squats 5 x 5 (2-5 minute rest between sets)
    • dumbbell lunges 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • leg extensions 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets and superset with leg curls)
    • leg curls 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets and superset with leg extensions)
    • bench press 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets and superset with pull-ups)
    • pull-ups 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets and superset with bench press)
    • core exercises (do one after the other with 90 seconds rest between sets)
      • leg raises 3 x 20
      • bicycle crunches 3 x 30
      • lying alternating back extensions 3 x 15 each
  • Tuesday
    • endurance or recovery miles as needed
  • Wednesday
    • dead lift 4 x 8 (2-5 minute rest between sets)
    • step-ups 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • leg press 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • cable abductor and adductor pulls 3 x 15 (superset with flexor and extensor pulls)
    • cable hip flexor and extensor pulls 3 x 15(superset with abductor and adductor pulls)
    • DB shoulder press 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • DB curls 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • core exercises (do one after the other with 90 seconds rest between sets)
      • reverse crunches 3 x 20
      • Russian twists 3 x 25
      • kneeling back extensions 3 x 15
  • Thursday
    • endurance or recovery miles as needed
  • Friday
    • leg press 5 x 5 (2-5 minute rest between sets
    • sissy squats 3 x 15 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • walking lunges 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • DB straight-leg dead lift 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • cable abductor and adductor pulls 3 x 15
    • cable hip flexor and extensor pulls 3 x 15
    • DB shrugs 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • Tricep pressdown 3 x 10 (1-1.5 minute rest between sets)
    • core exercises (do one after the other with 90 seconds rest between sets)
      • hanging leg raise 3 x 15
      • external ball crunches 3 x 15
      • alternating kneeling back extensions 3 x 15
  • Saturday
    • endurance or recovery miles as needed
  • Sunday
    • endurance or recovery miles as needed

I know the above was rather lengthy. I figure that in order to ride at a higher intensity before tiring-out I must do two things: 1. train just under my Lactate Threshold or perform T-Max intervals (Ultimate intervals), and 2. Train with resistance. In this phase I must gain basic strength, for in January I’ll shift focus to building power, this will be the Specialization phase, which I will cover at that time.

There’s so much information to cram into this post– I’m trying to keep it simple. In short, organized and sensible training is required for performance. Like the old database information rule- garbage in equals garbage out.

Why not go to the race with the best engine you can have?

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