Sunday, May 31, 2009

Power vs Penetrating the Wind

A few days ago I wrote about power, penetrating the wind (aerodynamics) and pacing. Getting the balance right between these is critical to success in time trialing and the bike leg in multisport. Seeing lessons on such topics play out in real life helps to drive home the point.

Remember this? In the 1989 Tour de France Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon by 38 seconds in the final time trial stage to win the overall title. That day LeMond opted for better aerodynamics by using the new "triathlete bars," as Phil Liggett called them on the TV coverage that day. Fignon decided not to use aero bars and instead relied on his power to win. He lost.

Today's final stage of the Giro provided another good lesson on this same topic. Race leader Dennis Menchov used aero bars and a very low position. Danilo Di Luca, in second place and only 20 seconds back at the start of the day, went the Fignon route. Menchov crashed on the rain-soaked cobbles inside of the final 1km and stll beat Di Luca by 21 seconds on the day to win the Giro. I doubt if Di Luca will make that same decision again.

To time trial well you need balance between power and aerodynamics. They are trade offs. If you opt for more power you will need to make position changes that increase drag and thus sacrifice aerodymanics. If you want to go for the most aero-possible position you'll give up some power. You need to balance these. And the balance is somewhat dependent on the course you are racing. The hillier or more technical the course, the more you need power. And the opposite is also true: The flatter and less technical the course the more you should shift the balance toward aerodynamics.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thought on Overtraining

A couple of weeks ago I posted a piece about overtraining. I want to make another brief comment about something I alluded to there but didn't flesh out. This will be just a passing thought. I mentioned that you have to overtrain to achieve a high level of fitness but that you also have to stop before going too far. Let me explain that a bit more.

When I do a talk I often ask the audience how many have been overtrained. Almost everyone raises their hands. My guess is that fewer than 5% in any such athletic audience, even with mostly very serious athletes, has truly achieved overtraining. And that's a liberal estimate. It's very difficult to achieve the overtraining syndrome. Accomplishing that requires a superhuman effort to overcome your body's extreme weariness which is a probably a built in mechanism to prevent death or at least bodily harm. I've only known of one athlete in in 30 years of coaching who I believed was really overtrained. It wasn't a pretty sight. He was a pro triathlete who told after he retired that he was never the same athlete again. He raced unspectacularly for three more years following that episode.

I can sense your confusion already. How can you overtrain and yet not be overtrained? Overtraining is a process; the overtraining syndrome is a result. The process of overtraining simply means that you must train at a stress level which would produce the overtraining syndrome eventually. That 'eventually' is poorly defined in the literature. It could be any where from a couple of weeks for an aging, novice athlete to perhaps a dozen weeks for a highly fit, 20-year-old. And to make matters even worse it's a moving target. It might take less stress to achieve the OT syndrome at the start of the training season than it would just a few weeks later when your capacity for stress has increased.

The process of overtraining is also called 'overreaching.' In order to intelligently overreach you must know what your body is currently capable of handling in terms of stress and then exceed that stress by a SMALL amount. Most athletes left to their own devices will try to exceed by as great a margin as possible. You must also know how long you can manage the overreaching stress load before the wheels start to come off (i.e., overwhelming fatigue sets in). I've found nothing better for this than the WKO+ software. I use it to manage the stress loads of the athletes I coach so that we achieve peak performance when we need while avoiding the overtraining syndrome. Even with the software it's still somewhat of a crapshoot as you can tell from this post. But I don't know how I did it before the WKO+ software came on the scene a few years ago. I wouldn't want to go back to that way of coaching again.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I recently read (actually, I listened to the audiobook) Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell. He suggests that success in any endeavor typically results from two things – luck and hard work.

He points out that luck is the result of being born at the right time and living in the right place. One of the many examples he gave for this was Bill Gates. In the late 1960s Gates was in junior high school at the time computers were just beginning to appear. He was very interested in computer technology but in order to become proficient he would have to spend a lot of time playing around with one. That wasn’t easy to do since there were very few available. But he happened to live in a place where an organization had a computer he could use any time he wanted. The time and place were perfect for him. How lucky.

He capitalized on this opportunity by spending nearly all of his spare time messing around with it. Within a matter of a few years it is estimated he logged over 10,000 hours of computer time. During his junior year at Harvard he dropped out and started Microsoft. The hard work paid off.

