Archive for May, 2017

How to Make the Jump from Marathons to Ultras

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With more and more people signing up for ultramarathons—are you starting to get the itch too? These guidelines will show you how to make the jump from marathons to ultras and give you some key tips for having the best race possible.

It All Starts With a Plan

Longer distances will require more time in lots of aspects, make sure you have the time to commit to training. Starting with a good training plan or a coach and an idea of how many hours you can train each week is key. Take some time to find the right plan and the right coach to suit your needs and your training availability.

Know Your Time Frame

If you’re currently in good shape you can prepare for a 50K (which is about 31 miles) in roughly 12 weeks. However, if you’re starting from scratch give yourself plenty of time, up to 24 weeks to prepare for your event. Add an additional eight to 10 weeks of training for events that are between 50K and 100 miles in length.

5 Tips For Your Best Race
1. Run where you race (or as close as you can!).

It can be hard to find trail access in urban areas, however it’s a pretty safe bet most ultras will take you off road and onto a trail. For some, finding a trail or technical section can require some creativity, but it is worth the extra effort and possible drive time.

Getting onto a trail and off the roads can beneficial in multiple ways; it helps break up training by taking you out of your comfort zone, gets you into new training situations, and will require you to think on your feet. Thinking on your feet and even getting a little lost is a crucial part of long-distance run training, and developing a strong sense of direction and the ability to cope in the event of a mistake is a necessary skill.

Take to trails in small doses if you’re not a regular trail runner. If you’re totally lost, remember that trail running offers the bonus of less impact on you and your body. Less impact and more time on feet will help increase your durability both mentally and physically. It won’t always be easy!

2. Throw away your ego.

The first thing you’ll notice is that mile splits and hitting very specific times go out of the window at first. If you think you’re going to run a consistent pace front to back in an ultra, you will come to a harsh realization at your first hill or technical section.

Ultramarathons require a “manage it as it happens” approach. While a road marathon requires supreme fitness, an ultra requires similar fitness with the added challenge of solving problems as you run. Running down a steep technical hill with rocks and roots, and then quickly back up a wet culvert requires good fitness and the ability to control yourself so you can get to the finish line in one piece.

3. Time on your feet is king.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use fitness markers to your advantage in a race. A majority of my ultra marathon plans are based on heart rate (HR), and require you to find a comfortable zone that you can run in, and then endure for four to seven hours to complete the course.

Keeping yourself in an aerobic zone allows you to utilize onboard energy more efficiently and will keep you feeling fresh longer. Tip over your HR threshold a few too many times, and you may find your race a lot tougher during those last 10 miles.

Mileage is not always the best marker when going off road; time on your feet matters more than the weekly mileage totals. You’ll find that if a majority of your work is truly aerobic, you’ll be running slower than you may have been in previous training build ups. This will require you to reframe what’s important in your ultra training. Looking at your total weekly hours and building up to more consecutive hours will be key to building yourself into an ultramarathon runner.

4. Pressure test the system.

Ultramarathon training on the surface simply requires you to run longer, pushing you out of your comfort zone mentally and physically. One of the biggest roadblocks for a successful first ultra is not having tested yourself at your race effort. You may find that you need to adjust for electrolytes after two to three hours, that you do better with solid food the first half of a race, or that you need to change shoes because your feet swell in warm temperatures. These small nuances can have a huge impact on your race—especially once you start looking at 50 mile, 100K, and 100-mile races.

hydration and fueling strategies should be tested on your long runs, and you should start to note what it feels like when you’re dehydrated or low on fuel. Your long runs are your chance to try out new fuels. Learning how to work through a bad stretch in a long run is a vital learning experience in many ways!

A key component to your success is getting in the training but also replicating what you’re going to expect to see on race day; think about the terrain, major elements like long hills, extended descents or race day conditions like extreme heat or cold.

5. You’re stronger and more capable than you think.

It’s hard to imagine what running 30 miles or more will feel like, and I can’t even tell you what you will personally experience. To some that extra five miles is an eternity, and to others it’s a natural and more comfortable progression.  Pacing yourself and taking the race aid station to aid station is going to help you break the race into manageable chunks. Give yourself a boost at each aid station as a reward, or imbibe in an aid station treat (believe me they have some amazing things at these trail races!).

