Archive for July, 2015

Tapering for Lotoja

July 2, 2015 9:15 am

Fitness, Fatigue and Form

Well all the training I can do for the Lotoja race is done.  Is now past time for tapering and managing the balance between fitness and fatigue. You can go by how you feel, or if you are like me and like to use data you can use a program like Training Peaks that will calculate your fitness, fatigue and form based on your past workouts.  Strava also has a similar feature for premium members but I don’t find it quite as polished.  Fitness and Fatigue are terms that most people understand.  It is Form, or the balance of the two, that also needs to be considered.  You might have great fitness but are in bad form due to a high level of fatigue and that would result in poorer performance than if you tapered more.  Training Peaks uses the terms Chronic Training Level (CTL) as a measure of fitness, Acute Training Level (ATL) as a measure of fatigue, and Training Stress Balance (TSB) as a measure of the balance between the two, or sometimes refereed to as Form.

I started my training in June and finally got theCTL (blue graph) up to 143, which put my fitness better than it has been since the beginning of 2014.  During the build up, my fatigue as measured by ATL ( purple Line) got as high as 181, resulting in a  Training Stress Balance (TSB) as low as a negative 53.   With leveling off my training, including two weeks biking in Italy the last half of August, I have been able to keep my fitness nearly as high but have reduced my fatigue down to 131, resulting in a Training Stress balance now being positive.


Peaking for a Race

They recommend you peak your fitness two or three weeks before the race and then you get your TSB to slightly positive on race day.  When you taper, you might lose some fitness but you lose fatigue at a faster rate so overall there is a net positive on your performance on race day.  How you taper depends on what you are racing.  It seems that many people either don’t taper long enough or they taper too much and avoid any type of speed work the last week and that negatively impacts their performance.   I rely on my Training Stress Balance as reported by Training Peaks, although Strava also provides a fitness, fatigue and form chart for premium members.

“Researchers at the University of Montreal compiled the results of 27 scientifically acceptable studies. They concluded that the best duration of tapering is two weeks, the optimum training volume reduction is by 40 to 60 percent, and the intensity of workouts should be maintained (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, August 2007).”  Copyright 2007.   The Sportsmedicine Institute, Inc.  Used by permission. 

Power Meter

When you are running, Pace is an easy way to judge your fitness but on a bike there are many other factors that influence speed to use that as a measurement.  That is where a power meter really helps.  Using a power meter, I can see that my peak power for different time intervals has improved considerably.  This is the graph as of today.  The grey graph is my best of the last two years and the purple is the last 90 days.  I am not quite up to the level I was in 2013, but I am getting close.  About 1/3 of the difference is that I was using a different power meter then that reads about 10 watts higher.  The other 10 to 20 watts is due less fitness than in 2013 when I was doing hard riding in California before moving to Utah.


Age Factor

Those power measurements from 2013 were when I was two years younger.  There is interesting study by Dr. Fair  on the effective of aging on athletic performance.  It turns out most people think they decline more than they need to and therefore back off and reduce their training.  Still after age 60.5, the slope does increase but from 65 to 67, the reduction is less than 3% for world class athletes, as measured by race time.  Although this study measured running at the 10K and marathon level, it likely applies to cycling also.


Recent Time Trial Tests

So even if my power levels are not up as high as I was hoping, I am encouraged that I was able to set a new PR on a couple of Strava segments this past week, including the climb up Snow Canyon and the 15.4 mile segment from the Utah Hill intersection to Veyo.   For the long segment I finally did it under one hour and reached to 4th overall for  65+ on Strava.  Since this is part of the Huntsmen Senior Games road race, I recognize many of the names on that 65+ leader-board.


Doing well on this long segment gave me a bit more confidence for racing Lotoja where I will be racing continuously for 90 miles with most all of the climbing of the 200 miles course.

I realize I am not in the same condition I was 3 years ago when I raced the Hoodoo 500 on a relay team but I feel good, especially since I was finally able to get my weight down below 140 lbs, even with 2 weeks of heavy Italian eating.  With 4 days to race day, there is little I can do for training other than managing the tapering phase to get the best balance between fitness and fatigue.