- Example Workout Review
- Training Plan Explained
- Setup TrainingPeaks
- Importance of Recovery
- More Resources
INTRO TO TRAINING
For our juniors, we define training as the intentional cycle of first adding stress & strain to your mind & body and then performing the correct type of recovery to increase your ability to perform work for longer durations or at higher intensities. While riding creates natural adaptations, training implies a more specific set of actions to be taken to reach certain goals.
When riders are ready to move from riding & building skills more into the realm of training, our Race Teams offer a wholistic approach that educates the rider and parent throughout the entire process.
Here are some examples of our training methods:
Glossary: we explain what these mean as we use them
- AHAP = as hard as possible
- LT = your lactate threshold is a steady state in your body where you’re creating and recycling certain metabolic fuels at a sustainable heart rate, think “1-hour time trial average heart rate.” See FTP.
- HR = heart rate, a measurable response of your body to strain & stress
- HR Zones: refer to ranges where your body is using a particular energy source, so training in certain zones for certain amounts of time helps you improve endurance. I use Friel 7-zone system, which uses the lactate threshold as reference of 100%:
- Z1 Recovery up to 80% of LT – baseline energy use, body can replenish all systems
- Z2 Aerobic 81 to 89% of LT – increased metabolism & breathing rate
- Z3 Tempo 90 to 93% LT – body is now switching to burning more carbohydrates than fat
- Z4 SubThreshold 94 to 99% LT – body is digging into reserves and cannot replenish energy stores so you’ll have to take a break or eat more soon in order to keep up this pace
- Z5a / 5 SuperThreshold 100 to 102% LT – high intensities now, you’re recruiting more Type II muscles to work very hard and energy is depleting very fast
- Z5b / 6 Aerobic Capacity 103 to 106% – very high intensity, you only have a few minutes before you must rest
- Z5c / 7 Anaerobic Capacity above 107% LT – only seen in maximal sprints to finish a longer ramp-up, this is your AHAP range and usually means your body will be very depleted so it’s time to focus on active recovery
- Compare to power zones, below.
- NP = normalized power adds some weight to the highs and averages out of the lows to give a better “idea of your effort” rather than simply averaging the very large fluctuations in raw power data. Good for comparing performance within training or racing intervals but is not a measurement to compare riders to other riders.
- FTP = functional threshold power is basically the power equivalent to your heart rate LT, except it’s measuring actual output rather than your body’s response. You can do a 20-minute test or we can look at a 1-hour race to estimate this number to set training zones. However, know that FTP should be higher in a race because you’re usually more highly motivated — so we sometimes set it slightly lower in order to keep your power zones correct for training. Setting it too high can have negative consequences for training.
- FRC = functional threshold capacity, a concept that when you’re at race pace / doing repeated sprints / producing power above your FTP — it’s the amount of energy you have remaining “in your battery” to go at the pace before you need to take some recovery. Very helpful for thinking about your strengths to start fast, sprint out of corners, attack hills; and how much time you need to recover in between each effort. FRC is dynamic, so it recognizes your real-time effort vs recovery during a hard ride.
- Intensive – means you’re focused on the QUALITY of the target of the workout rather than the duration. For example, if we’re supposed to do “Low Cadence for 20-minutes” but you’re riding with a high-cadence for 20-minute then you’re not following the workout even though the duration is the same.
- Extensive – means we’re focused on the duration of the work or recovery — either per rep or cumulative over a training block. For example: “ride Z3 for at least 90 minutes” or “ride at least 4 hours in Z1 & Z2 this week,” or “take 3 days off in a row.”
- TrP = TrainingPeaks
- WKO = software built by TrainingPeaks for analytics of workout data, it shows different stuff, mostly related to power data. Coaches may show riders some charts from this software if it’s helpful.
- Heart Rate Response / Variability = looking at how quickly your body reacts to the load either being applied or removed either within a workout or over training blocks. We can infer some things, some times.
Example Workout Review
As a sample of a very simple workout review, let’s look at two CJC riders doing the same workout. Both riders were told to do two 8-minute efforts. Rider A used wattage from a power meter, while Rider B used heart rate.
