Ask a FasCat #19
Welcome to the 19th edition of our "Ask a FasCat" podcast series, where we gather questions from our forum, website, and social media to help you ride faster!
This go-round we are giving the athlete with the most thoughtful question a pair of Normatec Pulse, 2.0 compression boots that we’ve talked about in several of our podcasts including the holiday gift guide, recovery for cycling, and the masters recovery episodes.
- Timing is Everything Podcast
- MTB Power
- Fatigue Dependent Training Plan Design
- Is Altitude Training Beneficial for Cyclists?
- The Effects of Training at Altitude
- Weight Loss for Cyclists
- Winning in the Kitchen: Snacks
- SBT Gravel Power Data Analysis
- Recovery Training Tip & Podcast
- Seven Habits of Highly Successful Cyclists
- How to Leave Post Activity Comments
- Sexual Activity before Sports Competition: A Systematic Review
- Pre Ride Nutrition
Copyright © 2021 FasCat Coaching - all rights reserved.
We received a record number of questions for this Q&A episode, which we are thrilled about! However, it meant that we were not able to answer them all in one go... so be on the lookout for a bonus episode to come out soon!
Frank: Welcome to FasCat # 19, the 19th podcast where we take your questions and try to answer giving the most thoughtful question a prize. Today the winner will receive a pair of Normatec Pulse, 2.0 compression boots that we’ve covered in several previous podcasts - holiday gift guide along with recovery and masters recovery. We received a record number of question submissions - thank you thank you THANK YOU.
We are going to try and answer 45 in this podcast and then record a bonus episode in the next day or two so we answer everyone’s Q. So if you don’t hear your q - keep an eye out for future episodes!
Please share our podcast with your friends, bike shop and teammates - use 25podcast for 25% off your first training plan . Leave us a review on iTunes because those keep us going - we read everyone and apply your feedback to future episodes. Goto fascat itunes and it only takes 10-20 seconds.
And with that let’s get right into your questions and hopefully our answers! We’ll announce the winner at the end of the podcast after we’ve answered the question.
1. Lisa (Instagram, Coached by Allie)
When you’re a fondo/recreational cyclist who is not racing but still wants to get faster and live in a “year round” cycling climate like California can you move your “off season” to when it suits you instead of the traditional “winter”?
Answer: It’s dependent on when you want to race! If your A race/fondo is early (like March), then a break should come sooner, like September and then head into the weight room in October.
If your A race/fondo is later (like July/August) then you have a little more freedom to play around with riding and a break before you head into a real structured plan. Weight training can start around November and then head into base during the springtime.
Figure out your goal race(s), put them on the schedule and work backwards for a proper off season schedule!!
Check out our “Timing is Everything podcast”
2. Chris Lawson (IG, Coached by Jake)
Should masters (50+) athletes be doing fasted rides? Are they beneficial for weight loss?
Answer: I don’t believe athletes should do fasted rides. I just find proper nutrition and diet (not dieting) is the best way to lose weight. The best time to do this is during the fall or winter when the training volume is lower. This way you are not ‘starving’ your body while you are training hard. Food is fuel for the body.
While the research is mixed, there are a handful of studies that point to there being a small benefit to fasted rides in training your body to use fat as opposed to carbohydrates for fuel during aerobic activity. This can be a huge benefit in endurance athletes as burning fat during lower periods of intensity can save carbohydrates for when the intensity ramps up. If you plan to do fasted rides, keep them stickly in zone 2 for 60 - 90 minutes max.
3. Alex Ende (email, Coached by Isaiah)
Hi, I'm fortunate enough to have a power meter on my MTb and road bike. When Coach Isaiah prescribes me AmEx TSS workouts I noticed it's easier to hit the minimum TSS on the road than on the trails. Why would this be? Is it because mountain biking involves more upper body which wouldn't be accounted for in TSS or because there are more descents where I'm not pedaling?
Answer: You nailed both of the factors here as it is indeed most often harder to achieve a TSS target on the trails. A power meter is not able to account for the full body fatigue that mountain biking can bring. Technical trails will require more coasting and ratcheting of the cranks and as a result less time on the power and accumulating that TSS.
We noticed this too waaay back in 2005 , Alex, when powerTap introduced the first powermeter for mountain bikes and began studying the differences. To find out the difference we did two 10 minute uphill climb both at 160bpm.
Mtb power was 20 watts less than road power! In anlayzing the data - HR was the same and the primary differences came from micro-coasting - those little 1 second non pedalling sections to negotiate a technical trail feature. Those micro-coasting sections were followed by power spikes and resulted in a much more ‘spikey’ power profile than a more steady consistent smooth road effort.
This is why we prescribed lots of temp, sweet spot and threshold bursts to mimic the power demands of mbt’ing.
But because the power is less your TSS is going to be less than the road too. More coasting - who would have thought?!
4. Dave Tuit (email, Coached by Jake)
I’ve alway been diligent about rest days and typically do the recommended recovery day activities along with an occasional massage. I recently completed a heavy 3 day block and found just sleeping in a little longer and keeping my feet up was a gift, but even with that I was still tired at the end of day. So my question is in your experience, is there a “best” recovery after a heavy block? Do nothing, do a 1 hr “active recovery” ride, do one of the rest day recommendations, get a massage, or use the Normatecs?
Answer: First I believe everyone is different and you need to find what works best for you. Secondly with that said what you find works you need to consistently stick with.
