Tag Archives: WKO+

Training: A plateau or no?

Up until this point, I’ve been pretty pumped about my training. It has been hard, but until now I have been able to succeed — and exceed — in every workout I have attempted. I’ve gotten used to my coach saying, “Good job! You nailed that one!” Now, I’m having to get used to hearing, “Hmmmmm, that one wasn’t so good.” Have I reached a plateau?

At the center of this question is the workout I have been doing recently. I’ve talked about the 30/30’s before. Now, I have graduated to the 60/60’s. I did these for the first time last Saturday. It goes like this:

  1. Warmup – 30 minutes
  2. Blow-out – 305 watts
  3. Spin – 5 minutes
  4. 1 minute at 425 – 465 watts
  5. Spin – 1 minute
  6. Repeat 4 and 5 four more times
  7. Spin – 5 minutes
  8. Repeat 4 – 7 four more times
  9. Spin – 20 minutes
  10. Complete 6 10 second all out sprints with five minutes spinning between each
  11. Ride home for the duration of the designated workout time

For 30 seconds I have been able to crank out more than enough wattage to meet my goals. However, when it comes to the 60 second workout, that is another matter. For the first two sets I manage just fine. However, in the third set things start to go down hill. By the fifth set, I’m averaging down in the 380 watts range.

What’s up with this? I’ll be around 450 watts for 30 seconds. Then I will see the wattage drop below 400 watts. I react trying to build the wattage back up, but when I do my legs go to jello and though my brain is yelling, “Spin! Spin!” my legs don’t obey. By 40 seconds in, I’m toast. To make matters worse, my heart rate isn’t even hitting 180 bpm.

Maybe I have just reached a plateau. Up to this point, I have been working under the level of my peak ability. It has allowed me to exceed. Now, I’m breaking out of that and am discovering for the first time what it means to have to work to build up to success.

I asked my coach about it. He says he does not think I have reached a plateau. He thinks that I am simply not doing the intervals correctly. Looking at the graphs of my workout seems to give his argument credence. Below is a graph of one of my failing intervals. You can click on it to enlarge.

Failing interval

The yellow dotted lines going straight across designate my targeted wattage range. The yellow line going below it and within it is my wattage. This was the fourth interval in my second set on Tuesday’s workout. It is a great example of what I feel. Notice that I’m hanging in there for the first 40 seconds or so. Then I start to drop. You see my legs like a drowning man gasping for air trying to produce the necessary watts. Then they sink beneath the waves.

Jim tells me the reason this is happening started back on Saturday and just came to a head on Tuesday. I have been doing the intervals incorrectly and that has caused me to be more tired than I should be. My way of approaching the intervals does not give me the opportunity to recover between and so I sink further and further. Looking at an earlier interval explains this.

Incorrect interval

Notice the first 20 seconds or so of this interval. This is the third interval in the first set. Basically, the other four look like this as well. My tendency is to start off really hard and then fade toward the end. That works out initially because it gives me the necessary average wattage. However, after that first set, the initial output in succeeding intervals is much lower and still continues to drop off.

Next time I do these things, I’m going to take a different approach. I’m going to try to make that graph look like… well… a plateau. Starting off slightly easier — 380 watts or so and then building up to the needed wattage. I’ll then taper down toward the end to near the 420 watts range.

Bottom line is on a micro level, I was just wearing myself out. Add to that a hard workout Saturday and then another on Tuesday with days of riding between and you can see why my body was just letting me know it was tired. Ah, but I have today off and a couple of easier days before racing in Rock Hill this Saturday. All I can say is that I sure am glad it isn’t one of my “A” races!

After the intervals, I sent a text to Jim saying, “These things are sucking all the joy out of riding my bike!” Really, I don’t like failing — even training intervals. The joy came back pretty fast as I enjoyed the beautiful day on the 20 minute cool down before the sprints. Then I uncorked this one…

Sprint time, baby!

For 10 seconds of the sprint I averaged 1000+ watts and maxed at 1200+ watts. For someone like Eric Christophersen or Rodney Dender, that is chicken scratch, but for me that ain’t so bad. Better than the numbers was the feeling.

