A Season Of Podium Performances Leads To The Top Step In The Series: 4-Questions With Jimmy Bourisaw
In the Mid-West one of the premier XC MTB race series is called the United Federation of Dirt. It’s an eleven-race series that draws the best talent in the region, and a series that Jimmy Bourisaw has been wanting to win for some time.
Having moved up in category from last season and competing in the hotly contested Category 1, 30-39 age group, it was no small task to get on the podium, let alone win the overall series.
But after 11-rounds of racing that spanned seven-months, Jimmy accomplished his goal and took home the overall title in his category.
Following the final race of the UFD season we caught up with Jimmy to talk about his year of racing, the training he did, his overall win, and what lies ahead for 2019 in a 4-question Athlete Profile interview. Enjoy!
Primary Sport/Discipline: XC MTB Racing
Average Hours of Training Per Week: 8-12hrs
Upcoming Goals: The BT Epic 50-Mile MTB Race
It was a season of hard-racing at the UFD East Series. One Jimmy Bourisaw knew would demand his best to win. Photo Credit: 1st Phorm Trek Racing
Question #1: Congratulations on winning the Category 1, 30-39 overall points championship at the United Federation of Dirt XC MTB series, Jimmy! It was a long season, what was your highlight from all the racing?
Jimmy Bourisaw:The highlight is more of a takeaway for the season: Do whatever it takes to stay in the front 5-riders for the first-lap and the result will follow!
Outside of the UFD racing, I enjoyed the Wolf Creek 12-hour team MTB race, which was the best race of the season. I had a lot of fun riding with my 1st Phorm Trek teammates.
I also really enjoyed the Breck-100 XC race because it featured long and grueling climbs at high-altitude.
Coaches Perspective/Coach Brian: It has been a busy season for Jimmy, having focused on XC MTB racing, but also adding lots of criterium racing and mid-week group rides to his calendar.
For much of the season it was a “race and recover” type of training protocol for Jimmy, because he had an event nearly every weekend.
This is really tough to manage for all Athletes, but especially for those with a full-time job (like Jimmy)!
What I am most proud of about Jimmy’s season is that he was amazingly consistent. We knew he was fit, but so much of XC MTB racing is luck, course knowledge, and race savvy.
Jimmy made the most of his fitness and was always fighting for the win. Although many of his competitors had much more volatile results, Jimmy’s consistency and tenacity made this overall title possible. Great job Jimmy!
Jimmy was very consistent this season and therefore spent a lot of time on the podium! Photo Credit: Jimmy Bourisaw
Question #2: Every race was a maximum effort and a great performance, especially since you never finished out of the top 5, a difficult challenge in MTB racing. What do you attribute your consistency to?
JB:Preparation, it’s all about preparation!
Throughout the season I emphasized bike preparation to ensure I minimized the risk for mechanicals come race-day, pre-race diet to make sure I was well fueled and didn’t have stomach distress, getting in a solid warm-up so that I could race hard from the start, and one of the most important things I emphasized was getting a good position on the start-line!
Coach Brian: Jimmy has a very methodical way of going about his preparation…as you can tell!
But this paid dividends for him because he was always “in the race”, as I like to put it.
To often an Athlete can miss the opportunity to have their very best performance because of a detail that was missed in preparation.
Luckily, Jimmy did more than just prepare well by training hard. He did everything he could to make sure he would be successful at the races.
And the overall win is his reward for all that diligence!
Despite all the individual success, Jimmy's favorite event of the year was the Wolf-Creek 12hr Team MTB race with his 1st Phorm Trek teammates. Photo Credit: 1st Phorm Trek Racing
Question #3: Looking ahead to 2019, what is one of your biggest cycling objectives and is there anything left on your 2018 race calendar you are working toward?
JB:There is just one race left in the season, the BT Epic 50-mile MTB race, in a few weeks time, which closes-out my racing season.
This is a race that I performed well at least year, but I still want more, much more from!
Looking to 2019, my objective is to start preparing for the XC National Championships as well as the Short-Track National Championships.
My goal is to qualify for each of these championship events as soon as 2019, but definitely by 2020.
Coach Brian: It is exciting to hear that Jimmy is focused on the XC & Short-Track National Championships for next season, these are great goals, especially given his talents and success this season.