Massages is an excellent form of recovery. However my personal experience has been that they in fact made me worse when I got them sporadically. My muscles were not use to that form of recovery. Something such as Normatec works great as you can use daily and take with you when you travel.
With active recovery rides these can be great as well. When I raced as a pro I absolutely loved them and felt so much better on days after an easy ride compared to an off day. However moving into a career and family I found having a complete day off with out the stress of finding time to ride more beneficial. This also came along with an opportunity to nap or sleep in. The extra sleep always helps. When I was racing full time I could do both but now that is not an option.
Yoga and proper stretching routine that takes 15 minutes can also be a great use of time. You can plan this into your training time. But again to make it more beneficial it needs to be consistent and not sporadic just like training. Anytime you introduce something new it can be hard at first.
Also just doing the simple things plan to eat you meals after workouts so you’re fueling right after a workout, going to bed early so you get proper sleep, staying hydrated throughout the day and properly fuel and hydrate in your rides which not only help your days workout but also keeps you from putting yourself in a hole hindering your recovery.
5. Andrew Lincoln (email, CX in season bundle, former 1x1 FasCat Athlete)
If you happen to not #FtFP and miss one of the planned workouts. Is it better to try and make up for lost TSS by adding more to the next planned workout, or just stick to the next planned workout and ultimately cry on the battlefield for not #FtFP'n?
Answer: well , I think the right answer for you Andrew is identifying the root cause of why you missed a workout - knowing that you have a demanding job and a young child figuring out how to balance training + work and family is key. The other answer is that it depends on which workout you missed. Missing the Tuesday/ Wednesday workouts have a greater effect than missing an endurance ride the day before a rest day. You can make that TSS/duration up elsewhere like on the weekend on those days but not on days prior to hard power based workouts.
Read our Fatigue Dependent Training Plan Design Tip to understand how we designed your training plan. Every workout is important because everyday counts towards your goals but you will learn that some days and workouts are more important than others. Just FtFP Andrew!
6. Greg Lyons (email, former FasCat athlete training for Leadville, living in Texas)
I live at sea level but soon will be spending a month up in Colorado at altitude, around 8500 feet. My question is, what is the best way to stick to a plan in regards to targets based on FTP? With my established FTP at sea level, would I adjust it based on Joe Friel's blog post from 2010 on Altitude and Performance (might be outdated) or another method to adjust? Or to do an FTP test once I get to my destination and use that to follow the plan?
Answer: The late Dr Ed Burke, Louis Passfield and Basset compared world hour records in a 1999 Medicine Science and Sports Exercise journal and with French Physiologist Peronet, who published a theoretical analysis on performance in the Journal of Applied Physiology that equates a 1% reduction in power output per 1,000 ft of increased elevation due to the decrease in oxygen. So if you come from sea level to Winter Park for example at 9,000 feet expect a 9% decrease in your power output. To adjust your FTP multiple your FTP by .91 and that is your altitude adjusted FTP.
For athletes that live at altitude there’s good news your power output may increase when you go down to sea level 1% for every 1,000 feet which is why you hear about the pros doing altitude camps before important races.
Bassett et al publish a table on altitude’s effect broken down by 1,000 feet.
Watch our video on "Is Altitude Training Beneficial for Cyclists?” and read our training tip on the effects of training at altitude.
7. James Stevens (forum, Coaching subscription)
This spring/summer I’ve done a fair amount of physical labor around the house. Specifically we had 15 tons of landscape rock I shoveled as well as some other projects where I had to move dirt. I know this took a lot out of me so I was wondering should work of this kind be factored into my TSS. Similarly should TSS be added for the recovery day Foundations workout?
Answer: James, TSS is a direct aerobic measurement of the work that makes you faster. It does not include non-aerobic physical work. Therefore yard work, snow shoveling, walking, picking up the baby, etc. Should not be factored in because those are not positive physiological adaptations as the original impulse-response model was designed.
There’s an expression when it comes to performance modelling and data: garbage in = garbage, sorry about that. Hire a neighbor kid to shovel that landscape rock if you are worried about it!
8. Alex Okolish (email, California, WIK Intro plan + Off season Plan)
I have 2 young kids and a wife. How should I modify my training if the Sunday ride is too long to fit in? I'm following the intermediate plans and could do longer rides on Saturday or even add in some training on Monday. Or is it better to get an indoor trainer and try to ride Sunday evening?
Answer: Hi Alex - in general the Sunday rides are shorter and easier than the Saturday rides by design. Hiring a Coach would be a good solution for a custom design to keep the fam happy. I wonder if your situation would call for shorter 1 hour indoor friendly workout that you could do at some point in the day like during the nap (?) or early in the morning or as you mentioned Sunday evening - could work
9. Tyler Goodyear (Forum, Coaching Sub)
I recently got access to an infrared sauna. How could I use this to benefit my training?
Answer: When done properly infrared sauna’s increase your red blood cell production (increase Hematocrit) by way of stimulating erythropoiesis.
You can train for heat or altitude by sitting in an Infrared sauna at 165 degrees per Dr Stacey Sims book ROAR and this is a direct read from page 209:
As training for heat or altitude, you are looking to create a small amount of heat stress and a small amount of dehydration. With dehydration, there is a decrease in blood volume and the heat from the sauna signals the body to send more blood to the surface of your skin for cooling. Now there is decreased blood flow to the organs, particularly the kidneys, and there is stimulation to produce EPO and increase plasma volume. It also resets your thermoregulation thresholds so hot temps feel less severe.
