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...No idea where I'm headed in 2018/2019, but I can't wait to get there...

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I'm just an average age-grouper / weekend warrior blogging about Ironman Triathlon Training and this complex puzzle of juggling life, having fun and reporting on my various feats of strength and endurance adventures!

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Endurance Nation Training PLans

How to Build Zone-Based Workouts in the Off-Season

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As coaches and athletes continue to work through the base building season, it’s time to refine your game plan and decide what to focus on. Intensity is important during base-building periods, but how often and how intense are always a question.

Let’s start with the basics. Base training is meant to build aerobic endurance and longer efforts on the bike are needed to achieve that. Length depends on the training zone you’re working in. In this article, we will take a look at each training zone, discuss how to get the most out of each zone in terms of duration, and learn more about how you might combine zones within a workout.

During the base season, sub-maximal efforts should be the main focus. Heart rate and power are both great tools to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workouts. I recommend using Joe Friel’s heart rate zones and Andy Coggan’s power zones for reference. Keep in mind that there are thousands of ways to combine these zones to create a workout. For this article,/ we will focus on intensity and how long your athletes can sustain that intensity so that you can build better workouts for your athletes.

Breaking Down the Zones
Zone 1

Zone 1 is essentially recovery. As your athletes work toward the upper end of zone one, they should begin to feel some effort, but for the purpose of this article we discuss Zone 1 only as a recovery zone.

When the aerobic system is pushed to the limit, Zone 1 spinning is necessary for recovery. Entire days can be dedicated to zone one. These days are great recovery days after a hard race or within a recovery week. It is fairly easy to maintain both power and heart rate for these efforts.

Zone 2

Zone 2 training plays an important role throughout the base season. These days allow you to break up your week with easier, steady efforts that are not too effortless. Meaning, a steady spin in Zone 2 for several hours or more will allow some recovery from your harder workout days but still provide some training stress to promote aerobic gains.

You should be able to sustain a Zone 2 effort for hours. These days are great for building capillary density to increasing the amount of fat you burn for energy. Spacing harder Zone 4 or 5 efforts with a Zone 2 spin is a great endurance builder. This again allows some recovery but not full recovery, helping to build that aerobic engine.

It’s very achievable to work with both heart rate and power in this zone, unless greater fatigue is present. If either power or heart rate is low and perceived exertion is high, that is a good sign to back off and go easier for the day.

Zone 3

A Zone 3 effort with both heart rate and power is a place where you can really test your form for the day. Achieving both heart rate and power goals or reaching high power while keeping heart rate in check, means you’re having a good day. This is often called a sweet spot for building your aerobic engine.

You can build greater aerobic power here from working efforts ranging from five to ten minutes and up to over 30 minutes. Spacing these efforts with Zone 2 spins will provide a great base-building day.

Perceived exertion may vary when in Zone 3 depending on the level of fatigue, but as long as you can achieve the desired power and heart rate then it is all systems go. Additions to these days can be powerful 30 to 60 second Zone 5 or 6 efforts before or after the Zone 3 effort.

Zone 4

Zone 4 efforts are ideal for long climbs, group rides, and low cadence force work. These efforts, especially in the lower end of the zone, can be sustained up to 15-minute periods or longer depending on level of fitness and fatigue. Race days contain a lot of these efforts so it is a good idea to work these into the build periods.

When you combine Zone 4 with other zones and have base building in mind, keep the Zone 5 efforts short, limiting them to just minutes in length. This reduces muscle fatigue and allows you to work longer and more powerful in Zone 4 and 3 efforts.

When working Zone 4 efforts, you will start to see a greater disconnect between heart rate and power at times, especially at the top end of this zone. If aerobically fatigued, heart rate will lag even if you can reach the zone with power immediately. If fresh, heart rate may drift higher into Zone 5 while in Zone 4 with power. For this reason, it’s good to use all three main sources of feedback: power, heart rate, and perceived effort. A good rule of thumb is to gauge zones by at least two of the three sources of feedback.

Zone 5

For the base season, Zones 5 and above efforts should be incorporated into training, but sparingly. This is where power becomes the most precise tool to gauge the effort. The best use for these ranges during the base period is with short efforts up to several minutes in length, combined with Zones 3 and 4.