Good things are ahead. I might or might not be on a plateau. Even if I am, a plateau isn’t the highest thing around. I’ve just got to keep working and learning and before long I’ll experience a mountain top.

Where am I?

Here I am in the middle of a “rest week.” It is only a rest week in as much as I am not riding my bike as much this week. There is plenty going on otherwise to make me laugh at calling this a “rest week!” Still, it does give me a chance to take stock where I currently stand with my fitness and training.

One way I had thought of keeping track of my abilities when I first started using a power meter was to periodically take a look at the Power Profile you find in the TrainingPeaks WKO+ software. This is somewhat of a guide to show you how your power numbers match up with power numbers typified by the different category of racers. When I first started, I probably took this chart a little too literally and seriously!

My power profile... April 30, 2009.

My power profile... April 30, 2009.

As you can see, a little over a year ago my WKO+ Power Profile had me solidly in Category 5 territory. There is that spike into the Category 3 range for 5 minute power output. These numbers were generated simply by going out and riding — including group rides such as the Tuesday Night World Championships. I do recall that I was a bit discouraged at the time I posted this chart.

I remarked at the time that I must be an “all arounder” leaning toward a “time trailist.” Interesting how time has shown that was somewhat correct… but not exactly. More data from focused training and more information has given me a better picture.

June 2, 2009 Power Profile

June 2, 2009 Power Profile

First though, I started “riding to the chart.” I figured out what I would need to do to get the bars to move up into the level I wanted. Then it was a matter of just going out and producing power numbers that gave me the chart I desired. So, looking at the above chart you see that in two months I now had three bars knocking on the Category 3 level. Notice, the final section – my Functional Threshold Power – didn’t move that much. This was because I didn’t yet understand what that meant and how to make the bars rise.

Bottom line is that I was cheating. This showed in the FTP section of the chart. Riding to the chart was not make anything look better other than the pixels on the computer screen!

November 4, 2009 Power Profile

November 4, 2009 Power Profile

I begin to study more about what my power numbers were telling me.  While I was still giving a little too much emphasis to the chart, I was beginning to understand that I needed structure to improve. That is when I brought Jim Cunningham on board to help me move to the next level. The above chart was the one that I put up right after Jim started to coach me. It includes data from my first Functional Threshold Power test.

So, where am I? If you go by the Power Profile you might not think I have improve that much. I do not mean to discount the Power Profile chart, but you can’t base your success in training by a Power Profile. The Power Management Chart is a much better way to track your training. It is very possible that my wattage numbers may not grow significantly. The question is… How well are you using the power you’ve got?

Yes, it is clear that my power has improved (see the latest chart below), but more important I have learned how to sustain those peak power segments and recover to repeat them again and again. God through genetics has given a brightly burning match. Training has allowed me to add more strikes to my matchbook.

March 23, 2010 Power Profile

March 23, 2010 Power Profile

I’ll keep recording screen shots of my Power Profile. It is fun to compare them over time. However, I’m no longer hung up on it. I’m no longer training to the chart. I’m training for results and I’m seeing them. Somehow I think that before all is said and done, the chart will reflect it as well.

Leg speed drills – all spun out

After joining the TrainingPeaks webinar yesterday, I went out all motivated to get some data! I took a look at the plan for the day… Ah, leg speed drills. Wouldn’t be seeing a lot of wattage today. Still, I would have the goal to see what maximum cadence I could generate. So, I put the rubber to the road.

Here is the plan:

Warm up at 140-200 watts over 10 minutes. Then do: 3 sets of 5 jumps — 10-12 revs of cranks out of saddle. Do these with hands in drops like a ‘real’ sprint. Goal is to ACCELERATE CRANKARMS QUICKLY and to a final cadence of 135 rpm’s or more. 1 minute between jumps, 5 minutes between sets. Max power not a goal here; leg speed is goal!

THEN do 4 X 10 second all-out sprints choosing a target line for each one. Focus on selecting the correct gear where you are not spun out at the target line yet spinning a high cadence. 5 minutes between each of these. Cool down for balance of duration.

As I warmed up, I headed toward a long stretch of road I knew to be nice and smooth with little traffic. I figured I could get the work done by going back and forth on this road and then head home. I didn’t want to get too far out there.