Did y’all read how MTB Gold Medalist Tom Piddock used a
Pidcock insisted, explaining that he had set up a temperature-controlled tent in his spare room to simulate the conditions in the build-up to Tokyo.
"I've been doing a lot of heat work, which I'm happy to tell everyone now, but before I didn't want to advertise it in case someone downplays the heat.
10. Ashley Upchurch (IG)
What is the best meal to eat in the morning before a long event?
Answer: a well portioned carbohydrate meal - there are actually a wide variety of choices from oatmeal to rice n eggs to granola and yogurt, pancakes, etc.. all sorts of choices for young athletes!
11. Ava Upchurch (IG, XC interval plan) Is Zwift truly an effective training app?
Answer: if it helps you have fun and follow the plan then yes! Try it - you may like it and find yourself riding more and more which is a sure fire way to get faster ;-)
12. Kendra (IG) After taking a long break from cycling, how many days a week should you start out doing when jumping back into training? Specifically if you've been rather sedentary during covid. At what point should you ramp it up to 4-5 days a week or should you ramp it up based on time in the saddle?
Answer: Hi Kendra - first welcome back! Short answer: both. Take it gradually for 2-3-4 weeks and see how you are feeling - I think how tired or not + your motivation to ride more will answer that question as you go along. Before you increase your hours of riding per week, I’d first get back to consistently riding 5 times per week at an hour a day for 5 total hours per week. Once you are riding consistently, Then increase your volume by adding in longer rides on the weekends and then maybe going from 1 to 1.5 or 2 hour rides during the work week.
13. Dave (IG) I need to lose weight but how do I find balance in fueling and changing eating habits? Piggybacking on this question we also have Sean Aucoin who asked where should the balance lie when you want to train while also attempting to shed some weight?
Answer: Start by cutting out empty calories found in soda, alcohol and processed foods that have a bunch of added sugar. Read our weight loss for cycling training tip on the FasCat site about finding 250-500 calories per day that you can eliminate in order to lose weight. We find if you can clean up your snacking and sugar consumption you can still eat well portioned carbohydrates meals to fuel your riding and workouts. This is what we call: Winning in the Kitchen - because 80% of weight loss occurs in the kitchen from making healthy, go fast food choices and eating lots of leafy greens and vegetables with healthy lean protein with meals rich in carbohydrates and fiber.
You can also consider jumping on our weight loss meal plan. These meal plans were designed by our registered dietitian and take into account your training load, weight and gender to put you in the 250-500 calorie deficit just mentioned so that you can lose weight at a sustainable rate while still being able to FtFP. It takes out the guesswork for you and makes winning in the kitchen easy!
14. Gregg Rosenthal (IG)
What is the best way to acclimate to high altitude for an event? Is there any specific training to do beforehand?
Answer: Triple G! Heat adaptation and infrared sauna can help. See our answer above.There’s not too much training on the bike you can do beforehand unless you are talking about exercising in the heat for heat adaptation tho. Until you get up to altitude where the decrease in o2 stimulates red blood cell production - that’s when the adaptation & erythropoiesis begins - say that at your next cocktail party!
15. Paul Hartwig (Private FB Group)
Do you have any advice on how to start eating more? Personally, I started to train a lot, but I am still trying to gain weight which is not always easy when you burn a lot of calories during training. Is there any method that is more effective than others as it is also essential for overall training performance.
Answer: Hey Paul! What you are describing is pretty common for athletes who put in a lot of hours of training. Overall, think in terms of eating 5-6 times per day instead of the traditional three. Also
- Make a post workout shake or smoothie. An easy one that packs a lot of calories and has just the right amount of carbs, fats and protein is 2 scoops of Gu Roctane Recovery mix, 2 cups of almond milk, 3T peanut butter and a cup of frozen bananas (~1 banana).
- Snack more! Snack up to 3 times per day, once mid - morning and twice in the afternoon in- between lunch and dinner. Check out our Winning in the Kitchen Snacks Training Tip!
- Add more oils when you cook. Fats contain more calories when compared to the same size serving of carbohydrates or protein.
16. Jeff Boldt (email, Current Fascat athlete)
When I have a workout on my calendar but feel like crap and know I'm not going to be able to do what is scheduled, what is a good "recovery" workout that might help me flush out the bad mojo and get back on track to FtFP the next day?
Answer: Hi Jeff - the secret is to prevent yourself from feeling like crap - all part of developing good training habits and what we call FtFP. So if you are drinking too much beer/wine/booze or not getting enough sleep or riding too hard, doing too much yard work - that is all preventable and all part of FtFP’ing. Because when you don’t FtFP - you don’t get faster and and often times the plans don’t work like they are supposed to.
17. Rick Roof (email, longtime fascat)
I’m a 59 yo who's a better sprinter than a climber. I do lots of climbing intervals but I still get dropped by the little climbers. At 6’2” and 170 lbs. I know I have my work cut out for me trying to keep up with them bc even though I do my VO2 climbing intervals, so do they. Watching the pros it looks like they sprint up climbs. Is that the next step? Just hammer the last half of the climb and drill it over the top? When we reach the top I am in the red and hyperventilating while the climbers are breathing thru a straw and drilling it.
Answer: Hiya Rick - yes, you dig extra deep on and up the climbs in order to stay with the group. And if you become detached from the lead group you hammer the descent and the flats until you catch back on.