An ultra requires mental persistence, self-affirmation and a belief that you can complete it. Many professionals utilize mantras to keep them focused and “in the zone.” Others like to use music, podcasts or other tactics to push the little monster out from inside their head. Using a motivational tool or pacer can be a huge help  toward ensuring your success on race day.


First and foremost, ultras are longer than you’ve ever gone before. In both training and racing, you’ll be pushing your body into new territories.  This can come with its own aches and pains; post-race you’ll want to give yourself an extra seven to 10 days of low mileage on top of your normal marathon recovery protocol.

Following your first ultra you should allow yourself five days of low impact activity directly following and roughly 10 to 14 days before you return to your normal training or start to focus on your next event. Remember, the first one always takes the longest to recover from! In rare cases there can be minimal soreness; don’t let this fool you. Long distance racing takes a larger and more impactful metabolic, mental and physiological toll that can put you down for longer than you think.

Take this time to enjoy activities you missed out on during peak training, and maybe sleep in a little, and slowly introduce yourself back to training. After all, recovery is the second best part after the race itself!

The post How to Make the Jump from Marathons to Ultras appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

A Detailed Analysis of Cannondale-Drapac Rider Ryan Mullen’s 2017 Classics Campaign

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It is rare to get a glimpse into just what goes on behind the scene’s throughout a pro cyclist’s racing season, but by doing so we can get a clearer picture into just how much detailed work must be done in order to prepare and recover from each race fully. However, we were given the opportunity to do just that with Cannondale-Drapac Pro Team rider Ryan Mullen.

This overview will cover the starting point in his winter preparation right up to the end of his race at the 2017 Paris-Roubaix. We’ll be taking a look at the training, intensity and demands on riders as they build toward a peak fitness for the huge demands of the Northern Belgium Classics.

Ryan is in his second full year in the WorldTour ranks after competing on the continental circuit with teams such as the An Post – Chain Reaction and Team IG – Sigma Sport. With medals in the World Under 23 Time Trial Championships and a superb fifth place in the Elite Time Trial championships in 2016, it is easy to see where Ryan’s main strengths lie currently.

With age on his side, the 22 year old has the fantastic opportunity to develop into more than just a TT specialist, with his power and physique we can see the potential for him to be molded into a classic campaign rider, much like that of Luke Durbridge whose TT background has seen him breakthrough in 2017 as one of the best one day riders this year.

Race Season Preparation

Ryan started his preparation for the 2017 in earnest around the November 14, 2016, after a well-deserved end-of-season break. Ryan started to build his training load from the middle of November. He started from a CTL of 74 and his early ramp was to build toward the first training camp of the year which took place over eight days between the December 11 and December 18.

This early phase in November was aimed at building aerobic fitness and getting the body back into the routine of training. The emphasis was on making sure he was at a good condition and fitness so he would be ready to take on a high number of hours and kilometers during the first camp of the year.


Early Season Training Camp

The first training camp of the year saw Ryan start from a CTL of 84 and build to 103 over an eight-day period. This was a big eight days in the saddle with a total of 900 km covered and over 31 hours of total ride time. In this camp they completed three two-day training blocks with two recovery days. The longest day consisted of 154 km and 5.25 hours riding, and the average training days lasted around 135 km and 4.5 hours of cycling.

The 19 CTL ramp over the eight days would be a lot for many amateur riders who have little experience in having this sort of high training load. Less experienced riders can find such a high load in a short period of time  to cause too much fatigue and little adaptation. Ryan, like many elite pros, has had his body adapted over many years to training for such durations and intensities, allowing him to absorb the training and come out of the camps with an increased fitness rather than a very fatigued body. He left the first camp of the year with a 160 ATL (and sore legs to boot).

With the first camp completed, Ryan had only a short two-day recovery period before starting his training during the holidays. The week after the first camp of the year and the week leading up to Christmas Ryan still kicked out 415 km and 14.5 hours in the saddle, which allowed him to maintain his CTL around 100 and have this increase after the new year just prior to the second training camp of the year.

Final Pre-Season Training Camp

The second training camp of the year started on January 12th, here he was at a CTL of 110, 26 points higher than what he started at during his first camp in December. With this higher level of fitness and gradual increase in intensity over the interim three-plus weeks, he had the ability to complete the more intensive second training camp of the pre-season.

The second camp of the year lasted a total of seven days and during this time Ryan completed a total of 950 km with 30.5 hours in the saddle. The camp had a different format to the first, consisting of two three-day blocks with only one recovery day on the fourth day of camp.

