The Workout: Capacity LT

Jim and I always have fun arguments about the use of LT work in training prescription (by the way, Nate writing here). I laugh about it, because at the end of the day we both have a good handle on when, how, why, and how much LT work to implement into an athlete’s training. However, everyone always has their own philosophies within certain principles. I always think of Jim as a big LT guy, and Jim always thinks of me as a light LT guy. Truthfully I think a lot of this is molded more by what worked for us personally as athletes, in our banter with each other, rather than how we prescribe LT work to athletes we coach now. When it comes to training prescriptions we’re pretty much on the same wavelength!

Before I get too far down a rabbit hole of coaching philosophy I want to get into today’s featured workout. The workout is a bread and butter LT workout. By LT workout, I’m talking about lactate threshold - but realistically the way most of our athletes determine the power they’re doing LT efforts at we are not really talking about lactate threshold. I say that because most of the athletes we’re working with, we’re not working off of lab derived power zones that have been derived off of related blood lactate values. Really when we’re saying “LT” we are more talking about FTP - or around the power, HR, or effort that an athlete could sustain at maximum effort for around 60 minutes. Realistically that’s probably pretty close to that athletes LT, but there are also a ton of ways to define that and depending on the protocol it could definitely vary. FTP may be quite close to an athlete’s MLSS, or maybe absolute 4mMol lactate power, but maybe quite a bit higher to other definitions of LT. Shoot, this paragraph ended up being a training philosophy talk more than about the workout. I think the next paragraph is going to be better.

OK! The workout today is a twist on a bread and butter LT workout. If you’ve been around a power meter for a hot minute someone has talked to you about 2x20’s @ LT. I really like this workout as a variety on that workout, that is great to implement once you’ve done some tempo and LT work, have a pretty good base of strength in those workouts and now we’re taking those workouts and adding some sharpening to them for some race specificity. I call the workout “Capacity LT”. The workout is deadly simple, and deadly effective. Here it is:

  • Warm up with Z1/Z2 riding - this is a good time to work in some technique work like focusing on 100+ rpm

  • 10-20 min low zone 3 / tempo effort - just an effort to warm up a bit and add some aerobic economy work. If doing this workout in a time crunch you can shorten the tempo or cut it altogether

  • 2 x 20-25 min efforts - first 2 min ride @ 5 min maximum pace, then ride 3 min @ high zone 3 / tempo, then the rest of the way ride steady in LT. Make sure to keep ample recovery between the reps and have a goal of doing the most power you can do without dropping on the 2nd rep. So the first should feel hard but in control.

What’s it look like?

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That’s a picture perfect “Capacity LT”! Try the workout and let us know what you think. This is a hard workout, so you want to set it up well in your training week and month. There’s not that much point in doing it, if you’re not in a good place to do it well. I like to give it to athletes as the second training day after a recovery day, so that they’ve done a bit of work to get the legs going but haven’t really knackered themselves. For example I might have someone do a moderate workout like some tempo or sprints the day before. Then hit this one at quality!

Thanks for reading!

Dirt Climbs and Icee's p/b Stephen Bassett

As much as I love riding from home in Knoxville, I always enjoy making the trip to Waterville, NC to grind up and down a few mountains on the gravel bike. As I was working my way back to fitness last fall, the varying terrain makes those long solo rides so much more enjoyable. As we’ve gotten more into racing season, I occasionally use these mountains as organic intervals, just riding hard up the climbs and easy in between, which has been a stimulating way to build form without having to think too hard.

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This ride specifically is super scenic and the higher elevation keeps it a bit cooler. The front half of this ride is climbing heavy with a climb over Mt. Sterling, and then another over Cataloochee Divide—last time 16 miles took 2 hours, in part because the roads were heavy with moisture. After the 2 opening climbs, there’s a sweet overlook called Buzzard’s roost that I’ve managed to blow by on the descent every time. Oops!

A key part of this ride is a quick dip onto the highway to visit a gas station a few miles off course. Personally,  I like to put an ICEE in an insulated bottle so I can sip on some sugars for the next hour of climbing.

If you missed  Buzzard’s Roost, no need to worry, as once you get near the top of the climb to Max Patch at about 4500 feet, there are some sweet overlooks to the left. Once you get to the top of this climb, you can enjoy a fast, sweeping descent with only one more short climb to go (at this point, a 30 minute climb will seem short). After you get up this last one, there’s a ripping sweeper all the way back down to the parking lot—but be aware, there’s a big dog that likes to run out just as you reach terminal velocity. The ride is about 80 miles and runs about 5 hours. If ambitious, you can take a dip in the high river that is prime for kayaking and rafting in the summer. I like to pack a smoothie and a pack of barbeque chips for the drive home and usually use that time to catch up with my friends on the phone.

That’s my favorite ride and thinking about it has me remembering I need to change the brake pads on my gravel bike…

Inside Evan Bausbacher's National Title

Over the weekend Evan Bausbacher represented the University of Texas at the USA Cycling Collegiate National Road Championships in Augusta, Georgia. It was a hot and challenging day out in the road race, with a very sweet finale when Evan took home the win! He worked hard all winter and spring to be ready to fight for the stars and stripes. Read about the race through his eyes, and then follow up for our analysis of his race data.