Since you are already Crying in the DoJo, Rick - would encourage you to Win in the Kitchen too because that will help with your power to weight ratio for surviving the climb and outsprinting those climbers! Perhaps with our Winning in the Kitchen Meal plan we just mentioned in question #13
18. Erin Mcmahon (forum, Coached by Allie Legg )
My question is about handling mid-season race schedule adjustments. I’ve been working with coach Allie (who is awesome btw) to dial in my switch from base to race. Originally, I had targeted 4 of the NUE MTB races to try and qualify for year-end points. The 1st of these races went great, and I’m excited about my fitness going into the rest of the season. Unfortunately, one of the races was cancelled and a series of unfortunate events caused me to miss another, which means I won't be able to qualify for year-end points.
I do want to use this excellent training and fitness though, so how do you go about resetting and peaking for new races if you pivot (must be said like Ross from Friends) to new race goals mid-season? What are a few actionable items to staying flexible both mentally and physically?
Answer: Great question! So what you want to do is carry on as if the races are happening until they’re cancelled or if you flat out can’t make it happen. Depending on the time of the year and if you’ve already had a stout racing and training schedule, which you have had ;) you’ll be good for a mid season break. Then we go back to the basics depending on when your next race is - if the next goal race is further out then you’d hit sweet spot training back up and then get into intensity. If the next goal race is shortly after your break then we kick it back into gear with intervals to get you going again. If you have races after your goal race you should be able to carry form into those for a few weeks as long as your weekly training is dialed and you FtFP! Being flexible is very important because life happens! Be sure to have your race calendar outlined with races you can make in case one becomes the back up goal race! This is why having a 1x1 coach is so valuable so edits can be made and form can be found and/or saved.
19. Christopher Nigro (email, TDF plan)
For a rider that races road and TT's, how do you determine which bike to train on? For instance, if a rider has a large power discrepancy on the TT bike versus the road bike, would they be better served to do as many rides as possible on the TT bike to adapt to the position and decrease the discrepancy. If the rider performed all of their intervals on the TT bike, would the lower power output limit the riders improvements on the road bike, or would you expect the rider's power on the road bike to continue to improve due to the physiological adaptations?
Answer: Hi Christopher - do your specific TT threshold workouts from your plan on your TT bike and your endurance days on your road bike, presuming you are following a plan with TT workouts like out TT Intervals plan (once a week)
The critical part here is not only doing your intervals workouts on your TT bike, it's making the power down in your aero position.
Not being able to make the same power on your TT bike compared to your road bike is a myth perpetuated by a poor time trial bike fit and position. I could always make the same threshold power down in my aero position as well as on my road bike on the flat and uphill. So can the pros. Make sure your fit is not so aggressive you are reducing your power and also make sure its not a function of hamstring inflexibility and hip immobility - gotta get those hips open to throw down the watts.
So 1-2 TT workouts per week and 2-3 road bike rides and workouts per week. Do all your threshold work down in your aero position practicing your turtling - hold your head low and looking out of the tops of your eyes.
20. Kendra Tupper
I have a FasCat plan and I'm using HR zones to follow the plan. I love how the workout syncs with my garmin and I can get the interval cues right on my bike - but it only shows the zones/ranges in power, not HR. Is there a way to edit this so it shows HR instead?
Answer: Yes you can adjust the workouts in training peaks to show up as HR instead of power. To do that, go into your calendar in training peaks and then click on the workout. Next click on the workout builder. That will open up the custom workout builder. In there you will see a little dropdown button to change the units. Switch that from % threshold power to % threshold heart rate. Then press save and resync the workout to your head unit and you should be good to go!
21. Jeff Beaumont (longtime fascat, email)
For guys who are crushing their plans and hitting a high CTL, what should we do if we don't have the time to keep pushing our CTL even more? An example to apply this to more people than just me is that I'm training for Unbound Gravel 200. In TrainingPeaks, it predicts that I hit a CTL of 126 in early March after SSP1-4. If we can't really push our CTL higher than that, is it beneficial to try to keep the CTL there or back off and do intervals?
Answer: easy answer Jeff - shift from base to race - do intervals! VO2’s come to mind as they increase your FTP - as seen in our sweet spot part 4 polarized plan. Which have VO2 workouts on Wednesday and long rides on Saturdays but the other days are either off or short. Might work for your situation.
22. Sean V. (forum)
Like many fascats, I have a family and a demanding job so my training is limited to about 8 hours a week. This year I did the basic 18 week SS plan which raised my FTP from 280W to 300W. By the end I felt like I was plateauing so I decided to step up to the intermediate Road Intervals plan and as a result feel like I’m getting stronger every week.
So my question is whether there is a known performance (or FTP) ceiling for limited training loads / CTL / weekly volume. I.e. At what point will training no longer yield additional power gains without increasing training load and what are good options to keep building power once you are close to that ceiling?
Answer: congrats on the 6.7% improvement Sean! That’s some good DadWatts. For a CTL of 65 think in terms of performance multiples in tens: In my experience there are 1-2% potential gains in your FTP in multiples of ten for CTL so 75 > 85 > 95 and 105 tops being a Dad and I presume a masters athlete.
So 6.7% + 2% by achieving a CTL of 75 = 306 and another 2% from a CTL of 85 = 312 watts and then 2 % = 318 watts from a CTL of 95. So now you’ve gone from 6.7% improvement from 280 watts to 318 watts and 12% improvement.