The longest ride of the camp consisted of close to 200 km and six hours in the chair as they powered their way around the Spanish countryside. The end of the camp saw Ryan accumulate a CTL of 122, which is a 22-point ramp over the seven days. He ended up with a low TSB of -50 as he left this intensive seven-day camp.

The Season Begins

With 13 days between the end of the last training camp and his first race of the year at the Tour of Valencia, Ryan needed to freshen up after a hard seven days in order to bring that TSB back to a reasonable level. Doing so allowed him to get in some quality rides as the intensity of the training started to increase toward the first race of the year.


Tour of Valencia

Ryan had three recovery days after the second camp, allowing his TSB to come up to +7. From here he began a seven-day solo training block which moved his CTL to its highest so far (125 points) on January 28. A short three-day recovery period leading into Valencia meant Ryan had “fresh” legs to kick off his season in Spain. This meant he was then able to use the racing kilometers to hone his form as he built toward April. The five days in Valencia were particularly hard with a 12-point ramp in his CTL going from 123 on day one to 135 after the final stage. He also came out of the race with his lowest TSB reading for this period, going down to -60 and a ATL of 200, indicating a high level of fatigue.

The period after Valencia and before the next race of the year, Volta Algarve from February 15th to February 19th, was about recovery and adaption from the big month previous (from early January to start of Feb). In that previous month he had accumulated a team training camp, the first stage race of the year and big solo training blocks out of his home base in Girona in between.

The nine days between Valencia and Volta Algarve saw Ryan bring his TSB back up to -10 before he had some specific work in the lead up to Algarve. He was also able to lower his CTL to 125 over this from a high of 135 after the end of the first stage race of the year. By recovering adequately he was able to bring his TSB to +20 on the start line of Volta Algarve.

Volta Algarve into the Belgium Classics

The five days of Volta Algarve were again on hilly terrain with lots of climbing and aggressive racing, Ryan himself was in a number of breaks during the race, showing his fitness at the pointy end of the peloton and a 14th place in the Individual TT.

With only five days between the end of Algarve and the start of the Belgium opening Classic weekend of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, the ability to recover from a hard five days in Portugal was critical if he was to hit the ground running in Belgium.

Ryan finished Algarve with a CTL of 137 and a TSB of -50, indicating a high level of fatigue. The five days between these races was used to travel and do some short recon rides of the Belgium roads he would be racing on in the coming weeks. This allowed him to get his TSB back up to +2 in time for the Belgium Classics and get in two big days on the cobbles.

The two back-to-back semi-Classics saw Ryan put out more than 300 TSS each day with a Normalized Power of more than 330W on both days. These two big days of racing also saw Ryan edge up his CTL to a peak of 140 and a ATL of 185—his ATL jumping from 135 to 185 over two days shows the impact and intensity of these one day races.


The next phase had Ryan heading to Tirreno-Adriatico between the March 8th and 14th. This race is used by many in their final preparation for the bigger one-day races, which come in quick succession through the end of March and into the start of April.

Between the opening weekend of the Belgium Semi-Classics and Tirreno Ryan had nine days to recover and prepare. During this time we see a common trait in his recovery where his TSB is brought up to -10 before starting some maintenance sessions to keep the adaptations from previous races and still have his body ready and primed for Tirreno.

The main priority at this time is keeping healthy, absorbing the previous racing block and using training sessions to work on the specific areas that needed attention as he built toward the big one days. He started Tirreno with a +10 TSB and a CTL of 136 (similar CTL to what he finished Algarve).

The seven days in Italy were particularly hard with three stages over 200 km in length. Over this duration and intensity Ryan came out of Tirreno with his peak CTL of 153, which is a ramp of 17 over the seven days of racing. Going from a CTL of 136 to a CTL of 153 is not something you can handle unless you have the massive workload done previously, which Ryan had put in during the past months.

Finishing the race with a 9th  place in the final stage TT showed that Ryan had adapted well and his form and current fitness level were good enough to put out a big effort after six days of hard racing. He already was at -55 TSB going into the TT, which means it was a big ask for anyone to squeeze out such a big individual effort.

The Classics


The Belgium Classics Begin

With all the “prep” out of the way, it was now down to eight days of recovery and fine tuning between Tirreno and the first Belgium Classic, Dwars Door Vlaanderen on March 22. Ryan was to play a key role with the Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team by aiding team leader Dylan van Baarle and close to the head of affairs during critical times within these Classic races.

