I am in the early stages of planning for 2011, and one of the key things to look at is my performance in 2010. I am using every tool available to me to try to figure out what worked. I know I will be busier next year, so I will have to train as efficiently as possible to get the most out of each opportunity on the bike.
In fact, looking back at last year, I didn’t train as much as I thought I had. I knew I was below my targets frequently for weekly hours, but I was still lower than I thought. I had planned based on friel’s hourly chart for 500 hours/year. My biggest training week was to be about 13 hours, but it seemed every week something came up and I had to cut a few rides short. I think the most noteworthy things to note below are my weekly hours (rarely over 10/week), and longest ride (a three hour ride almost every week). For those of you curious, in the nine months I mostly rode my road bike I put just over 5,000 miles on my PowerTap.
Next, I’ll explain a little about the chart below. It is the TrainingPeaks Performance Manager Chart. If you want more details on the PMC, you can read this detailed explanation with a few case studies. Basically, the algorithm uses all of my power data from every training ride. It uses the calculated stress score from each ride to chart my fatigue (pink), freshness (yellow), and overall fitness (blue). In theory, my best performances should be when fatigue is low, freshness is high, and fitness is high.
First, I’ll review what we’re looking at above. You can see the purple line dominating over the chart in the first third of the season. This was my most focused training, and my fatigue (purple) was as high as I could tolerate as my fitness (blue) increased. The middle third of the chart is road racing season. During this phase, you can see fitness plateau as freshness and fatigue cross over when I am rested for races, and fatigued afterward.
The final third is cyclocross season. The rest of the chart is calculated from stress scores from my power meter, but during the final third of the chart, I didn’t have any power data. I’ve approximated the scores from my races, and weekly mid-week workout to create the chart. The chart indications declining fitness, which is likely true in some respects, even though my CX results were steady. I doubt I’d do very well in a four hour road race if it were held this weekend.
Next, we’ll see if the Performance Manager Chart predicted my best performances. I will use two measures. First, I’ll mark what I subjectively felt were my best race results on the PMC. Then I will overlay a chart of my peak power records from the season over the PMC.
It is clear the chart works as is should. All of my best races were when my fitness was high, and my freshness (yellow, TSB) was above zero (except lookout HC: TSB=-1.7). I did race a few times in between my best races (#4 and #5), but never with good results. This was during my mid season ‘break’, which included a lot of vacation time with haphazard training.
Next I’ll overlay my peak power records. There is a more advanced version of the software, WKO+, which runs on windows only. This software is much more powerful than TraningPeaks online. WKO+ can do the charts below automatically, but I think the charts below give a good enough impression.
I think it is pretty clear that both graphs follow the PMC fitness curve pretty closely. It is also interesting to note where the green line bottoms out in the lower graph. This indicates a 120 minute power record for that week of zero, meaning I didn’t do any rides longer than two hours that week. These were generally off weeks, and also corresponded to increased freshness, but also decreased fitness.
Now, the most interesting thing about using the Performance Manager Chart: By planning workouts with an estimated stress score, it is possible to actually create 2011′s chart today! By taking the time to input every daily workout, I could make sure my fitness is where I want it to be for races I want to target. I did this last year using more basic training principles, but obviously this is much more involved, and will likely produce better results.
For anyone interested in everything I did over the last year, I have made my all my workouts, notes, and power data completely public on TrainingPeaks. The profile interface is a little confusing, but try putting in a three month window and ‘show workouts’ and you will have comments and links to each workout’s power data. The link is: