02/11/18

Why Cadence Matters for Triathletes

Over the 4 years I have been coaching, it has surprised me how many triathletes find their preferred cadence in the 70’s and 80’s. Some people are able to adapt quickly to the suggestion of cadence in the 90’s, others have tried and made progress much slower, while others seemed to ignore the advice. Cadence seems like such an insignificant thing to focus on when there are so many other “more important” things to look at with cycling data, such as watts, heart rate, variable index, intensity factor, etc. Just like not all calories (energy) in our food are created equally, the watts (energy) we create while riding the bike are not created equally. For example, you can push 1000 watts in a 53:11 gearing as low cadence and high force pedals. Or, you can create 1000 watts at your 39:28 gearing spinning extremely fast with low force on the pedals

This is where a tool known as Quadrant Analysis comes in extremely handy. Unless I am mistaken, TrainingPeaks used to have this on their on-line software up until a couple years ago when the whole software got a face lift. I haven’t been able to find it on there anymore, so if someone reading this knows where it is buried in the program, please let me know.

When cycling there are basically 2 variables that control the wattage that shows up on your cycling computer. Those variables are force (in Newtons) and velocity/ (cadence). Depending on how much force, relative to your functional threshold power (FTP), and how fast you are spinning those pedals in around in a circle will determine which quadrant that second of power will fall in.

Quadrant #1 – High cadence and high force: Think of this on the extreme end of sprinting your brains out. Your force will be maximal effort and your cadence will be high because you are likely running out of gears to shift into. However, this could include suprathreshold efforts to bridge a gap, pass another triathlete within the time alloted by either USAT or IronMan.

Quadrant #2 – Low cadence and high force: A watt usually falls into this quadrant when climbing a really steep hill and you don’t have an easier gear to get into. Most commonly probably found in MTB races and cyclocross, but some triathletes that pedal at a chronically low cadence no matter their effort will fall into the quadrant as well.

Quadrant #3 – Low cadence and low force – watts created in this quadrant typically occur during recovery rides or social rides. These can also occur when soft pedaling down a hill or in a group when the group isn’t attacking

Quadrant #4- low force and high cadence – watts created in this quadrant typically occur during accelerations when done correctly. Just like when a car accelerates, the RPMs go high and then gears shift. Cycling accelerations should be the same, bringing the cadences up over 100 or 110 RPM before shifting gears.

So what does all this fancy stuff mean for the triathlete? Remember how I said earlier that not all watts are created equally and used the example of how to produce 1000 watts? Well, the reason is because of the type of muscle fibers recruited to create any amount of power. People are born with slow twitch (type 1) and fast twitch (type 2) muscles. Fast twitch muscles are recruited more the second quadrant (high force, low cadence) and more slow twitch muscles are recruited in the fourth quadrant (low force, high cadence). This is extremely important to the triathlete out there trying to race well. The more fast twitch muscles that are recruited to create the same wattage, the more glycogen that is burned in comparison of fat to fuel the muscles. This saves you valuable energy for the run (along with maintaining a smooth power output, or variable index, over the duration of the bike course). Reducing the amount of glycogen burned on the bike allows you to use more on the run. The average person can only store about 2000 calories of glycogen in their muscles. In comparison, even the leanest athletes can store over 10,000 calories in fat.

Now, I’m not saying that you should 100% of the time use low force and high cadence for your triathlon training. What I am saying is to be mindful of how much time you spend mashing gears, or pushing harder than you need to complete a pass. These small efforts in a triathlon race can really wreak havoc later in the race, especially if it is a longer race such as a 70.3 or 140.6.

Below are quadrant analsys from both an athlete that paced well in their Ironman race and another that didn’t from the book “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” by Hunter Allen Andrew Coogan.

Notice how the majority of the dots are in quadrants 3 and 4. this means the athlete is burning more fat than glycogen and set themselves up for a good run off the bike

Notice how the dots are scattered all over the place with a fair amount of them in quadrant 2 – low cadence and high force. This athlete burned a lot of glycogen and probably didnt run well off the bike

07/31/17

70.3 Ironman Ohio Power Analysis

Progressive Endurance recently had 4 athletes take part in the Ironman 70.3 Ohio.  They all did really well in this event, but I wanted to highlight two of them because they executed the bike portion of the race extremely well which set them up for a great run and finishing time.  The athletes I’ll be highlighting are Robert Strobel and Jessica Morgan.  But before we dive into that, I need to define a few terms so you can understand the lingo:

FTP (functional threshold power) – watts you can hold for an hour at max sustainable effort

NP (Normalized power) – the physiologic cost of riding in watts (a way to simplify this is removing all zeros from average power)

Average Power – the mean of all wattages produced during the race

IF (Intensity Factor) – NP divided by FTP

VI (Variable Index) – NP divided by Average power (a way of measuring pedaling efficiency)

TSS (Training Stress Score) – a way of measuring how much stress is put on your body from a ride. TSS is calculated using Normalized Power (NP), Intensity Factor (IF) and ride duration.  TSS is calculated like this:

TSS = ((Time riding in seconds x IF x NP)/(FTP x 3600)) x 100

 

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let’s start by looking at Jessica’s power file:

The first thing a coach must do to figure out what power to push in any given race is what the estimated speed will be for the athlete.  This is because TSS is based on power and time.   The goal TSS for the bike portion of a 70.3 so you can still run well off the bike is about 170-190 TSS. I estimated Jessica’s speed to be about 19 mph for this race.  By using that speed to give me the time (in seconds) on the bike, I was able to dial in her power range for the bike.  After running a few numbers, I determined her goal power to be between 145 and 150w (76-78.5% of FTP) to try to land her close to 170-180 TSS.  I went closer to the lower end of the goal for her because she had struggled in the past with the run leg.  I wanted to keep her legs as fresh as possible without leaving too much energy on the bike course.

Jessica got pretty close to the lower end of the power goal.  At the end of the ride she averaged 137 watts with a NP of 140 watts.  With the slightly lower power numbers, she got 161 TSS for the ride.  Just a bit shy of the suggested range, but not too much.

Jessica did a fantastic job of holding steady power as evidenced by her VI being only 1.02!!  That is insanely good for being on the bike for 3 hours.  This is due to two things:  1.  her cadence was never zero and 2.  she didn’t have many spikes in power.  See how steady the pink line in her power file?  Perfect, which is next to impossible to do unless in a controlled environment, is 1.00.  This meant she didn’t burn much glycogen in her muscles and save it for the run.   Keeping that VI as close to 1.00 as possible means a lower TSS at the end of the bike.

 

Robert’s power file:

I started with the same process of determining Robert’s goal wattage for the day.  We estimated he would go about 21 mph.  As you can see by the power file, he actually was closer to 22 mph.  His goal power for the ride was 190-200w (80-84% of FTP) to land him right in the middle of the 170-190 TSS for the bike ride.  His average power was 198 and his NP was 199!  Since he was within the power goal but went faster than we thought, he ended up just under 170 TSS for the ride.  In hindsight, he could have pushed 5-10 more watts for the bike course and got within the range for a half iron distance.

Robert’s VI was 1.01!  Insane how close that was 1.00.  He did an incredible job holding steady power (as you can see by the pink line).  Same as with Jessica, he never had a cadence of zero and had very few spikes in power.

 

So why am I showing two power files that are basically identical?  Wouldn’t it be good to have something to contrast them with to show where one of them went wrong or did something better than the other?  In this case, they both did well.  The biggest difference I want you all to see is their percent of FTP that they were told to push during the race.  A lot of coaches just have a cookie cutter mentality of “an athlete must aim for x% of FTP for a half, y% of FTP for a full, and z% of FTP for an Olympic distance.”  This is simply not the case.  If I would have told Jessica to push the same percent of FTP as Robert, her FTP (when taking into consideration a faster speed due to higher power) would have been closer to 220-235 TSS.  That is way over the limit and definitely would have resulted in a lot of walking on the run.  If I would have told Robert to push the same percent of FTP as Jessica, his TSS for the ride (when taking into account a slower speed) would have been closer to 155 TSS.  That would have left him with fresh legs, but leaving a lot of time on the bike course that most likely would have resulted in a slower time.