Evan Breaks it Down

Shortly after the race started there was a massive pile-up that left over 60 people on the ground or stuck behind. Our race was stopped for over 35 minutes as people were fixing their bikes. During this delay I just stayed calm and tried to stay hydrated since it was hot and we were sitting in the sun.

After we finally started up again, there were a few small attacks by solo riders that didn't last long, until 2 eventually got away. The field began to sit up a bit and the gap grew, but it was early and the other favorites were still in the field so I wasn't worried. The next two laps had some fast surges and some slow soft-pedaling, especially with the really undulating course. I followed a few moves from the CU Boulder riders, but for the most part stayed out of the wind and continued to eat and drink. I ate every 20 minutes and was doing about a bottle of water or mix every 40 minutes.

Heading into the 4th, and final, lap the gap had grown to 2 minutes and the field was getting nervous about it, so it got pretty hard up the feed zone climb and into the 4th lap.  Last year's champ on Boulder attacked on the only big climb which is at the start of the lap, and I jumped to follow him. One other rider came with us and we had a solid gap so we began to hit it. We didn't last all that long though as some of the other strong riders in the field made bridge attempts that brought the whole field with them.

Once all back together, the field sat up again. Shortly after being told the gap was at 1:30 to the two leaders, the moto told us we were now on our last lap because of bad weather expected to come in. It got really chaotic with the race being shortened like that with just over 12k to go. The larger teams sent riders to the front and they started chasing all in. With no teammates, I decided to take my chances and let the other teams work with the hope it would come back. I would spend the next 10k fighting for position in the top 15 wheels.

With 2k to go, we were getting quite close and the teams were running out of riders, but the finish had a 1.5km kicker where we caught the two riders shortly after hitting the climb. It got really chaotic in the run-in because it was donwhill/flat and everyone wanted to be up there. I was able to hold position near the top 15 as we hit the climb. I kept my momentum and slung around the little bubble and slotted into 6th wheel behind the defending champ. We ripped up the climb. Before the top he may have attacked or followed a move but somehow I was 3rd wheel heading over the top. The field was pretty stung out and we may have even had a gap of about 10 riders or so. Over the top of the climb it was flat and then a slight right turn. I've been successful with long sprints and due to the tailwind and slight downhill, I launched out of the bend. It was a REALLY long sprint but never felt any riders coming up my sides and never saw anything in my peripheral vision.

Boom. Hook Em Horns. Super happy to take this win. Felt like I managed the fueling well with around 70 grams of carbs per hour and electrolyte bottles. With no teammates I had to be smart with my efforts and only followed moves that I knew were dangerous threats. Pretty cool to pull that one off. 

The Numbers

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To start, here’s a snap shot of the file. A few numbers to draw to as a general overview of the race:

  • 2 hours 12 minutes, 225w average, but 301w NP

    o   Race was not super hard in terms of constant average power, Evan has done plenty of races with higher raw average power this year.

    o   301w NP when the average was only 225w average shows the race was quite “spikey” and intense, just not for long durations, total volume of intensity in the race was high though

    • Evan spent 16 min @ VO2 power ranges and another 16 min over VO2 (430+ watts for him) – near 25% of the race over threshold by time in zone

  • Minimal HR drift – in relation to the power he was doing Evan wasn’t seeing an increase in HR as the race went on, essentially he wasn’t having to work harder for the same power in the end of the race compared to the start of the race.

    o   This is a great sign that Evan nailed hydration and fuel intake, especially on a warm day.

  • Key moments of the race

    o   Evan’s move to cover the attack by the defending champion at the start of the final lap was 80 seconds @ 497w – way over threshold.

    • This paints the picture of how there was a lot of high intensity / time over threshold, but all broken up into short chunks and the overall average was not super high in relation to the NP

    o   Positioning for the final sprint

    • 2 minutes 45 seconds leading into the final climb, where Evan had 7 spikes over 500w – all these efforts were not super hard individually but in the context of leading into the sprint they can really load up the legs before the key effort even starts.

    o   The final

    • The final push to the finish was just under 2 minutes (1:48) at an average of 543w with a max of 931w. It was a very long “sprint”, more of a hill top finish with a final push for anyone who had legs for one more acceleration.

Here’s a closer look at the final:

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As you can see, the “sprint” itself was not very powerful – only an 889w max. For reference Evan’s best ever 5 second power is 1210 watts, he didn’t even get close to that. But the reason because of what happens before Evan even starts his “sprint”. By the time Evan launched his sprint he’d done 1 minute 32 seconds @ 541w average. This is a really important point as preparing for this kind of race really necessitates training the ability to sprint off of that load. Some people can make it up the hill and have no room left to kick, those people finish 10th. Some people can kick hard at 1500 watts, but they can not make it up the hill at 550w for a minute prior. This sort of finish is a really interesting combination of both VO2 type power and ability to accelerate hard. Evan nailed it!

