Wednesday, October 19, 2016

From Couch to Competitor: How One Person Awakened the Titan Within

I recently coached my athlete Anthony for the Road Titans 300 Challenge, a 3 day cycling event in Seneca, SC. During the Road Titans 300 riders are organized into three groups according to ability and tackle a tough 100 mile stage that features between 7,000 feet to 10,000 feet of elevation gain each day. The toughest climb within each stage is timed, and the rider with the shortest accumulated time after the three days is the KOM winner of their group. 

Before taking up cycling and choosing to work with me three years ago, Anthony was only moderately active. One day he passed a local bike shop and decided to buy a bike to stay fit. Anthony began training with one of my training plans he found on TrainingPeaks. He was pleased with that plan, so he contacted me about further coaching services. From that point on I have been making custom plans for him to prepare him for races ranging from road races to time trials. These earlier goals helped set a foundation for Titans.  During his training for other cycling events over the last few years I helped Anthony make steady fitness improvements, so in March I thought it would be challenging but possible to coach Anthony to ride in the Road Titans 300 A group.  Given Anthony's watts/kilogram at lactate threshold (or sustainable power for an hour) I felt he could be coached to tackle the climbs and finish all three days with the strongest group of riders that would show up to the event.

Preparing Anthony for such a long and difficult event like Road Titans 300 presented some interesting challenges for me as a coach. As a full time pharmacist he has limited time for cycling training and is required to be on his feet for about 40 hours a week. The training plan would require a lot of dedication from Anthony because he would have to spend most of his weekends training long hours. He also needed to make sure he was resting well when possible. Whenever you push very deep you need to recover well, and rest is when the gains are made.  

Read on to see how things steadily progressed for Anthony as I coached him for this epic cycling challenge. Throughout this series I will discuss the training demands over the last couple of months and what it took to help Anthony conquer the Titans Challenge. I will also give details about each stage and on the fueling strategy that helped Anthony perform better on the final day than on the first day of the event.