So understanding TSS for racing is crucial to get the best results possible.  It is also crucial for a proper build and taper as you can see below by looking at both other their PMC’s (Performance Management Chart)

Jessica’s PMC:

 

Robert’s PMC:

 

I am not going to go into detail of how this chart is read and made.  But the basic idea of using TSS for all workouts is what gives you a person’s current fitness level (CTL), fatigue level (ATL) and their readiness to race (TSB).  In order to race well for an “A” race, the athlete should aim to be anywhere from +10 to +30 TSB.  This means their fatigue level is low in comparison to their fitness level).  Both Jessica and Robert were right around mid +20’s to +30.  Everyone is different.  Some athletes may race better at +10 while others race better at +30.  There in no magic formula to this, just a bit of trial and error to figure out what works best for a particular athlete.

 

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, or want help with getting ready for your next race, please don’t hesitate to contact me at mike.s.hermanson@gmail.com

10/17/16

Analysis of Ironman Data

A short time ago, athletes gathered in Louisville for another Ironman race.  I had three athletes racing in midst of a little over 2500 athletes.  I wanted to take time to publish an analysis of the power data from the bike and break it down so you can learn better how to ride your bike in a Ironman race.

Before we do so, I need to define a few terms for that I will be using in the analysis of these power files:

FTP (functional threshold power) – watts you can hold for an hour at max sustainable effort

NP (Normalized power) – the physiologic cost of riding in watts (a way to simplify this is removing all zeros from average power)

Average Power – the mean of all wattages produced during the race

IF (Intensity Factor) – NP divided by FTP

VI (Variable Index) – NP divided by Average power

TSS (Training Stress Score) – a way of measuring how much stress is put on your body from a ride. TSS is calculated using Normalized Power (NP), Intensity Factor (IF) and ride duration.  TSS is calculated like this:

TSS = ((Time riding in seconds x IF x NP)/(FTP x 3600)) x 100

 

Athlete #1 Power file (file was broken accidentally into 2 files)

1st 16-ish miles

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last 93-ish miles

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The first thing I want to point out is the IF of .69 average between the two files.  This athlete was biking at about 69% of their FTP.  The suggested IF to ride at for an IM ranges from 68-78%.  Again, IF = NP/FTP (you will see some professionals riding about 80% of FTP… that is because they are riding much faster than the average AGer).  IF, NP and time on the bike is what determines TSS.  The suggest TSS for a IM bike ride is 260-280. Some proven good runners off the bike can sustain as high as 300 TSS in a IM Bike split.

You can see that the sum of the 2 files’ TSS is about 284 TSS.  This athlete is on the high end of normal TSS.  I suggested he ride 160-170w because I knew based on previous calculations and estimated time on the bike he should end up in the range of 260-280 TSS.  He hit that target nearly perfectly.

Another thing I want you to see is the VI (Variable Index).  Variable index is calculated like this:  VI = NP/AVG POWER.  It is impossible to get a lower VI of 1.00 because of the way NP and AVG power is calculated.  If someone rode a VI of 1.00, it means they maintained extremely even power the entire time.  Basically keeping the power output within 10 watts+/- of the average power the entire time.  The further that VI gets away from 1.00, the less even power was produced, and thus means the rider rode very inefficiently.  Think of like driving a car.  The most efficient way to get somewhere is hitting the cruise control.  If the driver is constantly breaking and/or accelerating, the car will burn more fuel to go the same distance.  In an IM race, getting a VI of 1.05 is considered very good.  Between the two files, this athlete averaged about 1.06.  This means this athlete rode a fairly consistent power output throughout the entire 112 miles.  This is obvious in the second screen shot above by removing all the other data plots.  One can see how the line stays between two tight points most of the time.

By riding like this, an athlete sets them up for a better run off the bike for a IM race.

