Fatigue Resistance and Power Profiles

IMG_2332What is your fatigue resistance and what does that mean? What is the appropriate fatigue resistance for your event? How do you train to improve your fatigue resistance?

We have had a great two weeks here with family and friends visiting. We reduced our riding slightly compared to the volume that we had been doing but Jen kept to her normal two days of intervals during the week and then she spent quite a lot of time riding at the higher end of sweetspot.

Last week we had my best friend, Jon, here and his son, Daniel, who is 14. Jon was a talented athlete at school and was good at longer events. The years and running a busy business have taken their toll and Jon is carrying a bit of timber at the moment. So we had a few rides at a good, steady pace with him.

However, Daniel has inherited his dad’s genes and is very talented. He is the lad for whom we arranged a ride with Team Sky a few years ago. So we took him out on the first day here and he was climbing really well, way faster than we had seen him in the past, so we arranged for him to ride with the group and he was more than comfortable.

At that age his endurance has not yet developed fully but he handled a four hour ride on Wednesday at a good pace and the cracks only started to show in the last ten minutes of the ride up the last climb!!! Amazing.

The Friday ride was shorter with some faster efforts in and he was flying!! You could not drop him even when at 1200 to 1400 VAM on the climbs!!! So we are trying to gently encourage him without putting him under any pressure and making sure he has lots of fun along the way, so we are talking about him having a crack at Alpe d’Huez in the summer and one or two of this year’s Tour climbs near where we live.

But it is so exciting seeing talent develop in youngsters, and he is getting a lot of confidence from being really good at something ( he enjoys beating his dad on the climbs anyway, but he also enjoyed beating some of the other riders in our group!).

So after a great week, they left on Saturday, and then Jen had her race on Sunday. This was a TT up a 9.9km climb to Vilaflor that many of our clients will have descended. The start was slightly different, going up a quiet back road and popping out on the climb about 3km up, and this start was tough with more than a kilometer at well over 10%.

She had decided on what powers she was going to ride to throughout the event but this went out of the window on the first section as she was producing over 300 watts just to keep moving at s reasonable cadence!

The last 4km also then kicked up again with sections well over 10% and Jen made full use of her 32 sprocket on the back to keep her cadence up. So she was second woman in the event, from all the women who had entered. Her time of 42 mins 48 seconds was only 2 minutes slower than the first woman who weighs in at an incredible 45 kg.

She was then over 3 minutes ahead of the third placed woman and so was delighted with her result, especially as she hadn’t specifically prepared for the event (she also beat all the men over 50 with her time!!!!).

Yesterday we started the first day of her ‘over-reaching’ block as I mentioned last week, with a six hour ride and over 3000m of climbing, and she felt remarkably good from her efforts on Sunday, so that is quite positive.

And today’s blog comes about from what we are trying to achieve in this block of ‘over-reaching’. We are looking to improve her fatigue resistance over the summer for her Ventoux event.

IMG_2438Fatigue Resistance and Power Profiles.

Those of you using power to train with will be aware of power profiling. Essentially you can determine how much power you are producing for various lengths of time, and then by comparing your powers with other riders, you can determine what type of rider you are, what you are good at, and what you might need to focus on in training!

We have included charts in this blog before that show what the power profile would be of a road racer, a time trialist, a climber or a pursuiter for instance. However, deciding what type of rider you are, or what you need to focus on in training is a little more complicated than this.

One of the important elements of performance is your ability to hold good quality powers for longer and longer periods. This makes you a much more formidable athlete and makes you capable of producing event winning moves that others cannot match.

Let’s start by looking at the charts again.

Power Profile Men

Power Profile Women

Time Triallist Profile

Sprinter Profile

Pursuiter Profile

As I have mentioned before, I am not keen on the first two charts. I really don’t like the idea of deciding how good someone is going to be and how far their career is going to go based on a power profile. There is way more to cycling than this. It doesn’t take into account tactics, bunch skills, bike handling skills, ability to recover, ability to repeat top quality efforts etc.

I know for sure that Mark Cavendish would struggle to hit many of the ‘numbers’ for a pro rider and who wouldn’t want his career palmares!!!!!!

Now the next three are useful however. If you plot where your powers lie on the chart, it does give you an idea of what you are good at (at the moment!). Don’t forget that this is just a snapshot in time and may suggest some areas for training – it does NOT mean that you can’t be another ‘type’ of rider with some focus.

So that is a good start. You can see what you are good at, what might need training, and what you might need to focus on if you have a specific event in mind.

But for a fuller picture, we also need to look at our fatigue resistance, this is our ability to produce higher powers for longer periods of time, clearly a big advantage in any endurance event.

It is simply a case of looking at your powers over different times and looking at how good you are at holding high powers for the longer times compared to the shorter times, and comparing the percentage difference with the following chart.

