Run Power Zones

Last Wednesday I completed a critical power tests (FTP) so I can work out my power zones and start structuring my training around my power meter.

The test is 15min warm up with 4x 50m efforts throughout.  3min maximum effort followed by 20min easy recovery followed by 10min maximum effort with a cool down at the end.

To find the FTP, you find the average from the 3min and 10min efforts and take 90% of this number and this will be the FTP.

My results were:

  • 3min: 297 watts
  • 10min: 284 watts
  • FTP: 278 watts

There are a number of ways to test and find your FTP, I personally am subscribing to the Steve Palladino method not only to find my FTP but also his zone list (below are my power zones).  Typically zone lists will have a simple zone 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 but with Steve’s zone lists have more greater details and takes more of the guess work out of it.

Tim's rFTP numbers

Power to weight:

I am really overweight at the moment. I was weighing 85kg when I did this and traditionally my weight would normally be around 81kg this time of year and my race weight would be somewhere around 78kg.  Also as mentioned in my past blog, I am really unfit at the moment but having said that, lets play around with these numbers for shits and giggles.

Only taking into account power to weight and my Ironman power being 85% of my FTP (race power today would be 236 watts) and also comparing it to my goal time of a 3:30 marathon time.

Now I expect these numbers to really change as I get closer to my Ironman in May next year, hell, I would expect these numbers to change by January when I do a marathon down in Hobart.  While my race weight is around 78kg, I also looked at 77kg and 76kg.  I don’t think going under 76kg would be a healthy option for myself as I would be all prick and ribs.

Race watts today: 236

Power to weight

As mentioned I have a marathon in thirteen weeks that I really should start training for. I plan to run this marathon at my Ironman power number (85% of FTP).  While my current FTP is 278 watts, if I was to increase my FTP to 286 watts (8 watt increase) with a body weight of 78kg, this would give me a race power of 243 watts and this should result into a 3:30 marathon…….. on paper anyway.

Love all this shit.

 

First run with power

Following on from my past blog, I am keen to document running with a power meter and eventually coaching with a power meter.  I received my Stryd power meter on Monday and connected it to my Garmin and went for a run.

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Current Fitness:

To start putting things into context, my training has taken a back seat in the past five weeks, so with this my fitness has taken a rather sharp nose dive and my weight has been climbing like a mountain goat. In the past five weeks, I have only ran 9 times with a total of 47km with the longest run being 11.6km.

To give a bigger overview of my training, a combination of swim, bike, run & strength training comes to a total of just over 26 hours for the past five weeks. This is the lowest I have seen this in years.

First run with power:

I wanted to jump in head first.  I decided to do a 12km loop with a combination on sharp and gradual climbs, sharp and gradual declines and some flats.  This will be my longest run in seven weeks.  I wanted to run this all at my Ironman effort (not pace, heart rate, etc but as I think it should “feel”).

I would be careful when I looked at my power numbers, I wanted to check my watch at set parts of the run and see what the numbers were doing. The times I would check are:

  • Half way down a hill
  • Half way up a hill
  • Half way along a flat section20181001_154758.jpg

Coming from a cycling power background, you need to forget a lot of what you already know about power meters.  When I would look at my watts during this run, I would see

  • No major spikes of power going uphill. When cycling with power and riding on feel, you will normally see a rather big spike in power when riding hills.  Yes the power increased but nothing really over 50 watts at the steepest hill and the longer gradual climbs the increase of power was only around 20-30 watts.
  • No major drop in power running downhill, again when riding downhill, it is common to see a major drop in power but with running, you are still producing power with every run step.  Yes power would drop but only around 20-30 watts.
  • Power stayed really consistent throughout the run and I can see that it would be a lot easier to control than a bike power meter.

Run Data

Below is some data taken off my Final Surge account. I will deep dive in the data from sessions in coming blogs but the things that stick out are my GCT balance (I seem to favour the left leg slightly as I guess I have had past injuries in my right legs). My leg spring number seems low but with current fitness that is to be expected.