Everyone is individual and that is just my experience coaching athletes for the past 18 years and remember to switch from base to race with an interval plan where you can eek out even more watts say another 5% ontop of the 12% from achieving a CTL of 95. That is what you noted as the point of diminishing returns for base training and trying to continue to raise CTL - recognize when you are there and make the switch to intervals to increase your power even more!
Factor all that improvement in with how much time it will take to achieve and figure out if that fits in with your young family and demanding job. When we say keep it real, we are talking about balancing everything and finding a happy medium between training time and performance with ye old ‘happy house happy spouse’ and kids!
|CTL = 65||6.7% improvement||= 300 watts|
|CTL = 75||2% more||= 306 watts|
|CTL = 85||2 more %||= 312 watts|
|CTL = 95||Another 2%||= 318 watts|
23. Likhi Ondov (forum, athlete ambassador)
I’m hoping to get a slot for the 140 mile SBT GRVL course in 2022! I’ve done a few gravel events, and I think I have a good idea how I want to approach preparing
For Training I am thinking: Fall Foundations > 10 weeks of weight lifting >18 weeks of SS > low priority gravel race > gravel plan > SBT gravel
Answer: This is correct Likhi - as designed in our 32 week off season resistance training + sweet spot base plan.
The course is a mystery though. Could you share some insight into the Gucci-ness of the gravel? The perceived flatness of the course? Ideal tire choice? Temps in that part of Colorado? Would some of those aerobar extensions or different bars to get comfy and relax the hands be useful?
Answer: The gravel in Colorado is not like in other parts of the world because these are roads that just haven’t been paved due to being so rural and/or in the wintertime they would be covered in snow anyway. So oftentimes they are hardpack dirt much like asphalt. Conditions vary from mile to mile tho because when that dirt gets really dry the cars and trucks kick it up and loosen the dirt which has rocks underneath. But then as soon as it rains cars pack the dirt back again - so what you get is a semi-hard packed road with variable conditions
See my video about special SBTG equipment as well as or podcast 2 years ago when Steamboat last happened.
As far as the elevation, portions of the course are flat but others are not - there was 10k feet of climbing in all ! In our steamboat gravel power data analysis video we go thru the elevation profile of the course including the long flat stretches and the intense climbing sections in the last 40 miles
The temperature at the start (7am) was 37 degrees and it creeped up to 105F during the race - HOT. Combine that with 140 miles and you got yourself one doozey of a race! Would not recommend aero bars for this course due to pack riding and high speed descents.
24. Kevin Hood
How does one physically and mentally prepare to complete an ultra endurance race when they know their fitness will result in them taking 2x as long to finish compared to the pros?
*I think the mental (not necessarily the physical) preparation is different than what gets covered for Cat 1-4 athletes for the following reasons:
You likely ride solo more often in the event, have the stress of possibly missing a cutoff, covering rough ground in dark, etc. I would love for you to include actual riders and their perspectives.
Answer: Hi Kevin - I think you just gotta approach the day with patience and race your own race. Watch Coach Isaiah’s and my post Unbound Gravel recap where even Coach Isaiah made a plan to CTFO and ride his own race to finish in 14 hours, I believe. He simply waved goodbye on purpose to the pros at the start of race and paced himself for the long day ahead of him. By planning on 14 hours in advance, that's the first step towards mentally preparing - using your data to estimate how long it is going to take you. Having unrealistic expectations are what lead to mental difficulty in my experiences.
So take your time, plan on a BIG BIG day and use your data to project when you will finish. Your FTP and watts/kg is your best bet - you can even use BestBikeSplits to enter the course GPS and get a projected time calculated on your power to weight ratio.
25. Marco Gacke (IG - fun fact, he biked across America!)
Can you still do fun rides with friends even when you’re training and is there a limit? I’d like to start a training plan but also enjoy my long distance weekend rides with friends and my local bike group and would love to balance both.
Answer: Heck yes, you may. And oftentimes these fun rides with friends are hella good training too! Analyze your ride data to evaluate how good they are. Look for nuggets of VO2 and Anaerobic power in your ride data. Nothing better than a spirited group ride with what we call hard organic power.
See our video from a previous podcast talking about integrating group rides into structured training. If you were to hire a coach, your coach can talk with you to find out when your group rides are and balance the training around them + analyze your data from the group rides to coach you thru + evaluate the aforementioned productivity of them.
26. Pedro Pereira
I'm preparing for the xco nationals MTB Race series consisting of 6-7 races from April to September. How do I manage season peak for this kind of racing? Should I double peak or aim to single peak for mid june or July and try to extend it till the end of the season
Answer: Ah yes - the key here Pedro is good periodization and doing all the right training phases - highlighted in our Timing is Everything Podcast. The approach I take when coaching athletes is to have them double peak at the beginning and then end of the series. And in between look for opportunities to take breaks and train more - all part of proper annual training plan design and periodization
27. James Anzalone (forum, one of Coach Jake’s 1x1 athletes)
With racing restarting, I’m feeling at a bit of a crossroads. The races here have full fields, like 80+ riders. I’ve been FTFP’ing and feel at my best fitness level ever. But as a 50 y/o master athlete with responsibilities, I’m daunted by the possibility of serious injury in these big, fast moving races. I should mention I had a bad crash in my first race of the season & took over a month to heal.