For Rider A above, the most obvious trend is to compare HR to Power. Rider A performed two 8-minute efforts by trying to ride steady power, which is harder than most people think. He started a little too hard, riding just over his FTP, so the resulting stress caused his heart rate to rise continuously through each effort.
We also can compare the first effort to the second one: second effort has a higher average HR, probably because they were warmed up and motivated to put out more power, so HR also increased.
Both of these efforts are “FTP / FRC Intensive” because they’re about targeting those power zones. This helps the rider build muscular endurance, power and confidence for maintaining higher pace.
Rider feedback: It’s very helpful to show the rider that the second effort looks better in several ways: a higher normalized power, and power increased throughout the interval, and he reported that it “felt faster” — so he can use efforts like the first one in his warm ups to ensure he’s ready to handle the higher HR and stress of a race with good feelings, like in the second block.
Apply to others: Many riders struggle with warm ups, wondering if they’re doing enough and worried that they’ll do too much. In this example, the rider knows that he can do a solid 8 minutes at FTP and produce better results in the next effort, so it would be best to start a high intensity mass-start race by doing a warm-up like the first effort and begin the race with the 2nd effort to ensure they’re warmed up and feeling good to attack.
Now let’s look at Rider B, who followed HR but did the same workout. Notice that the HR curve is now flatter and the power curve trends downward for each interval.
This rider was trying to stay in Z4 heart rate, up to LT, for the entire duration of each 8-minute effort. He had to start very hard to get the heart rate to come up over the first minute, then he had to back off the power to keep the heart rate from spiking too far over threshold. This is because the stress of work is cumulative! As the stress of riding at that higher pace accumulates, he had to modulate his power downward to keep his HR steady. This is “LT Intensive” meaning he’s focused on staying at lactate threshold, which builds metabolic efficiency and stamina.
Rider feedback: It takes practice to know how to control heart rate like this. Breathing rate, posture, mental focus, smooth pedal strokes, biofeedback from the bike / terrain, scanning ahead for proper gear / cadence… all of these factors must be incorporated to produce a steady line like this and the rider did a very good job of making this a good training session.
Is it bad that his power dropped? Not in this case because the result was nearly identical average HR vs NP in each effort, so that tells this rider that this is a very “steady state pace” and gives him confidence to ride at this pace to sustain his longer efforts in a race. If he were increase his power any more during the first 2 minutes, he might have to slack off even more in the second half, which would drop his overall pace, so learning how to get from point A to point B the fastest doesn’t always mean using full power the whole way. Or, if we saw a massive drop in power we might explore if we have the rider’s zones set properly, or if they had enough to eat, or if they’re too fatigued to be training right now. Matching the subjective to the objective is part of closing the loop so the rider can have confidence in their fitness & create smart tactics for their next event.
Video & Photo Review
We often shoot photos and videos at some practices to better illustrate what our riders need to work on and everyone can benefit from the discussions that come from the review. This is a safe space where everyone is collaborating on improving but we keep the individual review content for the team-only. Other promotional videos or photos will be made public, like the videos here:
CJC Training Plan Explained
CJC’s training plans are primarily designed around a collective group-goal, like a race series or peak event. All riders experience the arc of the season through that training plan together. Some modifications will be made for individuals or groups with specific goals as the season unfolds, but we do not individualize every workout to each rider.
- Actively seek improvement. While coaches and teammates can make training more fun or offer suggestions, you must want to do the work.
- Be honest with yourself about your goals, your habits; and with your coaches and teammates about what you’re experiencing.
- Set lot of achievable goals. Every action toward improvement can become a goal. Make goals for yourself each day, not just for a race result at the end of the season.
- Enjoy your journey. If you’re having fun then motivation is a mirage. If you’re not having fun then what’s the point?
2022 Training Plan Outline
XC / General Fitness Building for CJC Riders. Click for full size image. This is how our training plan is structured for the year:
- calibrated for the juniors training 500 hours per year
- riders doing less will be helped to identify important workouts each week so they can skip the others
- riders doing more can go for “extra credit” on some weeks or during certain phases
- Weekly Training Stress Score (TSS), uses heart rate or power zones to represents the combined weighted average of your intensity + duration for the entire week. Score of 100 = 1 hour at maximum effort.
- Ramp Rate compares this week to previous week. Negative is decreasing load, 0 = same load, positive means increasing load.
