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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

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Peaking for a single day race means you are arriving on race day as mentally and physically prepared as possible, with potential for your strongest performance of the season. The art of peaking requires smart, creative scheduling for a proper taper.

The most common mistakes with peaking are often related to:

Too much or too little intensity
Too much volume
Not enough recovery

Other factors leading into the race that can negatively affect performance include the quality of rest, levels of life stress, travel logistics and diet. There is no perfect plan—only proper adjustments with training and rest to get to race day with everything needed to succeed.

To be in peak form, a reduction in training volume is needed to reduce fatigue and increase freshness. A focus on intensity is also needed to maintain fitness. Reducing volume can start as early as three to four weeks from the race and, at the latest, two weeks from race day. Elites who can recover quickly from higher volumes of training, for example, may wait until two weeks out to taper to maximize training time.

Race-specific intensity is important during this time, but interval days need to be spaced to every two to three days to prevent building unwanted fatigue. There is little to gain two weeks out from the race, so it is more important to focus on recovery than hard back-to-back training days.

The final two weeks hold your window of opportunity to make adjustments with training volume and intensity. One of the main goals is to arrive one week from your peak event in good form and with the ability to log a strong, intense training session. You want to experience strong power and speed, with good heart rate response, or in other words, less aerobic decoupling. A strong workout the week prior not only adds to your physical preparation, it adds mental confidence, which is priceless going into a race week.

Using a two week taper, with the first week being a “peak” week leading into the week of the race, let’s look at a few general training guidelines along with potential adjustments.

Peak Week
Volume

Around 75 percent of your average weekly training volume will work well for this week. If you average around 12 to 13 hour weeks for training, your peak week should be in the 9 to 10 hour range. It’s important to trust this reduction and not try to do more.

Intervals

Two days of moderate to longer intervals can be done with one day focused on leg speed, cadence and sprints. For example, five to 10 minute Zone 3 and 4 intervals can be worked early in the week, with a race simulation day, working three to seven minute Zone 4 and 5 efforts over the weekend. Races are often used for this weekend workout, but that is not always a wise decision, depending on how hard the race is and how well you can fully recover from it. All other days this week should be focused on easier Zone 1 and 2 spins to further recovery.

Adjustments

If you enter this week coming off a few higher volume weeks, you may need a few recovery days to start the week. So instead of working a hard day on Monday or Tuesday, work it on Wednesday and then space the next hard workout for over the weekend. If you enter this week off a hard race the weekend prior, you may not need long intervals during the week. Instead work a few days focused on cadence and technical skills and save the legs for the hard efforts over the weekend. Lastly, if you are not able to achieve the longer intervals due to fitness or fatigue, work shorter three to five minute intervals for the week.

Race Week
Volume

Race weeks should be of lower volume, around 50 percent of your average weekly training volume. So if you normally log 12 to 13 hour weeks, around five to six hours of total riding leading into the race will work well.

Intervals

Race week intervals should be short, such as 30 to 60 second threshold pace efforts or sprints and spaced well within the workout to allow some recovery from each effort or round of efforts. If the race is on a Sunday, you could work short efforts on Tuesday and Thursday of the race week but if the race is on a Saturday, work efforts on Wednesday only and make Thursday an easy spin or a day off. The day prior to the race is reserved for openers, or very short fast sprints, 10 to 30 seconds in length, focused on fast cadence. These efforts should also be spaced to allow for full recovery from each effort. All other days this week should be easy, Zone 1 and 2 spins for recovery.

Adjustments

There are few if any adjustments that can be made during a race week that will make a difference on race day. If you are too fatigued coming into this week and skip race prep workouts, you can end up on race day with poor form and feeling flat.

Reaching peak form requires a focus on the details, including riding on the bike you will race on as often as possible in the last few weeks leading up to the race. No two bikes fit the same, so training adaptations on one bike may not transfer immediately to another bike, leaving you with poor form on race day. Also, working race simulated efforts on terrain similar to the race. This means a mountain biker needs to focus on technical skills on trails while working fast intervals. An often overlooked detail is having your bike mechanically dialed at least a week prior to the race. Confidence in your bike leads to confidence in the race. And lastly, arrive early, a few days prior to the race to unload life stress, relax and focus on the task at hand.

