Monday, November 16, 2015

Power Certification Clinic

A little over a week ago I attended the Power Certification Clinic at Peaks Coaching Group with Hunter Allen and Dr. Stephen McGregor in Bedford, VA. This was exciting for me because the Power Certification course is something I have wanted to attend since I became a coach. USACycling has not offered the Power Certification for a couple years now. I was lucky that my first opportunity to attend was only a five hour drive from Greenville, so I jumped at the opportunity. Hunter and Dr. McGregor addressed many interesting new topics. Some of the topics included were power meters on the market today, functional threshold power (FTP), and how to use WKO4 software with its many new features. Most of these topics were developed by Dr. Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen and can be found in their book Training and Racing with a Power Meter.

The first night Hunter and Dr. McGregor addressed functional threshold power (FTP) and its application. There are varying definitions out there for lactate threshold (LT) and FTP which can make it confusing.  According to Dr. Andy Coggan FTP is the single most important number for a cyclist. FTP helps determine an athlete's training zones. We also looked at WKO4 and saw some of its expansive features including Andy Coggan's individualized training zones. The new zones are specific to each athlete and are calculated by using data from the athlete's last 90 days. The new software includes a modeled FTP (mFTP) feature.

On Saturday morning Hunter talked about the different power meters available on the market, and there are an abundance of them! All use ANT+ technology to communicate with the head unit. The  newest technology comes in the form of left/right power meters. WKO4 has some innovative features to analyze the left/ right data. This data can help to further improve athletes.

Another thing Hunter talked about were pacing strategies for every type of race. Some events like mountain bike racing and time trials require a precise pacing strategy. For an event like a road race or criterium, riders are at the mercy of the other riders in the peloton. Something I love about road races and criteriums is that the strongest rider doesn't always win. The strongest riders sometimes attack too much, waste all their gas, and finish with a poor result. A good pacing strategy for a road race or criterium could mean sitting in the pack like a leech and saving your bullets for later in the race. It could also mean jumping into the early break. Pacing for road races and criterium is much more dynamic than for time trials.

Dr. McGregor discussed functional reserve capacity (FRC) and anaerobic work capacity. FRC defines the amount of work (in kiloJoules) that an athlete can perform above FTP. The duration of time an athlete can spend at FRC is dependent on the intensity of the effort. Once the athlete has performed that defined amount of FRC work for them, they are cracked. FRC recharges when an athlete rides below their FTP. WKO4 calculates FRC for us based on the athlete's last 90 days of training.

The next thing Dr. McGregor talked about was normalized power, intensity factor (IF), and training stress score (TSS). Normalized power is the average power from a ride that accounts for all the surges in power throughout a ride. It shows the perceived difficulty of a workout better than average power alone. IF is a number that states how hard a workout is generated by normalized power compared to FTP with an IF of 1 equalling FTP. Training stress score accounts for the IF of a workout and the duration of that workout. The higher the TSS from a ride, the longer it will take to recover from that ride.

Dr. McGregor then talked about the performance manager chart (PMC). The PMC is an intuitive tool, developed by Dr. Andy Coggan, that uses TSS to determine an athletes, fatigue, form, and freshness. Dr. McGregor talked about how we can use the PMC to prevent periods of severe overreaching which could lead to illness or injury. The PMC can also be used to make sure progressive overload is applied in a rational manner,  help an athlete avoid stagnation, and help an athlete achieve peak fitness. Hunter also discussed the PMC and showed us ways to manipulate the chart to change recovery times for different athletes based on how quickly they recover.

Hunter presented some sample workouts as well. Within the workouts he showed us some things to look for in regards to pacing within an interval session. He pointed out some things to look for in the quadrant analysis chart available in WKO3 and WKO4. The quadrant analysis divides pedaling up into 4 quadrants. Quadrant 1 is fast pedaling and high power. Quadrant 2 is slow pedaling high power. Quadrant 3 is slow pedaling low power, and quadrant 4 is fast pedaling at low power. You can make workouts fit into the quadrants that you want in order to make the workouts specific to an event you want an athlete to peak for.

Finally Hunter talked about a new WKO4 feature called advanced pedaling metrics and mechanics. Advanced pedaling metrics look at left/right power data and how much power is produced and absorbed with each leg. This can be useful because if an athlete can learn to absorb less watts in their pedal stroke, over time they can generate more watts without actually generating more watts.

I'm happy to have attended the power certification course and feel I learned quite a bit. I gained more insight into additional workouts and tools that I can use to help my athletes progress to higher levels. Hunter helped develop WKO4, the best power analytical software available. Who better to learn from than the guru himself? In the next week or so I will take the power certification test in order to earn my Power Certification. This will make me one of around 100 coaches with the USACycling Power certification. It is important to always keep learning and progressing both on and off the bike.