Athlete #2

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So the things I want to point out here is the TSS, NP, VI and IF.  Again, these things kind of go hand in hand.  This athlete averaged 135 watts for the bike ride.  I told the athlete to aim for about 130 watts.  So at first glance, this athlete appears to have done well.  But what you need to look closer at is HOW he averaged that 135 watts.  It wasn’t through smooth, efficient power as evidenced by his VI being 1.30 for the 112 miles.  You can see how the power data points are all over the place and not tightly packed into small range of data points.  Remember that VI is calculated like this: VI = NP/AVG power.  To get a VI as high as 1.30, your NP must be significantly higher than your average power.  NP influenced the athlete’s IF to be 90% of threshold.  Because his IF was 90% of threshold and he rode his bike for nearly 6.5 hours, his TSS was about 510!  Remember, suggested TSS for a IM bike is 260-280 TSS.  He was almost double the low end of the suggested range!  By riding like this, the athlete most likely didn’t run close to his potential.

 

As you can see, athlete #1 rode his bike more efficiently that athlete #2 and set himself up for a better run off the bike for IM Louisville.  I did get permission from both athletes to share their data while keeping them anonymous.

If you are looking for a coach that knows how to utilize a power meter for your 2017 season, please don’t hesitate to contact me at mike.s.hermanson@gmail.com

 

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09/14/15

Toughman National Championship – 2015

This last weekend, Toughman put on their national championship race located about an hour north of New York City.  It is located at Croton Point Park (Croton-on-Hudson), and it made for a beautiful race location.  The weather didn’t look promising leading up to race day with rain in the forecast and possible thunderstorms, but it ended up being nearly perfect race conditions.  For quick recap, scroll to the bottom for the video update.  For a more in-depth race report, just keeping reading…

Swim –

The swim was in the Hudson river. It had rained the night before, so it made the water have a little more dirt turned up in it.  I under estimated how much time it would take to get to the venue and get set up, so I scrambled a bit to get to the swim start on time and found myself about the 3rd row back in the starting shoot for the swim.  The gun went off and we all made a mad dash for the river.  My goal for the swim was not so much time oriented as it was technique oriented.  I gave myself a swim stroke analysis about a week before this race and found a few things to work on to swim more efficiently.  I decided that if I focused on those things, the rest of the swim would come together.  For the most part that was true.  I was maybe a little too focused on form at the beginning when I should have been focusing on finding a faster swimmer’s feet to get behind.  Once the craziness of the first few hundred meters calmed down, I found myself just behind the lead pack of 4 swimmers.  About 2/3 of the way through the swim, one of them fell off the pack and I passed him before exiting the water.  I would guess I was somewhere between 50 and 75 meters behind the lead pack.  I knew I had my work cut out for me on the bike to catch that group.  I exited the water and T1 in 5th place.

Bike –

This bike course was no joke! 3900 feet of climbing in 56 miles!  There was literally not a flat spot on this bike course other than the first and last mile getting and out of Croton Point Park.  Once out of the park, I was greeted by the first big climb.  I would guess about 1.5 miles long, most of which was in my smallest gear.  The pavement was still wet from the rain the night before, so I was a little nervous about going down this hill since there was a swooping right hand turn at the bottom of it.  I figured I was better off taking it cautiously then spending some time at a hospital.  The first 180-degree turn was about 5 miles into the bike.  At this point, the leader was 2 minutes ahead of me and a group of two behind him was about 90 seconds ahead of me (I passed one guy going up the big hill).  I made it safely down the hill and got back into my aerobars and put my head down and pedaled hard.  I made one small adjustment to my bike prior to the race.  I cut the straw from the my profile-design aero bottle about in half so that it would allow me to get my head to a lower position.  See picture below of me trying to achieve a better position prior to the race:

1694 bike

last year’s position during Ironman Louisville.

 

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Newest and improved position that I adopted for the 2015 Toughman National Championship.

