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Articles, Cycling Clubs

Developing A Pacing Strategy For The Ten Mile Time Trial.

Marathon

Below is a detailed examination of how one cyclist rides a Ten Mile Time Trial. Whilst I have carried out this experiment with a number of riders, I have deliberately chosen an ‘average ‘ rider to illustrate the improvements that can be made, just by looking at pacing strategy.

During the first ride our initial aim was to find out exactly what the rider was doing during a time trial. By using a cycle ergonometer to simulate a flat 10 mile time trial, we were able to measure power output, record the riders heart rate and take blood samples every four minutes to measure lactate production.

In the first trial, the rider was asked to complete the course in the way that they would normally race. This is illustrated in the graph below. What is particularly interesting is the power output. As you can see, this follows a series of peaks and troughs. The rider goes off very hard, which results in high Lactic acid production. This inhibits power output and the rider has to ease off to recover. When they begin to feel better, they then ‘go for it’ again, but cannot maintain the effort. This is repeated in a series of hard, recover, hard, recover steps. Near the end with a guts out effort, they sprint for the finish. Unfortunately they cannot maintain this pace, so they have to ease off again, before finally finishing. Final Time: 25:23.

ttp-1

In the second example we chose a power output that the rider could comfortably maintain (In this case 245 watts). They kept this up until near the end, when again they put in a final last effort. Time: 24:23. This strategy proved to be a minute faster over ten miles. This is quite a considerable saving. What is particularly interesting is how much lactic acid was produced. Remember that the scales of the two graphs are the same. As you can see in the second time trial the highest measured figure is still lower than at any time during the first race.

ttp-2

When the rider was asked to comment on each of the rides, she said the second ’10’ was the easiest that she had ever ridden, despite it being a personal best, at the time. With the information gained from these rides she has now gone on to improve this time.

Here are some practical tips for improving your ’10’ time:

Start off one gear lower than you feel you actually need.

Get down into the saddle quickly. This should be in the first 50 metres.

By the end of the first minute you should still feel fresh (not wrecked!!).

Try to maintain a constant rhythm and pace, until near the end.

Check the course out before you race to identify a marker (lamp post, lay-by etc.) near the end, so you know when to go for that last all out effort.

In addition to illustrating the effects of adopting a different pacing strategy, the above also shows the advantages of being able to measure intensity of effort in terms of power. The most common method of measuring intensity at the moment is using heart rate monitors. Whilst the information we gain from these is very helpful, in the examples above, the two heart rate traces are not that dis-similar. A combination of power measurement and heart rates gives us a much more complete picture.

A few years ago ‘Look’ developed a hub that could measure power output, but unfortunately its sale has been discontinued. More recently some professional riders, including Greg Lemond and Chris Boardman have been using the SRM Power crank. This is a wonderful tool, but its high cost £2500 puts it out of the reach of most riders.

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Events

West Flanders way of Racing

US cyclist Lance Armstrong of the Radioshack team rides during an exploration training on April 1, 2010 ahead of the 94rd edition of the one-day cycling race Ronde Van Vlaanderen, taking palce on April 4, 2010 in Gent. AFP PHOTO  BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS LAMBERT

Here in Belgium the races (Kermesse) tend to be a continuous stream of attacks sometimes 3 go at a time from different places (Unless there is a lot of wind) . They consider it here madness to close a gap on a break unless you have most of the bunch working, this only happens when there is a large group with a dangerous lead up the road and it happens very rarely. So you have in almost all races here riders attacking up the road, not with a mind to ride alone but rather to form up with other riders and thus form a lead group of say 7 riders. “We have been working on spinning workout since last 2 months using top quality spin bikes at home“. – they said to media.

Now these riders will form a chain and the gap will widen until another chasing group forms behind (maybe with some stronger riders) and closes on them. If they regroup they will have 14 or 15 riders up front, now if most of these riders work they will stick together and widen the gap more on the following bunch (which is still getting smaller with riders trying to form new chasing groups).

If there are a few players who want to sit on the back, the break will stop working and the stronger riders will again try to form a new lead group by attacking, opening a gap, looking around and waiting for someone to help him.

Usually you have a rider attacking, everyone else is jumping to his wheel while someone else attacks from the middle on the other side of the road, the break swings over to his wheel ( you now have 2 tired riders on the front ), then someone else attacks some riders get his wheel they open a gap and work. In the end the 15 rider group will split or there will be a regrouping with the groups behind.

Now I find the best way to attack (for me that is) is in the saddle looking like you’re just about to do a turn, as you near the front you pull up hardwith your hamstrings and swing to the other side of the road,open the gap before anyone realises what’s happening. Never ever get out of the saddle and sprint to build up your speed, its like telling everyone “hey I’m about to attack get on my wheel now” If your so tired that you can’t keep your face calm and have your hands on the hoods you shouldn’t attack.

If you are strong but don’t have a good turn of speed keep attacking on the other side of the road but not too hard as you will want to keep yourattacks relentless, in the end (if your in a small group) They will let you go. If you’re in a race which has a load of negative teams trying to put a damperon the racing try not to attack alone (it is possible to attack with a team mate or two or better still some friends in other teams).