For those that don’t know Jimmy, he is one of the hardest working and focused Athletes around. He is constantly pushing the envelope in his training as well as his preparation to ensure he can perform at his best.
As for wrapping up the year at the BT Epic 50-miler, I expect Jimmy to “go out with a bang!”
He is hungry, fit, and motivated to have a great finish to the season, which is exciting to see after a spring and summer filled with events both off-road and on.
The 11-race UFD East XC MTB Series went by in a blur for Jimmy Bourisaw as all the racing took place over seven months.Photo Credit: 1st Phorm Trek Racing
Question #4: What is/are your favorite workout(s) in your training program? Also, please share a ‘knowledge-bomb’ you have learned while training with BWC.
JB:I am simple, my favorite workouts consist of short V02 Max repeats because they are hard, provide the physical adaptation necessary to be my best, and also build my confidence so I know I can do the hard efforts necessary come race-time.
One thing I have learned since getting a coach is to keep the easy-days EASY and make the hard-days HARD!
This one notion helps me get the most out of my training time.
Coach Brian: That is great advice and something that we all need reminding of from time to time.
Too often Athletes can get caught-up in the hard-work of training and not take the appropriate rest on their easy-days.
Over-working on recovery days compromises future training and diminishes the bodies ability to adapt to training stress.
When talking with our Athletes, I emphasize that a proper recovery ride is the MINIMUM output necessary to stimulate blood flow to damaged/tired muscles.
It is, in fact, NOT a workout at all. Rather, it is a way for us to speed the recovery process by helping our bodies heal themselves from within. Hence the term, Active-Recovery.
We hope you have enjoyed reading about Jimmy Bourisaw’s season-long XC MTB success and that it has inspired you to set a seasons-worth of goals for yourself.
For nearly all Endurance Athletes, Fall is a great time to evaluate the year, including what went well as well as what did not, and dream about how this year’s success could lead to “bigger and better” next year.
And regardless of what “bigger and better” looks like in your Athletic Adventures, you are more likely to achieve that success faster and with greater precision by leveraging the expert advice of a Coach.
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
Road Bike Action Magazine Asks BWC ForTraining Advice: 5-Tips Tips To Gravel Greatness
Right now gravel riding is the fastest growing segment in cycling… and why wouldn’t it be?
With highly capable bicycles that can take you to new areas for a mixed-terrain adventure, it’s easy to see why so many bike riders are flocking to gravel events and heading out for gravel adventures of their own!
One media outlet that has been on the forefront of gravel cycling is Road Bike Action Magazine. Their editors have embraced this kind of riding and all the specific equipment needs that can make a gravel ride the best it can be.
So when they asked us to share our five best gravel riding tips, we jumped at the opportunity!
Our Big Wheel Coaching 5-Tips To Boost Your Gravel Greatness training article was released in this weeks edition of the RBA Newsletter and can be viewed on their website:
Gravel riding is more than a new segment of equipment, it is a type of cycling that adds the element of adventure to an otherwise fun bike ride! Photo Credit: Brian McCulloch
Here is an overview of the 5-tips:
#1: Look Ahead/Focus Forward
Bike riding is just like driving on the freeway, the faster we go, the further ahead we must look. Although looking ahead can be made difficult on rough roads, technical terrain, and narrow trails, this simple trick can improve your riding immensely as it almost always reveals a smooth line on a bumpy sector.
#2: Momentum Is Everything
Build It, Maintain It, Covet It! As the motor of our mixed-terrain adventures, forward motion starts and ends with our legs. Thus, we must work to maximize every ounce of energy put into the pedals.
#3: Weight The Outside Foot
Cornering on gravel, dirt, or other loose surfaces can be nerve-wracking as it requires immense faith in our equipment. One way to lower that anxiety and increase your stability, as well as your speed, is to weight the outside pedal.
#4: Soft Hands Make For A Smooth Ride
Although it causes discomfort, it is common to tense hands, shoulders, the upper back, and even our faces over rough-terrain. This tension can add significantly to the fatigue-factor of gravel riding. When this happens, the fix is simple, take a few deep breaths with long exhales and breathe out the tension!
#5: Fuel Strategically
An epic day in the saddle will get cut short if an Athlete doesn’t fuel properly. For gravel riding, we suggest that all substantial fueling/eating take place on smooth terrain, preferably on the road. So slow down, soak up the scenery and take on-board the hydration and nutrition necessary to power your adventure!
Equipment Bonus Tip!
Tire pressure and tread pattern are the most important aspects of equipment set-up for gravel riding. We suggest testing various tires and tire-pressures on the terrain you regularly tackle to both boost your confidence and increase your off-road speed.
You don't have to sign-up for an event to have an adventure on a gravel-bike, but there are plenty of great events that serve-up a sizable helping of adventure that are worth considering.Photo Credit: Rachel Wills
We hope this article gets you excited to get out and ride on mixed-terrain, whether it be tasting the gravel on your road bike, commuting to/from your local trail-system on your MTB, or crafting your own mixed-terrain adventure on the latest gravel machine.
The beauty of gravel cycling is the notion that every ride can blend adventure, fitness, and fun, which we think is reason enough for this segment of cycling to be exploding in all areas of the country.
We would like to thank Road Bike Action for giving us the opportunity to share our best gravel cycling tips with their community of readers and hope you will tune to RBA for all the latest gravel cycling innovations coming to our sport.
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian and Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
Rob Raede is a seasoned bike rider and has completed all of the toughest climbing Gran Fondo’s in the U.S. not to mention some of the most challenging events in Europe.
But despite all the years of completing long-distance and climb-heavy routes he had not completed them at the speed he wanted.
Most of his day at these events would be spent solo, slogging-out the miles without relief form the wind or the benefit of a peloton to work with.
Enter the Sub-Six Peloton Experience at the Mammoth Gran Fondo.
Although Rob had never ridden the Mammoth Gran Fondo he new that completing the 102-mile course in under six-hours would be a hefty challenge.
After numerous calls with Coach Brian and a detailed discussion regarding the execution of the event, Rob made the commitment to join the Sub-Six Peloton.
Little did he know that he would be in for the ride of his life!
After watching Rob “take it up a notch” all day at the Mammoth Gran Fondo and complete his fastest 100-mile ride EVER, it was clear that we had to get him to answer 4-questions for our BWC Athlete Profile Newsletter.
We are confident you will enjoy the story and take something from it, be it motivation, be it knowledge, or be it inspiration from his deep commitment to persevere when the challenge was toughest! Enjoy.
The Sub-Six Peloton descends from Dead Man Summit and heads toward the notorious Sage Hen Climb with Rob Raede tucked into the peloton. Photo Credit: Captivating Sports Photos.
Primary Sport/Discipline: Road Cycling
Average Hours of Training Per Week: 10-12hrs
Upcoming Goals: An Italian Cycling Vacation With His Lovely Wife!
Question #1: Congratulations on a stand-out performance at the Mammoth Gran Fondo, Rob! You had to dig-deep and utilize a fiery competitive spirit to complete, in your words, “the most challenging athletic accomplishment I have ever had”. What were the highlights, lowlights, and any take-aways you brought home from the experience?
Rob Raede:Thank you for the kind words. The whole Sub-Six Peloton Experience was great, with many highlights and very few low moments.
You (Coach Brian) and your team did a great job organizing the pre-race ride, and during the event everyone was fantastic. Someone was always there to help with water, to give instruction or words of encouragement, and even the occasional “Hand of God” push to get anyone back into the main group if they had fallen off.
I loved the camaraderie, the Esprit de Corps, and especially the cold beer at the finish line!
I owe you (Coach Brian) big for your persistent encouragement to join the Sub-Six Peloton Experience. When it was first mentioned to me, I recall responding, “what in our history together suggests to you I’m capable of riding something like this in under 6hrs?”
Previously my personal best time on a hundred mile event had been something like 7hrs20min’s. So this would be almost an hour and a half faster…
But Coach Brian told me over and over again that my training numbers looked good enough, and that I could do it, so I signed-up and did the training that was prescribed.
Frankly, I showed up on the start line with tempered expectations.
The night before the race, at dinner with my good friend and riding buddy Mike Pfau, who was also part of the Sub-Six Peloton Experience and is a BWC Athlete, we decided that a realistic outcome would be to hang with the peloton for 50-60 miles, get dropped and try to make it back in under 7hrs.
That would’ve been a new best by far, and we were good with that.