Click here to download a free race week “Art of Peaking” plan to get you to your next cycling event in top form, and check out one of my many other mountain-biking training plans for all events and distances.

The post The Art of Peaking for a Cycling Event appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

How to Get Started Training with Power

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Training with a power meter is the absolute best way to get the most out of both your training time and effort. Unlike heart rate-based training, power allows us to measure the muscular demands of the effort instead of just the aerobic. The metrics-based approach to training that power provides is invaluable in helping athletes reach their goals, but what is it that we need to focus on, and how do we decipher all of the available information when one wants to get started training with power?

There are a few key places we can direct our attention to begin to understand the information generated from our power meters, and how to best utilize it to inform the decisions we make regarding training prescription.

What is Threshold?

In order to grasp and apply power metrics to our training we first need to understand the foundation on which everything is built: threshold. Threshold is simply the maximum wattage (power) you can maintain while your body can still remove the lactic acid being produced by your working muscles.

It’s also the point at which your body begins to recruit greater amounts of fast-twitch muscle fiber. Working for longer periods of time above your threshold creates the familiar “burn” in the legs as a result of accumulating lactic acid. Athletes can increase their body’s lactic acid clearing potential by spending significant time training in specific ranges below and right at threshold.

Time in these ranges also trains the body to slow the rate of carbohydrate utilization. Once you understand the concept of threshold we can take it a step further with FTP (Functional Threshold Power). FTP is the linchpin of power-based workouts, and the key to executing them properly.

Setting and Maintaining FTP

By now you’re no doubt at least familiar with FTP, how it impacts your training approach and your overall performance on the bike. However, knowing what produces a strong and accurate FTP, how to establish it, and how maintain it are vital to keeping your training on track.

Setting your FTP, or rather producing efforts that yield the results you want, takes some practice and know how. With tools like TrainingPeaks and WKO4 we can understand and analyze power numbers more accurately and consistently than ever before.

So how do you know what your FTP is? With the tools we have available to us today there are a couple of things you’ll want to do and look at to ensure your FTP is accurate. The first step is to produce threshold level efforts in training. The “field test” is a tried and true method, and usually the first step in setting your FTP. To perform the field test use the following protocol.

Warm Up

20 minutes at endurance pace
3×1 minute high cadence drills at 100 RPM w/ 1minute rest between each
5 minutes at endurance pace

Main Set

5 minute all out effort.
10 minutes at endurance pace
20 minute all out effort

Cool Down

10-15 minutes easy

Once you’ve performed the FTP test, upload your data and analyze your performance. To calculate your FTP take 95 percent of your 20-minute, all-out effort. This will serve as a good approximation of your lactate threshold, and a strong baseline number for your training. However, while the field test is a strong indicator of FTP and a great place to start, physiological adaptation and performance is more nuanced than a simple 20-minute test.

The Power Duration Curve

WKO4 takes things a step further with the concept of modeled FTP (mFTP), which plots your performances across a curve and generates an mFTP based on historical efforts. Since everyone’s strength isn’t necessarily a 20-minute TT, the PD Curve can be a good way to gain insight into where you’re strongest, and what efforts you may need to focus on to elicit critical adaptations.

If you’re using mFTP and the PD Curve, it’s best to perform all-out efforts of varying durations anywhere from 30 seconds to one hour to get the most out of the “curve.” When establishing any power-based metric, the importance of valid and accurate data can’t be overstated. Power spikes and inaccurate data can drastically skew test results, and can even result in an inaccurate FTP or other power-derived metrics. Whether you’re using the field test, the PD Curve, or a combination of both, you’ll want to perform FTP level efforts four to six times a year so that your FTP is set correctly at key points in the season. It’s tools like this that make training with power so insightful!

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Establishing Power Zones

Now that you’ve determined your FTP, and understand what it is you need to do maintain an accurate threshold, you can calculate your training zones. Power-derived training zones are what you’ll use for every workout and ride to decipher how intense the ride was, and whether the planned intent of the ride or workout was achieved. Zones allow you to establish the appropriate intensity to induce the adaptation necessary for aerobic, metabolic, and muscular development. Power zones also further highlight the importance of an accurate and up to date FTP. There are several different zone structures available for athletes to use, but ultimately the more detailed and accurately the zones reflect your physiology the better. Below is one example of a seven zone format that can be used:

Zone 1 Active Recovery (AR) = < 55% of FTP

Zone 2 Endurance = 56%-75% of FTP

Zone 3 Tempo = 76%-90% of FTP

Zone 4 Lactate Threshold = 91%-105% of FTP

Zone 5 VO2max = 106%-120% of FTP

Zone 6 Anaerobic Capacity (AC) = 121%-150% of FTP

Zone 7 Neuromuscular Power (NP) = Maximal Power

If you’re using WKO4 you can also use Dr. Andy Coggan’s Individualized Power Levels that allow for an even more granular approach to workout prescription and ride analysis.