If you have a team mate in the break help him by going with all the attacks that go after him, this means staying close to the front but not blocking and staying very alert as you will need to jump on any attacking riders wheels (I prefer to let them get a gap then jump over to his wheel alone). Your aim should be to be dragged across to the break and thus give your team the advantage in the break. We don’t have riders blocking here, they would soon all end up in a ditch ;–) Ifyou want to slow the bunch down don’t work.

God I’ve gone on a bit sorry all

Stationary Bikes

Training Levels (with Power or HR) Andy Coggan:

andys-power-level-chart

Here’s a summary of our ‘levels’:
1 Active recovery – <55% of TT power, <68% of TT HR 2 Endurance – 56-75% of TT power, 69-83% of TT HR 3 Tempo – 76-90% of TT power, 84-94% of TT HR 4 Threshold – 91-105% of TT power, 95-105% of TT HR 5 Aerobic power – 106-120% of TT power, >105% of TT HR
6 Anaerobic capacity – >121% of TT power, HR n/a
7 Anaerobic power – n/a, n/a

(Let me emphasize again that this is a power-based system, and that I don’t put much stock in the HR guidelines, due both to individual differences and the unique response of HR (e.g., HR drift, training vs. competition differences, etc.). I therefore discourage anyone from trying to use my classification scheme to blindly train using HR alone…at the very least, you need to be aware of such subtleties.)

Cycle-Smart (referenced to “lactate threshold”, i.e., sustainable HR) (if I screw any of this up, please correct me!)
1 Active recovery – <70% of TT HR
2 Easy – 71-80% of TT HR
3 Light – 81-90% of TT HR
4 Middle – 93-95% of TT HR (10-14 beats/min below TT HR)
5 Extensive intervals (intervals of 2-4 min duration) – as close to TT HR as possible
6 Intensive intervals (intervals of 45 s to 2 min) – HR n/a
7 Power Starts, Hill Sprints, Sprints, CP Jumps/Max (8-15 second efforts) – HR n/a

So, even though my system is power-based (w/ the HR guidelines being. IMO, ‘iffy’) and the Cycle-Smart program is (largely) HR-based, there is very close agreement for the first two or three levels, and reasonably close agreement above that. Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic is the definition of the ‘threshold’ training level itself (#4 in both programs). I’ve defined it rather broadly (in power terms), whereas the Cycle-Smart program defines it fairly narrowly (in terms of HR). Even this difference, though, may not be as large as it appears…

1) While I extended the upper range of this level to 105% of TT power, in reality intervals above TT power would result in a different physiological response, and thus elicit different physiological response, than ‘repeats’ or ‘blocks’ at or just below TT power. Perhaps the simplest way to think of such supra-threshold intervals (~6-10 min) would be ‘lactate tolerance’ training, something that would be performed only at specific times during a training program. The range from 100-105% of TT power is therefore really different than the range from 90-100% of TT power, where the bulk of ‘quality training’ would be performed. Because of this, I considered the idea of adding an additional level and/or lumping the 100-105% range into level 5, but these solutions aren’t ideal, either…an additional level just adds to the complexity, and the intensity we’re talking about here (i.e., just above TT power), while quite strenuous, really isn’t high enough to be considered a major stimulus to VO2max (the purpose of level 5 training).

2) Due to the vagaries of HR responses, HR is unlikely to be as expected/predicted (i.e., up to 105% of TT HR) during *training* efforts at level 4, especially at the upper end. Thus, while the power range covers a 15% span, HR itself is likely to fall into a narrower ‘window’, thus more closely correpsonding to the Cycle-Smart level 4.

Respose from John Verheul, Cycle-Smart:

The major differences I see at first reading are:

1) We leave gaps between zones to differentiate the specific efforts. We have found when working with clients this ensures we are training what we think we are training when we prescribe certain workouts. You can achieve the similar level of workout using recumbent bikes as well.

AC:

I chose to cover the entire range with my ‘levels’ because we really have a continuum of responses and adaptations to deal with here, and to specificy too narrow (or non-overlapping) ranges implies that there’s something ‘magic’ about training at that intensity. In application, though, my approach would be to prescribe workouts with more specificity than implied by the overall ranges. (Interestingly, one experienced coach told me that he uses *overlapping* power levels in prescribing workouts for athletes…rather than a true difference in philosophy, I think this is really just another way of dealing with problems arising from the variability of power in the ‘real world’, etc.)

JV:

2) Our middle zone corresponds closely to Andy’s zone 4 in what we are trying to train. We are somewhat more conservative in terms of limiting the upper end of the zone than is Andy.

AC:

see comments above

JV:

3) We prescribe slightly shorter interval lengths in the zones above LT than Andy.