Luck and hard work. That’s it, Gladwell says. You have limited control over the first. It’s too late to change when you were born. If you’re a triathlete now you can thank your lucky stars to have been at an opportune time since the sport didn’t really exist until the early 1980s. Mountain biking came along in the mid-1980s. The running boom started in the early 1970s. And road cycling has only been popular in the US since the early 1970s. So, depending on your age right now, your timing may have been pretty good.

You do have some control over where you live, however. There are places that seem to produce excellent endurance athletes such as Boulder and San Diego. Why? Because they have the resources associated with endurance sport success such as decent weather, variable terrain, top coaches, adequate facilities, talented training partners, good roads, sports medicine practices, and more.

Gladwell suggests that 10,000 hours at any endeavor is what is needed to master it. Again, he offers many examples such as the Beatles. He estimates that they had played together for 10,000 hours by 1964 when they became an “overnight” success in the US as a rock band.

In athletic terms, 10,000 hours is 10 years of 20 hour weeks. Elite endurance athletes in cycling and triathlon typically put in more than 20 hours a week so they get their 10-grand a little sooner. If they started training seriously in their early 20s by their late 20s they are approaching their peaks. Many can keep this peak going into their 30s because they continue to become smarter as athletes. For example, they learn more about race strategies and tactics, and what works best for their own training.

Most age-group athletes who train far less than 20 hours weekly have many years of improvement ahead of them depending on the effects of their aging curves. The older you get the fewer mistakes you can make in training if you want to keep the growth curve rising steadily. They must avoid injury, illness and other breakdowns that interrupt training. This is the biggest challenge for self-coached athletes there is. It’s a rare athlete who will limit himself. Most are intent on doing all that is possible. Hard workouts abound.

I believe that the key to success in sport is not simply hard workouts but, more importantly, training consistency — practicing your sport day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. Uninterrupted. Athletes who focus on excessively hard workouts on the premise that this will quickly produce exceptional performance eventually find themselves overtrained, burned out, injured or sick. There is nothing that produces race results like years of consistent training. This is not to say there is no place for hard workouts. There is. It’s just a matter of how hard and how often.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The 3 P’s of Time Trialing

For steady state cycling events like time trialing, triathlon and duathlon there are three elements that contribute to success. I call them the three P’s.

Power generation. This is the element athletes most enjoy working on. Fitness.

Basically, it comes down to how much force you apply to the pedals per unit of time. Force is another way of saying gear size. Time is pedaling cadence. Combined, gear size and cadence result in power. If force rises due to a bigger gear being used as cadence remains constant then power increases. If cadence increases while gear size remains the same then power also increases.

For most experienced athletes cadence is not the issue. They already turn the cranks at an effective rate in the neighborhood of 80 to 100 rpm. Many novices, however, are confused on cadence and pedal ineffectively at too high of a cadence. Those who pedal too slowly may have a better developed muscular system than aerobic system and so feel more comfortable at low cadences. As aerobic fitness improves their cadences typically increase.

A greater capacity for power is developed over several years. It may take three or more years for a rider to reach their seasonal maximum. There are many elements of training that go into this including an economic pedaling technique, optimal muscle development, a large aerobic capacity, and a high anaerobic threshold as a percentage of aerobic capacity.

Penetrate the wind. This has to do with reducing drag. Aerodynamics.

The starting place for this is having a bike that fits properly and is designed for time trialing. The key element of its design is how you sit on it. This generally includes achieving a position that offers a small frontal area to the wind with a flat back, low head and low shoulder position. Of secondary importance is the aerodynamic characteristics of the wheels. And finally the number of things that stick out into the wind from the bike and you have a small effect on aerodynamics. This may be helmet, clothing, cables, handlebars, wide tires, and more.

Pace the course. This has to do with how you spend your energy resources during the race. I’ve discussed this in my blog before and you can find the most recent incarnation of my thoughts on the subject

Preparing for a time trial type of event involves optimizing all three of these. I’ve found most athletes are pretty good at developing the first two but are very poor at the last. Not only do they seldom work on it but many seem to believe that what we know about optimal pacing is wrong. I spend a great deal of my time with the athletes I coach just driving this point home and having them rehearse it so they learn how to pace correctly in a race. Until they make proper pacing habitual they will never be successful at steady state events regardless of their power and penetration. The link provided to the previous post on this topic above discusses the details of pacing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fitness and Health

Today I received word that Steve Larsen died. At first it was assumed to be the result of a heart attack, but was later determined to be some how associated with a breathing problem he had been having. It’s all still quite vague. Perhaps we’ll know more in a few days.