 

fatigue-profile-2-10-2013

The numbers on the left are just an example of what you do. So if we look at the top chart, this is looking at how explosive you are and how long you can hold sprint powers. You start by noting your power over 5 seconds, 10 seconds and 20 seconds, in this case 1029 W, 1031 W, and 655 W. So this shows the 10 second powers being 18% down on the 5 second powers and the 20 second powers being 36% down on the 10 second powers.

You then look at the chart and see where this puts you. Now if you have a high drop off, this shows that you are VERY explosive but cannot hold the powers for long. If your powers don’t drop much then you have HIGH endurance. This doesn’t mean you are not a sprinter. What it means is that you need to sprint differently! OR you need to train to improve for your event.

What I mean by that is that if you are explosive, you need to sprint late and short. Try to get a lead out and come around late. If you have good sprint endurance, you can sprint from further out and should go early, especially if you can get a gap or it is uphill so the others are working equally as hard as you.

BUT, all of this can be trained. If you are NOT explosive and need to be, then keep the efforts short and explosive. If your powers drop off, try sprinting for longer or doing intervals with reduced recoveries.

(As an aside, I have had some success improving some of my riders’ results from a sprint. The point about road race sprints is that they nearly always start too early. Someone always kicks at 400m to go, or earlier! So I train my riders to double-kick. That means that you kick with the initial surge, just so as to hold your position and not get boxed, and then you kick again at 150m to go. This is a LONG sprint. Practice by sprinting for 10secs, sit down for 10secs, and then kick again for 10 secs. Try half a dozen of these in a session with full recoveries in-between. It’s hard but now you will win!)

Same goes for high end anaerobic efforts. Look at your 30s, 1 min and 2 min powers in the same way. If you can hold higher powers for longer, then you can attack that killer hill from further out. If others try to go with you, they will crack before you have eased off, and now you are away!

The third chart is very interesting as we use VO2max intervals a lot in our training. And being able to hold this power for longer makes you a formidable cyclist in endurance events. This is what Chris Froome is good at. He can hold a high effort for longer than everyone else when they have been climbing for some time and are all at their max!

And finally, your ability to hold good power for a long time helps you compete in long time-trials, or events with long climbs, for instance.

The point about all this is that this is all trainable. The most common way to train this is to use intervals and reduce the recovery times. That is what this type of training is attempting to achieve.

Similarly, increasing the number of intervals you do will affect this also, AND will increase your ability to make repeated efforts when others have cracked.

And when we over-reach, this has a big impact on the final measure – your ability to produce long efforts at good powers. Most over-reaching is a big block of volume and so has a mostly endurance effect. You can include some efforts in your training if you wish, but this will be a reduced number and only on the first day of the block.

For Jen’s training block, we are trying to improve her ability to climb for a long time at a good power, and at the end of a long day. Her event consists of two 3000m days followed by a TT up Ventoux on the third day. So not only are we after a training effect, but we are after a specific effect over a certain time. So the training consists of three day blocks with the first two days of 3000m and then a 1600m day to finish.

We will repeat this block twice or three times with a couple of recovery days in between, and we will do this at regular intervals throughout the summer – and each time we will be looking for her to hold a higher power on the climbs for the three days, and simulate the actual event.

SO when you have filled in your power profile chart and done all the calculations to see what your fatigue resistance is like, you will now know EXACTLY what you need to focus on in training. It might not be what you want to hear but the truth can be painful after all!

IMG_2339Pro News

The less said about Fleche-Walloone and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the better. The one good thing that came out of this was Valverde giving his prize money to Scarponi’s family. (I know I don’t like the guy but credit where credit is due!!!). But the races were poor. Why didn’t the other teams have a better plan? Valverde was always going to win in an uphill sprint and yet the other teams were prepared to chase WITH Movistar to bring back all the breaks???????

Surely he was the firm favourite, like Chris Froome is in the Tour. The other teams expect Sky to control the race in the Tour and refuse to help chase. So why not make Movistar chase and isolate Valverde later? Now they would have had a chance.

Anyway, we move on to Romandy and the Tour of Yorkshire this week – both events that are open, attract good fields and NORMALLY produce exciting racing. Shall we move on?

IMG_2362The Week Ahead.

So we have day two of Jen’s block of training today and day 3 tomorrow. We will then take two light days, and do it again! We only have time for a long ride then next Wednesday before we leave to travel back to France and begin the summer! This has come around so quickly. I know we will miss riding with the group here.

I am going along for the fun of it! I might do the Ventoux event if my summer goes well but as I have said, I will see how the training goes. Yesterday was fine and I was strong throughout – six hours is my longest ride yet, post-op! But I am not getting carried away. I have some way to go yet and haven’t started training properly. We will see!

Have a great week everyone.

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