Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Featuring TheRunZone?s resident coach Tinman. All participants are welcome to post and reply to topics in this section whether you?re looking for advice, or sharing your own coaching experience.

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Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by Tinman » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:27 pm

This is the start of a cycling thread. I encourage non-cyclists to read the information and exchanges that we have on this thread. Feel free to ask questions. Feel free to share what you have learned from cycling or the relationship between running and cycling. Feel free to comment on races that you see on TV or in-person.

I'll start by sharing that I did a 90 seconds test (550 watts), easy for 6 minutes and then a 7-minute test (462 watts) five days ago. Today I did a 21 minute test (though not 100% effort because the first 4 minutes were threshold effort) at average of 421 watts. For those of you who are getting used to watts, I'll share with you speed equivalents: 462 watts is 26.493miles per hour (42.64 km/hr) and 421 watts is 25.6 miles per hour (41.2 km/hr). The world record (on a $15,000 bike) on a velodrome (smooth, board track) is about 462 watts. Therefore, the best in the world can cycle 60 minutes at my 7-minute power wattage. Note, I should be able to ride 408 watts, using non-linear mathematics to reveal the critical power value. Another note: I weigh much more than the top cyclists in the world, so I would have to produce signficantly more wattage to ride at their speeds. When I have some free time (not much of it), I'll figure out the numbers I would need to match the best in the world.

For those of you who are curious about what the wattages above feel like, go to your local gym or ride on a friends bike that has a power meter. You might be suprised at how the wattages feel.
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Re: Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by Tinman » Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:15 pm

If anyone has a question regarding cycling, please feel free to ask on this thread. Thanks
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Re: Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by dkggpeters » Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:48 pm

Tinman,

I think it would be interesting to hear about the different training methods used for racing in cycling.  I know some of the domestique's will develop a huge engine so they can pull the group along like a locomotive but have no snap or acceleration.  Some of the racers have to be able to attack and recover.  These obviously use different training methods and hit different systems.  I am sure developing one system may impact the other system in a negative way.

I believe a lot of that carries over to running as well.  In a true racing environment you have to be able to recover from surges and attacks while someone like me is more concerned about getting to speed and just holding on.

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Re: Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by Tinman » Sat Mar 08, 2014 2:26 am

DK -

In cycling, as in running, training to have one outstanding fitness component can make one inflexible from a performance standpoint. Let's say you want to train for the 1-hour world record - either sport - and you really do a lot of race-pace work on your "threshold" fitness, which is near 1-hour pace; if you are put in a shorter race, say one that takes only 10-20 minutes to complete, you will have trouble changing paces yet still be able to hold a strong, steady pace. The mistake, from a tactical standpoint, would be to try and match another athlete who has specifically trained to apply surges. I think a decent example of this sort of situation plays out for Cadel Evans in cycling - former Tour De France winner. Evans has good time-trialing ability for a distance around 50 km, which for an elite cyclists in a stage race takes just over an hour. Yet, when trying to match riders on a climb where they surge frequently he falters. Mostly he knows that his strength is not changing paces, but sometimes he forgets and let's his competitive drive take over. He pays a price for surging with the guys who are good at it, and he gets dropped in the final kilometer of a climb when he previously tried to surge on others or match their surges.  I see the same thing play out in running.

Several times I've attended the Prefontaine Classic Track & Field meets in Eugene, Oregon. Each times, it has been fun to watch the best African's and non-Africans deal with their opponents tactics/strategy. Most Kenyans, for example, are accustom to surging in races, and when they shift gears it's amazing how much more effective they are at beating runners who are not used to that sort of tactic. However, one year I watched Craig Mottram from Australia deal with changes of pace that the Kenyan runners tried to apply during a 2-mile race, and to Mottram's credit he realized that he was not going to get lured into a strategy that would put him at a disadvantage. Basically, Mottram was a fast, steady pace runner; he was not good at surging. So, he laid off the hot pace whenever the Kenyan's surged.  Mottram would lose ground temporarily during surges, but he caught back up because he didn't panic.  Mottram's strategy worked and the Kenyans were left shaking their heads after the race. Mottram ran 8:04 and won with a very steady, hard pace and a moderate kick at the end.