Although I didn’t know Steve very well, our lives had overlapped a few times. In the 1980s he was an aspiring junior cyclist from Colorado and the same age as my son, Dirk. They used to go to races together. Before either had drivers licenses my wife was their chauffeur. She always said that Steve was a handful at that age.

I next saw Steve at the Sea Otter race in about 1999, I believe. We spoke very briefly. He was racing mountain bike that day but I don’t recall how he did.

Then came July, 2001 when I was the coach of pro triathlete Ryan Bolton. By this time I had been coaching Ryan for four years. Up until then he had been racing ITU World Cup events and been on the 2000 USA Olympic team in triathlon’s inaugural appearance. Following Sydney Ryan decided he wanted to change challenges and win an Ironman. His first would be Ironman Lake Placid. As it turned out, Steve had also decided to become an Ironman athlete after a great career as a roadie and mountain biker. Long story short: Ryan came in second that day to Steve who had an awesome bike leg and then ran a 2:54 on something like 12 miles of running a week (it was the fastest he ever ran). I thought Ryan would be able to run Steve down, but it wasn’t to be. (Ryan went on to win in Lake Placid in 2002).

For the next few years I would occasionally run into Steve at some race. The last time was in Kona. He was always friendly and asked about Dirk and Ryan.

It’s hard to imagine someone so fit and robust dying during a workout. But unfortunately it happens. The last time something of this magnitude happened was in 1984 when Jim Fixx died while out on a run at age 52. I remember it vividly because at the time I owned a running store and the running boom was still in its formative years.

Fixx was the author of The Complete Book of Running which was published by Random House in 1977. Here you see the cover of that book. The legs are the author’s – at the time a 45-year-old man who had run several marathons. The book was the best selling, hard-cover, non-fiction book ever published as of 1977.

In the book Fixx said that if you ran a marathon you would not die from a heart attack. We all believed him. Something else would eventually get us but it wouldn’t be the old ticker stopping. So you can imagine what his death while on a run in Vermont did to the running community. It scared the hell out of a lot of people who decided to give up the sport believing it was too risky.

Later we learned that Fixx’s father and grandfather had also both died of heart disease and at younger ages than him. So more than likely Fixx’s lifestyle bought him a few more years. But being highly fit definitely did not overcome his genetics. Interestingly, that same year he had been offered a free stress test by Dr. Kenneth Cooper at his clinic in the Dallas area. Fixx turned it down believing there was no need to test his health. He was obviously fit. What could be better?

Unfortunately, as both Jim Fixx’s and Steve Larsen’s deaths show, great fitness does not mean you also have great health. While this post is mostly just a time for me to reminisce, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that you can’t take your health for granted no matter how fit you are. Here's another: Who would have thought that a 25-year-old, World Champion cyclist and Olympian could possibly have cancer in an advanced stage. These things happen even to fit athletes of all ages. You may be fit, but you’re not necessarily healthy. The two are not the same.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Aging and Performance

When I was in college 40-some years ago the track coach had all the runners do the same workout every day. It was a killer. What I would today call “anaerobic endurance” training. After we warmed up he would blow his whistle and all of us would report to the start line on the cinder track. We knew what was next. He’d blow his whistle again and we’d take off running 440 yards (1 lap) as fast as we could go. As we crossed the finish line he’d call out our times from his handheld stopwatch.

We’d all stand there with our hands on our knees panting while he told us slow we were and that we needed to get faster. Then, when he felt like it, he’d blow the whistle again and off we’d go on the second interval. This could go on for 6 or 10 or 15 of these. Whatever he felt like having us do that day. There was never any talk about pacing, how long the recoveries would be, or how many we were going to do. When people started throwing up the workout usually ended. So I came to call this Intervals Til You Puke. It was a killer workout and wasn’t any fun. I didn't run again for 11 years after I graduated because of this workout. And we’d do this four or five times a week. The only break would be the day before a track meet, and, of course, on the weekends. Nobody trained on the weekends back then. And this sort of “training” (I use the word loosely) went on for the entire track season.

At age 20 I could bounce back and do this workout day, after day, after day. Now I might be able to occasionally do two of these sessions in a week. One is more likely. I simply couldn't spring back. There’s no question that aging impacts recovery. And, of course, recovery has to do with performance. The faster one recovers the more challenging workouts that can be done in a given period of time. The harder the training is, the greater the resulting performance.