The first part of the test was simple enough. On the trainer, I had been able to do these jumps and hit a max cadence over 200 rpm. As I attempted them on the road, I was not able to see the computer face during the jumps and was guessing I was hitting 140 rpms. Of course, the WKO+ report would give me the low down.

The second part of the workout was a little harder to do. It wasn’t really that it was hard physically, but it was hard to properly execute. It entailed 1) finding the proper gear, 2) pedaling for at least 10 seconds, and 3) sprinting toward a line.

I played around with 1 during the five attempts I made. 2 and 3 I just hoped I was getting it right. However, right away I knew I was messing up. The goal of the day was leg speed – not power. Being afraid that I would spin out in the sprint, I moved to the big ring. Unfortunately, this caused me to see only numbers like 115 to 130 rpms when I looked down.

WKO+ leg speed workout graph (click to enlarge)

WKO+ leg speed workout graph (click to enlarge)

Well, I would just wait to see the report from my coach. Here is what he said:

Jumps are excellent with max cadences of 140+-170+ rpm’s.  One is even in the 180’s; so high that I took a closer look at the ‘raw data’ file to be sure meter is reading right.  I think it is!  Mission accomplished on the jumps indeed.

That made me happy.  Looking at the numbers I see my lowest was 155 rpm and my highest was 188 rpm. The higher rpms came toward the end of the workout as I started getting comfortable doing the efforts on the road rather than the trainer.

My power efforts during this time weren’t that bad. All of them were over 1000 watts (and I wasn’t supposed to be trying for wattage). All in all, I am happy with that portion of the workout.

Now for the second part that I was more nervous about…

Sprints – #3 of the five sprints is most like what I was looking for here; that is, ‘…not spun out and spinning a high cadence’.  The other four are a lower cadence than you’re capable of.  That said, you will improve at this as you’ve never trained nuero-muscularly before.

Hindsight is key here; knowing what gear to pick.  And even the big sprinters get this wrong at times.  Let today be a learning process.  I’d like to see you sprinting at +-1300 watts and a max cadence of 150 rpm’.  Zoom in on each sprint and see max cadence as a comparison to this thought.  Mind you, your wattages are all over 1000 in these sprints where the focus is NOT on power.  Very encouraging nonetheless.  All make sense?

Yeah, that is what I figured. So, I went to compare the five attempts in WKO+. The below chart is a Mult-File/Range Analysis. At the bottom of the chart there is a listing of the various ranges where you can compare the details of each attempt.

Multi-File/Range Analysis

Multi-File/Range Analysis

I see I got my max power on the first one at 1300 watts. Obviously, I was going with too big of a gear at that point. My max cadence came on the third one with an rpm of 145. Looks like this was the only successful attempt out of five! Interesting that though it was my lowest wattage output at 1099 it was my second highest max speed.

Two final graphs to look at from TrainingPeaks WKO+ 3.0. Here you can see the above attempts compared to each other according to power and cadence. You can see a dotted line going through each. That is the target for all the attempts.

Cadence Comparison

Cadence Comparison

The colors of the lines correspond to the color boxes to the left of each attempt as shown in the MFRA chart above. The below chart shows the same comparison according to power output. The dotted line shows the average the five sprints.

caption here

Power Comparison

I did this little exercise to give you an idea of how my coach and I use the WKO+ software when reviewing my workouts. We are able to do this from anywhere. He is able to use the WKO+ as a teaching tool — kind of like a visual aid — to help me understand what he is telling me.

I now have something to aim for in my future attempts. I want to replicate that third sprint as much as possible. One thing this tells me is that I need to take better mental notes about things such as gearing and technique.

TrainingPeaks WKO+ webinar

It is noon and I am waiting for Hunter Allen, Founder of WKO+, to come online for a special webinar for athletes using Trainingpeaks WKO+ 3.o. I’m hoping that it will be helpful in explaining how best to use the software. Well, it is just starting…

We’re looking now at the TrainingPeaks website while Melissa Schwartz goes through the housekeeping items. We are told that this webinar will be posted on the support site in the future. Of course, the first thing we are encouraged to do is to upgrade. 🙂

Now, for Hunter. He launches both 2.2 and 3.o. His primary point to lead with is that the change to the new site is primarily the navigation framework. Another change is the ability to have not only yourself, but your friends in the system. Basically, athletes now have access to some of the coaching options that used to be separate in the 2.2 version.