It's really a big deal to know yourself. If you train a certain way, or if you have not practiced racing in a certain way, it's best to apply your strategy, regardless of what other people are doing. Play to your strength and minimize your weaknesses.
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Re: Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by qrkid » Sat Mar 08, 2014 1:29 pm

Interesting that this popped up now because I have been thinking about cycling with running. I plan on focusing on running in the next 18 months, but have dabbled in triathlons (qualified for Ironman "World" 70.3 champs in 2013)

I am starting to add some years to the old life timeline, will be 44 towards the end of this year. I am finding that I have become a little fragile and sort of injury prone.
Like I said above, I want to make running my focus. I was thinking of replacing some 2nd runs with cycling. I have time to run 3 doubles, so 10 run per week. I was thinking of just going with 7 runs and then biking the other 3. Basically sit around 60mi/wk with 3 x 1hr on the bike instead of running ~75mi/wk.

My big question revolves around what type of cycling to do? I am going to do it all indoors on rollers with my powermeter (powertap). I thought about doing the double day on my easy days. Not sure if that is the right way to go. Maybe riding in the morning and then doing a running workout in the afternoon might be good. Anybody have thoughts on that?

I am thinking that that I will do what is called sweetspot riding. Sweetspot is generally an intensity of 87-92% of Functional Threshold Power (FTP) which is basically the best power you can sustain for 1 hour. So in each ride I will be at ~90% of FTP for about 45min (thinking of 2 x 20min with 3min rest or 3 x 15' with 2min rest. Rest is not totally needed, but indoors it gives a little needed mental break)

Anybody, Tinman included, who has any thoughts on if this type of riding will be a benefit to my running or am I better off trying to go slow and eventually be able to hopefully handle 10 runs a week?
Also any ideas on what type/intensity of riding will be the best bang for my running buck?

Thanks.

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Re: Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by dkggpeters » Sat Mar 08, 2014 4:30 pm

I was always curious as well on how much bang for your buck you get by using cycling to increase volume and what methods are best if you decide to do so.  I could see doing cycling after a marathon to keep volume higher could be beneficial as you don't have the impact.

I remember being in phenomenal shape in my cycling days.

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Re: Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by wysiwyg » Sat Mar 08, 2014 5:04 pm

Hi Tinman,

Im no cycling expert but I can assure you 420watts should be considerably quicker than 41.2kmph!

You might like this thread on a cycling forum, involves some input from guys doing 50 minutes for 25 miles. about training composition, all on less that 10h a week. very interesting....you could definately take this cycling somewhere with those numbers.
http://www.timetriallingforum.co.uk/ind ... opic=85462

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Re: Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by Tinman » Sat Mar 08, 2014 5:36 pm

My assumption for the speed was resting my hands on the hoods rather than I a time trial position. It is amazing to me how rapidly I improve on the bike. I coach triathletes who are 100 watts lower than me and they are 20 years younger. I think part of the rapid rate if development is genetic. The other half relates to smart training. Improve that the right mix of workouts makes a big difference.
Last edited by Tinman on Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by Tinman » Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:50 pm

Quote from: Tinman on March 06, 2014, 04:56:39 PM
we have learned more from using power meters than we ever did from using a stop watch while running. The problem with timing runs is that several factors can influence performance. Temperature, wind, whether the course is flat, uphill, or downhill, weight of shoes and clothes (and restrictions from clothes that bind too); all those factors, and maybe more, influence running pace. It's why I always say you have to use TODAY's reference race-time for setting training pace. You may have run 17:30 in a 5k last weekend in light shoes, perfect weather, and no wind, but today you might only be able to hit 18:00 for 5k because it's not so nice outside. And, if you are inside, running on a treadmill, you might have overheating problems, the treadmill might not be calibrated well, and you simply don't feel comfortable running on a treadmill because the mechanical form to run efficiently on it is not the same as running on land or a track. 

Anyway, with power meters, there are fewer issues to overcome. Power is power, and it's stable. Yes, your fitness level might change from day to day a small amount, but certainly no more than is the case with running. But with power it doesn't matter what the wind is, what the temperature is, or whether you are going uphill, on the flats, or downhill; power is measured regardless and you absolutely know for sure if you are working harder, the same, or not as much. It's different than running, where you pace can speed up and you are not aware that you have a slightly tailwind behind you, or you may have a slight downgrade, or conversely your pace is slowing because of those two factors.
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Sorry for this question but I don't understand what the power meter offers that running pace doesn't if the variables of terrain and wind is taken into account. OK well I understand that power meters will give you the number straight away without having to calculate those variables so it's more comfortable but that's all, right? Or did I misunderstand something?