What we find in the real world of sport is that as we get older performance drops. There is a steady decline from one’s mid-30s through the seventh decade of life. Then at about age 70 there is a rapid decline in performance. This is evident when looking at age group bests in marathon running as demonstrated by the accompanying chart. And it appears to happen in a wide range of endurance sports.

Again, there is very little in the way of scientific research to support this, but there was one such study of swimmers that came out of the University of Colorado a few years ago. This research [1] showed exactly what I described above: A steady decline in performance until age 70 when there was a significantly greater decrement.

Why does this happen and what can be done about it? There is very little research on aging athletes. That will change in the next few years, I’m certain, since the Baby Boomers are now becoming seniors in large numbers.

The only studies I can find on the topic of recovery in aging athletes come out of Australia. Both used the same data gathered from nine athletes averaging 24 years of age and nine athletes averaging 45 years [2,3]. They each did three, 30-minute, cycling time trials on three subsequent days. Their performances were measured and they recorded subjective perceptions of muscle soreness, fatigue and recovery before each time trial. Interestingly, there was no difference in performance declines between the younger and older groups over the three-day period. However, the older athletes reported significantly more soreness and fatigue, and lower levels of recovery compared with the younger riders. I suspect that had they gone beyond three days of hard workouts they would have soon found a performance decline in the older athletes before it showed up in the younger ones. And had they used even older athletes they may have seen performance declines within three days. But that is just conjecture on my part.

Again, with limited research on the topic there is not much to go on when trying to determine a cause. A study of aging rats found that protein synthesis in type I muscle set them apart from young rats who recovered much more quickly from consecutive days of endurance exercise [4]. A review of the limited literature on the topic confirmed this conclusion about protein in humans [5].

So what does all of this mean for you as an aging athlete? Should you be eating more protein as you get older? The answer to that question is not certain. I know of only one study that found taking in protein soon after exercise stimulated protein synthesis in aging subjects [6]. It might help.

Most of the research relative to eating protein has to do with moderately active or inactive, older subjects needing to maintain muscle mass rather than recover from highly stressful workouts [7,8,9]. This may have little or nothing to do with an athlete’s need for protein but is more food for thought.

The real key for aging endurance athletes is frequent recovery time. All athletes need down time on a regular basis. Older athletes simply need it more often than their younger counterparts. I’ve found that most of the 50-and-older athletes I’ve coached over the years need two to three days of easy training following a highly stressful workout. A young athlete may do two of these sessions back to back and then require only one or two days to fully recover. But not the older athlete. How great the stress is that triggers this long recovery block is an individual matter. Every athlete should have a good idea of what different types of workouts demand in the way of recovery.

In the same manner, all athletes need extended recovery periods every few weeks during periods of heavy training. Younger athletes can go perhaps three to five weeks before needing to take a break for three to five days. For the 50-plus athlete it is seldom more than two weeks before down time is necessary in order to prevent overtraining. Extending the period of heavy training beyond this or skipping these rest blocks is likely to result in unrelenting fatigue and greatly reduced performance.

1. Donato, A.J., K. Tench, D.H. Glueck, D.R. Seals, I. Eskurza, H. Tanaka. Declines in Physiological Functional Capacity with Age: A Longitudinal Study in Peak Swimming Performance. Journal of Applied Physiology, 2003, 94(2):764-769.
2. Fell, J., L. Haseler, P. Gaffney, P. Reaburn, G. Harrison. Performance During Consecutive Days of Laboratory Time-Trials in Young and Veteran Cyclsists. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 2006, 46(3): 395-402.
3. Fell, J., P. Reaburn, G.J. Harrison. Altered Perception and Report of Fatigue and Recovery in Veteran Athletes. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 2008, 48(2): 272-277.
4. Spangenburg, E.E., T. Abraha, T.E. Chails, J.S. Pattison, F.W. Booth. Skeletal Muscle IGF-Binding Protein-3 and -5 Expressions Are Age, Muscle and Load Dependent. American Journal of Physiology and Endocrinology, 2003, 284(2): 340-350.
5. Thompson, L.V. Skeletal Muscle Adaptations With Age, Inactivity, and Therapeutic Exercise. Journal of Orthopedics, Sports, and Physical Therapy, 32(2): 44-57.
6. Dorrens, J., M.J. Rennie. Effects of Aging and Human Whole Body and Muscle Protein Turnover. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 2003. 13(1): 26-33.
7. Young, V.R. 1990. Protein and Amino Acid Metabolism With Reference to Aging and the Elderly. Progressive Clinical Biology Research, 1990, 326: 279-300.
8. Parise, G. Yarasheski, K.E. The Utility of Resistance Exercise Training and Amino Acid Supplementation for Reversing Age-Associated Decrements in Muscle Protein Mass and Function. Current opinions in Clinical Nutrition, Metabolism and Care, 2000. 3(6): 489-495.
9. Esmarck, B., J.L. Andersen, S. Olsen, E.A. Richter, M. Mizuno, M. Kjaer. Timing of Post-Exercise Protein Intake Is Important for Muscle Hypertrophy With Resistance Training in Elderly Humans. Journal of Physiology, 2001, 535(Pt 1): 301-311.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Overtraining Threshold