AC:

While I defined level 5 intervals as 3-8 min duration and level 6 intervals as less than 3 min (down to about 20 seconds), that doesn’t necessarily mean that I would advocate intervals at the upper end of either range. On the other hand, I might…provided you keep the intensity under control. Just as an example: in his textbook, Astrand provides data from a treamill interval workout of a runner, performing intervals at close to VO2max. If the speed were just a little too high, the athlete couldn’t complete the workout, but if the speed were just a little bit lower, he could do many more repetitions. In both cases, though, the intensity was sufficient to drive VO2 all the way to maximum. The argument was put forth that it may be better to perform such intervals at a slightly lower intensity, thus being able to accumulate more training time at/very near VO2max. Whether this is true or not isn’t proven, but is certainly worth considering.

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Training and Workouts

Training Levels for a Power Based Traing System: Andrew Coggan

power-press-push-up-complete-push-up-training-system-0-4

As promised, here is the schema I’ve put together. In developing it, I’ve drawn from a number of sources, including Peter Janssen’s book ‘Lactate Threshold Training‘, Joe Friel’s ‘The Cyclist’s Training Bible’, the British Cycling Federation’s training guidelines (developed by Peter Keen), in addition to my own background in exercise physiology and experience of training and racing with a PowerTap the last couple of years. I would also like to recognize all the people who responded to my initial request for power data, as that has helped me to verify/refine the system. I’ll begin by describing the various ‘levels’ in the system first, then discuss some of the details…

Level 1: Active recovery
Average power: <55% of 40k TT average power
Average heart rate: <68% of 40k TT average heart rate
Perceived exertion: <2
Description: “Easy spinning” or “light pedal pressure”, i.e., very low level exercise, too low in and of itself to induce significant physiological adaptations. Minimal sensation of leg effort/fatigue. Requires no concentration to maintain pace, and continuous conversation possible. Typically used for active recovery after strenuous training days (or races), between interval efforts, or for socializing.

Level 2: Endurance
Average power: 56-75% of 40k TT average power
Average heart rate: 69-83% of 40k TT average heart rate
Perceived exertion: 2-3
Description: “All day” pace, or classic long slow distance (LSD) training (note that the “slow” refers to the very high intensity, interval-centered training programs that were popular at the time the term was coined in the 1970’s). Sensation of leg effort/fatigue generally low, but may periodically to higher levels (e.g., when climbing). Concentration generally required to maintain effort only during very long rides. Breathing is more regular than at level 1, but continuous conversation is still possible. Frequent (daily) training sessions of moderate duration (i.e., 1-2 h) at level 2 are possible (provided dietary carbohydrate intake is adequate), but complete recovery from longer workouts may take more than 24 hours.

Level 3: Tempo
Power: 76-90% of 40k TT average power
Heart rate: 84-94% of 40k TT average heart rate
Perceived exertion: 3-4
Description: Typical intensity of fartlek workout, ‘spirited’ group ride, or briskly moving paceline. More frequent/greater sensation of leg effort/fatigue than at level 2. Requires concentration to maintain alone, especially at upper end of range, to prevent effort from falling back to level 2. Breathing deeper and more rhythmic than level 2, such that any conversation must be somewhat or very halting, but not as difficult as at level 4. Recovery from level 3 training sessions more difficult than after level 2 workouts, but consecutive days of level 3 training still possible if duration isn’t excessive.

Level 4: Threshold
Average power: 91-105% of 40k TT average power
Average heart rate: 95-105% of 40k TT average heart rate (may not be achieved during initial phases of effort(s))
Perceived exertion: 4-5
Description: Just below to just above TT effort, taking into account duration, current fitness, environment, etc. Essentially continuous sensation of moderate or even greater leg effort/fatigue. Continuous conversation difficult at best, due to depth/frequency of breathing. Effort sufficiently high that continuous cycling at this level is mentally very taxing – therefore typically performed in training as multiple ‘repeats’, ‘modules’, or ‘blocks’ of 10-30 min duration. While consecutive days of training at level 4 is sometimes possible, in general such workouts should only be performed when sufficiently rested/recovered from prior training so as to be able to maintain intensity.

Level 5: Aerobic power
Average power: 106-120% of 40k TT average power
Average heart rate: >106% of 40k TT average heart rate (may not be achieved due to slowness of heart rate response and/or ceiling imposed by maximum heart rate)
Perceived exertion: 6-7
Description: Typical intensity of longer (3-8 min) intervals intended to raise VO2max. Strong to severe sensations of leg effort/fatigue, such that completion of more than 30-40 min total training time is difficult at best. Conversation not possible due to often ‘ragged’ breathing. Should only be attempted when adequately recovered from prior training – consecutive days of level 5 work generally not desirable even if possible.

Level 6: Anaerobic capacity
Average power: >121% of 40k TT average power
Average heart rate: N/a
Perceived exertion: >7
Description: Short (

Level 7: Neuromuscular power
Average power: N/a
Average heart rate: N/a
Perceived exertion: * (maximal)
Description: Very short, very high intensity efforts (e.g., jumps, standing starts, short sprints).that generally place greater stress on the musculoskeletal rather than metabolic systems. Power useful as guide, but only in reference to prior similar efforts, not TT pace.

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