Ryan hit Dwars Door Vlaanderen with a CTL of 145, and he was to keep this at a consistent level as he rode through Dwars Door Vlaanderen and onto GP E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem—all in the space of five days. Ryan spent much of Gent-Wevelgem in the lead break and having a Normalized Power of 335W for the 250 km and six hours of racing.

This mammoth effort brought his CTL back up to 150 with an ATL of 177. Between these races was recovery and full rest, as the harsh roads of Belgium have a massive effect on your ability to recover. 250 km in Belgium is different from 250 km in Southern Spain, when looking at the impact it has on your body.

The six days between Gent-Wevelgem and Ronde van Vlaanderen meant it was enough time to fit in two training rides, which consisted of two recovery rides of 40 km and 50 km on Monday and Tuesday followed by a big five hour, 150 km ride on Wednesday and a 3.5 hour, 105 km team recon ride of the Flanders route on Thursday. Friday was again a short ride along with Saturday being a 46 km ride while paced by team car. Ryan started Flanders with a CTL of 140 and a TSB of -2.

Ronde van Vlaanderen was a successful day for the team as Ryan’s teammate, Dylan van Baarle, finished in an impressive fourth place, with Ryan playing a key role in this success with his work early in the race. You can view Ryan’s full power file from this ride HERE or by clicking the image below:


Stats from the race

Place: 82nd
Time: 6hr 30min
Distance: 260km
TSS: 437
NP: 342
Ave P: 272
W/KG: 3.28
Ave HR: 153
Peak 2 sec: 1368 W (W/kg 16.5)
Peak 30 sec: 810 W (W/kg 9.76)
Peak 05:00 min: 466 W (W/kg 5.61)
Peak 10:00 min: 410 W (W/kg 4.94)
Peak 30:00 min: 361 W (W/kg 4.35)

The lead into Paris Roubaix was a similar format to that of Flanders, building freshness and avoiding any unwanted last-minute health issues, as well as keeping the fitness gains from the previous big races. With two very easy rides of around one hour on the Monday and Tuesday after Flanders and a Roubaix recon ride of three hours and 95 km on Wednesday. Thursday was a complete rest day, followed by two short rides of 1.5 and two hours on both Friday and Saturday. This allowed Ryan to bring his TSB right up to +30 for Roubaix with a CTL of 135.

Paris- Roubaix is one of Ryan’s favorite races of the year, and one which he hopes to perform well at in the future. Again, he was there in the service of Dylan van Baarle (you can see my overview of how van Baarle’s Paris-Roubaix went here) and also to make opportunities for himself in the front selections during the harsh 256 km across Northern France. You can view Ryan’s full Power File HERE or by clicking on the image below:


Stats from the race

Place: 50th
Time: 5hr 50min
Distance: 256km
TSS: 374
NP: 335
Ave P: 290
W/KG: 3.49
Ave HR: 180
Peak 2 sec 1252 W (W/kg 15.1)
Peak 30 sec 670 W (W/kg 8.09)
Peak 05:00 min 429 W (W/kg 5.17)
Peak 10:00 min 376 W (W/kg 4.53)
Peak 30:00 min 332 W (W/kg 4.00)

Spring Classics Concluded

The conclusion of Paris – Roubaix was to be the final part of his spring campaign and the culmination of all the hard work and dedication put in from the middle of November all the way through 24 days of racing between February 1st and April 9th. It is a great insight into the demands of a WorldTour professional and the requirements necessary for consistent training and focus toward major objectives throughout the year. Many thanks to Ryan for his input and to the team for sharing his insightful data.

The post A Detailed Analysis of Cannondale-Drapac Rider Ryan Mullen’s 2017 Classics Campaign appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

Your Game Plan for Racing Back-to-Back Triathlons

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Whether you’re looking to race yourself fit for a goal race, or you just have a hectic schedule and need to fit in your entire racing season in a few short weeks, many triathletes find themselves signed up for multiple races that take place within a short time period. It can be done, but your game plan for racing back-to-back triathlons needs to include a detailed periodization plan (with plenty of recovery) so you will peak at the right times.

Many moons ago, in my second year of racing the IRONMAN distance, I decided I wanted to get even fitter, faster etc. I decided to sign up for both IRONMAN Nice and IRONMAN UK in one season. They were only five weeks apart and I felt totally confident that I would PR and do well in my age group at IRONMAN UK.

