• Success in the off-season is higher speed or power for an aerobic cost

    I often ask my athletes to produce the most speed for the least cost. In the off-season, when athletes aren't focused on racing, I will look at aerobic cost. For example, I will assign a negative-split workout where the goal is to go out at a Zone 1 heart rate. This can be an out-and-back course or it can be a loop. On the way back, the athlete is to run or ride as fast as possible – without exceeding the top of Zone 2 heart rate. I want to know how fast or powerful you can be at an aerobic cost.

    These individual workouts are fun in several ways:

    • It's not a workout that trashes you for days.
    • You can get a sense of pace and metabolic cost for less than all-out efforts.
    • This type of workout is a good check on aerobic foundation fitness in a workout that isn't a "test." Okay, it is a test of sorts, but it isn't like psyching yourself up for a threshold test.

    Another example of a way I determine training plan success is to look at a ride or run route that the athlete does often. I look back at aerobic workouts (Zone 1 and 2) to see if the average speed or power from these workouts is trending higher or lower for a given average heart rate.

    Finally, for those of you that use TrainingPeaks, there is a handy chart called "Fitness History." Above is an example chart for an athlete that I'm currently coaching. (Click on the chart to enlarge and use Esc to close the chart.) Notice that power numbers for each category of 1, 5, 20 and 60 minutes in December of 2014 are higher than those of January 2014.

    For this particular athlete, it is important to know that the power measuring system for the indoor workouts has changed – so looking at only the chart is one piece of information. The numbers need to be verified with the system used to attain the peak values. That is, I need to be sure that peak numbers were achieved using the same system from one year to the next. (The outdoor power meter is the same, but the indoor power meter system has changed.)

    What is most exciting for this particular athlete is that the 60-minute peak power value in December is similar to peak power delivered around times close to races – and the December peak power level was completed outdoors (power measuring system was consistent) on an aerobic training ride.

    Most speed or power at the least cost.

    I can't wait to see the progression this year as we add the next phases of training.

    How does this help you?

    Collect data to know if you are progressing on your training plan.

    Look at aerobic workouts as well as maximum-effort workouts for average heart rate and speed or power values.



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