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Training with Power

The reason that you purchased a power meter is to enhance your training and improve your fitness. So, how do you go about training with power? The variations of workouts that can be performed are endless, but there are several key areas that you can focus on to elicit the greatest response.

Sweet Spot

These efforts are performed at 88 percent to 94 percent of your FTP and are a great way to strengthen and build your FTP. Typically they’re performed earlier in the season, or mid-season to rebuild toward priority races. The duration of Sweet Spot intervals can vary depending on the athlete, but the goal should be to extend the duration and number of intervals throughout the season.

Threshold-Level

Threshold workouts are meant to directly improve your FTP and should be completed at 96 percent to 105 percent of your FTP. These should take you to your limit. Much like Sweet Spot intervals, the goal is to increase the length of time you can spend at this level. Typically these FTP-specific efforts build off the time you’ve spent training in your Sweet Spot.

Steady State Tempo

Tempo workouts are the foundation for most cyclists, especially those looking to increase muscular endurance and/or those training for longer endurance events. Tempo workouts occur between 76 percent and 88 percent of FTP, and should be long sustained efforts lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.

VO2max

These efforts are often the focus for traditional criterium and road racers looking to improve sprint and lead out performance. Lasting from three to eight minutes, they’re very challenging and should be planned for accordingly, as they require proper recovery upon completion of the workout. Depending on the duration of the interval, the intensity may range from 105 percent to 120 percent of FTP. These are valuable when matching race specificity for climbs, sprints, etc.

Analyzing and Tracking Training

Power-based training is only as good as you and/or your coach’s ability to track and analyze it! To get the benefits of training with a power meter you have to analyze your workouts and chart your progress over time. Again, the beauty of training and racing with power is our ability to quantify the effort and assign values to it. Here a some key areas to focus on when it comes to analysis:

Analyze your training to measure progress and understand what prescription is necessary to move you toward your goals. How did a particular workout go? How did you feel? Comparing the qualitative with the quantitative is not only good practice, but it’s how you improve and learn more about yourself as an athlete.
Review race files to understand if your training has been impactful. The goal of training for the majority of athletes is to prepare for race day. There’s more to race day than just fitness, but understanding your performance is a start.Take the time to perform an in-depth review of races to look for valuable insights that can also help inform your training moving forward.
Use the Performance Management Chart (PMC) to track your buildup to priority races. Paying careful attention to training load, ramp rate and fatigue will ensure you’re not overtraining, and will also help you peak for race day.
Pay special attention to Chronic Training Load (CTL), Acute Training Load (ATL) and Training Stress Balance (TSB) to take full advantage of training with power. These core metrics allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of your training. They’re invaluable for properly structuring training blocks, and being prepared for priority races.

Key Metrics

Often times the barrier to entry for athletes that are new to training with power can be the learning curve as it relates to power-based metrics. Yes, it’s true that there are a lot of metrics and numbers that an athlete can pay attention to, but here a some of the most important ones:

Watts per Kilogram (W/Kg)

All things equal, the rider with the highest W/Kg will be the fastest. Simply put, it is how much power you produce per kilogram of body weight. The higher the number is, the stronger you’ll be.

Normalized Power (NP)

Due to the inherently variable nature of cycling, NP is a better representation of how metabolically challenging a workout was. It takes carbohydrate burning power surges into account and thus highlights the overall fatigue of the ride better than average power.

Intensity Factor (IF)

IF is the ratio of the Normalized Power of a ride to your FTP. Think of IF as a snapshot of how intense (hard) a workout or ride was. You can use this metric to understand if your perceived effort matched the actual intensity, and if you were on target for the workout.

Training Stress Score (TSS)

TSS measures the total workload of a ride. TSS quantifies how much work was done, and thus how much recovery is needed. Training Stress Score is important to track over time because it drives both fitness and fatigue, which in turn tells you how prepared for a race you are.