Another change I noticed when I upgraded was the ability to chose between two different ways of showing your FTP in the Power Profile.  You can now choose between building your chart using 1 hour of data or 95% of 20 minutes to build your FTP.

Now he is showing us how easy it is to create ranges within the graph of a particular ride.

Ah, he moves to the Quadrant Analysis chart. This is what I’ve been wanting to see. In each quadrant you have an amount of time and the data points within each. This gives us the ability to see how you are creating your wattage – do you create the most wattage by doing a big ring at low cadence or medium ring at high cadence? Cool, if you are a visual person (like me) you are going to love this quadrant analysis graph!

Now we are moving to the Scatter Graph. This allows the athlete to measure two sets of data across a Y and X axis. How does power relate to heart rate, for instance. The graphs really do show visually how the data interacts! You can actually see your various gears on the graph when comparing power and cadence.

Hunter shows us how to use the Multi-File Range Analysis. This allows you to compare data from “channels”. For instance, you can build Ranges from your various intervals and then split them out into the various channels that make up the overall event. You can put RPM, MPH, WATTs, etc. above each other and then compare them.

You can also do this comparing Ranges from different events.  For instance, you want to compare two different races. You can build a Multi-File Range Analysis that lays the data from the two events “side-by-side.” This would be good to do comparing a training event earlier in a training season with one later. You are able to visually see how the two sessions would compare.

Wow, for a common athlete, this could be a little much. It is fascinating and watching Hunter Allen explain it makes it an obviously powerful tool. However, you need to have some knowledge to help you interpret the graphs. I’m sure you could learn, but the software does not interpret it for you. In other words, the tool is to be used by a knowledgeable coach to help the athlete.

Lots and lots of stuff to play with! The MFRA and its interaction with the new graphs seems to be the heart of the changes in 3.0.  Now, Hunter is showing us how to interact between the WKO+ 3.0 and TrainingPeaks.com. You can also save the files outside the WKO+/TrainingPeaks.com.

It is time for the questions. The thing I am gleaning from this portion of the webinar is the fact of “garbage in, garbage out.” You’ve got to start with good data before you can effectively analyze it in WKO+. You have to structure your rides in advance with the goal of analysis in WKO+ afterward.

A final point from the webinar. WKO+ now allows you to install on more than one machine.  You can install two instances at a time. You can also turn a license on and off in order to move the software around without getting locked out.

Should you upgrade? Well, before this webinar, I would have said that it might not be worth it. After seeing it in action under than hands of an experienced coach, I can definitely see the advantages. If you are serious about training and have someone with the knowledge to train you to interpret the data, then I say upgrade.

It is going to take a while, but I hope to get to that point. I’m glad I did the upgrade. I wonder if my coach will be? 🙂

Learn more at TrainingPeaks.com. Now, I’ve got to get out there and collect some more data!

Garmin Edge 500 ride video

Thought it might be neat to take some video from the start of a ride all the way through the process of getting the data from the Garmin Edge 500 to my coach and ultimately onto my computer for future use. Of course, a video like this can’t show everything or answer every question someone might have.  I’ll be glad to look into any questions the video might generate and find an answer.

It is Monday and folks at Garmin told me that the software update for the Edge 500 would be coming out today. I’ve had the opportunity to try it out and it seems to be working. If when you attempt to send the data from Garmin Connect to your Edge 500, you may get an error. However, simply click the “send to” link again and you will find the data does transfer.

Setting a benchmark

I’m watching a recording of the conclusion of the 2nd stage of the Dauphiné Libéré as I begin this post.  There are about 11 km to go and Quickstep is chasing down the four guys in front.  It is amazing to think of the speeds they have averaged during the stage.  That is especially true when I consider my own ride this morning.

Graph before ride

Graph before ride

It is my first day for riding here in the flat terrain of southeastern North Carolina.  I figured this one would be a good opportunity for setting a baseline for an attempt at a record 60 minute Mean Maximal Power reading.  Because there are hardly any elevations here, I figured it is a good place to put the pedal down and keep some consistent wattage going.