- Chronic Training Load (CTL), higher means you have done more TSS over a weighted 45 day average and should be “fitter” than if you had done less work. Prone to errors so it’s more for coaches than riders. In the chart below, CTL is shown in the blue to represent “fitness” because it assumes the more you do the more fit you must be.
- Training Stress Balance (TSB), negative means “in training”, 0 = balanced rest, positive means reduced training load. Suggested -10 to +15 for best race day results, but it’s prone to errors and is more for coaches than athletes. Also called “form,” it’s shown in orange in the chart below and represents how you should feel about your readiness to race. Very high form means you could be “under-trained” hence the balance needed.
- Strength Phase: subtle changes in how we do the rides and strength sessions can create different responses in our bodies.
- Max Strength = low reps, high force, use full power.
- Build Muscle = less force for more reps and longer rest to let your body actually repair and build new muscle.
- Muscular Endurance = light weight or no weights, less rest between reps and set, do a huge number of reps until you’re tired.
How to follow the plan
- Your health is our priority. Only train if you’re healthy. Sleep well, eat well, manage stress, train safely within your limits, and ask questions when you’re unsure. When feeling sick, or recovering from injury, only train if you’re above 90% health.
- Use TrainingPeaks to see workouts / notes / feedback from coaches; then sync all of your workout and exercise activities into TrP as your training log. Make honest notes, give accurate ratings, and read this to use TrP to its fullest potential.
- Use TeamSnap to see the practice / event schedule, share photos, ask questions to the group, invite others to join you on rides, and ask relevant questions. Use the direct message feature to ask your coaches questions that don’t involve the entire team chat.
- Balance your homework, online school and family time with your training to avoid overload, stress and burnout. Talk to your coaches if you have any questions.
- Make Adjustments based on the weather, your energy levels, workload, etc. We must be flexible and own our individual process in order to see our best results.
- Preview upcoming training: check out the training plan notes on every Monday to understand the goals & prepare for the week ahead.
- Review your training log: look back at your training to make sure enough data is recorded in your log or TrainingPeaks so your coaches can monitor your progress.
- Upkeep Equipment: Inspect, clean and take care of your bike & equipment to prevent missing out on rides or races due to preventable failures.
- Share & Process. Post to TeamSnap, talk with your coach, or discuss with a friend / parent something you’ve been working on this week.
Coach & Rider Communication
- To follow SafeSport recommendations, we encourage riders and coaches to have other people present while meeting, have parents present on online chats and copy other coaches or parents on all online communications.
- At Practices: coaches give feedback to the group and individuals, be an active participant in the activity and conversation.
- Simple Questions: some good times to ask simple questions is before / after practices or any time during practice when the coaches are not occupied with managing the entire group.
- Complex Questions: are best managed through written communication in TeamSnap, email, or in-person chats outside of practice.
- Rider Meetings: request a monthly meeting with your coach for a longer discussion about your training / insights / goals / plans. Parents encouraged to attend. This is one of the most important and useful things we can do to help you progress! In-person if possible, otherwise online.
Device to record your activity:
- NO DEVICE: if you don’t have a way to record your ride then you should keep a paper training log with your Duration, Intensity, Elevation (Ascent) and a Note about how it went or what you did for the workout.
- PHONE: Strava on your phone records distance, elevation and time, then it can estimate your wattage or training stress but those are not very accurate and do not sync to TrainingPeaks.
- GPS BIKE COMPUTER: best solution is a Garmin 200 or 500-series device that records your ride data and can also read sensors like a hear rate monitor or power meter. Garmin work the best, others are buggy, do your own research that the device has the features you need and can sync to TrainingPeaks. Garmin Edge 520 Plus & 530 are excellent examples of appropriate devices.
- Heart rate monitor is mandatory to measure the stress that training is putting on your body. We recommend a Garmin or Polar chest strap that is recorded to your device. Make sure your sensor can talk to your recording device — protocols are either ANT+ or Bluetooth.
- Wrist-type heart rate monitors work well for running or smooth rides, but for off road riding the light cannot take accurate measurements and the data becomes useless. Not recommended for our use, typically.