After a PR at Nice, I was on track … or so I thought. IRONMAN UK was—to date—my worst performance in any race ever. It was almost as slow as my first ever IRONMAN distance race and far slower than the harder, hillier course in Nice (I’m not ashamed to admit that I basically cried my way through the last 10 miles of the run—what a waste of fluids!). Recovering enough between races is a tricky challenge, and not one to be taken lightly.

Now as a coach, I can reflect, laugh and objectively understand both sides of why I did what I did,  and also recognize the learning points that I gained from this experience. My recovery strategy between each race was poor and I was on the back foot before I even started, which begs the question, “How does one race endurance events successfully back to back?”

It can’t be too hard can it? Team events like football or rugby with matches once or twice a week still allow their athletes to compete frequently and they seem to be successful through a whole season. However, even team sports follow a periodization model similar to one triathletes see with their focus being to peak for the culmination of the championship tournament or at the end of the season.

Plan Well Ahead of Time

Before you even start recovering between events, you must plan out your season (or even multiple seasons) identifying which event you want to completely peak at. This may be the finals, a world championship or your qualifier event.

Once that has been decided, you can address how you want to treat all other events throughout the season: Do you need to qualify? Is it a leg-opener? Do you want to practice nutrition for a larger event down the line?

Endurance sport pioneer Joe Friel kindly labeled these races “A,” “B” or “C” events based on how important they were to you. You can have more than one “A” race in a year, but you have to really be sure there is enough time between them to prepare for each one  adequately. More importantly, after one of these “A” races, you’ll need to recover, rebuild and then re-peak.

Don’t just commit to one of them outwardly, commit internally too. Too often people state that an event is only classed as “C,” but because their training partners are also racing, the odds just changed, or maybe they don’t want to look bad in front of others, they don’t stick to their plan, race too hard and then lose focus for their “A” race.

Why Peak and Then Recover?

When you race, you are pushing your body to the limit. Things like fat percentages will be lower than they have ever been. If you don’t let them spring back, you will end up ill, injured, fatigued or fed up. Racing is exhausting for your mind and your body, a refresh will bring you back stronger and fresher. Essentially we can consider this recovery period a macro version of the Hans-Seyer model of adaptation. You have peaked, you will need to recover before you climb up to your next level of fitness.

Manage your Load

Your TrainingPeaks Performance Management Chart (PMC) will allow you to plan out these periods nicely. It will also let you identify what a manageable training load is. For someone racing IRONMAN, it may be that a 70.3 event is a manageable load – you could race them within a week of each other.

For example,  if you are racing a 260 TSS bike and a 220 TSS run during your IRONMAN training, then the half IRONMAN may only create a training stress of 300 TSS in total—this is totally within your limits of fitness. The same is true for most other distances.

If your consistent training load is equivalent to the event you are racing in, then what is deemed as back-to-back could just be considered a long training day. However, notice that we are labeling these races as “just training,” not “loads of small races that I am pretending don’t mean much but actually I want to win and will kill myself trying to do so!”

Many long course athletes like doing a marathon during the early season for their running fitness. As a coach I can argue either way if it is right or wrong, but if it is not your main race, why shy away from doing a long bike ride the day before to simulate racing? Equally, remember that each triathlon distance or endurance event brings with it different physiological stresses that have to be trained for. What you have to be good at for IRONMAN racing is very different to sprint distance or standard distance racing. Where do all your events fit within the larger picture of your overall goals for the year?

Be Specific and Realistic With Your Goals

It’s amusing listening to IRONMAN athletes complain that they felt they could/should have beaten a training buddy in a 70.3 or other distance event. Why? That is like Usain Bolt complaining that he should have beaten Mo Farah over 10K because he is the fastest man on the planet! He may be, but only at the distance he is racing at. If you are racing back-to-back events, don’t have unrealistic expectations of “smashing” each race. Treat the race with the priority it deserves based on your goals. Then the recovery process becomes much easier.

Recover Right

The truth is, no matter how much pre-planning you have made, you can never fully estimate how you will fare after the event, especially if the event in question is long distance.

Therefore, between races, think what your goal of the recovery period should be, and stick to it. That being said, always listen to your body (always listen to your body more than your ego).

If you have decided to recover, don’t just smash through several hard training sessions with your friends because:

Your race went really well and you are on a high.
Your race went below par and you want to demonstrate to friends, training buddies, and/or yourself you don’t suck.
You suddenly decided it is the right thing to do.

