Saving Your Season

Where is the line between procrastination and irresponsibility? We don’t mow the lawn the exact day it needs it. Yet, if we wait too long, the city sends us a citation. We don’t depart an extra hour early just to make sure we are on time, yet if we’re consistently late it’s deemed irresponsible.  And we don’t start training for the season too early, but if we wait too long, playing catch up is incredibly painful and hard to accomplish.
Some of you reading this are on par for a good season.  Some of you are ahead of the game for the next off-season, some of you readers just want to read this because you’re bored, and some of you are starting to realize that you’ve procrastinated and now your season appears to be jeopardy.  You have spent too much time talking about getting fit soon, only to find the season has arrived and your fitness is still hidden away wearing last year’s kit and in desperate need of attention. You know who you are.
I’m going to profile a client and discuss what we’re doing to help them reclaim this season as a success from the clutches of failure.


Below you’ll see our custom PMC+ CIL Chart as generated in WKO4.  Many of you know what a PMC is as Training Peaks has been using it for quite some time.  CIL may be new to some of you so I’ve hyperlinked it for education purposes.
First, let’s clarify a couple things.  Rick is not lazy, nor is does he shy away from hard workouts.  Rick is an incredibly hard working, hard-nosed athlete that is committed to improving and wants to do the work to get there.  That’s why he hired us and that’s why he trusted us to work with him through all this turmoil. Rick had what I would describe as all the bad luck one could have in 10 years, all at once.  In the span of one offseason, Rick was sick, crashed, changed jobs, got sick again, moved, and got sick yet again. Not necessarily in that order but you get the idea. What was supposed to be a solid start setting up a run at his best racing season quickly devolved into a frustrating series of unfortunate, and fortunate events.
Now that we’ve established that, let’s take a look at Rick’s PMC. Please note the legend on the top of the image and pay attention to the CTL, CIL and the deflections of the ATL and TSB. Also, note the dots. Those are best 10 performances in 1min, 5min, 20min, 60min efforts.  More on all that later.

Rick’s season wrapped up in early August and our original plan was to wind down with some training focusing on fun and doing some hard group rides en route to a late season fixie race in early October.  Despite a fundamental change in Rick’s work schedule, he was able to hold onto a good amount of fitness and form. That is, until the snowball got rolling…. I’ve marked up a PMC chart for you to show it….

The “false start” to Rick’s season were the few weeks in the dead of winter where Rick managed some superb training before getting sick again following a New Year’s training block.  You can see all the setbacks as highlighted above. When the dust had settled, Rick’s numbers weren’t good. It was mid- February and his CTL was the lowest it has been since he first installed a power meter. His CIL was showing dire need of improvement, and his TSB had been solidly deflected positively for most of the previous 5 months.  While he had the desire to train, his body wasn’t able to stay healthy. As his emotional stress subsided and he got healthy and was able to train, we had a tough conversation.
Rick wanted to know how realistic his expectations should be moving ahead in 2018 given all that had happened (or hadn’t happened).  I knew exactly where he was and we (Source Endurance coaches) have a good deal of experience with this sort of scenario soI was ready to present him with a challenge.

The Challenge:

Rick was going to have to give me ~10 weeks of solid training and he was going to have to stay healthy the entire time. The training was going to be tough and it was going to be uncomfortable.  That’s because we were going to need to be aggressive with the exercise prescription. Rick agreed and we were off.
There are a few keys to gaining fitness quickly in a case of procrastination.

  1. Communication– Rick and I were able to consult at least once a week via video chat and with follow up emails. During this consult we would review each file together via screen share and discuss if the session was successful and how the training was feeling for him. Through our history of working with similarly profiled athletes, Source Endurance has established evidence-based practice concerning the optimal and maximal training load that Rick likely could absorb.  We then monitor his training and make adjustments, including short rest periods as needed.
  2. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Group Rides– Cycling at its core needs to be fun.  It’s too painful to compete if it’s not fun. Group rides keep it fun and keep you mentally sharp.  The HIIT is a key component in any competitive event. It’s impossible to complete a race without riding hard. It’s also impossible to excel in any race without riding hard. However, the risk of lots of HIIT is that you can over-reach too early and crumble to pieces,  which brings us back to communication.
  3. Riding the Edge– For 10 weeks (below), Rick has been riding the razor’s edge of his fitness and increasing ability.  You can see from the ATL, TSB and corresponding CTL when Rick took short breaks as he recovered from his intense micro cycles.   How intense were those micro cycles? In the 10 weeks leading up to his key event, Rick clocked ~19% of his total volume over 90% of his FTP. 71% of that has been spent over 105% of his FTP.  Such a feat is nearly impossible without determination, work ethic and constant feedback.  We’ve made many changes to Rick’s training in the last 10 weeks, many of which he may not even be aware of.

4. Resting– Train hard, rest harder.  Many athletes ride too hard on their easy days.  Because of that, they are not capable of riding hard enough on their hard days.  Hard days are truly hard and I tell clients, “don’t worry, you’ll know when you’re training hard. There will be absolutely no doubt in your mind when that happens.”

Seeing and measuring the outcomes

Taking a look at Rick’s PMC +CIL chart there’s a handful of things I want to point out….

To begin with, the orange, green, and red dots are all top 10 performances of 1min, 5min, 20min and 60min efforts, respectively.  Note the clustering of those top 10 efforts all in the 10 weeks where Rick was able to launch his fitness (outlined). That indicates that he’s performing consistently well relative to his recent few months of training. Next, note the CIL and how it has maintained a positive slope, steepening in the recent few days as Rick incorporates more volume of HIIT. Along with the CIL, the CTL climbs as Rick continues to be consistent and log some quality training hours.
With regards to his TSB (yellow) and ATL (pink) we’ll zoom in on the last 10 weeks (below). The key takeaway points here are that yes, his TSB is negative or very negative and yes, this ATL steps up quickly.  Actually Rick has been running a Ramp Rate of 4-6 TSS/day for a few weeks, which is high.  However, given the absolute and relative starting point of CTL, a high ramp rate in this scenario is acceptable given close monitoring.

Finally, to sum it all up… Rick has risen to the challenge.  In the last 10 weeks, he’s put together consistent training at a high level while managing good communication.  In the process, Rick has accrued an immense amount of HIIT and is now reaping the benefit of having similar, if not superior fitness to any point in 2017.  Congratulations Rick, you’ve saved your season!
How is your season going?  Do you look forward to that next hard race?

SAVE YOUR SEASON with Source Endurance

  • $99 start up fee.
  • Beginning on the 7th month, you get a $25 rebate each month until your $99 is returned to you.

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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.