For large sections of the course I was hanging on by my fingernails, and did get dropped a couple of times. But Coach Brian was great about alerting the main group to riders “off the back”, then getting the peloton to slow temporarily allowing us to rejoin the group.
I’ll answer about the low-point in the next section, but what I took away from this experience was a fresh idea about what my limitations are, and more importantly, are NOT!
Additionally, I have a better understanding of riding tactics within a fast group, and a new appreciation as well as respect for the importance of consistent/steady-state riding both at an event AND on endurance training days.
Previously I had never really understood the benefit and use of an “Endurance Wattage 170w+/Cadence 85+” training day.
Coaches Perspective/Coach Brian: I am so proud of Rob for many reasons, but mostly it is for being willing to 'take a chance’ and try something new.
It is humbling that he and over forty other Athletes trusted Coach Joy and I enough to join us for this project, but the real prideful moment for us was watching each of them thrive in this team environment.
Certainly there were moments where Rob had to “dig deep” and “find more”, but each time he rose to the occasion and finished with the knowledge that he accomplished something very special!
Rob Raede has competed in Gran Fondo events around the world, but the Sub-Six Peloton Experience at The Mammoth Gran Fondo was the most challenging to date! Photo Credit Sportograf.com
Question #2: There was a point in the ride, around mile-40, when you introduced yourself to another rider as ‘toast’, because you thought you were ‘toast’! Despite that being only two hours into the ride, you rallied back to finish strong. Tell us about that moment and what changed so you could to finish strong?
RR:A bit of background…I have a heart arrhythmia that is triggered by sudden large influxes of adrenaline into my cardio system.
Like when a bear jumps out from behind a tree on a hike, or when you suddenly have to go very hard on the bike after cruising along. Each of those situations can throw my heart out of rhythm.
To keep it under control, I take medication every night, but still have to be careful about my accelerations on the bike. It’s not life-threatening, more annoying than anything, but it can definitely kill any chance of completing a long hard ride!
The nature of the Mammoth Gran Fondo is such that riders begin by descending for 5-10 min’s (at basically zero effort), turn onto Hwy 395, a steady uphill at 7,000’ of elevation, and then go really hard.
If I had to write out the perfect scenario for triggering Tachycardia, this would be it…
Consequently, after the first climb to Deadman’s Summit and on the descent I could feel my heart bouncing in and out of rhythm.
As we turned onto the road that leads to the Sage Hen climb, I came up to my pal Mike and said “I think I’m done on the next climb, I’m getting heart issues”.
Past experience suggested strongly that once we started working hard on the 2nd climb, my heart would go into and stay in arrhythmia and I’d be sitting in the car the rest of the day.
Normally the solution would be to slow way down, let things calm a bit, and then gradually ramp the effort level back up.
However, that was not an option with the Sub-Six Peloton. We started the climb up Sage Hen, and that’s when one of the ‘Sled-Dogs’ came by and asked my name, I replied ‘Toast’, because I figured it was only a matter of a few min’s before that would be true.
But right at that point I decided, "you know what, the hell with it, I’m just going to ride hard until my heart makes me sit down."
Around that time my buddy Mike rode up to me and asked “how’s the arrhythmia?”, it was then that I replied “F*&# a bunch of arrhythmia, I’m going!”
And then... a great miracle occurred—my heart settled back into normal rhythm, and never gave me any further trouble on the ride.
The rest of the ride was challenging, but I managed to hang in there and not only finish, but finish the Sub-Six Peloton Experience with the main group.
Coach Brian: I love this story, although I had no idea, in the moment, that Rob was having heart issues as he was so calm and collected.
Previous to the ride, I told Rob that I would help him in every way possible, but that his health was our highest priority.
With that said, it is incredible that Rob’s shear determination and will to persevere was so powerful that arrhythmia or not, he would not be denied completing the Mammoth Gran Fondo with the Sub-Six Peloton.
At Big Wheel Coaching we have a saying about commitment, rather more of a question, when the time is right and a decision must be made we ask ourselves, “are you committed or involved?”
That is our reminder that we must be willing to pay the “full price” to achieve all that we want to accomplish.
It is clear that Rob was fully committed and absolutely willing to pay the “full price”, great job Rob, you are such a stud!