Equally, if you have decided to train straight through one race to your next event, do exactly that, put in the big overload sessions as planned. Don’t shy away from them because you are tired. You had planned to be! Stick to your annual plan.

Often doing some stock training sessions or familiar workout loops can help you compare yourself using time, speed, power as well RPE. Your local loop lets you know how well you are feeling and performing so you can gauge your fatigue and overall performance level better.

Pay Attention to Signs of Over-Fatigue or Injury

I’ll say it again—listen to your body. If you feel a niggle, address it, don’t follow the plan blindly. All aches and pains are information, and information is useful. If you keep on struggling to hit target times—take a break—maybe you are more tired than you anticipated being at this point in the year. Talk to your coach. Have you fueled correctly? If you are going to do an overload week post-event, have you been fueling properly to meet this challenge?

When you race, you put yourself out there in some capacity, even if your goal was testing nutrition or handling skills. You push harder than you would have were you not in a race. Whichever way you have raced, or whatever your goal may have been, you have achieved something in finishing a particular race and you’ve likely learned something new about yourself in the process.

Going back to my attempt to do two IRONMANS within five weeks— I recall even now the comment of a training buddy that I obviously heard but for whatever reason chose to ignore,“Are you sure you are not too tired? Normally you would have beaten me up those hills.” Remember, even bad information is good information especially if you don’t want to hear it.


At the end of the day, if you have plenty of time between events, you will want to reset and rebuild into the second event. However, if you only have a few weeks between key events, you will have to favor one—and you’ll  need to make this a part of your early season planning.

The period in between two back-to-back races can literally make (or break) your season(s), so you have to pay very careful attention to both your training (quantitative) data and your own feelings (qualitative data), and make your decision based on both of them. This is where a coach or mentor becomes especially useful as an objective perspective who can keep a track of you and your ultimate “A” race.

The post Your Game Plan for Racing Back-to-Back Triathlons appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

Giro d’Italia TT Analysis: Can Quintana Hold On?

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The 2017 Giro d’Italia will finish into Milan with a time trial pitting one of best time-trialists in the world in Tom Dumoulin against the master climber and current Maglia Rosa-wearer Nairo Quintana. The Giro, with its unrelenting mountains, is traditionally won by a climbing GC specialist, but over the past few seasons Dumoulin has risen to the climbing challenge while still retaining his expert ability against the clock.

This year’s edition suited Dumoulin more than in previous years with the inclusion of two pure time trial courses. In the first (stage 10), he proved his dominance and pulled on the Maglia Rosa by putting two minutes and 53 seconds into Quintana, but that course was almost 40 km and came after a rest day.

The final Stage is 10 km shorter at only 29.37 km — and comes after a brutal string of mountain stages.  With Quintana back in the lead, let’s examine the final stage and see what type of time gap Quintana will likely need to hold off a motivated Dumoulin.

Stage 21: Monza to Milano

The final stage in the Giro d’Italia is a 29.37 km race against the clock starting at the Autodromo Nazionale race track in Monza before traveling southwest into the heart of Milan. The course has a slightly negative gradient and long stretches of straight roads where a specialist can open up the throttle. The real question for Dumoulin will be if there are enough kilometers to make up the time he will need on Quintana.


Because we won’t know how much time Dumoulin will need until tomorrow’s final stage in the mountains, we will instead analyze how much time Quintana will need going into the stage to retain the jersey.

To do that we have done some modeling using Best Bike Split’s Time Analysis feature to give some estimates for the two riders from the Stage 10 TT. Based on the results and some estimated CdA (aero data), we came up with the following estimated power values for the stage:

Stage 10 Power Estimates based on Finish Time

Est. Power
Est. Watts/KG

Tom Dumoulin
425 Watts

Nairo Quintana
350 Watts

What is interesting to note here is that while Quintana’s estimated Watts/Kg is a bit lower than Dumoulin, even if he were to bring it up to 6.1 on this course he would gain 50 seconds if it were due to increased power or only 17 seconds if it were due to decreased weight. In a true time trial without much climbing and with similar aerodynamics between riders, it all comes down to FTP (Functional Threshold Power).

To run some “what if analysis” check out the Time Analysis Tool and try adjusting the drag, power and weight sliders.