So my question is do you have any tips on dealing with the mental fear of crashing so that the fitness can shine through, and racing can be enjoyable again?
Answer: Unfortunately crashing is sometimes unavoidable when you put this many riders together. The safest places to ride are at the very front or off the front. Use your great fitness to help you ride in these positions. Once you do a few races you should start feeling your confidence again. You have done plenty of races without incident. But again its a risk we all take whenever we ride our bike whether racing or not. Also some riders start to look towards other events. Races that are more selective, gravel racing as opposed to criterium racing, time trials etc.
28. James Howat (forum, New Fascat athlete)
I live at altitude as I’m sure many do. My A race next year takes place at sea level. I know I won’t be watching my power during the race - but I’m wondering if the coaching staff has data on how FTP is affected when you get the short term “sea level watts”. Are we talking 2W or 20W?
Answer: Right on James - this is what I mentioned as my answer for Greg earlier but your FTP will increase roughly 5% give or take your individual physiology going from 5280 ft down to sea leve. 1% for every thousand feet per the research of Peroneet and his team.
This is what I call ‘sea level watts’ and it just feels amazing - you feel like King KONG out there on the bike - this is why the pros train and live at altitude for the performance benefit racing at sea level.
Let’s say your FTP is 250 watts in Denver and you go down to sea leve an experience 5% improvement - you sea level FTP is going to be roughly 263 watts - so pace yourself accordingly and have fun!
29. Jimmie Porder (Instagram, from Oregon)
I am 50+ looking to drop some weight, but the needle doesn’t move much to matter how many miles I put in. 6’-3” 210# looking for 190. Any tips?
Answer: Hi Jimmie - same answer as the previous questions: start by cleaning up your diet - cut out sugar, alcohol and processed food which oftentimes contain added sugar. Win in the Kitchen with healthy food choices as weight loss is 80% from your food choices and 20 % from riding more.
Also be sure to measure your fats! It is so easy to add in excess oils when cooking or to use 400+ calories of nut butter on your toast. Fats are important so you should not cut them out completely, but using 2 tbsp of almond butter instead of 4 in a meal you are saving 200 calories. Over a week that change alone would save you 1400 calories or ⅓ of a lb.
30. Ryan Collins (Instagram, just placed 3rd at the Gran Fondo Nationals in Asheville!)
I was always told to ride at a cadence of 90. Under that was too much muscular strain and above was inefficient. However, now the pros spin well above and below that depending on the course. What are the physiological reasons or benefits to spin fast or slow? When should we select one over the other?
Answer: Congrats on 3rd Ryan! Sounds like whatever cadence you are pedaling you are doing it right. I like for athletes to pedal at what I call their natural cadence - at least to start. If I see their data coming in under 80rpms on the flat or over 100 rpms also on the flat that can be optimized. But I don’t think there is a hard and fast ‘you must do this cadence.’ because cadence is individual to muscle fiber types. Between 85-95 is what I see from most athletes, naturally. And then we concentrate on power output!
Of course if you are racing single speed or on the track that’s a different answer. And if we see cadences below 75rpms, especially on the climbs. I’d recommend getting larger gears in order to spin more and achieve higher cadences which oftentimes results in less muscle fatigue for the long long climbs.
31. Le_flying_mustachio (IG)
Between foam rolling, massage, ice baths, massage tools, electrical stimulation, and compressive flow like the normatecs How does one choose the appropriate recovery method? Does one trump the rest? Also can you match workout fatigue with a particular recovery modality?
Answer: Oh I think you try to do as many as you can in order of their effectiveness. Sleep being # 1 If you are not getting 8 hours of sleep each night then all the massage and rolling will not overcome that performance deficit.
And nutrition - don’t forget that post ride fueling is proper recovery and stress - being able to control your stress. Read our Recovery Training tip and podcast that includes Float Tanks and Cryotherapy and our June 2020 Masters Recovery Podcast.
32. Daniel Lamb
Is there any benefit to Elliptical Chainrings (such as Q-rings) for an amateur level cyclist? Do they suit one discipline more than another? Do they benefit a particular meso-cycle of a training plan more than others? What does the science say? And more importantly, what does the Big Cat have to say on the topic?
Answer: the BigCat says it's all about your power output. I personally have never used oval rings but have had many athletes use and say they like them. It was the way they felt they could get ontop of the gear at the dead spot of their pedal stroke from 9-12pm.
My take is you gotta try to feel the difference and some scientific papers may say 1.5% improvement in power output but objective peer reviewed studies are inconclusive.
Osymetric elliptical rings were really popular from the Wiggins/Froome era but pretty sure they were getting paid to ride those rings. The Osymetric website says 7-10% more power but I call BS on that. And those rings often times affect the integrity of your power data for spider based powermeters - creating what I call franken bikes.
33. Jack Arnold
I recently started a summer job working at a construction site to help pay for college. When I started the job I was finishing up the 18 weeks of SS and about to start road intervals. At university I ate well and regularly got 8+ hours of sleep. Because of this I was always able to FTFP and was able to add extra zone 2 when the plan allowed. After starting the Job I began to see a change in my energy levels. I struggled to complete workouts that before I thrived on. Therefore I am wondering what I can do. My plan of attack is to up my carb intake as I am essentially adding a gym session each the day so I need to fuel my muscles for that and to slightly increase my protein and fruit/veg intake to rebuild muscle and aid recovery. I'm also trying to increase my sleep further but it's hard with my tight schedule. Is there anything else I can do to regain some power/freshness and aid recovery?