Thanks for reading!

Jim's Pesto

I’ve got a confession to make.  I’m not a huge fan of salad.  Actually, the problem is more that I don’t like making salads.  This could mean that I don’t get enough leafy green vegetables.  However, I’ve discovered homemade pesto is a great way to make sure you still get your fill of leafy greens. 

Remember a while back when we posted about a holiday gift guide?  One of the items on there was a blender or food processor.  A blender or food processor makes it really easy to pack a bunch of nutrients into a meal.  Everyone is familiar of that idea when it comes to smoothies – blend up a variety of fruits and you’ve got a nutrient packed drink.  Pesto is just another example.  

When you think of pesto, you probably think of a traditional pesto you buy at the store.  That pesto is usually a combination of basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese.  There are a number of other different combinations though, and you can use these different combinations to pack your diet full of leafy greens. 

For example, try blending a couple handfuls of raw arugula, ~1/4 cup of toasted almonds, ~2 tablespoons parmesan, 2 garlic cloves, juice from half a lemon, and ~1/4 cup olive oil.  Or a couple handfuls of raw spinach, ~1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds, a roasted poblano pepper (with the skin peeled), ~1/2 cup cilantro, ~1/4 cup of feta or cotija cheese, juice from a lime, and ~1/4 cup olive oil.  You can also use a heartier green (like kale) but will probably want to cook it a bit first to soften the flavor.  A vegan version is also easy enough to make by substituting nutritional yeast for the cheese. 

These homemade pesto recipes can then be used on all sorts of foods from pizza, pasta, risotto, toast, etc.  The combinations are endless which helps to keep things interesting.  Below is one of my favorite recipes for peach season.  It’ll keep your taste buds happy while getting you the nutrients you need.  Enjoy!  And thanks for reading!

Peaches and Pesto

·      1 lb penne pasta

·      1lb chicken cut into bite sized pieces

·      3-4 slices prosciutto or bacon cut into bite sized pieces

·      2-3 sliced peaches

·      ~4oz Goat cheese

For the Pesto…

·      Couple handfuls arugula

·      ~1/4 cup toasted almonds

·      ~2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

·      2 garlic cloves

·      Juice from half a lemon

·      ~1/4 cup olive oil

Get a big pot of water boiling and cook the pasta.  While the pasta cooks, heat some olive oil in a pan.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook (and bacon, if using).  Transfer the cooked chicken to a bowl.  Add more oil to the pan if needed.  Sauté the peaches until soft and remove from heat. 

To make the pesto, add arugula, toasted almonds, parmesan, garlic, and lemon juice to food processor.  Blend the ingredients and while the food processor is running, add olive oil until it reaches desired consistency (if using a blender instead of food processor, you’ll need to add the oil with the other ingredients to get them to blend. Can also chop the ingredients by hand for a more textured pesto). 

Combine cooked pasta with chicken, prosciutto (or bacon), and pesto.  Mix.  Add the goat cheese and peaches, and enjoy!

The "Other" Altitude Training

When athletes think about traveling to a different altitude to race, they often think about the difficulties associated with racing at a higher altitude.  However, athletes who live at altitude and travel down to sea level to compete also face difficulties.  While altitude can be great for improving endurance performance, it doesn’t allow an athlete to train at very high intensities (hence the idea of “live high, train low”).  This lack of high intensity training is problematic since races are often won as a result of these high intensity efforts (sprint finishes, breaking away, etc.). 

To prepare for sea level races, there are a number of different things an altitude-residing athlete can do.  One thing is to do efforts while breathing supplemental oxygen.  By breathing in a gas concentration with greater amounts of oxygen, an athlete can simulate riding at sea level and can do high intensity efforts.  This type of training does have drawbacks, though.  The most obvious is that you need a way to get supplemental oxygen, which isn’t the easiest or the cheapest.  Also, you’ll need extra time to recover from a workout with supplemental oxygen. 

Another option is to train at sea level power while at altitude.  For example, if you normally do 5min VO2max intervals at 300W at altitude, you could be expected to do ~320W at sea level.  So, doing efforts at 320W while at altitude can help you prepare the body (and the mind) for sea level.  Of course, you won’t be able to do 5min at 320W so you’ll have to shorten the efforts.

Races at sea level will also involve a greater volume of efforts at a high intensity.  This can also be trained for while at altitude.  One of our favorite interval sessions is “controlled” 40/20’s.  With traditional 40/20’s, 40sec is spent going all out and 20sec is spent riding easy.  In the “controlled” version, the max effort is replaced by riding at a high VO2max pace.  An effort which is difficult, but repeatable.  These efforts help you accumulate more time at a VO­2max power and therefore help you better prepare for sea level racing. 

The intervals discussed here are just a few of the different ways an athlete at altitude can prepare for racing at sea level.  It’s not usually something that folks tend to be concerned about but can make a big difference on race day.  And just so no one feels left out, for those of you living at sea level, these efforts can still be incorporated into your training and help you get faster.  Thanks for reading!