Focus on longer Zone 2 and 3 spin efforts for your hard workouts early in the base season. As you progress into build periods, work more Zone 4 and 5 efforts, incorporating force work and sprints.

Keeping your focus on aerobic power gains through the base season will set you up with a system ready to handle the high intensities of race day.

The post How to Build Zone-Based Workouts in the Off-Season appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

CoachCast: Nutrition Myth Busting with Asker Jeukendrup

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As the New Year approaches, you will likely hear about new diets and nutrition trends. At the same time, it can be difficult for even the most knowledgeable endurance athlete to separate the fact from the fiction. Are you prepared to the bust the myths around nutrition this year?

Dave sat down with Asker Jeukendrup to get to the bottom of some of the most prevalent endurance sport nutrition trends. They discussed everything from how well ketogenic diets work to whether athletes should take salt pills to improve performance.

Listen to the full episode here.

   

Resources:

2018 Endurance Coaching Summit featuring Asker Jeukendrup (use coupon code CoachCastECS20 for 20 percent off)
CORE Nutrition Planning
MySportScience

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How to Prescribe Better Workouts on the Trainer

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The trainer is an incredibly valuable tool when it’s properly used to leverage its advantages.

While many riders jump on the trainer and try to mimic their outdoor riding schedule, I like to take a good, hard look at it from the perspective of an exercise physiologist. As a result, many of my riders at Human Vortex Training use trainer rides year-round and his has led to some incredible improvements.

The following tips have helped riders who used to hate the trainer learn to appreciate it (in its proper role), allowed athletes to “train smarter, not harder”, and helped athletes crush their opposition from spring to fall.

Here’s how I’ve implemented the trainer over the last 11 years, and how you too can maximize your athletes’ time for better results.

1) Reduce total ride time for “long” rides by 20 percent.

This tip has the potential to be misunderstood, but it is very important. If we take a look at a four-hour endurance ride outside, we’d see that somewhere between 15 to 25 percent of total ride time is actually spent coasting or at a standstill. Think about all of the variations in terrain, wind, road conditions, traffic, and time at stop lights.

On the trainer, we are consistently pedaling in order to keep the power up. This leads to greater stress on the neuromuscular and cardiovascular systems, and is part of the reason why some athletes tend to overshoot their ability.

2) Aim for rides under two hours.

It’s not the quantity of the work, it’s the quality of the work.

This is one of the biggest sources of improvement for athletes I have coached coached over the last decade. I have only prescribed consistent rides longer than two hours to a select few, and those few have been professionals. Most riders I work with have mid-week workouts on the trainer that are 65 to 95 minutes long, and range from new cyclists to those chasing podiums.

The trainer, regardless of what mode it is in, offers a completely controlled environment (minus your toddler, cat, or dog wanting to join in). From a physiological standpoint, riders can can achieve exactly the work prescribed in exactly the cadence and power needed. That allows trainer rides to be far more potent than t the open road.

3) Get some airflow.

For those riding in cold climates, this is extremely important. If your athletes train in a cold environment, the chances are high that their outdoor rides will also be cold until the spring. To promote specific adaptations to imposed demands (in this case, the ability to train and ride in the colder air), coaches should prescribe athletes to keep cool to improve performance on those cold, winter rides.

I recommend a two-fan setup, (one in front of you, and another at your hip) because of the potential for cardiac drift. This occurs when there is not enough air movement to remove the hot, moist air next to our body produced by sweat. For those training with heart rate instead of power, this is especially important. Stagnant air could artificially raise heart rate, and will lead decreased effort when your athlete needs to push.

4) Don’t get some airflow.

Yes, I’m contradicting myself here.

There are times where we do not want much more than a small fan. In particular, I recommend this approach for athletes on the trainer in the summer or who race in a hotter temperatures. Riding with a smaller fan allows the body adapt to higher temperatures by increasing blood plasma levels.