The slightly lower head position seemed to make a big difference at the race.  By the time I made it to the next 180-degree turn, the guys ahead of me formed a group of three and I was now only about 20 seconds down.  I caught them about 2-3 miles later.  It took me an hour to catch them after starting the bike… but I finally made it.  I averaged 330 watts to do so! I rolled up them fast and tried to put on a little surge as I went by them hoping that they wouldn’t be able to match my pace and I could have about a 4-5 minute lead by the time I got off the bike.  No luck though.  The 3 of them kept the legal distance behind and stayed behind me for the majority of the final 30 miles.  Two of them probably did a total of 5 miles worth of work at the front.  Just before we got back to big hill, a little rain came and wet the roads again… making the decent of the hill a little frightening for me.  I made it safely to the bottom again and continued on.  With about 8 miles to go on the bike, one of the riders in the group got a flat.  I saw this as an opportunity to try to splinter the group and get a little lead before the run.  One rider hung with me (Mario de Elias, a pro from Argentina).  We basically entered T2 at the same time.  I had my first ever race best bike split in a big race! Happy to do this on a tough course.  Lots of hard work and a little bit of playing my aero-position made a big difference from last year to this year.  I also had my race best power for a 70.3 triathlon.  323 watts from normalized power.  1.01 VI.  I felt this was a very well executed bike ride for me.

post bike

Run –

The run tends to be the best part of my race.  I felt really good coming off the bike.  I was pretty confident I could run away from Mario on this run course.  But Mario had other plans.  I left T2 probably about 10 seconds ahead of him.  The first mile was flat and fast.  5:39 was my first mile split… then the climbing started.  The pace slowed down a little… but only a little.  Over the next 5 miles we traded spots in the lead with the following mile splits: 5:46, 6:03, 5:47, 5:48, 7:03 (lots of climbing in the 6th mile while on trails).  Over those 5 miles we climbed just under 600 feet according to my Garmin.  At one point while on the trails, I took a miss-step where my foot didn’t land right.  A small cramp started on the inside of my right leg.  Over the next half mile or so, I felt it getting just a little bit tighter.  I contemplated stopping to stretch it out, but knew that every second was valuable in this situation.  I did my best to keep my stride long to prevent the muscle from cramping more.  I took a salt tab and the next aid station and the cramp went away shortly after that.  By the time we reached the highest elevation of the run, I surprisingly felt like I still had a fair amount left in my legs for the return to the finish line.  I feel that I’m good at working the down hills and getting some free speed, and was hoping for a surge for the finish line.  Mario stayed about 10-20 meters ahead of me during the next 4 miles.  At mile 11, we got to the final trail portion of the race and it was mostly slightly down hill.  I closed the gap with just over a mile to go.  Mario saw me pull up next to him and put on a surge.  I tried to go with him, but I just couldn’t find the energy to match him that morning.  My legs just ran out of juice.  I watched him pull further and further away and crossed the finish line in 2nd.

 

Overall –

I finished as the runner-up at the Toughman National Championship after one my best races (as far as numbers are concerned on the bike and the difficulty of the run course).  Just under a minute away from snagging the title and a lot of extra cash.  But Mario was a better athlete that day.  Toughman put on an excellent race.  The bike course was closed to traffic and the run course was incredible as well.  Lots of scenic views to distract you from the discomfort.  I’m looking forward to coming back next year to get one spot higher on that podium!

podium

Thanks to all my sponsors this year for making it a great season, faster than last year, and lots of fun!  Couldn’t do it without them – Maverick Multisport, Duro-Last Roofing, Vibra Healthcare, Argon, Enve Composites, Jay Bird, BlueSeventy, Infinit Nutrition, Cobb Cycling, Rotor Bike Components, Sugoi Apparel, BSX Athletics, VO2 Multisport, Swiftwick, Primal Sport Mud, Occupational Kinetics, Lakeside Seahawks

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08/23/15

Michigan Titanium Triathlon – 2015

This weekend I made yet another trip to Michigan.  This time to participate in a race that is more my speciality… a full distance triathlon.  If you want to the short and sweet version, scroll to the bottom and watch the video recap. Otherwise continue reading for a less short synopsis of this race:

ISI-MiTi-2015Newsletter

This year marks the 4th year of the Michigan Titanium Triathlon.  There is a full and 70.3 distance to choose from as well as aqua-bike races.  I decided to do the Full distance (2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2 mile run). The race is located in and around the Grand Rapids area.  I was a little nervous about the road conditions (those of you that live or have spent any amount of time in Michigan know what I’m talking about) but it turns out there were slightly better than I expect.  But first things first… the swim.