Peak Power

Tracking your peak power numbers for key durations will help you not only see how you’re improving, but also ensure your training is matching the demands of your racing. As a rule of thumb if you’re focused on shorter and more intense races you should see higher peak powers for shorter durations, and more endurance focused athletes should focus on longer durations.

Training with power, no matter the ride or race, is extremely valuable to athletes at all levels. The ability to quantify and track efforts, as well as to make individualized training prescriptions ensures that you’re getting the most out of your training time. There’s a lot that goes into training successfully with a power meter, but in the end if you grasp a few basic concepts you’ll be ready to begin. Make sure your FTP is accurate and take the time to review and analyze both your workouts and races. Successful athletes are always looking to improve, and training with power is the best way to make sure it happens.

Ready to dive deeper into the world of power-based training? Download our free ebook, “How to Start Training with Power” now!   

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What Your Body Actually Needs During Different Types of Endurance Exercise

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Hydration is only one piece of the nutrition puzzle faced by endurance athletes, so at Precision Hydration we get a lot of questions about how to fuel activity as well as how to best stay hydrated.

Here’s a fairly high-level overview on how to meet both your hydration and nutritional needs during endurance exercise. It’s based on a combination of recent peer-reviewed science (and a healthy dose of personal experience).

There are numerous subtleties that you can only ever figure out based on the individual nature of your own body and the situations you find yourself in. However, hopefully this post will give you a good sense of the right direction in which to set off experimenting during training so you can be ready for your race-day and training nutrition and hydration needs.

So what does your body actually need during endurance exercise?

No matter what kind of activity you’re doing, whenever you’re exercising hard for several hours at a time your body loses water and sodium in sweat. It also burns calories, mostly in the form of carbohydrates stored in your muscles and liver.

Water, salt and calories are therefore essentially the main “costs” of doing an endurance event.

The nuts and bolts of any sensible nutrition plan should therefore be largely based on replacing varying proportions of each of these three items to enable you to sustain your performance.

When it comes to fueling, I find it helpful to break activities down into three broad categories:

“Short” activities (less than roughly 90 minutes)
“Medium to Long” activities (roughly 90 minutes to four hours)
“Ultra” activities (four hours+)

Each of these categories demands a different approach when it comes to hydration and energy replenishment.

Short activities (less than about 90 minutes)
Before you start

Make sure you begin whatever you’re doing topped up with fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates. Trying to make up for a deficit if you start a bit dehydrated or energy depleted by eating and drinking during the activity itself is definitely leaving it too late. You really cannot play catch up, especially with hydration, during heavy activity.

While you’re sweating

If you start most shorter activities properly fueled and hydrated, there’s usually little to be gained from taking in large amounts of anything, be that water, electrolytes or calories during the activity itself.

Your body has what it needs to last this long in reserve (even at a relatively high intensity) and you can simply refuel and rehydrate afterward (ideally within 30 minutes of finishing) to replenish stores for next time.

This doesn’t mean you categorically shouldn’t consume anything during exercise lasting less than 90 minutes. You should absolutely still listen to your body and eat or drink if you feel you really need to (and it’s also a bright idea to eat and drink something if you’re training again very soon afterward so you don’t start the next bout of activity really depleted). However, it’s worth understanding that the impact the nutritional intake is going to have on your performance during the race or session itself is probably quite negligible.

A slight exception to this rule might be if you are competing at the elite end of the spectrum in very high intensity aerobic events. There is some evidence that ingesting small amounts of a carb-based drink (or even just rinsing it your mouth) can be beneficial to your performance under these circumstances.

Essentially the “mouth rinse effect” is thought to be because receptors in the mouth shout to the brain, “Sugar is coming!” (even if you just spit the drink out), and your brain then allows your body to work harder than it otherwise would, tricking you into putting out a stronger performance than might otherwise be possible. For a decent summary of the idea see this post from Asker Jeukendrup.

This, along with keeping topped up for subsequent sessions or events, is one of the reasons why we still sometimes recommend having a bottle of electrolyte drink available to sip during shorter events if convenient.

Medium to Long activities (about 90 minutes to 4 hours)

It’s during medium-to-long sessions that fluid intake and carbohydrate fueling in particular start to have more of an impact on performance.