Rob and his cycling pal, training partner, and fellow BWC Athlete Mike Pfau go to many events together. Both signed up for the Sub-Six Peloton Experience at The Mammoth Gran Fondo. Photo Credit: Rob Raede
Question #3: Following the Sub-Six Peloton Experience at the Mammoth Gran Fondo, and all that you accomplished, you have some new goals for yourself. What are your updated cycling objectives after achieving this new level of performance?
RA:In general, from now on I’m going to join more weekend group rides locally, which I think I can hang with using the new skills I acquired from the Sub-Six Peloton Experience.
That and with the improved fitness I’ve gained from the ride itself, and especially Coach Brian’s training program leading up to it, this is what I have in mind:
Over the past few years I’ve enjoyed riding the Maratona Dles Dolomites in Italy—the original Gran Fondo, which takes place in early July each year.
The ‘Medio’ course is only 65 miles long, but goes over 6 major mountain passes with 10k ft of climbing. It’s considered a “solid” time to complete the course in under 6hrs, and my best time so far is somewhat higher than that.
I think I can go Sub-Six on the Maratona next year!
Also, and very importantly—more date rides with my wife.
Coach Brian: Now those are some great goals, a Sub-Six Maratona dles Dolomites is absolutely do-able and will be a great accomplishment!
Our goal with creating the Sub-Six Peloton Experience was to help riders feel the exhilaration of riding with a team, but also to learn the specific skills and nuances of riding within a tight-knit peloton.
This is one of the most under-estimated skills to develop for every cyclist as learning to efficiently navigate a peloton takes experience, an appreciation for the groups “next move”, and a respect for how efficient a group of cyclists can be when they work together in a cohesive manner.
It will be exciting to work with Rob toward this goal and I look forward to helping him prepare for an assault on the 2019 Maratona!
Let’s get to work!
Before training for the 2019 Maratona, Rob is planning a cycling focused vacation this Fall with his wife who happens to be his favorite riding partner!Photo Credit: Rob Raede
Question #4: You got some new workouts in your training program leading into Mammoth, did you like them and what is/are your favorite workout(s) in training? Also, please share a ‘knowledge-bomb’ you have learned while training with BWC.
RA:Leading up to the Mammoth Gran Fondo, Coach Brian had me doing dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands (I don’t know, I lost track) hill-climb/time-trial type repeats. From 3 min. long to 5 mins. then up to 10mins. in duration, they seemed endless!
Sometimes I did 6-9 repeats in one 2hr session. With this one workout I got to know every inch of one of the local climbs near my home.
Late in the training for Mammoth, Coach Brian added something new—HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training.
Theoretically what you do is cruise easy, then explode into an all out effort for 10-20 sec’s.
For heart-related reasons, this configuration is not a good idea for me, but what I can do is spend, say, 1 min ramping-up to a 4 (out of 5) level effort and then hit it hard for 10-20 sec’s.
It’s the ‘delta’ between the two outputs that is important for avoiding heart issues.
Coach Brian and I talked extensively about how to incorporate this type of training into my program without triggering an issue and this is the modification we came up with.
So I did a lot of those, sometimes mixed with other intervals, sometimes just by themselves, and boy did that help!
The nature of the group in the Sub-Six Peloton was that you could sort of hide from the wind in the peloton for short periods (but you would still be working hard), and then from time to time we would have to really go hard to stay on the wheel ahead of you.
Having simulated those race efforts in training was essential.
My favorite workout is the one I just finished… Least favorite is the one I’m doing tomorrow!
Knowledge Bomb? I’d have to say riding with the Sub-Six Peloton completely changed the way I think about distance events.
Previously my usual approach was to ride hard on the climbs, and then relax on the descents and flats, saving my energy for the next climb.
Now I know that is not the most efficient approach.
Much better is the way Coach Brian and his Sled-Dogs planned and executed the Mammoth Gran Fondo:
Ride the climbs at a steady but not brutal pace, and then keep the effort consistently hard on the descents and flats.
In other words, keeping the energy output level stable over the entire course, rather than bouncing back and forth between hard efforts and recovery.
Coach Brian: There is so much great content in this answer, thank you for the thorough response, Rob!
It took a lot of good communication to figure out how to incorporate HIIT training into Rob’s training program without triggering arrhythmia, but together we figured it out.
Once Rob figured it out, it totally changed his riding experience because he could test himself to new depths and push himself hard without being worried about causing an ‘episode’.