Coaches should consider the time of year and where athletes are in their training season. If athletes are in a climate that is typically cooler year-round, warmer rides may be nice to prescribe every three to four weeks for two to three rides to add an extra punch in their training. Overdoing it is probably not the best idea, as riding outside will feel different than their trainer.

5) Include “group races” with tools like Zwift.

Those I coach are always surprised when I add a workout titled “Crush Legs on Zwift/Trainer” every two to four weeks in their training plan because, in contrast, during the summer I remind them to hold back on group rides nearing peak races.

But, during the winter? I love prescribing some practice to “pin a number on” and push hard. How else can athletes get the right amount of training stress and see their own improvement?

Riding on Zwift, CVR, or any similar online platform can be a lot of fun, and should be part of any well-designed training plan. At the same time, remember to keep yourself in check and prescribe a structured program.

6) Use “extra time” for strength training with kettlebells.

The “extra time” earned from shorter trainer rides is a perfect opportunity to incorporate some strength training into your athletes’ plan. Kettlebells are my favorite tool for at-home strength training. They’re incredibly versatile, can be used for everything from endurance-focused strength to power and speed-strength development, and don’t take up a lot of space.

A single kettlebell around 15 or 25 pounds is usually enough for beginners, and, matched with a yoga mat or something to kneel and lay down on, provides many opportunities for bodyweight and weighted exercises.

Using the trainer intelligently as a part of a year-round training approach can and will significantly boost your athletes’ fitness and riding ability. Just remember to spend between one and two hours a week dedicated to working on your bike handling skills once spring arrives. Bike handling drills should be a staple in your riding schedule year-round, but should get special attention coming off of a winter on the trainer.

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2018 Coaches’ Choice Awards

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As 2018 nears its end, it’s a great time to look back at your personal goals, your athletes’ goals, and, of course, the most popular and influential coaching content from the year. Here’s to another successful year of reaching your goals and learning from TrainingPeaks’ expert coach contributors.

Coaching “Race Weight” Intelligently: A Case Study by Chrissie Wellington and Andy Kirkland

Considering athlete weight in relation to performance is important when planning and executing training. But, where is the line between an increase in performance and encouraging an athlete to adopt unhealthy behaviors? Chrissie Wellington and Andy Kirkland take a look at one specific situation which crossed the line.

New Study Widens HRV Evidence for More Athletes by Simon Wegerif

Heart rate variability is a simple way to measure stress on the body, and Simon Wegerif, a noted expert on the subject, explores new research that widens the evidence supporting its effectiveness. Learn more about why you might want to consider adding HRV into the metrics you track as a coach.

9 Reasons Why Pool Speed May Not Translate to Openwater by Dan Bullock

It’s tough to transition to open water swimming after months of training in the pool. Coach Dan Bullock explains some of the typical reasons why athletes may not see their pool speed transition to the open water, and explores some methods that might help athletes with the change.

CoachCast: Intelligent Intensity with Stephen Seiler

On this year’s most popular episode of the TrainingPeaks CoachCast, Dave Schell and Cody Stephenson sat down with renowned sports scientist Stephen Seiler to discuss his research, how he applies his findings in his own training, and why you might be overcomplicating periodization.

How to Coach the Overly Busy Athlete by Mackenzie Madison

There is no doubt that endurance athletes are a busy bunch. Coach Mackenzie Madison shares her battle-tested tips for coaches  to better help manage their athletes’ lofty goals and limited time.

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CoachCast: Secret Goals with Carrie Cheadle

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How do you approach goal setting with your athletes? Are you actually helping your athlete develop healthy, attainable goals? And, are your athletes’ goals really what they’re striving for, or do they have unstated, “secret” goals that they are ultimately judging themselves by?

Dave sat down with Mental Skills Coach Carrie Cheadle to learn more about the goal setting strategies she recommends coaches work on with their athletes.

Listen to the full episode here.

   

Resources:

On Top of Your Game: mental Skills to Maximize Your Athletic Performance – Carrie Cheadle
Carrie Cheadle’s Mental Skills Training For Athletes Facebook
Carrie Cheadle Twitter
Get Your Goals: Effective Goal Setting Strategies course (use coupon code CoachCastGoal20 for 20 percent off)

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