There’s a whole heap of research out there on the effects of carbohydrate ingestion on performance during longer periods of aerobic exercise. A 2013 paper called The use of carbohydrates during exercise as an ergogenic aid gives a decent overview if you want to dig into some of the technical details without doing your own PhD on the subject.

The bottom line from all that research is that the current consensus is that taking in around 60g of carbohydrate per hour is optimal for most endurance athletes doing two to four hour activities. Think more like 40g/hr if you’re a smaller person and not working at a high intensity, but maybe as high as 90g/hr if you’re bigger or going really hard. This carbohydrate can come from a range of sources including drinks, bars, gels and “real” foods (if their composition allows for easy consumption and digestion).

Before you start

Again, it’s important to make sure you begin whatever you’re doing well hydrated and fueled. Trying to make up for a deficit is definitely leaving it too late.

While you’re sweating

About 90 minutes to two hours is usually the threshold at which sweat losses can become significant, so fluid needs must be considered along with refueling at this point too.

If you’re using a hypotonic sports drink (i.e. a lower concentration than your blood) then, unlike isotonic drinks, they don’t deliver all of the carbs you’re likely to need during your activity (but they absorb faster and are better at achieving the specific goal of hydrating you).

Your fueling and hydration intake need to be tweaked in proportion to one another based on sweat loss and fluid absorption.

Bear in mind that if you don’t decrease your calorie intake from solid or semi-solid foods at times when fluid intake is very high, it can be a recipe for GI distress. This is a major reason why traditional isotonic sports drinks (i.e. those with a lot of carbs, making them a similar concentration to your blood) can be very difficult to live with during longer and/or hotter events. That’s because your need for fluid starts to be proportionally greater than they can comfortably deliver via your water bottle without overdosing you on sugar.

In my own experience, using more highly processed “simple” sports nutrition products like gels or jelly chews along with carb-based hypotonic sports drinks tends to work best because they reduce the amount of effort your body needs to put into chewing them, digesting them and getting the sugars into your bloodstream.

These kind of events are also not quite long enough for you to get really sick of sweeter products and flavors, so it’s usually possible to get to the end without suffering the kind of nausea that so often occurs when you rely too heavily on sugar as your main source of calories during longer events.

How you get the majority of your carbs is up to you. Most energy gels contain about 20 to 25 grams of carbs per pack, and energy bars contain as much as 35 to 40 grams per serving.

If you prefer your carbs a bit more “old school,” then eight jelly beans contain 42g, so this could do the trick along side typical carb-based hypotonic sports drinks. Or, if you want to go 100 percent natural, you could go for about 1.5 bananas, as they tend to contain around 25 to 30g of carbs per fruit (although what you’d do the leftover half, I’m not exactly sure).

“Ultra” activities (4 hours+)
Before you start

As with shorter activities, it’s crucial to make sure you begin an ultra-distance event or session well hydrated and fueled. It’s part of the reason we make a big deal about preloading with higher sodium drinks before these events. If you try to make up for a deficit during the activity, you’re highly unlikely to perform at your best.

While you’re sweating

The required rate of fluid and carbohydrate ingestion for ultras is not dramatically different to what you should be aiming for during medium to long events. You’re still limited by the absorption rates in the gut for carbs and fluids, so the ~60g/hr and ~1 liter/hour maximums still apply. However, there are some notable differences to how we’d generally advise approaching fueling for longer events.

Because you’re going to be out there for much longer, there’s a lot to be said for introducing more variety into your energy and fluid intake so that you don’t become sick of the taste of any one thing.
You’ll be going at a lower intensity than you would for shorter events, so chewing and digesting more “real” solid foods becomes a lot easier. This opens up a much wider range of possibilities for your race day menu. It also tends to keep your stomach a lot happier than asking it to process nothing but syrupy, sugary goo for hours on end.
Your sodium intake (along with appropriate amounts of fluid) become far more important during ultra distance events because the risk of hyponatremia increases along with total sweat losses. So, it’s more important than ever to be getting an appropriate level of electrolytes in with your drinks. Of course this is not likely to be a problem if you’re using the right strength electrolyte drink for you, but it’s definitely worth making sure you have a solid understanding of this. If you haven’t already, take our free Online Sweat Test if you want to make sure you’re getting this right.

