Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Path to Power-Performance Series #6

Ride #6 is the type of ride that I consider to be the premier ride of the Series, and it's essence characterizes what makes PowerCycling such a unique and dynamic training system.  This is the first time that Jeremy will have been faced with Vo2 Max or Level 5 intervals, and unless you are totally psycho, these are the type of intervals that you would probably never do on your own.

The benefits of these intervals will be appreciated when you climb a short hill outdoors and as you go over the top of the hill you are able to engage your Tempo riding style immediately, where as your riding buddies need a minute to catch their breath and they beg you to slow down so they can try to stay on your wheel.

I have a saying that I like to remind my athletes of  every time they get on the bike, and that is "Respect the Ride".  Going into a Performance Series ride, if you are not 100% prepared physically and mentally to give everything you've got and then some, you may walk away disappointed with your performance. 

This ride more than any other PowerCycling type of training ride requires you to budget your energy and ride within your individual Power ranges.  Most people don't have a problem cranking up the intensity necessary to complete the Level 5 interval, but what seems to be the bigger challenge is the ability to recover while riding Tempo (Level 3).  You will know that you are getting stronger when you can handle this training combination of Level 5/3 more confidently.  These intervals will take you Anaerobic quickly and when you stay in the Anaerobic zone even while riding your Tempo segment, it will make each successive Level 5 interval that much tougher to achieve.  Jeremy learned these PowerCycling truths the hard way, he suffered.

Jeremy came up against a ride for the first time in the Series where his incredible power was not enough without also having the necessary nutritional and mental components to go along with his power.  These intervals are designed to challenge even the most talented of riders and more than any other type of training ride these intervals tend to immediately raise a cyclists level of fitness.

You can see by Jeremy's Power Profile above, that the power lines (in yellow) were very strong for the Level 5 intervals, as he was getting 15-20 watts more that what he needed.  I think Jeremy was a victim of going out too hard on this ride, thru the first three Level 5 intervals he was looking to be on a pace that would establish a Personal Best for a 30 minute output, but then he really began to struggle during his Tempo segments.  Possibly he didn't have enough energy in the tank before the ride to withstand the demands of these intervals, or mentally he might not have been ready for the demands having never seen these intervals before.

He showed that he might be able to ride at a higher Power Threshold by his Level 5 outputs, but without the completion of the Tempo segments he brought his overall effort back to one of his current Power Threshold of 342.  It is comforting to us mere mortals to see Jeremy struggle every once in a while with some of the same things that we do within a ride, but my guess is when he experiences these intervals again at Ride #9 he will be ready to show that this ride was a valuable learning experience

There are no failures, just opportunities for growth- Marc

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Path to Power-Performance Series #5

Finally a ride that Jeremy can really sink his teeth into.  This is the kind-of ride that he has performed time and time again during his endurance sport athletic career- pushing himself into the "red zone"and then dealing with the suffering as best he can until the interval is over- aah yes pure bliss.

This is a key workout for any triathlete/time-trial specialist because it asks you to ride at an effort that is just beyond what you would normally race at and then it demands consistency while in the effort.  Jeremy's goal was to produce two intervals lasting ten minutes a piece where he would keep his Power output right at his Power Threshold of 342 watts.   This is a little different experience mentally, as well as physically, when compared to the more typical intervals where Jeremy would have an entire Power range that he can ride within.  You don't have the luxury that you normally have during a normal interval, where if you aren't feeling well on a particular day you can decide to ride at the lower end of your Power range.  Ultimately because of the intense concentration necessary in trying to keep your Power output steady during a Power Threshold interval, this ride will sharpen your mental focus at the same time that it helps to create consistency in your riding ability.

Another element to becoming strong at time-trials is your ability to becoming more efficient and reducing your level of perceived exertion while in the "red zone".  What you begin to create with Power Threshold intervals is a more efficient engine that operates more like a car on the highway using cruise control rather than a car driving in the stop and go traffic of the city.  I think that you would agree that if you were in the midst of a long interval you would appreciate having cruise control, right?  Your body has a much better chance of adapting to the stress of the interval when you are successful at keeping your Power output steady and limiting the fluctuations in your Power.  For the triathlete one major result of being more efficient is a more controlled heart rate and less overall stress is placed on the body.  Now that is something to get excited about because after an efficient bike split you will have more to give on the run than ever before, and since that is where the race is usually won or lost, that's a huge competitive advantage.  