It’s that timer of year when overtraining is likely for some athletes. Here are a few thoughts on how to keep this from happening to you.

Throughout the Base and Build periods the workload should be just great enough to produce stress marked by fatigue and adaptation, but not so high that the overtraining syndrome results. The level at which overtraining symptoms first appear is the “overtraining threshold.” The overtraining threshold is a moving target. The workload that causes overtraining when fitness is low may be easily tolerated when fitness is high.

For experienced athletes there actually are times when the overtraining threshold is exceeded in order to produce the highest levels of fitness. This is called “overreaching" and is illustrated in the accompanying graphic. The key here is to reduce the training load at the right time while overreaching so that the overtraining syndrome doesn’t occur. If it does it may well take several weeks to recover. This is rare but there are some athletes who push themselves hard enough to achieve it. Most of us will back off long before we get to that level.

As adaptation occurs with improving fitness, the overtraining threshold rises. In other words, it takes more workload to overtrain the athlete as fitness improves. The workload must rise if fitness improvement is to continue. Most athletes recognize this phenomenon and allow for it by increasing the number of intervals within a workout, or by extending the length of a workout, or by doing repeats at a greater effort. The problem is that most athletes try to rush the process, but it’s simply not possible to speed up the changes that happen at the cellular level short of using drugs. The human body adapts to changes in workload slowly and steadily. And each individual athlete has his or her own unique rate of adaptation. The trick is to discover what your rate is and then pay close attention to it when determining training workloads. This isn’t easy. It is best to err on the conservative side.

How can the overtraining threshold be identified? It’s tough to nail down, in part, because it’s always changing, but also because there are no universal and absolute standards. For example, I can’t say what a certain resting heart rate—either high or low—means for your level of overtraining. That must be determined individually. I’ve found, however, that there are several categories of markers that may predict when you are exceeding your overtraining threshold. They are:

+ Fatigue which doesn’t go away with 48 hours of low workload or even time off from training. The legs feel tired or there is general body weariness that lingers even after taking it easy for two days.

+ Little control of emotions — evidence of anger, feeling sorry for yourself, moodiness, depression, grumpiness. In short, you are hard to live with. A spouse or roommate may be the first to recognize this.

+ Performance declines. For example, you are slower at a given heart rate, or for any given speed, heart rate is higher than usual.

+ Self-confidence declines. This may be the best marker, but it’s hard to assess. One way to do it may be in the athlete trying to visualize accomplishing a very high workout or race goal. If it seems out of reach and farfetched, self-confidence may be low.

When any of these markers show up and linger for more than three days, there’s a good chance that the overtraining threshold has been exceeded. At this point the workload must be reduced immediately until you are back to normal. Then take time to evaluate what level of workload produced the problem, and make adjustments as you start back into higher workloads.

By learning to recognize your overtraining threshold and keeping the workload below it while designing the season around your limiters and strengths, you’ll improve race performances both in the short and long term. That’s smart training.

Monday, May 4, 2009

More on Time Trial Pacing

Here you can see a chart from the Rabbit Mountain Time Trial held yesterday near Boulder, Colo. The chart is from a pro triathlete. It again illustrates my point that when going uphill you need to increase the power output. He started just a bit fast, which is common, but within three minutes settled into a work rate which he held quite steadily for the remainder of the race, except when going up hills. This course has a rather long, steep climb to the finish and you can see here that his speed is the lowest of the race and his power the highest. This chart is a good example of how to pace yourself in a non-drafting, steady-state event.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Time Trial Pacing

What you don’t want to have happen in a time trial is to slow down gradually over the course of the event, “give up” and finish with a whimper. Yet this all too often happens. I’m afraid most athletes have too little patience and also believe that some how going our extra fast will lead to a better time than finishing fast. The problem is that when going out overly fast you create a lot of acid build up which causes you to slow at a greater rate than would have been the case had you been more conservative early on.