- Power meters measure your actual output rather than your body’s response. Power-based training is more complex and only needed for very serious athletes in pursuit of endurance-type fitness gains. Single-sided Stages or 4iii cranks work well for road, CX and XC riding. Some riders like the Garmin pedals, too. Do your own research to decide which devices will work for your needs.
- Read the section below to setup TrainingPeaks.
- Rider should be able to record Heart Rate (HR) at minimum; or Power (PWR), but that is usually more of an investment in hardware. We need either HR or PWR recorded to TrainingPeaks to know your “training stress score” for the day.
- Everyone is applied to a group plan where everyone sees the same info each day, but we can modify individual calendars as needed.
- CJC pays the coaching fee to use TrainingPeaks so 99% of athletes are fine using the “free athlete” version. Coaches can see all of the charts that you get with the paid version and can share them as needed. Automatic notifications about “new personal bests” is really the only feature you get by upgrading.
- This is used for team chat / quick updates / sharing photos / traveling / meet ups / immediate updates. Critically important messages will still go out by email as well.
- You create your account when you register for the team, and can add / manage family members from their website (not the app). But email the coaches if you cannot figure out access.
- Riders must have the app on their phone to use the chat features.
- Parents can manage multiple riders on multiple teams — make sure everything is under a single main account as “family members” rather than making separate accounts for each parent / child.
- If we cannot meet in person Bill can set you up with a Zoom meeting link for athlete / parent meetings.
TrainingPeaks Setup & Tips
TrainingPeaks is an online service that allows riders to track their runs, strength workouts, indoor & outdoor rides with GPS data, heart rate and power (watts).
How to set up TrainingPeaks: for our XC / ALL MTB Team Riders — talk to Coach Bill if you want to start tracking your rides:
- Sign up for a Free Athlete Account with the athlete’s email — it might come with a 30-day preview of premium features but you only need the free account.
- Then click this link to associate your account with Coach Bill
- Download their app for your smartphone APPLE or GOOGLE
Sync Your Activity:
- You can use many devices to record your GPS and heart rate or power data. Google is your friend there! Every device has a unique way to sync.
- I recommend using a Garmin head unit on the bike and sync it to your phone through the Garmin Connect App, which can push notifications to TrainingPeaks. Garmin Sync explained here.
- You can also use your phone to directly record Strava for GPS and use a bluetooth heart rate monitor or other fitness tracker watch to sync the data. Again, Google it or start here.
- There are many other ways to do it but you’ll have to search out the answers yourself: start here to learn more.
- Now you have to remember to do it on as many rides and activities as you can in order for the software to be useful 🙂
In order of importance:
- Track your HOURS / NOTES
- Add Heart Rate: TrainingPeaks uses heart rate zones and heart rate monitor data from your workouts to analyze how your body responds to the stress of your workout. This is your “training stress score” (TSS) and can be generated from heart rate or power data. Heart rate monitors can sync to your GPS or smartphone depending on the technology. We recommend something like a Garmin 510 with a compatible heart rate chest strap.
- Optional to record Power: because power meters don’t work on all bikes and are much more expensive than heart rate monitors they are an optional addition for juniors who are training seriously for national competitions. Power meters measure the instantaneous output of the rider rather than measuring their response to the load with heart rate. Power is what one does, heart rate is how one responds, but the training score is approximately the same. We recommend Stages cranks on your road or cyclocross bike. It’s possible to put them on mountain bikes but there are fewer options.
Record Your Notes on the Activity:
- There’s a comment section on every workout. Use it. Click the workout you are completing and choose “Edit” to record your ratings for “Feeling” and “Effort.”
- Add a comment, too.
- You will not remember things more than 24 hours later so put down your initial impression — this is your training log so make the information useful to your future self.
Review with Coaches:
- Coaches will be checking the data for certain things weekly but it is NOT something we need to monitor daily because that is not usually helpful.
- Our primary review of the data will be to determine if you are ramping up, holding steady, or deconditioning. Those are the three phases of a training cycle and with good data we can ensure that you’re on the correct side of the peak for your upcoming racing and training goals.
- If you have specific questions about the workouts please email your coach or find a time before or after practice to review the data together.
- Not enough data or didn’t record a ride — that’s OK, just add a workout manually in TrainingPeaks at once least weekly so we can track your overall health! Put in notes about how you felt in general or how many hours you rode total for the week.