Some items not listed in the data files are

  • Temperature: 13 degrees
  • Water consumed: zero
  • Weight lost: 1.2kg

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You can see below I stopped five times during this run due to traffic. Each stop was between 5 seconds and the longest being around 20 seconds.

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I ran this at my Ironman effort but this is over 2 minutes slower than I would expect to see the run at the same effort in the lead up to an Ironman.

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And of course, I listened to Metallica during this run

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Running with power

Late last year, I began learning about power meters for runners, I have read countless books and articles, viewed athlete’s data files, listened to podcasts and watched videos on YouTube.  I must have hundreds of hours clocked up in learning about this topic.

I even went as far as creating mock programs for runners at different levels (FTP) for different races (5km, marathons, Ironman, etc) as part of learning more about running, training and racing with a power meter.  I did old fashion spread sheet programs, programs on Final Surge and programs on Today’s Plan

I feel like I have the theory part at a level I am comfortable to talk about, I need to now start learning the practical side so I can have a greater understanding on training, racing and coaching with a power meter.

This week I finally got around to purchasing a Stryd power meter that I hope to receive in the next week or two.  I thought it would be cool if I started blogging about what I have learned already, what I will learn in the coming months and see if we can all learn as much as possible while having fun and see what I believe will be a valuable performance tool.

 

Starting each week with a bang

There is a saying in professional wrestling “I got to get my shit in” meaning they want to hit all their signature moves within a wrestling match. I like to use this saying myself when it comes to my training each week.  I have expectations each week and when I look back through my training log, the weeks that were great versus the poor weeks came down to preparation more times than not.

Yes I make notes on what works and why it worked and I also note what didn’t work and why it didn’t work so when it comes to looking at why some weeks are better than others, I can normally find the reasons why.

Normally Sunday afternoon I will set myself up for success for the coming week.  The main things being

  • Training program set and a basic template of how the week will look like is set out.
  • Swim sessions written out on paper and placed in my swim bag.
  • Bike sessions that are outdoors written on a small paper so all I need to do is stick to the top tube of my bike.
  • The next indoor ride is already written out on my white board ready to go.
  • Training gear, clothing, Garmin, etc all set to go (well as much as possible).
  • My car is filled with petrol.

Just doing these things doesn’t normally take long but as I go through my week and find I am fighting for each minute to “get my shit in” I can just get into it.

A mate who is in the same run group as I am was telling me that his daughter is being assessed for being a genius. One of the things they look at is how organised is the person. In my mate’s daughter’s case, she is extremely organised.  To get the most out of each week, preparation is king. become a genius in triathlon and and aim to get your shit in every week.

 

Starting from Zero

I had a new athlete start with me two weeks ago who for the past few years have done nothing in regards to training.  In fact, he charged his Garmin three weeks ago and the data that came up on his screen was from a DFN Ironman three years prior. From my understanding, this was his last activity he has done.

He wants to celebrate his retirement with a comeback to triathlons and has gone so far to and booked in for an Ironman that is just under a year away.

He was worried about when and how to start and going from doing nothing into a full training schedule.  He mentioned he may start in a month or two. I explained that I was keen to only start him off week one with one swim, one bike and one run and we will slowly build from there. Now this sparked his interest and he was ready to get started training right away.

Over the next three months, all I am doing with this athlete is getting his body ready to train consistently trying to limit the risk of injury and most of all build his confidence through the training.  He has had three full years off so the next six months needs to be handled with care.

To give an insight to his first week:

 

Tuesday – Swim 900m

Warm Up:

  • 2 x 50 freestyle
  • 2 x 50 freestyle with fins
  • 2 x 50 pull buoy and paddles
  • 2 x 50 freestyle

Main Set:

Multiple sink downs in deep end – until you’re really comfortable exhaling (e.g. 3 x 3)

  • 4 x 25
  • 2 x 50 easy freestyle B3s
  • 100 freestyle with pull buoy breathing every 3/5/3/5 strokes
  • 100 freestyle breathing every 3 strokes

Cool down:

  • 100m choice

 

Thursday – Run 30min

Run 3min at a moderate effort, walk 1min

 

Saturday – Bike – 30min

All moderate effort

 

This is it.  A very achievable week of training.  This will be his first step to finishing an Ironman in 49 weeks.

