Nate Prewitt and I have been working together since the beginning. The very beginning, even before gaining a degree in Exercise Science I helped Nate get some training plans down on paper. Like from the movie Ninja Turtles when Master Splinter and Michelangelo drank the toxic waste and grew into lean, mean, fighting machines, Nate and I both drank the toxic waste at the same time, now, I’m coaching full time and Nate is looking at his Cat 1 upgrade and riding with the best riders in Fort Collins and his category.
How we got Nate here from a collegiate C racer is a very long story, but this highlight article should give you a glimpse into some successful methods and objective measures of performance gains and how a customized training plan will get you from goal-to-goal every year.
In the beginning, Nate did not have power. Lack of a power meter does not make anyone uncoachable, it’s just less objective and less insight into how the coach and client can refine the training for maximum efficiency, overload, and recovery.
If you are a coach, how do you measure long term efficiency with HR alone? You have to look at the HR as an output. If a rider does similar routes or even similar intervals you should see an increase in efficiency in the output. Less output for a given intensity. If you are looking for an acute example this is hard. One climb, or one effort has many different factors, fatigue, wind, group ride tactics etc but if you look at a rider’s metrics and heart rate over years their HR should not be going up. They should get faster at a given HR or their HR should go down for a given power. Here are some examples of Nate’s data while we only had HR.
This first graph represents his HR Max for a given time. The red is the last 90 days and the grey is the max chart for this month last year.
peak HR 90 days
Here is the graph of the same dates for power showing an increase in power for a given decrease in heart rate marking an increase in efficiency.
90 day peak power prewitt
How do you check that you are on the right track? Is the training working? For this results are number one. Did Nate get the results he is looking for? That’s a yes. A few upgrades, and a heap of top 10 results say a definite yes we are on the right track but this won’t tell the whole story. So much goes into fitness vs. form but how a rider comes to a result is not alway based on fitness. So despite the results in races being the main goal, we have other ways of measuring increase in performance.
As a coach I like to look at aerobic intervals. Anaerobic factors have more to do with genetics, fatigue, and type of rider. Yes, breaking a 2 minute power record each month for 12 months is incredible and possible but looking at 20 minute intervals shows that you as a rider increased your ability to process oxygen.
There was a previous article on the Source Endurance Blog on the benefits of field test and how we utilize these to monitor and increase training Instead of Nate getting into the Source Endurance Training Center every couple months for a Lactate Threshold test, we utilize field tests.
This is a field test from October 4th by Nate, as you can see by the title, we get pretty excited about field testing here at Source Endurance.
field test one prewitt
Also to note Nate’s 20 minute power for the effort was 290 watts. His normalized power was 293 watts, creating a low variability index (VI) Noticing also that his IF or intensity factor was 1.17. This effort being longer than 20 minutes, all of which was over his current threshold number in Training Peaks we looked at raising his threshold from this field test result. Confirming what we are doing is working but also changing all of his zones as a result.
The next field test we have on file is May 16th of 2015. This file yielded an average wattage of 292 watts, 297 Normalized. Thi is still an improvement on the last test, and although there are many factors involved we can still see a small increase in the 20 minute peak power.
field test two prewitt
After establishing what works for Nate as far as workouts, what kind of rider he is, and how he operates, we tweak the custom plans for specificity for races. For that we change charts. Just recently Nate had a race set: a weekend race in Utah and then on to Cascade Classic in Bend, Oregon, in the Cat 2’s. As a newer cat 2 we expect to see some major changes in how he races. Going from utilizing fitness to win cat 3 races to more tactical pro 1,2 events.
The training for the last couple months reflected the crits, time trials, and road races that he would face in Utah and Cascade while also trying to work on some of Nate’s weaknesses as seen in his 2 minute power from his peak power chart above.
Specificity is a hard thing to accomplish for the athlete and it usually takes high intensity workouts which are very taxing on any athlete.  Nate made it work but also raced a ton in May and June mixing in some specific workouts like this one designed to make it over some of the major climbs with jumps over threshold in Cascade and the stage race in Utah.
workout prewitt last pic
Every athlete is different but many goals overlap in the search for an increase in power and efficiency. We utilize every tool possible to keep the training efficient and objective. Look for more of these athlete highlight articles and get some insight into how each athlete gets the most out of their coaching.