- Over Analyzing Data — maybe when you turn Pro at 19 you can start worrying about the data…. No pressure! Don’t over analyze the numbers. It’s YOU — your body, mind, rest, effort, health and strength — that are the most important factors and the numbers or curves you see in TrainingPeaks are only there to offer reassurance or insights when necessary. They are not for daily workouts to hyper-control your activities so you turn into a robot on a program. Go ride your bike and look at the scenery, not the data.
- Making Comparisons — please only compare your data to your former self, not to other people. Every time you train you learn more, you become stronger and you make a gain, even if it’s the worst ride in your life you’ll still learn something from it. While some metrics can be used to compare individuals, the intention is that you monitor your numbers for yourself to reach your goals.
- Setting the Wrong Goal — “I want to beat Jimmy at Nationals,” is a cautionary goal. What if Jimmy is injured and cannot race? What if you do race him but he’s grown 2 inches and gained 200 watts? Another cautionary example is, “I want to have an FTP of 300 by spring.” That type of metric-related goal can distract you from listening to your body (getting enough rest or eating enough food) and it can take away from the fundamental concept that riding bikes is supposed to be fun and if you learn the skills to go faster you’ll have more fun 🙂 Set goals for health, skills and growth. Not hard numbers or comparisons to others.
- Expecting Personalized Workouts Every Day — you’re on a team with a proven record for proper periodization of seasons and coaches who look out for your health and well being. Do the workout as the Coach desires unless you have a question about it. If you have a question or concern you must always address it, but the default is that we do the same things together to learn from how each of us experiences the ride under the supervision of the Coach. On rare occasions we might prescribe specific workouts instead of our team rides, but that can lead to isolation and a feeling of pressure to perform if made too frequent.
Things we can learn (sometimes):
- Coaches primarily use this data to see if a rider is “going up” or “needs rest.”
- We can see your cumulative improvements over weeks and months and years as a result of being an active and healthy rider — this confirms that you are indeed improving, which might be hard to know on a daily basis.
- We can see if you have been training harder than expected for too long and might need to take some extra rest. Without rest the training is not effective.
- We can identify patterns that can help you with race prep, nerves, nutrition, sleep, etc. if you take good notes and are honest about your immediate reactions to the stress of each training day and notice how you’re affected over the long term.
Importance of Recovery
Rather than “avoiding overtraining” we want to “actively manage recovery.” The load we place on our bodies is only the first half of the training cycle. Recovery is the second half of the cycle that allows the load to be absorbed so our bodies and minds bounce back stronger than before. This happens on a micro cycle between efforts on a ride, on a daily cycle as we manage our lives and seasonally as we look to build up year over year. Skipping recovery means riders can flatten out their progress, or potentially loose some of the gains they’ve made; while taking recovery almost always means riders come back feeling fresher, stronger and more motivated.
- Listen to your body and check in with your coach if you’re feeling “unmotivated,” flat or fatigued.
- Try a good warm up to get your body & mind connected before you add any intensity; if you notice heart rate or breathing patterns that are different from usual check in with your coach.
- Recovery can be active (i.e. easy spin, foam rolling, stretching, eat & drink well) or passive (i.e. get a massage, sleep more, relax with your feet up)
- Tapering is not the same as recovery. Tapering refers to reducing the duration of your training so you can peak for an important event. While this might mean also taking more time for recovery, they are independent strategies that you must account for individually.
Heart rate variability (HRV) is one metric that some riders are now tracking to gain insights into their recovery. Whether you are tracking this or not, understanding how intense training impacts the body is important for you as you take control over your training loads. This article offers a great explanation of how to monitor your mood to understand how much (more) recovery you might need before you’re ready to train another big day.
Additional Training Resources
TrainingPeaks has a ton of excellent training resource articles for riders in their blog & help section.
Uphill Athlete is another excellent source of technical information about endurance training.
- They offer free accounts for riders 15 and under. Learn more here.
- You can join ZWIFT with a speed sensor on a regular trainer, or use a power meter, or smart trainer. Check their site for all of the details.
- Connect TrainingPeaks to do many of our team rides and record all of your completed activities to your training log.
Updated March 2022