Using the numbers above we can model out Stage 21 to see the differences between the two riders. Though the course is 10 km shorter, which at world class speeds would typically result in approximately a one to two percent power increase on fresh legs, we can expect riders will be hard pressed to get much of an increase due to the fatigue of multiple mountain stages. The following two images show the time difference that could be seen between the two riders:

Estimated Finish Time for Nairo Quintana


Adjustments for Dumoulin’s Estimated Drag, Power, and Weight


This course is perfectly setup for Dumoulin despite being 10 km shorter than Stage 10 (which had some uphill sections). Here he can take full advantage of his power disparity. If he can perform similarly power-wise to Stage 10 he could expect to put more than two minutes into Quintana. Because the course is primarily flat with a slight negative overall grade his additional weight has little to no impact and will actually help in some sections.

One major factor on the race that we haven’t discussed are wind conditions. While both riders will experience the same conditions, a prevailing strong tailwind will actually help Quintana as it should speed up both riders and narrow the time gap. The current forecast is for low slight head wind to crosswind.


If the wind shifts to more of a direct head wind and increases in strength, Dumoulin could put even more time into Quintana. A quick wind analysis below shows the impact of a stronger 15 km/h head/tail wind along with the current forecasted weather:

Wind Conditions
Est. Dumoulin  Time
Est. Quintana Time

As Forecasted

Head Wind (15 km/h)

Tail Wind (15 km/h)

I believe Quintana needs to gain at least another two minutes in the penultimate stage tomorrow to feel safe, and even then a hard charging, determined Dumoulin might take back the Maglia Rosa on the final day!

View the BBS model for Stage 21 and try some adjustments in the Time Analysis tab to see how changing drag, power, and weight factors could change the race. We will update the forecasted weather right up to race time.

Interested in doing your own pre-race predictions? Try a free Best Bike Split demo and dial in your race preparation now.

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How to Finally Nail Your Nutrition During an IRONMAN Taper (And Every Day Thereafter)

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You have been preparing for your long-distance triathlon for years, and the big day is fast approaching. You are sharpening that knife in the final weeks leading up to race day with a dutiful recovery period, and you know that your nutrition during an IRONMAN taper is of utmost importance.

They key to successful IRONMAN taper is making sure these final few weeks are as productive as possible, while still giving yourself maximum rest. It is during this time that a very common question will arise, “Rick, what, if anything, should I do different with my nutrition in these final weeks?” And my answer is always the same for those individuals that I’m working with, “There is nothing that we are going to do different. You have been fueling your body properly for months on end and now we simply continue to fuel the body right in these final few weeks.”

What are some of the key nutritional components to focus on as race day approaches? Well, the key elements that we will discuss apply not only to the final few weeks leading into the race, but, this is how we want to be fueling our body every single day in order to achieve meaningful and sustainable performance results for a lifetime. Whether an individual’s goals revolve around body transformation, improved overall health and fitness and/or improved athletic performance, eating right and fueling the body right are going to be the keys to success.

Fueling Frequency and Timing

When it comes to fueling the body right, frequency and timing of our meals and snacks becomes a key component. Let’s keep it simple; no matter what time you wake up, no matter what time you work out, no matter what time you go to bed, let’s be sure to implement the following: Fuel your body right away upon awakening and then fuel your body every two and a half to three and a half hours thereafter—throughout the day.

Yes, I mean right away upon awakening; not 30 minutes after you wake up, not 60 minutes after. All too often, as race day approaches, individuals find themselves still carrying too much body fat and too much body weight, despite the super-high level of workout activity . And as a result, individuals may gravitate toward “cutting calories,” thinking that this will help them lose a few pounds pre-race. Needless to say, this is nothing shy of self-sabotage. We never want to follow any food fad or diet, especially with a big race fast approaching.

Don’t Eat Healthy, Eat Right

There is a huge difference between eating healthy versus eating right, as these are two completely different worlds. When individuals focus on eating healthy, they tend to miss the mark, big time.

For example, individuals may choose a handful of almonds for a snack. Or they may choose an apple or hummus and carrots as a snack. Are these examples healthy? Absolutely, but at the same time they are complete train wrecks when it comes to fueling the body properly. Notice the operative word in that sentence, fueling.

Always remember, feeding the body and fueling the body are completely different. We do not want to feed the body, rather, we always want to focus on fueling the body. Let’s use a car as an example. Gasoline and water are both liquids. So why can’t we just put water in the gas tank of our car? Well, we all know that water, albeit a liquid like gasoline, is not going to fuel our car. The human body works the same way.