In this graphic you can see what typically happens in a long TT. While this is a CP30 test the results are what normally happen when racing a TT. Note that the power line (black) descends throughout the 30 minutes while heart rate (red) rises. (There’s a 17-second gap near the right end where the device failed leaving a data gap.)

Notice that I’ve divided the 30 minutes into four quarters with data on how each went. The average watts (“Wavg”) for each quarter clearly shows how power dropped while average heart rate (“HRavg”) rose, especially in the latter half. (The other data here is Variability Index (“VI”), cadence (“cad”), and decoupling (“dec”) which I won’t discuss now but have done in previous posts.)

I like to have the riders I coach divide the time trial course into four quarters just as I have done in the above graphic and have a strategy for each. Here is how I suggest they mentally manage each quarter of a longish time trial.

Q1. In the first they simply try to hold back. This will feel the easiest with RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) being the lowest of the race — and far lower than what their mind is telling them to do. This may only be a 3% reduction of power but it feels much greater. The tendency is to go out much too fast and pay the price later on. Heart rate will mean little here. RPE is everything, especially if you don’t have a power meter. If you start breathing hard here you went out much too fast.

Q2. In the second quarter, if you don’t have a power meter, heart rate and speed are watched closely. Realize that if it’s a windy day or a hilly course then speed means little. Power makes this so simple. Just ride at goal average power in quarter 2. If using a heart rate monitor and RPE stay in your goal average zone with an RPE which is only slightly harder than for the first quarter. Do not let heart rate rise above goal heart rate. Stay in tune with your technique and breathing while being careful not to get caught up in "racing" your minute man. Concentrate on your own race — not his or hers.

Q3. The third quarter is the toughest. If you will slow down, this is when it will happen. The purpose of the first half of the race is to prepare you for this section. If you controlled your effort and stayed in the moment earlier you will now be able to maintain average power, heart rate or speed here, altho it will now feel much harder. In other words, RPE is now rising rapidly even though your body is not working any harder than before. During this quarter you may well say to yourself, "I'm not doing very well. Going too slow. I'm going to get passed." That's normal. Expect it. Everyone will think that during this segment. Maintain focus and effort. Play "pedaling games." Count pedal strokes as "1-2-3-1-2-3, etc". On "1" apply more force and let up on "2-3". That means that each leg will get a 5-stroke "rest." Or try a 5-beat. Nearly 25 years ago in his book, Bicycle Racing, Eddie B. suggested pedaling with "only 1 leg" for a few strokes while the other "rests." Do whatever you need to mentally get through this section of the race. It is by far the toughest even if you paced properly earlier. If you didn’t then this part is incredibly depressing. You are likely to surrender to your minute man here.

Q4. In the fourth quarter you know there are only a few agonizing minutes left. The end is mentally in sight. It’s just like the horse smelling the barn – you feel capable of increasing the RPE. Now you can race others IF you held back in quarters 1 and 2. Try to gain on someone up the road. Concentrate on that target. With a couple of minutes to go begin to increase the effort gradually. Try to pass someone. Go hard, but if you can sprint you held back too much. You should finish feeling as if nothing was left on the course.

Mental preparation is critical to time trialing. Riders have told me of their "TT tricks," like imagining where they would be if they were on their interval course at home or "mentally" singing a song that has the right rhythm for their stroke. These may come in handy in quarter 3. When doing your time trial interval workouts (you’re doing these, aren’t you?) try doing four long intervals with each using the strategy you will employ for that quarter in the race. Don't wait until race day to practice this.

Another element of successful time trialing that must be practiced is riding the hills so as to optimize performance. On all hills, including just small rollers you hardly even notice, ride slightly harder on the up side and slightly easier on the down side. This will help you gain time while giving your legs a small break. This also needs to be rehearsed when doing TT intervals. The accompanying chart illustrates how this was done. Here you can see a single six-minute interval from a workout. The early portion of this interval was slightly downhill as you can tell because speed (“MPH”) was high. So power was allowed to drop slightly here. In the latter half of this interval speed was low because of a slight uphill so the rider increased the power. Again, this should be rehearsed when doing time trial workouts.