Listening to your body becomes a critical component of staying properly fueled and hydrated during ultra-distance events. This is because the longer the event goes on, the harder it becomes to predict how your body’s internal chemistry is going to react to the pace, temperature, environment, foods and drinks thrown at it during a long day out.

As a result, you need to be well tuned in to the subtle signals your body uses to tell you when it’s getting out of whack and needs something specific to get it back on track. Look out for a craving for salty foods as this can be an early warning sign that you’re getting a bit low on sodium. If that is the case, eating something salty like salted nuts or pretzels can be a good idea to keep everything balanced.

Some examples of the foods and drinks I’ve successfully used for fueling during ultra endurance events include:

Boiled new potatoes with butter and salt (DW Canoe race) = ~5g carb per potato.
Mini croissant with cheese and ham (NZ Coast to Coast race) = ~ 15g carb each.
Pizza slices (TransAlpine trail run) = ~35g carb per slice.
Marzipan balls (DW Canoe race) = ~10g per ball.
Flat Coke (Most long races offer this in the later stages!) = ~ 52g carb per 500ml/16oz.
Malt loaf with butter (Many long bike training sessions) = ~15g carb per slice.

In most of these cases I used these “real food” alternatives in combination with plenty of the typical pre-packed sports nutrition products (and our drinks) to hit the kind of carb-per-hour figure I needed to achieve. I particularly like Totally Wonderfuel’s handmade energy balls. The fact that many of them are savory is no coincidence, as I’ve found that category of food to be really appealing when I am racing for more than about six hours. Not to mention the fact that I lose 1,842mg of sodium per liter—so I’m often partial to a bit of salt!

Fueling for ultra events always requires a lot of creative trial and error to figure out exactly what works for you. It’s such an important part of these events that it’s worth dedicating some time to getting things right.

When you start experimenting, make sure you’re staying close to the guidelines of ~60g of carbs per hour (across all of your foods and drinks), with enough fluid to stop you getting thirsty and a sufficient amount of sodium to offset what you’re losing in your sweat.

A Note on the LCHF Approach

As an aside—because it’s something we do get asked about a lot these days—the idea of fueling ultras on more fat-based foods (i.e. the Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) approach) is definitely gaining more popularity at the moment. While it’s definitely way too early to write this off as a “fad,” it’s interesting to highlight the findings of a recent (2016) study into the competition-eating practices of a group of elite ultramarathon runners.

After analyzing the intakes of these guys before and during a race, they found that…

They tended to choose to eat around 70g of carbs per hour during their long races (with minimal protein and fat intake) on average.
Most (93 percent) of their calories came from pre-packaged sports nutrition products.
In the words of the researchers, “All of the athletes practiced fueling strategies that maximize CHO [Carbohydrate] intake and are congruent with contemporary evidence-based recommendations.”

Anyway, once you’ve tried some of this stuff out in the real world, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you’ve still got any specific questions. We’ll always do our best to get back to you with more nuanced answers. While we certainly don’t know it all, we’ve had a few successes and failures in this space as a team, so we should be able to draw on some relevant past experience in most cases, and might be able to help you dial-in your own hydration and fueling needs. .

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10 Indicators That You Are Ready to Expand Your Coaching Business

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During my 30 years as a coach, I have observed many changes in the coaching industry. In the 1980s triathlon coaches were few and far between. Through the 1990s there was an increase in coaching education and overall growth of the sport into the early 2000s. This meant there were more coaching choices, but the idea of age group athletes having personal coaching was still a novelty.

Today there are many coaching options, and fortunately there are also more athletes than ever being coached. There comes a tipping point for every successful coach when they need to understand that they are ready to expand their coaching business in order to manage their client load and build a larger coaching brand. If you are one of these coaches enjoying noticeable growth, but you feel you have more to offer a broader athlete base, consider these factors in preparation for expanding your business or deciding whether or not you should begin the process:

1. You have a loyal athlete base.

A strong base of loyal athletes is a good sign. It indicates that your coaching quality and services are meeting your athletes’ needs, and that there would likely be more athletes who could benefit from your skills.

2. Athletes are asking you to grow.

They want more practices to attend. They have friends who are interested. You also have athletes who are willing to travel to spend time working with you, or your online coaching clientele roster is growing steadily.