Those snack examples above are simply water in the gas tank. They are feeding the body, but they are not fueling the body. Let’s look at the details. A handful of almonds has 340 calories and a whopping 71 percent fat …71 percent!

Often times the knee-jerk reaction is, “But Rick, it’s good fat!” I don’t care if it’s good fat or bad fat, this snack is 71 percent fat. With only 13 percent carbohydrate, this snack is nothing shy of water in the gas tank. Sure, it’s feeding the body, but it’s not fueling the body.

Fueling the Body Versus Just Feeding It

So how do we properly fuel the body? We do so by having the proper balance of carbohydrate-protein-fat at every meal/snack. Our goal, at every meal/snack is to have 50 to 65 percent of your calories from carbohydrate, 15 to 25 percent protein and between 15 and 25 percent fat. When we achieve this, we are fueling the body and brain for success. “The brain is dependent on sugar as its main fuel,” says Vera Novak, MD, PhD, and an HMS associate professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “It cannot be without it.”

And no, vegetables are not carbohydrates. Sure, while vegetables contain a few grams of carbohydrates, this does not make them a fuel/carbohydrate source. Vegetables are just that, vegetables. They are good for us and they provide the body with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are not a fuel source. A slice of dense, whole grain bread has a few grams of protein, but that does not make this slice of bread a protein source; rather, this is a great example of a fuel/carbohydrate source.

Let’s examine a popular meal individuals gravitate toward because they want to eat healthy: 6oz grilled salmon plus one cup steamed vegetables. A healthy meal? Absolutely, but again, a complete train wreck in terms of properly fueling the body. This meal provides the body with 430 calories, 16-percent carbohydrate, 41-percent Protein and 44-percent Fat. Aside from this meal providing virtually no fuel for the body and brain, it’s far too high in protein and fat.

Let’s change the game. Let’s stop focusing on eating healthy and let’s focus on fueling the body right. Here’s how easy it is to change the game and take your nutrition to a completely new level. Watch how to easily reconstruct this meal so that we can properly fuel the body and avoid putting water in the gas tank: one cup cooked whole grain pasta, 3 oz grilled salmon, one half cup steamed vegetables. This meal now provides the body with the following high-octane fuel: 498 calories, 54-percent carbohydrate, 26-percent protein and 20-percent fat. Boom! Now we have a meal worth writing home about. This is how we fuel the body and brain (and not just feed the body).

A Note on the Low Carb Craze

In order to maximize and optimize performance and recovery, athletes need to continually load and reload muscle glycogen stores. This process cannot happen with a low-carbohydrate/high-protein diet. According to Ashley Chambers, M.S. and Len Kravitz, PhD, muscle glycogen is the primary fuel (followed by fat) used by the body during exercise.

Low muscle glycogen stores result in muscle fatigue and the body’s inability to complete high intensity exercise. The depletion of muscle glycogen is also a major contributing factor in acute muscle weakness and reduced force production.

Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise decreased glycogen stores, so the need for carbohydrates is high for all types of exercise during this energy phase. Renowned endurance nutrition expert Asker Jeukendrup, PhD, and Michael Gleeson, PhD mention that there is convincing evidence from numerous studies indicating that carbohydrate feeding during exercise of about 45 minutes or longer can improve endurance capacity and performance.

Workout Smart

If nerves start to set in as the race approaches, it’s not a problem. We just want to be sure to keep them in check. Often times this nervousness translates into, “I have not done enough volume and/or intensity.” And this is when the individual goes off-script and pops a number of workouts that are far too long and intense.

This is the time of the journey when more is not better; rather, smarter is better. It’s time to trust yourself, trust your training and trust your nutrition. You’ve done the work; the money is in the bank. Instead of trying to squeeze in one more workout, let’s focus on keeping the body fueled for success. Your best weapon at this point is to get to the race start well fueled and well rested, as this will set you up for the best success possible.

In summary, if you are ready to take your performance and recovery to new levels as your big race approaches, let’s focus on the three key components: fueling frequency, fueling timing and the balance of carbohydrate-protein-fat at every meal/snack. When we put these three components into motion, we then set the body up for the best success possible.

The post How to Finally Nail Your Nutrition During an IRONMAN Taper (And Every Day Thereafter) appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

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