BTW, I just finished watching the recording of stage two.  Man, I was pulling for David Millar!  What an effort.  He almost got it.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my goals for the year is to move all the bars on my WKO+ Power Profile into the Cat. 3 zone.  I’ve managed to get all of them over the top except for my 60 minute reading.  Don’t know if I’ll get it this week, but I figured I would give it a try.

The morning started out very foggy with temperatures around 70 degrees.  The humidity was 99%, but with no rain.  I waited around for a bit until the fog burned off and then around 9 AM got on the bike to start out.

After the ride

After the ride

I left my heart rate monitor at home because I didn’t want to pay any attention to that.  My goal was to ride for 10 minutes easy and then try to push it as much as possible for 60 minutes.  I would then finish up the ride by just enjoying the road until I completed my second hour.

So, what did I get?  I don’t know.  I haven’t uploaded my information from the Garmin to the computer yet.  Let’s see what happened.

Well, I didn’t make it over the Cat. 3 line, but I moved the bar above half way in the Cat. 4 zone.  My peak 60 minute reading was 276 watts.  That beats my previous high by over 20 watts.

My plan is to take it easy tomorrow and just go for a fun spin over to Lake Wacamaw.  Wednesday I’ll head out to a road I discovered today and do some intervals.  I’ll have the heart rate monitor that day.  I’ll push it up to a certain HR and then back off to recover before pushing again. Thursday I’ll take it easy and then Friday I’ll try to beat today’s benchmark.

Click the image to enlarge

Click the image to enlarge

Above is the 43 mile route I covered in those 2 hours.  Here is today’s work out.  Tomorrow’s blog will also be a little later in the day as I hope to write about my trip over to Lake Wacamaw.  Hopefully I’ll be able to take a camera and get some pictures.

Got me a personal best

I was a little discouraged as I headed out for a ride last evening.  It all happened because of my mistake of looking back at my training time since January.  In that month I had several weeks with 10 hours of training time.  That changed in February and most weeks since that time I have not exceeded 5 hours in all but two of the weeks.

No wonder  I have had such a hard time finishing strong in any of these races.  So, I went out tonight determined to turn over a new leaf and work a little harder at finding the time to get on the bike.  Tonight’s ride was to be 2 hours in Cleveland Park with some tempo riding and sprints.

My Cleveland Park ride

My Cleveland Park ride

My discouragement started to melt away as I began to turn laps in the park.  My legs felt good and the climb along Woodland Way almost seemed flat.  The first hour seemed to slip by quickly.

During that hour I did several all out sprints along the flat section from McDaniel to the Vietnam Memorial.  Yes!  I got a new personal best maximum wattage – 1300 watts.  My 5 second peak at 1245 watts was also the highest I’ve recorded since using WKO+ to track my power.  The 10 second peak was still over 1100 watts.

WKO+ Power Management Chart

WKO+ Power Management Chart (Click to enlarge)

Notice the large orange line on the graph near the top.  That is the 5 second peak power line.  Also the TSB has now moved into positive territory.  If I play this smart and keep training hard and then taking some time off, I could start learning how to manage my effort and peak at just the right times.

I also have to bring out the old Power Profile.  With my new 5 second power peak, I’ve moved that category of the graph into the cat 3 level.  Of course, you can guess I sacrificed my 10 to 20 minute peak times in order to get that high reading.  I realize it is kind of meaningless, but one of my goals is to try to move all of the bars into the cat 3 section before the season ends.

The latest Power Profile

The latest Power Profile

Then in my second hour my teammate Sam came out to the park.  I caught her as she was coming from the Y into the park.  I sat on her wheel for a bit waiting to see if she would notice me.  She glanced back and then did a double-take.  Then she turned to acknowledge me.

We both had iPods going and she appeared to be out doing some fast spinning as well.  So, we didn’t talk much but just traded off leading the other around the park.  After my efforts in the first hour, I have to say that there were a couple of times I thought she was going to drop me.

Then that wonderful thing happened.  I started to feel strong again.  It is as though I had gone through a wall.  My legs still felt a little tired, but it felt as though I could ride right through the tiredness.  I probably could have gone on for an hour more, but Sam peeled off and I needed to get home for supper.