Answer: Hey Jack - no doubt construction work and physical labor is tough on your training! Seems like you’ve got a good grip on the factors involved and an adjustment to your training volume may be warranted. Back off the extra zone 2 you were doing and decrease your overall training volume all the while trying to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. And since I get the sense you are young, try to include some down time after work - like coming home from a long hard day of work and simply chilling out on the couch - at least once a week.
34. B.J. Justice Bernal
Now that I've gotten older I tend to get extremely hot when riding and sweat profusely. Besides staying hydrated with water do you have any advice
Answer: #1 habit of the seven habits of masters cyclists is to ride early in the morning when it is less HOT. Not only do you get your workout done before the day begins but you avoid the heat. In Boulder it is high 60’s low 70’s when the sun comes up compared to a debilitating, power sucking high 80’s/ 90’s by lunchtime. Its a completely different climate in the morning so that would be my advice for you to beat the heat.
35. Mitch Zawaski (facebook)
I have Six Gap coming up in about 9 weeks, and I live in Florida where its extremely flat! Which of your plans would you suggest to prep for it? I’ve got a good base, but I need to prep for those long, sustained climbs.
Answer: Train by zones and especially concentrate on your threshold power. This is the kind of output you’ll need to do for the six gaps and you can follow a zone based training plan in Florida with plenty of threshold intervals. Do your threshold intervals on the flats using power or heart rate tuned to your FTP or on the indoor trainer if you want something more to push against.
Overall 300 watts on the flat in Florida is physiologically pretty close to 300 watts up a climb in Georgia.
36. Bill Vaugh (1x1 Coach athlete, Frank)
Frank - you’ve got me covered on all the metrics for physical training and weight loss. I’d like mental metrics from my power data. I use “perceived exertion” but that’s subjective and I lie to myself I use my power numbers, but that is influenced by how much training is still in my legs on a given day, among other things. What WKO metrics are there to show me how far I’ve “drained the tank” for each interval beyond my actual power numbers? Does dFRC work? Anything else?
Answer: Hi Bill! I think those mental metrics are yet to be developed and probably independent of your power data. That’s why we have the post activity comments for you to describe for example, “I went really deep in order to hit all four of my VO2 intervals” - or similarly the first two were manageable the 3rd one was really tough and by the 4th I was biting my stem - I think those post activity comments gives us as coaches a good mental picture to how motivated you were or weren’t.
As a side note this is why, where coaches watching the race where they can see the physical effort of the rider account for those ‘mental metrics’ Then you can go into the power data for when the rider was turning themselves inside out.
I’ve motorpaced athletes over 30,000 miles and I can certainly tell you when they were hyper motivated and when they weren’t. Thats really the root of the question - can power data help a coach determine motivation? Yes if post activity comments are included. This is a limitation of power data and where good old fashioned communication helps. Was that power output easy, hard or super difficult? Did you quit or turn yourself inside out to hit and hold the wattages? Not sure if there is a WKO metric for that, unless it can read your mind!?
I think also if you let the coach/the training plan simply tell you what to do and you do it - even its really REALLY hard - the training plan will have the effect of making you faster.
37. Ryan Crabbe (loyal Fascat, son just won 2 road national titles!)
I'm a 46 year old father of 3 boys. I try my best to stick to training plans but at times slip. My oldest son recently had quite a bit of success at jr nationals. How do I best incorporate my training rides into riding with him so we both get the most benefit? A lot of my own goals have shifted in order to support them and their passion for cycling.
Answer: Congrats to your son and family - that’s what it's all about. I’d honestly let your goals be secondary to your son’s goal. Ride with him and then if it works out to do a workout together, great or you do your training after you’ve ridden him that’s a win-win. But if your workout doesn’t get done for one reason or another, that’s fine too bc that’s part of making your goals secondary to your sons.
38. Wayman (Instagram)
How can coaching be beneficial for athletes that love cycling but don’t have racing plans in their future?
Answer: Coaching is beneficial for many reasons even if you don't have any racing plans in the future. The first thing that comes to mind is the more you put into your riding overtime the easier it gets and the more you have in your legs. Next, a coach is beneficial for having structure to hold you accountable to get out and exercise to pushing yourself further than you think you can go… Cyclists can learn a lot from coaches. I personally love telling my athlete’s and fellow cyclists the experiences I have had while racing and training -- I can relate to them on the mental and physical ebb and flow, the time constraints, and scenarios where they could have gotten further along in group rides/races by fixing a few mistakes. This goes for non-racing cyclists too… You can train hard and have fun while crushing group rides or attempting your favorite KOM/QOM. It depends on what you want to achieve as a cyclist- a coach can make a time-crunched workout very productive without it taking more than 60-90 mins (again, accountability). I had an athlete who had no race goals, his goal was to see his feet (aka, lose weight) I put together a plan for him to ride consistently while doing intervals to get his heart rate up! He lost 40lbs over a healthy amount of time! (I did not give him nutrition goals, I just suggested how to eliminate or have less of xyz,) It’s all about what you want and a coach can help you get there, competitive or not!
39. Zach Nehr (email, loyal podcast listener)
My question may be a little out of bounds, BUT it's something that I've never heard anyone have a serious discussion about before, and I am genuinely curious. How does sex/making love impact cycling and athletic performance?