So far what I have seen in Jeremy is that when he has to crank up the intensity he does so very easily and it's not like his heart rate doesn't jump right up there with his effort, but once he is into a prolonged Threshold type of effort he can continue to pound out the watts and his heart rate barely budges.  It is after seeing Jeremy's efficiency on this ride that I can appreciate why he has been so successful with his endurance endeavors.
Jeremy's goal on this ride was to average his Power Threshold of 342 watts over 10 minutes, twice.  Mission accomplished : 1st interval 346 watts  2nd interval 356 watts.

Stay Strong,

photo credit

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Path to Power-Performance Series #4

So far Jeremy has passed all of the challenges of the early Performance Series rides, and has learned a little something about himself and training with Power.  This week's ride highlights the brute strength necessary to endure two minute Level 6 intervals.  These type of intervals challenge your Anaerobic Capacity and are always going to be hard no matter what your Power Threshold is and no matter how strong you are.  They have been known to leave a few tears on the studio floor and even have made the strongest of cyclist beg for mercy.

 Level 6 intervals are intended to stretch your limits and break down barriers not only in body, but mind, which actually could be the most positive training adaptation to come from this ride.  Besides developing more raw Power to be used while sprinting or climbing steep grades, Level 6's also help make all of the other training levels feel that much more comfortable to sustain.

photo credit

Although I didn't see any tears on the floor after Jeremy's ride he admittedly was very thankful when the ride was over and it pushed him in a way that he wouldn't normally make himself do.  Even though he wasn't as confident about his performance as he usually is, this was his first Level 6 experience and it is not one to overachieve on, but more basic goal of just surviving. 

Jeremy posted some heavy numbers on his first four intervals with an average of 429 watts-which was a good 20 watts into his Level 6 Power range.  He enlisted a cadence in the upper 90's on the first two intervals but then decided that he could control his heart rate a little better if he loaded on some extra resistance and lowered his cadence into the 85-88 rpm range.  This higher cadence strategy is what Lance Armstrong has made so popular in the cycling world because you are then able to put less load on your legs when producing higher Power outputs, much like what was necessary when climbing something like Mount Ventoux. 
On the last two intervals Jeremy rode a more "human" type of Level 6 effort and averaged just inside his Level 6 Power range.  The Power profile of his last interval shows that his legs were just about shot when at the one minute mark his leg speed started to slow down and he knew the only way he was going to be able to finish the interval would be to lighten up the resistance and pick up the cadence (115 rpm average over the last minute) because as Jeremy reported to me after the ride "There was no way that I wasn't gonna get that last interval."

You may ask "Hey, Jeremy is a triathlete, why would he care about his sprinting capacity?" Well, these intervals benefit Jeremy in three ways really. The first way is to develop greater climbing Power; even though he typically isn't faced with really steep grades on triathlon courses, if he can condition himself to sustain Level 6 Power for 2 minutes at a time then the typical 30 second-1 minute hill will feel very comfortable and because the hill won't have taken so much out of him he will be able to ride that much stronger once over the top of the hill.
Secondly, when his legs feel the load of producing a top end effort like a Level 6 all of the Tempo and Threshold riding that he typically does feels that much easier.

Last of all, the mental strength that you develop by taking yourself out of your comfort zone is quite liberating and can be applied to many situations in the future. I like to call it my "2 minute rule"; when I am within two minutes of finishing up a hard interval whether it be a hard Level 5 segment or a longer Threshold effort, I go back in my mind to these experiences and how I was able to hang on during these Level 6 intervals.  It is just what I need in the moment to convince myself that I have what it takes to finish up strong.

This week's ride should be very interesting as Jeremy will be asked to dial in his effort right at his Power Threshold and some comparisons should be able to be made back to his first ride in the Series. 

Power on,

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Path to Power-Performance Series #3

                        Hey, the PowerCycling poster boy is actually on a poster.
                                                Looking good Jeremy !

Going through the Performance Series is kind-of like going to graduate school for the cyclist.  Each and every time you clip into those pedals there is another lesson to be learned and this week the topic is proper pacing.

Ever since I've been working with Jeremy I've only seen Jeremy having one gear and that is to put the pedal to the metal.  In cycling, and especially triathlons the ability to pace yourself is of utmost importance because when you are ultra efficient on the bike you will come off the bike with more energy to give the run and finish strong.  The run just happens to be an area that Jeremy feels he needs to get stronger at if he is going to be more competitive next year.

With PowerCycling you will train yourself to not only be more consistent with the Power that you are producing, but also have a precise and proven game plan going into events.  You will be dialed into the proper intensity that you should be pushing based on what you have actually previously produced through your training, you cannot do this effectively without the Power data that you receive from your training rides.

Jeremy was rock steady with this Tempo ride, as the profile below will verify, and probably mimics a race type of effort for him more than the previous two rides in the Series.  You will notice that Jeremy was able to minimize the fluctuations in his Power even though he was using two different cadence ranges, one high and one low.  The pacing strategy that Jeremy utilized on this ride I believe was the reason why he was able to crush the 10 second sprints throughout the ride and hit over 600 watts on the last six sprints.  If you remember from last weeks ride Jeremy struggled a little in the last 10 minutes of the ride, but not this week, check out that final sprint peaking out at 750 watts !

You've seen Jeremy exhibit some pretty impressive Power on these short sprints, check in next week to see how he handles the sustained sprints of a Level 6 (over 400 watts for him) that last for 2 minutes.  Better carb up for this one Jeremy, as you will be using pure sugar on these burners.

Respect the Ride,

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Path to Power-Performance Series #2

The second ride in The Series gave Jeremy a total of 25 minutes riding in his Level 4 Threshold Power range compared to just 20 minutes from a week ago.  The difference being he executed five 5 minute intervals rather than the longer 10 minute segments from last week.  Jeremy took advantage of these shorter segments and was able to ride aggressively, as he produced average Power outputs that exceeded his Power Threshold by 10-15 watts on each of the five intervals.

These intervals are more cadence sensitive and designed to help a rider discover the style of riding that is most suited to them.  The first part of the ride focused on higher cadences in the 90's which Jeremy seemed to be very comfortable with, getting his desired watts and then recovering extremely well with a Level 2 Endurance effort after each interval.  Jeremy was able to take his heart rate from the Anaerobic intensity of the Level 4 back down to his Baseline heart rate within 2 minutes even though he was maintaining a very high pedal stroke during the recovery periods.  This is a strong indicator of the tremendous fitness level that Jeremy possesses.

The last 20 minutes of the ride challenges the strength and finishing Power of a rider.  Quite often these final 20 minutes will keep a rider working above their Anaerobic Threshold for it's entirety, as the recovery segments after the intervals are now Tempo riding and with a big gear pushing just 70-75 rpms.  The big drop in Jeremy's heart rate during recovery from earlier in the ride are now gone as he stayed Anaerobic and was pushed out of his comfort zone with the bigger gear Tempo riding.  

Jeremy's efficiency was excellent throughout the ride up until the final 10 minutes where the time in the "Red Zone" and the bigger gears started to take it's toll.  Jeremy admitted that he tends to struggle with the bigger gears, which for anyone who knows Jeremy would surprise most when you think of the tree trunks that he calls his legs. 

Jeremy has had a good start to the Performance Series and over the past couple of weeks has started to lay a good foundation towards developing his Threshold capacity.  This weeks ride should be very interesting to see how Jeremy handles it, and no I'm not trying to torture him.  Ride #3 is a ride completely made up of Tempo intervals using a high cadence and a big gear- low cadence segments with the added challenge of firing off 10 standing sprints throughout the ride.  This ride has Jeremy a little concerned, but my money is on him ripping it to shreds, I just hope that the CycleOps is still in one piece when I get to the studio in the morning.  Check in next week to see how he does.