My frame of mind is much more positive now.  The way I figure, I’ve been finishing just outside the top ten in every criterium I have been in – except my DNF in Spartanburg.  Those finishes came with 2 to 5 hours of riding (including the races) per week over the last couple of months.  Hmmmm, who knows what might happen if I got some more time in?

By the way, once again the average power reading on my Garmin 705 from the Quarq CinQo was about 20 watts higher than the actual readings that ended up showing up in my WKO+.  On the other hand, the maximum power reading was about 20 watts lower on the Garmin than on WKO+.  This seems to be consistent every ride I make.  Not a big deal, just interesting.

ATL is not Atlanta. CTL is not Charleville.

Got some good feedback on yesterday’s post concerning my Performance Management Chart in WKO+. I think there was some misunderstanding about my discombobulation. Today I’ll show an updated map and explain further about yesterday’s piece.

One comment I received was from Boyd Johnson. He is one of our local pros with the DLP team as well as a Total Cyclist coach. He has given me advice in the past and when I Twittered about needing some advice, I kind of figured Boyd would come through for me.

Modified Performance Management Chart

Modified Performance Management Chart

He instructed me to change some of the settings on the chart. First, I needed to get more time so I could get a better feel for how I’ve progressed. What I was looking at yesterday was not enough to build an accurate trend. Second, he told me to change the ATL and CTL starting values to 30 each. Hmmmm, I figured out what ATL and CTL were yesterday (they are not airport codes), but what are the starting values for?

I wasn’t able to get back with Boyd for the answers so I dug around a little bit. Basically, what you are doing with the chart is tracking your fitness and your freshness – how in shape are you and how much work have you been doing training. These things are measured by numbers.

Of course, I didn’t start using WKO+ when I first started riding, so obviously the numbers I started with were not zeros. The performance chart allows you to “jump” into the system by adding starting values greater than 0. This will make a difference with the chart in the long run.

It did, as you can see, the chart is certainly trending upward with the CTL (fitness). I still need to work a little to understand the TSB and ATL – what the chart is telling me about them. As you can see, as my CTL trended upward the two other lines flip-flopped. I’ll let you know what I find out.

Now, as for the other comments and emails I received. Most were intended to encourage me. The recurring theme was, “Don’t get hung up on the numbers. Just listen to your body and enjoy the ride.”

That is some great advice. Only, the funny thing is my body was sending me the negative messages and my numbers were sending me more positive ones. If I was listening to my body right now, I’d hang up my spidey suit and not show up Thursday night.  Looking at the numbers gives me some objective encouragement to counter my feelings.

The other thing is that for some of us, the numbers are half the fun. Don’t worry, anyone who would take a look at my training regimen would not think I am letting the numbers control my riding! However, it is fun to grab the information off the Garmin and see what my Quarq CinQo collected during the ride.

In the end, tomorrow evening will be the judge.  It doesn’t matter what my numbers are if there are a bunch of guys faster than me.  Also, heart does enter into it.  You can train (and I use that term loosely for me) all you want, but it can all change when the competitive juices of an actual race start to flow.

I finished 11th during the last POA Cycling Summer Series race at Municipal Stadium.  My goal is to better that for this attempt.  Oh yeah, I’m also going to have fun!  As much as I can in a criterium.  I’ll let you know what my numbers are when I’m done. 😉

Discombobulated

I have been discombobulated by my recent riding schedule. Now here I am just a couple of days away from the second race in the POA Cycling Summer Series. Am I ready? I don’t know.

After Mitchell I was off the bike for a number of days. Partially because I didn’t want to get on the bike, but more than that I simply did not get the chance. Saturday morning I was able to get in a 50+ mile ride, and then yesterday I got a quick 17 miles in the saddle.

Discombobulated is a great word. It describes how I feel right now. In my mind I sense that I’m not ready for Thursday night’s race. My body doesn’t know what to tell me. WKO+ says I should be.

After yesterday’s ride I took a moment to check out my numbers in the training software. Perhaps you remember my post about my Power Profile displayed in the software. Things have changed a bit.