What’s great about the Knowledge Bomb that Rob shared is that it can benefit so many bike riders. It’s a simple concept, but a difficult one to master.
Steady-state riding is very important to fitness development for cyclists and with this type of fitness comes something we call “depth”. When an Athlete develops depth they have both a “big engine” and a robust “match-book” of efforts.
It’s something that can totally change the experience of any rider.
It took a lot of focus and determination, but Rob accomplished his goal of completing the Mammoth Gran Fondo with the Sub-Six Peloton!Photo Credit: Rob Raede
We hope you have enjoyed reading about Rob Raede’s Sub-Six Peloton Experience at the Mammoth Gran Fondo and his feedback about the ride inspires you to consider a new experience of your own!
Something we communicated to our Sub-Six Peloton ahead of the event was that we wanted them to be “open” to wholesale change rather than searching for ‘marginal gains’.
Sure, it’s great to look for small improvements, and sometimes necessary, but to use a metaphor for illustration purposes, why pass up the dollar on the ground to pick up a couple of pennies?
So we’ll leave you with this question:
Are there major improvements, think dollars on the ground… that can help you be wildly successful as you prepare for your next event?
Chances are there is and we hope Rob’s experience encourages you to seek them out and embrace them because a whole new level of performance awaits you!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
As a coached Athlete, you have the benefit of being able to ‘set it and forget it’, because it is your Coaches responsibility to delve into the specifics of workout data.
However, the majority of Endurance Athletes are Type-A personalities and extremely driven people.
And as such, they are motivated to continually improve, which means they are usually very interested in understanding all they can about their training data.
It is with this in mind that we have outlined and detailed three metrics that our Athletes can use to self-assess their workouts.
Each of these metrics are used regularly by your Coach to perform a basic assessment of your workout.
Note: The following Data/Metrics are viewable in every ‘quick view’ workout summary on TrainingPeaks, as well as on the TrainingPeaks Mobile App.
The TrainingPeaks 'quick view' workout summary, as seen as an upcoming workout, the color purple indicates it is a future workout.
#1- Workout Duration, Logged vs. Prescribed:
In nearly every workout that is prescribed, a corresponding duration is assigned to the workout.
This time component can be based on the type of workout prescribed, but is more than likely governed by the training time available to the Athlete.
When an Athlete uploads a workout it will automatically be color-coded based on the ‘logged vs. prescribed’ workout duration calculator in TrainingPeaks.
The color-coding, as seen in the ‘quick view’ summary report, assigns either a green, yellow, or red color to the workout title. A brief synopsis of each color-code follows:
-Green colored workouts indicate a training session has been completed within 20%+/- of the prescribed workout time.
(note: see the example photo at the end of this section).
-Yellow colored workouts indicate a training session that has been completed with a total duration of 120% or more of the prescribed time orunder 80% of the prescribed workout duration.
(note: see the example photo under the Average Power, Heart Rate, and Cadence section).
-RED colored workouts indicate a training session that has NOT been completed or was completed with a total time over 150% of the prescribed duration or under 50% of the prescribed training time.
(note: see the example photo under the Athlete Feedback section).
What Does This Mean To The Athlete? Coach Says:
Color-coding workouts is a simple and effective way to ‘flag’ workouts for further analysis.
When a completed workout is uploaded as yellow or red, it indicates to your Coach that it requires investigation. Maybe the Athlete is experiencing significant work/life stress and was unable to meet the prescribed time commitment. Or possibly a mechanical mishap made the ride impossible to complete.
This information allows us, as Coaches, to quickly identify potential issues.
The simple Green, Yellow or Red color scheme allows both Athletes and Coaches to know which files likely require more analysis.
The TrainingPeaks 'quick view' workout summary, as seen as a completed workout, the color green indicates it was completed within the prescribed timeframe.
2- Average Power, Heart Rate (H.R.) and Cadence:
These three metrics are very important as they further refine the picture the workout data paints.
When assessing a training file, your Coach will look at Power, Heart Rate, and Cadence, in that order, to determine how a given Athlete executed the workout.
Each of these metrics can throw out a ‘red flag’, if understood properly.
For example, if Average Power is low, but Average Heart Rate is high, that would indicate further analysis is required, as we would typically associate a high H.R. with a solid Power output.