Make it Count,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Path to Power-Performance Series #1

Jeremy Zeigler began his PowerCycling training in earnest this week and produced a very successful first Performance Series ride where he backed up his lofty 342 watt Power Threshold number.  Jeremy is training with this Power Threshold based on previous testing that has been done and now the real fun begins as his weekly training load is based on this intensity level.   What Jeremy will find out soon enough is that with each Performance Series ride and the feedback that you receive from the computer you are able to constantly evaluate your progress.  This aspect is what makes PowerCycling so much fun and effective in creating positive changes in your fitness. 

 I have seen athletes, over the last 4 years that I have been offering the Performance Series, consistently increase their Power Threshold by 5-10% which means that Jeremy has within his reach a Power Threshold of 360-375 watts by Spring.  With the addition of some nutritional peaking strategies that will help him drop a few unwanted pounds, and some added pop in his legs developed through strength training he may be very close to producing his goal of averaging 25 mph on the bike in a triathlon next Summer.

The emphasis for his first ride was to challenge his ability to ride in his Level 4 or Threshold wattage range with two 10 minute intervals and just a 5 minute recovery between the two.  Jeremy showed up ready to ride as he produced a solid first interval just beneath his Power Threshold of 335 watts and then looked to really settle into the effort needed on the second interval when he averaged 353 watts.  His ability to crank out 10 minutes above his Power Threshold is a good indicator that he has the potential to train at a higher level very soon. 

One thing that I am learning about Jeremy that can work to his advantage, but can also work against him at times, is that he has a very strong desire to better himself and he is not afraid to push himself to his limits.  I am hoping that he develops a whole new sense of his limits through his Performance Series experience and this will allow him to effectively pace himself for any distance that he may participate in the future.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Path to Power

This feature will spotlight different athletes throughout the off-season and their training experiences on their Path to Power.  It will offer insight into many aspects of becoming a successful athlete that go well beyond  the raw numbers of PowerCycling.

I invite you to follow Jeremy Zeigler's journey this off-season as he follows the Performance Series, engages in off the bike strength training and his nutritional strategies as he prepares for what he hopes to be his most successful Tri season this coming Summer.     

For those of you that were involved in the PowerCycling Summer Club this last year,where Jeremy was out on the road coaching, or have met Jeremy through the studio this Fall while he has been assisting me with Power Hours, you know of Jeremy and his many athletic talents.  Although he had a limited racing season this past year, a highlight was when he ripped off the best bike split for the very challenging Breakwater Half-Ironman in Petoskey, Mi.

If you haven't met Jeremy yet I would like to share a story with you that may help you understand those exceptional talents that he possesses.  Our club was finishing up a training session this Summer and as we often would we decided to ride the final stretch back into Chelsea with some enthusiasm.  On this particular day we started riders off in time trial fashion at 90 second intervals for the final 7 miles back home.  

Jeremy would start last as he was the strongest, I started two spots ahead of him.  I remember thinking that if I could just hold him off and limit my losses to around 3 minutes I would be pretty happy.  I was having a reasonably strong ride for myself that night, probably averaging around 22 mph.  As I entered the final mile I starting looking over my shoulder periodically, fully expecting the Jeremy freight train to be on my tail. Sure enough with a half mile to go there he was and each time I looked back he was closer and closer. Somehow I had just enough to nudge him out at the make believe finish line,

 I was feeling pretty good about my effort, until Jeremy and I starting telling war stories as we cooled down riding back into town.  It was then that I realized how strong he really is.  He shared with me that in the first 5 minutes of the time trial his pedal loosened up on his bike and he had to stop, get off his bike and tighten it up-surely adding an extra couple of minutes to my head start of 3 minutes. Jeremy demonstrated to me on this occasion an intangible that separates the average athlete from the extraordinary one-the ability to stay composed under pressure.  

Come back this week and check out how Jeremy does on his first Performance Series ride.