5.8 w/kg for 50 minutes! Gaimon wins Mt Washington

The Mount Washington Hill Climb is an iconic uphill race, with the likes of Tinker Juarez, Jeannie Longo, Tom Danielson, and Ned Overend having won prior iterations of the race.   

At a beastly average gradient of 12%, the 7.38mi climb ascends 4,695 feet. FasCat Phil Gaimon did it this year in 50:38, the second fastest time in history. His heart rate average 173bpm, and his normalized power was a whopping 383 watts. He averaged 5.8w/kg for 50 minutes. That, my friends, is nuts.

You know Phil is all about the Strava KOMs, and, yes, he got it. (Danielson’s record time of 49:24 was set in the pre-Strava era in 2002.)

Gaimon Mt Washington

Training for a massive hillclimb effort

So how did Phil train for his effort? There were a few building blocks. 

In the weeks leading up to Mount Washington, he was averaging 17 hours a week on the bike, with one big 35-hour week for the No Kid Hungry Tour of California Route.

Phil did a two-week altitude training camp in Big Bear, California, and he did a 10-day taper that saw his Training Stress Balance buoy up to +12. (TSB is the sum of Chronic Training Load minus Acute Training Load; it is a metric of how fit and fresh you are.)

Gaimon Mt Washington TrainingPeaks

Gaimon averaged 81rpm and 5.8w/kg for his winning effort

For specificity, Phil did threshold intervals working on his one hour power like the threshold work in our climbing intervals plan

On day two of the weekly training block Phil did a lot of Sweet Spot climbing volume between 14 - 24 hours

In July he did a block of VO2 Max intervals progressing thru the 3, 4, 5 minute durations like the sweet spot part 4 polarized plan

As a test, he did a one-hour simulation climb in Malibu, California.

Lastly but very much not least, he won in the kitchen by focusing on nutrition for optimal body composition, fueling his workouts and promoting his recovery. 

Phil also took care to come into the day well rested. In addition to his 10-day taper, Phil got good sleep. Although his Whoop had him in the yellow at a score of 47 the morning of the race with an HRV of 71, his previous day’s HRV was 88 and he was at a score of 77. The takeaway here is that you don’t need to panic if your night’s sleep before the race isn’t perfect; focus on resting in the days leading up to your target event.

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About Frank Overton

Frank founded FasCat Coaching in 2002 and has been a full time cycling coach since 2004. His educational background includes a Masters degree in Physiology from North Carolina State University, pre-med from Hampden-Sydney College. Frank raced at a professional level on the road and mountain bike and currently competes as a "masters" level gravel and cyclocrosser. Professionally Frank comes from medical school spinal cord research and molecular biotechnology. However, to this day it is a dream come true for Frank to be able to help cyclists as a coach.

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