The swim was a two-looped swim in Verslius Lake.  Water temperature was about 76-77 degrees.  In the past when I’ve swam with a wetsuit at these temperatures, I over heated and ended up struggling the rest of the race.  I anticipated it being just below wetsuit legal temperatures, so leading up to the race I tried swimming open water in my BlueSeventy Core Shorts (MAVMIKE saves 20% on all BlueSeventy orders).  I really liked how it felt and decided I would give it a try on race day… but with having my PZ4TX swim skin on underneath of it.  First time doing this was on race day… and I broke the rule of never doing anything new on race day.  But it seemed to work well for me.  I got on the feet of a former collegiate water polo player (he was part of a full distance relay) and another professional from Hungry.  I pretty much let them do all the work and just drafted off of them.  I tried getting around them a few times but getting out of there draft caused me to work harder and go the same speed, so I took my spot at the back of the group of three for the two loops.  I exited the water just a few seconds behind 1st and 2nd and ran in to T1 with them.

IMG_2225

IMG_2238

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Once I got to T1, I went into the changing tent only to realize that going in there was optional.  I lost a little bit of time due to this and got out on the bike about 30 seconds behind second place.  I caught him pretty quickly… probably about 2-3 miles into the bike.  He got behind me far enough not to be illegally drafting, but close enough where he was definitely still benefiting from his position.  About 2 or 3 miles later, I caught 1st place (he was part of the full relay team).  The smooth pavement turned into chip and seal road about 10 miles into the bike and stayed that way until the last 8 miles of the loop.  2nd place was about 4 to 5 bike lengths behind me almost the entire loop.  I tried putting in a few surges to drop him (a few efforts at 370-380 watts) but he wasn’t going anywhere.  Finally, I made it back to the smooth road and had about 8 miles to the turn around to start the next loop.  I looked over my shoulder before making the turn and didn’t even see him.  I met him heading back out and was told after the race he was 2:45 behind me… all of which was put on in the last stretch.  I knew he had popped and wouldn’t be coming back up to me.  So I just tried to hold a steady power for the second loop.  However, biking at just under half-iron wattage to try to drop the guy for most of the first lap started to catch up to me with about 25 miles left to go.  Add in the rougher roads than I’m used to in Kentucky and I was starting to feel a little beat up.  I kept my nutrition coming in a little more frequent than the first loop to maintain my power and energy levels.  This race I mixed my custom mix from Infinit and 3 one-ounce servings of the highly caffeinated NAPALM (MAVERICK saves 10% on Infinit orders).  I found this to more simple than having to juggle a bottle of my custom mix and 2-3 flasks of NAPALM in my back pockets/special needs bag.  I had 5 bottles total mixed up this way.  I then supplemented with salt tabs and water from the race course.  Once I got back to the smooth road, I could see the clouds up ahead. The sky looked dark and stormy.  The lead motorcycle slowed down and I rolled up to him.  He said to stop at the next aid station that I got to (which would be 4 miles before T2) and wait there.  He said some really bad storms were rolling through.

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I arrived at the final aid station and waited.  I asked the guys on the motorcycles what was going to happen.  I knew I was about 15 minutes ahead of 2nd place at this time and was worried that my lead I worked so hard to get as big as possible would be erased from the “pause” in the race.  They couldn’t give me a straight answer, but agreed that I was about 15 minutes ahead of him.  I took that time to talk to other athletes and take in some real food.  It started raining a little and before long, a bunch of the athletes were starting to get really cold.  The race was about to restart when another round of thunderstorms started rolling through. At that point they called the race and I just rode back to T2.  When I had stopped at the final aid station, my Garmin read 4 hours and 26 minutes.  I saw the watch of the 2nd place guy while he was waiting and it said 4:39.  I had about 13 minutes on him and with a little more road to go until I would have put on about another 45 seconds on him… so about 14 minute lead.  I also had my best power output for a full distance triathlon by about 10 watts here.  295 watts Normalized Power!