My latest Power Profile

My latest Power Profile

My 5 second peak time has improved dramatically. In yesterday’s sprint session I was putting out over 1200 watts – which compared to myself is pretty good. My 1 minutes graph has also improved with the 20 and 60 minute peak bars remaining pretty much the same.

Now take a look at the Performance Management Chart. According to what I understand the middle blue number is the main one to keep an eye on. The idea behind this chart is to show you when you are coming into form for a particular event.

Performance Management Chart

Performance Management Chart

You can click on the image to see a larger chart. TSB stands for Training Stress Balance, ATL stands for Acute Training Load, and CTL represents your Chronic Training Load. To put it another way, TSB shows your form, CTL gives you your fitness, ATL gives some insight into how you got there.

As you can see, my CTL was pretty much flat line from April to mid-May. According to this chart, I should be at my best fitness level of the year right now. However, the idea of a taper before an event is thrown out the window as you can see my ATL is a like a mountain compared to my past.

The thing that scares me most is the TSB. If you believe this chart, it appears to me that I am at one of the worse points of the year for my form. Of course, it is too late now! No way can I change things in three days.

If I was seriously training, I would use this chart by picking an event and then building a forward looking training program based on past training exercises. This would forecast for me what my graph would look like approaching the event. The idea would be to build up and then taper (ease up and recover) before event so you will be at your best TSB and CTL.

Any help out there? If you know about this kind of stuff, what would you say this chart is saying about how I am going about my riding? Any pointers?

I’m very close to considering getting a coach for next year. It would be interesting to see how some structure and motivation would compare to this year. At least I’m building a base of data to work from!

Figuring out my WKO+ Power Profile

Once I started using my Quarq CinQo power meter, I ended up with a lot of data.  How was I going to collect it all?  Once I had it collected, what did it all mean?  These are questions to which I’m still finding the answer.

I have two applications I use most often.  There is Ascent – which I use primarily because of the really cool integration of the data from my Garmin and CinQo with mapping software.  I have found I do not use it as much as I once did.  The down side of the program is that it is not as useful as a training tool.

Enter my TrainingPeaks WKO+.  This is my program of choice for analyzing my ride data.  It has taken me a while to learn – and I’m still picking up on how to apply some of the graphs.

Today, I’ll just point out the one that is the most frustrating one – if you take it literally.  It is the Power Profile graph.  At first glance, it appears to be a graph that tells you where you fall in your ability as a racer.  The little vertical bars will show you how you would fare against the competition in the various racing categories.

My power profile... for now.

My power profile... for now.

I have competed in a number of category 4 races since moving up from my category 5 season last year.  If I might say so, I have done pretty well.  So, when I was looking at the Power Profile earlier this season and seeing myself in the “Untrained” section of the graph, I was a little upset.

What exactly is the graph telling me? Basically it is telling me how I compare to myself and others at my peak power outputs.  It graphs my best 5 second, 1 minute, 5 minute, and 1 hour peak power numbers from the last 28 days.  Using my best output, it then tells me how I would do in a race with racers in the various categories – putting technique and strategy aside.

Now, this confused me at first because for several months I was showing up as an untrained racer.  I knew that wasn’t true.  I was at least a category 5 racer!

Of course, the data doesn’t lie, so what is happening here?  Well, when I was showing up as untrained it was because I was riding for base miles.  I didn’t have any high peak periods.

In the last 28 days that has begun to change.  You can see that my 5 minute graph is moving into the category 3 range.  All the other graphs are finally moving into the category 4 range.

So, wouldn’t I know this anyway?  How is this helpful?  What can I learn from it?

According to what I have been able to read about this type of method, I can consider myself to be an “All Rounder” with a little lean toward “Time Trialist.”  This basically means I probably should avoid trying to make my way in the racing world by sprinting! The advantage of this graph is that it helps you determine you strengths and weaknesses in the various aspects of racing. You can then tailor you training to hone your strengths and improve your weaknesses.

I’m pretty certain that by the time the next 28 days have cycled through, I will be in category 4 level in all of the areas.  It will be interesting to see what TrainingPeaks’ Power Profile will say about me then.  That is where the system helps — it gives me motivation to improve.