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Year-end review: Power analysis tips

By Dirk Friel, TrainingPeaks.com

Performance Management Chart

Performance Management Chart


Happy New Year!

2008 is here and it’s time to capitalize upon your 2007 training files and training log entries. For those of you who didn’t keep a training log in 2007, this is your chance to get started.

Reviewing your 2007 training and racing data can be a huge advantage to those riders who kept track of their power meter files throughout the year. The biggest benefit of collecting power meter data is not analyzing individual files, but tracking and reviewing the trends over time. Rest days are even important to track since fitness can’t be gained without the proper amount of rest.

Analyzing fitness trends, and seeing precisely what it took to reach peak performance, can be even more effective if race files have been collected. Consistency over time is the key element when it comes to reaching peak form. Unfortunately, most riders with power meters do not realize the full potential of training with power since they don’t collect and review seasonal data.

Every rider has peaks and valleys when it comes to form and levels of fatigue. This is the natural flow of training, especially if you are following a periodized training program. Training builds fitness, but at the same time it also triggers fatigue. Many athletes don’t realize that fitness simply cannot be built without the cost of accumulated fatigue. Form, therefore, is the difference between fitness and fatigue. It’s a simple formula, but one you should always keep in mind:

Fitness – Fatigue = Form

In the end, it doesn’t matter how fit you are on race day. If your fatigue is too high, your form will be low. A lot of us have experienced that first-hand. Think back for a moment. Have you ever shown up for an event tired, yet underneath you knew you had a lot of fitness, but because you were too tired you couldn’t let your fitness rise to the top and be realized?

Reviewing your training and race data can paint a clear picture of what it took to achieve a high level of fitness, and low fatigue and ultimately high form. The trick is realizing the times when fitness was high, fatigue was low and then timing these time periods to coincide with the most important events on your schedule.

Data in Action
The chart included in this story shows a professional cyclist’s collected power data within a Performance Management Chart for the dates between January-March, 2007. This rider had two training camps leading up to the Tour of California. However, the Tour of California was not his primary goal. The goal of this particular rider was to be at peak form leading into the month of April. This is a great chart to view, since the ebb and flow of training loads and subsequent recovery periods can easily be seen.

The difference between Form (also known as Chronic Training Load, CTL), and Fatigue (Acute Training Load, ATL) equates to a rider’s form (Training Stress Balance, TSB).

Notice how the trends form throughout the early season training and racing. You can easily see how fatigue (the pink line) peaked at three different periods during the first two training camps and then during the Tour of California. Form (yellow bar graph) rose in-between the two training camps and peaked after a rest period in March just prior to the important race period on his schedule.

Look back at your own year. Where were your peaks in fitness, fatigue and form? How long did it take for you to recover after a heavy training block in order to finally allow your form to shine through? And did that form coincide with your important race periods?

Knowing what it took to reach peak performances is the secret to success. Collecting both objective and subjective (sleep quality, life stress, overall feel, etc) data on a daily basis can dramatically improve your ability to plan and predict peak form.

For more on the Performance Management Chart, and training and race files
from professional riders, please visit www.trainingpeaks.com.

Dirk Friel raced professionally on the roads of Europe, Asia and the Americas. He is an Ultrafit Associate coach (Ultrafit.com) specializing in road training with power and is a co-founder of Peaksware, LLC. He may
be reached by e-mail at Dirk@Peaksware.com.

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