A Cozumel Training Update

So far I’m two weeks into my Cozumel training.  I had three weeks of easy training/recovery and now I’m well into my first build cycle.  I thought I’d write an update and talk about how it’s going and some of the changes I’ve made.

Intensity – I cut my hours and cranked up the intensity and so far I'm loving it and responding very well.  I guess I needed a change.  Typically I’ve spent a lot of time riding tempo on the bike and now I’m doing a lot more threshold and above threshold work.  Last Tuesday I did one of my staple threshold workouts, the Spinervals Timetrialapalooza DVD, and hit numbers I’ve never really come close to before.  This DVD has always been a good indicator of threshold for me (the average power of all 4 intervals combined is usually very close to my FTP) and this workout indicates my threshold is up about 10 watts to 310.  I've also done some very high intensity work.  I’m being careful with the running intensity.  My hard workouts aren’t super intense, but they’re a lot more intense than anything I’ve done in the past two years.  I’ve basically been racing on all easy base miles since 2010.  Now I’m doing striders once a week and one workout that’s either long M-pace or a 20’ T-pace interval.  No track workouts yet.  My swimming isn’t as strong as it was early in the year so I have some work to do there, but I’ve cranked up the intensity there as well. 

Core – I’m hitting the core work hard.  Hopefully this will help with my swimming, but it should also help with my running because I think weak core/hamstring/glute muscles caused my injury and have been the cause of all my hip flexor issues.  Mainly the core work is injury prevention and to help me maintain better form in the pool. 

Efficiency – Since I don’t have a lot of time to build fitness, and a lot of what I’m doing is trying to get back to peak fitness, I’m putting a lot of emphasis on efficiency.  I figure if I can be just a little more efficient and put more energy into forward motion, that could make a big difference over 140 miles.   I’m working on running form/cadence.  Prior to working on cadence, my natural running cadence was about 82.  Now I’m averaging 88 on my runs and my legs feel better and I’m running faster on less effort.  I’m putting a lot of emphasis on swimming form as well to improve my efficiency there, and I’m also working in more efficiency training on the bike such as one-leg drills and high cadence spinning on my recovery rides.  It’s too early to say if I’m gaining anything or if I will gain anything.  I figure it can’t hurt so I might as well give it a go.

Diet – I'm going to write up another post on that because I've made a few changes and don't want to make this post too long.  So far I'm 7 or 8 pounds lighter than I was at my IMWI weigh in.

Recovery – I’ve already talked about this so I won’t beat it into the ground.  I’m giving myself more recovery and my easy days are ridiculously easy.  I don't think most people would enjoy riding with me on an easy day right now.  The pace is way too slow.  Sometimes I just tip over on the bike path I’m going so slow.  I averaged 110 watts in my recovery ride the otherday.  That’s about 37% of threshold. I did some single-leg drills and high cadence spinning on that ride. 

So that's my update.  Lower hours, higher intensity, more recovery, less food....and PRs.  I'm feeling good and really enjoying the training.  

Next up is another IMWI power file analysis.   


Danger Danger!

I've got a couple of power files to dig through and post, but in the meantime I thought I'd share this picture a friend of mine posted on FB to show everyone how dangerous the area I'm living in is.  I'm risking my life every day I train.

Read Aug 14.  

I would love to know the thoughts that go through a person's head prior to calling the police on a squirrel.  

If you're concerned about the mailbox on Aug 6, don't worry.  It was found in the neighbor's yard.  Perhaps the suspicious squirrel had something to do with that.




Power File Analysis: IMWI '11 - Scott Roehrborn - KQ

A few posts ago, I asked for some power files to analyze and post.  I received one from Scott Roehrborn, an ex-teammate of mine from the Gear Grinder team.  It's from Ironman Wisconsin 2011, where he qualified for Kona.  

To give you a little background on Scott, He's 40, 5'9" and 138 pounds.  He has 20+ years of multisport experience with a running background going back to high school cross country and track.  He's a self-coached athlete and this was his fifth Ironman, all of them being IMWI.  His threshold is 235w.

There weren't a  lot of surprises in his file.  He did a great job pacing himself, as expected.  Typically, when people qualify for Kona, their power files are great examples of pacing.  

