Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Coaching Novice Athletes, Part 5

It's been a busy November. I'm back in Scottsdale after 10 days on vacation in the Caribbean. On Thursday I leave for Oslo and will be gone a week so hope to finish this series on training for novice athletes before that trip.

This part has to do with the fifth ability (of six). Again, I am discussing these abilities in the order in which I introduce them into the novice's training program. For greater detail you can pick up a copy of one of my Training Bible books.

5. Power. This ability is of primary concern to the cyclist and of little concern to the triathlete. For the experienced cyclist and perhaps for the advanced triathlete I may introduce power training sometime in the middle of the Base period. It's important for road cyclists since race outcomes are often determined by a sprint, and criterium racing is essentially a seemingly endless string of sprints. This type of training may even be beneficial for high-level triathletes as it has been shown to improve overall power at lower intensities. But since it places great stress on joints I don't include it in the training of novice triathletes and I hold off on introducing it into the training program of novice cyclists until the Build period.

Before power workouts are introduced it's best that the rider's force and speed skills (especially sprinting skills) are well-established. Power workouts combine high levels of force with the turning of big gears along with a high cadence. A heart rate monitor is of no value to this type of training. Using a power meter is ideal, however, since what we are after is achieving a high power output as quickly as posssible.

There are many different power workouts. My favorite is "12-stroke sprints." After a long warm-up and a few form sprints the rider does a maximal-effort sprint. This may be done on a low-grade hill or flat terrain. Count every time the right (or left) foot drives the pedal down. On the 12th stroke the sprint ends. The purpose is to see how great of a power output can be generated in 12 strokes (or less).

Doing these the rider learns to keep weight distributed fairly evenly between the wheels when standing with a low profile by keeping the butt over the nose of the saddle while selecting the right gear for the terrain and effort.

After a 3- to 5-minute recovery the second sprint is done just as with the first. Sprints may continue with long recoveries until there is an obvious decline in power output. These may be done in sets of 3 to 5 sprints with very long recoveries (10 minutes or more) between sets.

This may also be included at the start of another workout such as muscular endurance or aerobic endurance. In the Build period the sprint portion of the workout is often shifted to the end of the workout to better simulate the stresses of road racing.

I hope to post the last part in the next two days depending on how much work I need to get done before my next trip.

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At November 17, 2009 10:18 AM , Blogger Lev said...

Thanks for generosity of sharing your knowledge. I have all your books and use TrainingPeaks since 2003. Your help is greatly appreciated. Lev

At November 17, 2009 2:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In your tweet today, you reinforced intensity over volume by quoting a study on increased "speed endurance". Is this why you recommend power workouts during the middle of base training?

Should one do Fartleks on the E2/E3 runs?

Moreover, I am still unclear of the difference between force and power training?

Finally, do you have any publications/books that has even more training session suggestions that the TP training session library?

I appreciate your efforts. Christopher

At November 17, 2009 2:51 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Christopher--I'm afraid it's a lot more complex than it appears on the surface and your first question here is wanting me to address the complexity. It's a big topic that has to do with training stress resulting from duration and intensity. Some day I'll write about that here. The bottom line answer to this question is 'no,' for now.

Make E2 and E3 runs steady state most of the time. There is always room for variety, esp after base fitness is well-established.

Think of force as being high gear, low cadence. Think of power as being high gear, high cadence.

TP has all of my workouts in the menu. I often modify these to fit unique needs.

At December 30, 2009 11:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.


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