Not that I would mind the level of comfort a power meter would offer for running! :D

I also didn't understand why temperature doesn't matter for power. Do you mean temperature is less of a physiological issue on a bike than when running? But then that's not the advantage of using a power meter but the advantage is from a different sport, right? Thanks for explaining this more.
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Re: Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by Tinman » Sat Mar 08, 2014 10:32 pm

I will look at the question tomorrow. I need to spend time with my family tonight. Thanks.
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Re: Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by monica » Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:26 pm

[quote="Tinman"]
I will look at the question tomorrow. I need to spend time with my family tonight. Thanks.
[/quote]

No worries & Hope you'll enjoy time with family

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Re: Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by Tinman » Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:48 am

I keep running out if time!

Monica,
The problem is that it is hard to constantly adjust your estimation of pace for running in varying weather and courses that are not perfectly flat. You think you are adjusting appropriately but often you are not. All it takes is strapping a really good Polar Heart Rate or Garmin that records HR constantly and you will see how much the number varies in wind, hilly terrain, and how it rises a lot in hot weather. Intensity can be hard to control and challenging to accurately evaluate. But for cycling the use of Power Meters is more precise. If you cycle into a headwind, your pace may slow a lot but your Power Meter shows that you are working plenty hard. On a downhill you could be fooled by the high speed number into thinking that you are working hard enough, but using a power meter you are not fooled. You can push harder to hit your wattage requirement or simply add on more training time.
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Re: Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by dkggpeters » Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:46 pm

A question may be asked that you could just use HR to do the same thing for running as Monica brought up in her question.  A Power Meter would be much more beneficial as lets say you were doing a tempo run over hilly terrain or in windy conditions.  Hr tends to lag with changes in intensity making it difficult to keep a constant or close to constant HR.  With a power meter, there is no lag so you would run up the hill or into the wind at the correct effort.

Even as Tinman pointed out, keeping intensity is tough to do with changing conditions.  I know for myself that keeping the intensity at the right level in hilly terrain or windy conditions is tough to do.  I am constantly working to hard then backing off.  With a power meter I would be able to keep the effort much more constant.

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Re: Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by monica » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:30 pm

OK thanks so as I guessed it's for the easier access of precise calculations. :)

I still don't understand the part about the temperature variable, why wouldn't it matter for a power meter? Less than ideal temperatures would affect the pace in a way that a power meter won't help with, right?

I am asking about this sentence specifically: "But with power it doesn't matter what the wind is, what the temperature is, or whether you are going uphill, on the flats, or downhill; power is measured regardless and you absolutely know for sure if you are working harder, the same, or not as much."

See the bolded. I understand that the rest can be taken into account nicely using a power meter. But why was temperature mentioned as one of those variables?
Last edited by monica on Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cycling Training, Racing, Physiology, and Racing Tactics

Post by monica » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:40 pm

[quote="dkggpeters"]
A question may be asked that you could just use HR to do the same thing for running as Monica brought up in her question.  A Power Meter would be much more beneficial as lets say you were doing a tempo run over hilly terrain or in windy conditions.  Hr tends to lag with changes in intensity making it difficult to keep a constant or close to constant HR.  With a power meter, there is no lag so you would run up the hill or into the wind at the correct effort.

Even as Tinman pointed out, keeping intensity is tough to do with changing conditions.  I know for myself that keeping the intensity at the right level in hilly terrain or windy conditions is tough to do.  I am constantly working to hard then backing off.  With a power meter I would be able to keep the effort much more constant.
[/quote]

My workarounds... I guess for me it's a really complex equation of many variables, all the ones listed already and more. I probably wouldn't be able to put this well into words or say much that's new anyway. So of course a power meter would be more comfortable. :)

Then the only issues left to deal with would be current fitness and certain conditions (temperature, whatnot) that affect what a specific power value means to your body on one given day. Right?

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