Surely there is a correlation between having sex and producing testosterone, but is that enough to influence athletic performance? How does it differ between males and females? Can having too much sex negatively impact athletic performance?
Answer: haha, Zach! You know, i think we’ve all heard or read about the Belgian logic - no sex during stage races and it turns out there is scientific evidence attributed to abstenence and an increase in testosterone production. This thought actually goes back to ancient Greek and Roman Gladiator times.
One research group that studied your ponderment found from abstinence (not having sex) Peak serum testosterone appeared, reaching 145.7% of the baseline after 7 days. What they did not study is if that peak testosterone led to a performance benefit aka more watts.
However, Italian Researchers at the School of Sports Medicine from the University of Florence published and concluded “The present evidence suggests that sexual activity the day before competition does not exert any negative impact on performance.
So to answer your question - can having too much sex negatively impact your performance - I don’t think so at all and the science hasn’t found a link either - try it and let us know what you find out?!
Front. Physiol., 21 June 2016 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2016.00246
40. Sarah Hartung (forum, training plan athlete)
Can you talk about the range and types of athlete urine and blood testing, availability, cost, and ease of implementation (from “home testing” to lab testing)?
Specifically what the weekend warrior might use to their advantage vs. what is out of reach or unnecessary from a cost or logistics perspective? I’m interested in hearing your perspective and experience related to what one might learn from these types of tests and how to take action on the results, whether it's related to supplement use, general nutrition, or especially recovery. How are these results or markers similar or different in male vs female athletes? How do these results or markers fit into different periods of your training season or training plan? Thanks!
Answer: Let’s start with a complete blood count - a CBC as your Dr’s office calls it. We got them regularly for riders in the World Tour - once a quarter at the minimum to check hematocrit, iron, ferritin, leukocytes, cortisol to name a few.
Think of a regular CBC like preventative medicine to give you a heads up before it manifests in your performance. Are your iron levels trending downward - take corrective action. Is your HCt low - rest. Is your cortisol elevated - reduce your stress.
For world tour riders a blood test was kinda like an xray when you goto the ER. If a rider’s performance was sub optimal but the coaches, directors and team staff didn’t know why - they’d have to the rider go get a blood test to see what’s what. Often times, honestly it was just fatigue and low Hct to explain the poor performance. Other times warranted a ‘you need to go see your Dr.
If you are healthy and riding well - nice work, an at home test won’t bring much value other than reassurance. If you are unhealthy , please don’t use an at home test to self diagnose - you’ll still need to go see a doc and they’ll run the right tests - so save your money!
You may have seen the at home tests like “Inside Tracker” which is pretty cool, FasCat Athlete Phil Gaimon just did one to verify all was well. But this app and service is simply taking a blood sample and sending it into the lab for the results - just like a CBC.
The at home kit is $299 which is pricey in my opinion when you can goto your Doc for a co-pay and ask for a blood test (plus you’ll get their expertise)
I am a big fan of data and staying on top of your health with services and technologies like these if cost is not a factor for you especially for the convenience of NOT having to goto the Dr.s office
41. Jeff Pritchett (athlete forum)
Hey there - I am a 46 y.o. former road racer, but I haven’t been able to get fit for over 5 years. The stress of daily life just kills my recovery and I have talked to other cyclists my age that have the same problem. How do I incorporate more stress reduction into my training program? How do I FTFP when I have so much external non-training stresses that I am dealing with? If I try to FTFP things fall apart because I am under-recovered.
Answer: To help with your stress I/we recommend yoga and meditation. Jackson and I recorded a Meditation for Cyclist Podcast last Summer and Jackson even recorded a beginner friendly 10 minute guided meditation for you to listen to at the beginning of your ride.
With regards to FtFP’ing, it sounds to me like you should establish consistency from just riding easy 4-5 times per week before jumping on a plan. Try that and then if the plan doesn’t work, hire a coach for a custom plan and accountability + creative problem solving.
42. Geraldine (Coached by Allie)
How do you develop a race strategy? Big picture and nitty gritty details would be awesome! I’m particularly interested in CX racing, but I suspect there is a lot of crossover with other forms of racing. How do you choose times to “recover”, how do you decide the way you’ll stack the laps, how do you adapt your strategy when other racers try to wear you out, how to choose when to try and burn the other racers without doing yourself in, etc.
Answer: You want to know which races you’ll be training through and which races you’ll be feeling good for- you want to race hard each race but tactically you’ll want to be smart especially for races when you’re on form. I learned from Tim Johnson when I was racing cyclocross that when you’re resting in the race you rest and when you’re on you’re on… so, for downhills or areas where you’re not pedaling - catch your breath and get a drink. When you’re going full throttle, go for it but be wise that you’re not redlining the whole time. When it comes down to how to ride your laps, know for certain the start/first lap will be very hard, the following laps are about attrition- so however you need to ride (which should be hard and steady) to either stay where you are and not go backwards OR use being behind to your advantage- watch where the person in front of you struggles and attack them there. It’s all about strategy. Speaking of strategy, when other racers are trying to ride you off their wheel- You have to set your own pace and know when you need to dig and know when it’ll be too much. And vice versa, know your strengths in the race when you’re trying to ride others off your wheel. Use your strengths wisely and then settle back into a strong rhythm to make sure the efforts you put in are being put to good use.
#Secrettraining: One Stretch to Rule Them All
The Difference between Road and Mountain Bike Power Output