Screenshot (1)

Based on my training and the cooler temperatures, I’m assuming I could have ran anywhere between a 2:50 and 3:10 marathon depending on how well I held together in the final stretch of the race.  That would have put me around a 8:20-8:40 finishing time… a huge PR for that distance on a similar course to Louisville as far as elevation profile on the bike (2700 ft climbing at Titanium and 2900 ft at IM Louisville). Plus, Louisville’s swim is faster with 2/3 of the swim being down stream and the road quality being better makes the roads faster.

I had plans on using this race as a test run to see what I wanted my goals for next year to be.  Mainly, to try to get to Kona as professional in 2016.  I think with a iron-distance time of 8:20-ish I stand a chance to get there.  I won’t be in the fastest there… far from it… but I would like to make a run for it at least.

Over all, this event was a top notch, world-class event.  Way better experience than any WTC race.  There were more aid stations than needed, the volunteers actually knew what they were doing at the bottle exchanges, and the lead vehical guides made sure to stay far enough ahead to not let me draft off him.  If you are looking for a great place to race a full or half distance triathlon, you should consider this race!

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08/2/15

Frankenmuth Experience Triathlon – 2015

This weekend I “experienced” Frankenmuth.  The city is famous for a number of things, but here are two that I partook in:

1. Bronner’s – The world’s biggest and most famous Christmas Wonderland store.  If you can dream it up and relate it to Christmas, they have it.  The property is decorated in Nativity Scenes, Santas, lights, etc.  The property is the same size as 5 football fields!

bronners

2. Zehnder’s – The world’s biggest Family restaurant.  And also the home of the “world famous chicken dinner.” They pride themselves in their service (which was really good) and their chicken dinners (which were good… but I was hoping for something better since it is world famous… but then again, KFC is also world famous).

zehnders

The triathlon also had world class service and professionally ran by the company (3 Disciplines) that put on my first triathlon ever 11 years ago (The Seahorse Triathlon).  The course was beautiful… but much too short for this long distance specialists.  It took me about 15K on the bike before I started feeling good.  I struggled to push half iron distance watts on the bike for the first 15K.  I finally warmed up and Infinit’s NAPALM started hitting my system.  After that, I averaged 330 watts.  At that point, I started catching a group of 3 ahead of me.  I eventually passed them and hit the run feeling good after biking the 3rd fastest bike split of the day (58:10). The bike course was slower than than what I expected due to about 50% of the course being on rough roads and about 12 or 13 turns on the course with lots of gravel on the road.  The run course was a very flat, 2-looped course.  We ran through Bronner’s and got to experience the Christmas spirit in August! I managed to run a 5:47 and passed 2 more guys on the run to finish 6th on the day.

This race doesn’t get much press, but does have a pretty good prize purse.  Some really fast guys showed up, including Ben Collins, Chris Lutz, Thomas Gerlach, and a few other ITU guys.  Considering I out biked most of these guys is encouraging to me.  After racing this, it confirmed to me that the longer the race, the better I do.  Olympic distances are fun and a good speed day, but I felt like I was getting stronger as the race went on.  I’m looking forward to a 70.3 and 140.6 triathlon later this month!

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Infinit Nutrition – used the code “MAVERICK” at checkout to save 10%
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06/24/15

Tuesday Night Worlds – Shawnee Park

Another great group ride with some strong cyclist in Louisville.  This time we went to Shawnee Park and did a criterium style group ride.  We did 6 laps (about 10 miles total) twice.  The effort was super hard.  The second session we did, I average 355 watts! There were several surges well over that.  Check out the video below:

BlueSeventy – save 20% on all orders using MavMike.
BSX Athleticssave $40 on the multisport unit with code MavMike
Infinit Nutrition – used the code “MAVERICK” at checkout to save 10%
Primal Sports mud – Discount code: MAVMIKE15 will give you 20% off from 1/1/15 to 12/31/15.; http://www.primalsportmud.com/buy.html#sthash.5UY88juh.dpbs
Challenge Family Races (USA)use code CHALLENGEMIKE to save $10 on your entry fee. This shows Challenge Family that pros do matter to help #keepourpros
06/20/15

BSX Insight Bike test – 3

I just completed my third BSX Insight bike test.  Each one has shown marked improvement.  Watch the video below to see a few shots of the test and the results.