Scott's splits from the race:

Swim:  1:05:48
T1: 5:30
Bike: 5:28:03
T2: 2:42
Run: 3:25:18

Total:  10:07:21  (5th in AG)

Metrics from IMWI '11

Taking a quick look at his metrics from the ride, there are a few key things I want to point out.  First off is that Scott rode at an Average Power that is 68% of his threshold and his intensity factor was .71.  This is on the lower end of recommended zones for Ironman so Scott may have ridden more conservatively than he needed to and left a little time on the table, but that's hard to say for sure.  I'd have to see the data on his big training rides because ultimately you need to decide how to ride on race day based on your long rides, plus he qualified for Kona by taking 5th in his age group so it's hard to say he didn't pace himself well.  He clearly did.  But I see potential for faster bike splits by riding at 72-75% of FTP and an IF of .75-.78.  This depends on Scott's bike fitness and how confident he feels he can ride that hard for 112 miles and run well. 

Another metric worth pointing out is his VI at 1.04.  That's low for the Wisconsin course and a sign of very good pacing.  This means he controlled his effort and didn't hit the hills too hard, but also kept his power up on the flats.  Basically, he spent a lot of time right around his goal power.  VI is NP/AP so you can see his Normalized Power and Average Power are very close.

Sidenote:  I read a really good summary of what Normalized Power and Average Power is that I want to share:  Normalized Power is how hard you worked, Average Power is how fast you went.   

Scott's TSS is 279, which is good.  A general rule of thumb is to try to keep it below 300.  He burned almost 3200 calories and had a cadence of 93. 

When looking at an Ironman power file, one place I like to start is the power zone distribution:

Power Zone Distribution

This is a great example of good pacing.  Scott has the majority of his time in his endurance zone (51%) followed by tempo, recovery and very little time at threshold and above.  You can get away with more time in the tempo zone, but that depends on your strengths and weaknesses.  Strong cyclists will be able to push closer to the top end of the endurance zone and will end up with more time in their tempo zones.  This power distribution looks really good.

Power Distribution By 20w Zones.
This is his power distribution broken down into 20 watt zones.  A few things to point out - the tallest bar is 160-180w.  Scott spent nearly two hours right in that zone, so nearly 36% of the right was right at Ironman power.  Another thing that stands out is the 0-20w bar - that's time spent coasting.  Scott spent 18 minutes coasting, only 5.5% of the ride.  One last thing to point out is how quickly the bars drop off to the right of the tallest bar.  This shows little time spent around and above threshold.  This is where his low VI came from - very few hard efforts, very little coasting, lots of time right at goal power.  

Time Spent Above Threshold

I always like to create this chart, which just shows all time spent above threshold.  For Scott, that came to less than 10 minutes.  That's very good for a course like Wisconsin with all the short, steep climbs.  This shows a lot of patience and discipline on Scott's part.

Power With Threshold and Trend Line
 In the chart above, blue is power, red is threshold, green is the power trendline.  Here you can easily see how little time Scott spent above threshold and how he doesn't have any sustained efforts at or above threshold.  His power trends downward slightly, which isn't bad.  That's pretty typical.  You can see he basically maintained even power throughout the entire ride.

Quadrant Analysis

If you're unfamiliar with Quadrant Analysis, the horizontal line is Scott's threshold.  The vertical line is threshold cadence.  The line you need to be most concerned with here is the horizontal line, the division between quadrants I&II and III&IV.   It might be hard to read, but the big thing to point out in the quadrant analysis is how little time Scott spent in quadrants I and II (the top two quadrants).  Those two quadrants really zap your strength and glycogen.  For an Ironman, you want your power in quadrants III and IV.  The way to accomplish this is to limit your time above threshold (recurring theme if you haven't picked up on that yet :)

Nutrition: I always like to take a look at nutrition because I think one of the big advantages of having a power meter is that you get accurate calorie information (KJ = Calories burned).  A lot of people get hung up on calories vs. body weight or how many calories they think they can take in per hour, etc.  I like to compare calories taking in vs. calories burned.  I've had good luck replacing around 40% of calories burned.  (Gordo Byrn recommends replacing 50% of calories burned).  Scott took in 1400 total calories on the bike (250 per hour), which was a mix of Carbo Pro and 4 Espresso gels with caffeine.  He burned 3,176 calories so he replaced about 44% of the calories he burned. 

Overall, this file is a great example of how to pace yourself well and set up a good run.  Obviously, it takes a certain level of fitness to KQ, but one of the biggest keys to qualifying is proper pacing on the bike.  A lot of people throw their races away in the first two hours on the bike because they lack the discipline and patience to hold back.  Scott held back and was rewarded with a ticket to the big island. 

One last sidenote:  Scott rode a 50/34 compact crank with a 12/27 cassette and said it was perfect (I ride a 50/34 compact with 11-25 cassette).      

Scott is racing Kona in a couple of weeks, and if he can pace himself this well again I think he'll have a good race.  Good luck in Kona, Scott.  Thanks for sharing your power file.