3. Your coaching business has been profitable for at least three years.

Steady profitability is a sign you’re doing something right and that your business model will work elsewhere. A recent surge isn’t necessarily enough to justify business expansion—it could be temporary or seasonal.

4. You have a strong pool of assistants.

To handle growth, your need to have well trained assistants ready for additional work. You’ll need to be ready to properly train or mentor other developing coaches in different locales. You will need to hire help or have the capacity for more administrative work. If you’ve got the bandwidth, your chances of a successful business expansion will improve greatly.

5. Your marketplace is expanding.

You are located in an area where the sport is growing without much coaching competition, or you have identified another community with a growing athlete base without strong local coaching support.

6. You have an efficient e-commerce system.

You can have a robust client base, but if you are not efficiently transacting payments, collecting receivables and have an inability to manage payroll, you won’t have the financial foundation you need to fund business expansion.

7. You have more business than you can handle.

Are you turning away athletes or too busy to contact sales leads in a timely fashion? Are there not enough work hours in the day? Assuming that this isn’t the result of poor time management—but due to high demand—this is a major sign there is room for business expansion.

8. You see a need for related coaching services or products.

If your personal coaching business is strong, it could be time to add to your offerings. Camps, bike fitting, lactic testing, swim clinics, video biomechanical analysis, spin classes, online coaching, and industry product sales are some examples.

9. You have operational systems in place.

If your coaching business is still operating by the seat of your pants, business expansion is not timely. You’ll need to have proven systems to be able to replicate your services at other locations and to ensure consistent quality from your assistant coaches.

10. You’re running out of room.

Your coaching is facility-based and all your facilities are over-full. You have between eight and 10 athletes per swim lane. The run track is overcrowded, impeding a smooth practice. Your athletes are rubbing elbows in spin groups. It may be time to seek a larger space or different venues for expansion.

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Understanding Nutrition Periodization

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Periodization is defined as breaking something up into discrete blocks. In order to effectively train, we modulate the intensity, volume, and frequency of our workouts so we show up on race day as fit and rested as possible. These training changes put different demands on our bodies to elicit specific physiological responses. If the demands on our bodies vary, it follows that our nutrition to fuel our bodies should vary as well. Therefore, understanding nutrition periodization is vital to achieving optimal performance.

Your Nutrition Needs Change Throughout Your Season

Let’s take a basic example looking at some of the standard phases of periodized training (preparation/pre-season, base, build, competition, transition/off-season). The amount needed of each of the three macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein and fat for each phase will vary, not only depending on what training cycle you are in, but also on your sport, individual physiology and performance goals.

Here are some ranges suggested by Bob Seebohar (Ref. 1) for pre-season and competition phases expressed in grams per kilogram of body weight for endurance athletes.

Carbohydrate
Protein
Fat

Pre-Season
3-7g/kg
1.2-2.5g/kg
0.8-1.3g/kg

Competition Season
5-12g/kg
1.4-2.0g/kg
1.0-1.5g/kg

We see that in competition season the carbohydrate intake increases due to the higher energy demands placed on the body. Protein remains moderate and there is slightly higher fat intake, also to help support the increased energy demands.

Your Nutrition Needs Change Depending on Your Daily Workouts

We can also think about periodization on a daily basis. Regardless of which cycle you are in, the energy demands on your recovery day will be lower than on a high volume or high intensity day. This means you likely shouldn’t eat the same pancake breakfast on your day off that you do after a hard bike session that includes high intensity hill repeats. Periodize your daily eating for optimal fueling habits.

Another idea that can be brought into the periodization fold is the concept of nutrient timing, which means specific consumption of fluids and foods before, during, and/or after to promote the best workout and recovery possible. (Ref. 2,3). This takes the periodization down to the level of hours and minutes.

Nutrition Periodization Should be Tested in Training

In a recent review publication by Asker Jeukendrup (Ref. 4), the concept of nutrition periodization is broadened even further beyond just basic macronutrient modulation during specific training cycles. This review includes nutrition training concepts, such as training on low glycogen stores, training on high muscle and liver glycogen, or training the gut to tolerate higher carbohydrate intake.

In Summary

Getting your nutrition right is an important component of optimal performance. If you haven’t thought about the concept before, start experimenting with macronutrient ratios and general timing (before, during, and after). This experimentation will help you dial in what works best for you both in training and on race day.

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