Athlete Development: Connor Brown's Journey from Elite Athlete to Pro

 When I first rode with Connor, he was a guest rider on our then Think Finance Cycling Team in 2014. Over the next couple of years, the team would become Elevate- KHS Pro Cycling Team, and I would move out of full time racing and into the role of a coach/ mentor.  In that time, Connor would go on to win the Collegiate National Championship Road Race and we would cross paths again.  
This time, I was coaching Connor as he found himself painfully behind in fitness and form early in the 2016 season. We started working together and over the next 2 years Connor would finish 6th at the U-23 ITT US National Championships twice, besting names like Colin Joyce (Rally Cycling), Brendan Rhim (Holowesko Citadel) and Johnny Brown (Axeon Hagens Berman) as well as racing all over the world. Without a doubt, his development has been extraordinary.  
With age and maturity comes a higher capacity to absorb training load.  While many athletes would struggle to make these gains, Connor was able to do it in stride.  As an athlete, he would keep his files updated with comments and as a coach, I would reach out weekly and review training files, races and life stressors with him. This close contact enables us to make small adjustments frequently.  As it turns out, that level of guidance works very well as Connor was taking a full collegiate class load. Below I’ve outlined the training/ racing builds and you can see how his training would ebb and flow according to kilojoules and TSS.  However, you can also see that Connor is able to sustain these blocks for longer and at higher levels as time progresses.

This training volume and load definitively affected Connor’s mFTP (modeled FTP, WKO4) and he has reaped the benefit of focused training, high volume and high-level races.  Below is a chart showing Connor’s mFTP for 2016, 2017 and the first half of 2018. Note how you can see the off-season on the outside edges, the early races and testing give the first bump and the late races/ testing provide the second bump. So far, Connor’s showing some good form for 2018 and he’s trending positively for a successful late 2018.
Finally, let’s look at fatigue resistance.  All the one-time efforts gleaned from the Power Duration Curve don’t mean much if an athlete can’t repeat the efforts and perform to that capacity late into a race, or the “business end.”  To that end, we worked hard to make sure that Connor didn’t have that >2000kJ drop you typically see at the Cat1-2 level. As a professional with Elevate- KHS and then Team Illuminate the higher level races require higher level performances deeper into the day. 2016 was largely spent playing “catch up” but he got to a point where he was able to resist fatigue quite well.  In 2017, everything got so much better as his abilities improved across the board. He had bigger percentage drop, but that was starting from better performances. In 2018, we have so far kept the fatigue at bay through 3500kJ relative to his new power profile. The performances are good so far and we can’t wait to see what Connor is able to accomplish in the late stages of 2018!

About the Author: Adam Mills has raced at the elite level since 2002 and graduated with a Masters in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kansas in 2005. His true talent comes with his ability to combine his vast experience with his knowledge of sport. He is indeed a student of science, sport, athletic performance, strategy, and tactics. He continuously educates himself by keeping up to date with current trends and methods in sport and his clients have reaped the benefits from this work with over 13 national championships in 8 disciplines on two continents. Adam is able to incorporate these attributes on a daily basis to help his clients reach and exceed their goals whether they are a beginner or a seasoned professional. Learn more about Adam and Source Endurance here.