This could indicate that the Athlete is very fatigued and requires rest.
Another example would be if the average cadence was very low on a climbing ride.
That could indicate that the route selection was too steep or it could prompt an equipment focused conversation and possible suggestion to install easier gears for upcoming climbing workouts.
What Does This Mean To The Athlete? Coach Says:
Analyzing each of these metrics allows us, as Coaches, to see our Athletes strengths and weaknesses.
Reading these metrics also enables us to see what type of guidance or advice needs to be offered, for an Athlete to get more out of their training.
For example, if an Athlete is using an unusually low cadence, we would ‘flag’ that issue and discuss it with the Athlete to better understand why it is happening.
Based on the conversation and what information is gleaned, we would recommend solutions to hone this portion of their riding.
The TrainingPeaks 'quick view' workout summary, as seen as a completed workout. Note the yellow color and the Min/Max/Average Heart Rate, Power, and Cadence values in the lower left corner.
3- Athlete Feedback:
Athlete feedback is arguably the most critical component of the analysis routine.
In fact, we believe it is THE most important component of the workout review process.
This is a bold statement to make, but it is true.
Data is not perfect and there are plenty of times when Heart Rate interference causes goofy numbers or a Power Meters’ calibration went ‘whacky’ and thus the corresponding numbers painted a misleading story about the ride.
Data is only reliable when it is collected accurately, and unfortunately, sometimes our gadgets fail us!
However, good communication from an Athlete that is ‘self-aware’ provides the most accurate and relevant ride information possible.
What sensations did you feel, how were the intervals, what did you struggle with, are you distracted because of outside stressors, or were you crazy strong and nothing could touch you?
Your Coach always appreciates feedback.
Without understanding what the Athlete is feeling, it is difficult to assess the workout file properly.
Think of it like watching a movie without sound. You can figure out the plot-line, but can’t feel the emotion that makes the production powerful.
Having Athlete feedback with each workout, even a simple comment like: ‘feel good’ or ‘intervals were awesome…rough…etc.’ is enough to give an idea of how to better assess the workout file.
Athlete feedback is what shapes future training protocols and is therefore critical to the post-ride analysis routine.
We encourage all Athletes to take the time to write-up a quick comment or an elaborate ‘play by play’ recount of a ride or race.
It helps us better focus the service we provide, which means better results for our Athletes!
What Does This Mean To The Athlete? Coach Says:
It has already been said that Athlete feedback is critical, but we like to think of it as the color and volume to what would otherwise be a rough sketch or two-dimensional picture.
As an Athlete, this is your opportunity to shape future training.
Was the training too easy, too hard, or just right?
Just as the data metrics of Power, Heart Rate, Cadence, and Duration are used to measure and quantify the stress of a ride, Athlete feedback is a Coaches only view into how the human-engine coped with the training dose.
The TrainingPeaks 'quick view' workout summary, as seen as a completed workout. Note the red color and the Athlete Feedback listed under the Post-Activity Comments section in the lower right corner.
Summing It Up And Bringing It All Together:
In conclusion, given the incredible amount of data available to Coaches, post-ride analysis can get very ‘in-depth’.
This is especially true for the specific and critical workouts that are prescribed to help an Athlete achieve their targeted goal.
However, despite the ability for ‘in-depth’ analysis, an Athlete simply needs a basic understanding of the previous three data metrics to evaluate their own training.
The ‘take-away’ here is quite simple; more green workouts is much better than a mixture of yellow and red!
Your Average Power, H.R. or Cadence will vary depending on the workout type, but should be in line with the training protocol, while Athlete Feedback trumps all categories in importance!
Taking a moment to type in a simple note such as, “my power meter stopped working” or “I felt out of breath during my intervals” or “BOOM, goes the dynamite!” tells more than all the data metrics combined.
Lastly, it is important to never forget the power of sharing your positive experience!
Your Coach loves to see things like, “I crushed the intervals tonight, I don’t even think I had a chain on,” or “that was a fun workout, brutal hard, but I see that I am getting better/stronger.”
As Coaches, we are very vested in your success and want to see you achieve all that you set out to accomplish.
Sharing a positive training experience not only guides future training protocols to be more focused and effective, it strengthens the Coach-Athlete relationship and allows us to help you more effectively!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian and Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
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