With this new FTP, I currently am able to push 4.84 watts/kg! Thanks BSX for the valuable data, and thanks to Brian Grasky for using this data in your coaching! Looking forward to the second half of the season!

BSXinsight-Logo

BlueSeventy – save 20% on all orders using coupon code MavMike.
BSX Athleticssave $40 on the multisport unit with coupon code MavMike
Infinit Nutrition – used the coupon code “MAVERICK” at checkout to save 10%
Primal Sports mud – Discount code: MAVMIKE15 will give you 20% off from 1/1/15 to 12/31/15.; http://www.primalsportmud.com/buy.html#sthash.5UY88juh.dpbs
Challenge Family Races (USA)use code CHALLENGEMIKE to save $10 on your entry fee. This shows Challenge Family that pros do matter to help #keepourpros
06/6/15

Tuesday Night Worlds

You gotta love a hard group ride.  And they don’t get much harder than riding with some Cat 1 cyclists and some former professional cyclists that live in Louisville, KY.  Once it warms up in the spring, a weekly evening ride on Tuesdays is one of my favorite training sessions.  The cyclists here like to call it Tuesday Night Worlds. Hang on to your helmets and see a little bit of it for yourself from my perspective aboard my Argon 18 bike.

04/13/15

BSX Insight Bike Test 1

Just a few days ago, I received the highly anticipated BSX Insight device (Multisport unit).  I had originally thought about waiting until after 70.3 NOLA to do a bike test, but after a quick conversation with my coach, Brian Grasky (a USAT level 3 coach), we both decided we were too curious to wait.  This device is the world’s first wearable lactate threshold device.  What does that mean?  No more blood draws/finger pricks.  We both knew that I would go into this test being fatigued since I had done a big race simulation on Friday morning, a hard swim set Friday afternoon, and a 6.5 hour training day on Saturday.  We figured the results may run a little low, but at least put us in the ball park of what the actual result would be.  Based on my high levels of fatigue, we figured the test would read about 10 watts lower.  See chart below (a TSB less than -20 indicates high level of fatigue):
Screenshot_2015-04-12-13-11-00

To get started, you need to pair your BSX Insight Device with your phone.  Simply turn on the bluetooth on your phone and follow the prompts to pair the device.  My phone found the BSX device in just a matter of a few seconds.

Secondly, you have a series of questions that it asks that you need to answer to the best of your ability to get the test protocol set up correctly.Screenshot_2015-04-12-12-26-04

Screenshot_2015-04-12-12-26-12

Next, for the bike test, the BSX device needs to pair with your power meter and heart rate monitor.  My HR monitor synced with my BSX device almost instantly, and the power meter took about 10-15 seconds.  Once that is done you get a little tutorial of how the test will be run and you are on your way to the pain cave.

The test starts out extremely easy and ramps up every 3 minutes until failure.  My test lasted a little over 33 minutes (not counting my own little warm up and cool down), which is about perfect.  I made it about 30 seconds into the 420 watt phase and then cracked.  This is a huge improvement for me from when I first demoed the product at the Maverick Multisport Pre-season camp in January where I only got 10-15 seconds into the 400 watt step.

Once I stopped the test, the BSX app went to work and came up with the results:

Screenshot_2015-04-12-13-09-34

This is about what I was expecting based on my level of fatigue making the results a bit lower.  This is the second time I’ve used the device and both times it was very accurate.  The first time, as mentioned above, was at the Maverick Pre-season camp when I was well rested.  My coach and I knew going into the test that my FTP was between 345 and 350 watts.  The results for that test was 345.

As a reminder, Brian (my coach) and I thought that my level of fatigue would lower the results by about 10 watts.  My latest 20 minute critical power test (CP20 test) was 380 watts.  By taking 95% of that 20 minute power test, that puts my FTP at 361 watts… putting the BSX on target for this test.

Overall, I like doing the step test better because it takes out the guess work needed in pacing as hard as you can go for the CP20 test.  No more starting out too fast and not getting accurate results because of not being able to complete the 20 minute critical power test.  It also works well for people who may not push themselves hard enough in a 20 minute critical power test.

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bsx