What worked & what didn’t work at your race

One thing I started doing a few years ago was writing down after a race a list of everything that worked, everything that didn’t work and things to consider for next time I am racing.  Over time, getting everything ready for a race, race morning, during the race becomes more streamlined and stress free by the systems you create.

For example, here are my notes from the past three Ironman races I did.

2016 Notes:

  • Need a carry on bag that holds aero helmet, laptop, etc for travel on plane.
  • Transfer my race information and check lists to digital so I can access information from my phone.
  • Need better supplement travel container.

 

2017 Notes:

  • Fix strap on aero helmet so it doesn’t flap
  • Bring bottle cage from aero bars to frame so I can see power easier
  • Have greater control of my time in the days leading into the race
  • Don’t place anything in my pockets of my tri kit while on the bike

 

2018 Notes:

  • Need a check list for each day I am away for the race
  • Create full meal menu for the days leading into the race
  • Create and develop a pre-race routine

 

Over the years, this list has become shorter and shorter as I continuously develop a better system that sees being packed, travel, unpack and ready for race start with as least friction as possible.

I personally use a free program called Trello that is a app so you can access my lists and information from my phone.

 

Strength training in the lead up to an Ironman

In the lead up to my past Ironman, I decided to change my strength training program completely around from the past year to see what would happen.

Going against everything I have been told where and when to place gym sessions within an athlete’s training program, I decided to place my gym session after my weekly long rides.  Some weeks I would jump off my bike from a five – six hour ride and go directly to the gym.  Other weeks I would wait up to four hours to do so.

My weekly strength training program from twelve weeks leading into the Ironman was very much a maintenance phase.  I had done all the hard work in the gym in the nine months prior to this.  My week would look something like:

  • Two core strength sessions done at home
  • One full body gym session

 

Last year when I was within twelve weeks of an Ironman, I remained in the gym twice a week with the focus of maintenance. This year I decided to replace one of my gym sessions with an extra run.

I didn’t know if this was going to work in week one and I was wiling to make changes if and when needed.  For all gym sessions, I had written out the session, how many reps and the weights I wanted to lift for each muscle group.

The weeks looked something like this

  • Week 1: Gym session directly after a 5hr hilly ride. This felt hard but manageable and recovered well.
  • Week 2: Gym was placed in a traditional place
  • Week 3: Gym within 1hr after finishing a 6hr ride
  • Week 4: Gym within 4hrs after finishing a 5hr hilly ride
  • Week 5: Gym was placed in a traditional place
  • Week 6: Gym was placed in a traditional place
  • Week 7: Gym within 4hrs of finishing a 3hr hard ride
  • Week 8: Gym within 1hr of finishing a 5hr hilly ride – Starting to feel easy
  • Week 9: Gym within 1hr of a 6hr ride – I had to increase the weights as it felt too easy
  • Week 10: Gym session within 3hrs of a 3hr hard ride
  • Week 11: Gym was placed in a traditional place
  • Week 12: Race week – No gym

 

Results 

Yes the first week felt hard but I recovered fast from the session and it didn’t have a negative impact to my long run the next day.  From there, it really felt easier and easier each time and I found by week six of doing this, I would feel amazingly fresh after my long rides.

In the past, a six hour ride would feel like I have ridden six hours, now, I am getting off the bike and walking around the house questioning the ride and the effort I rode at. I would feel like I had spent the morning on the beach instead of the bike.

Week nine blew my mind, I got off the bike after a 6hr ride feeling fresh.  I had a shake and a shower and went directly to the gym. When I started doing inclined leg press, I had on my program 3×12 @ 130kg. I started and I thought I hadn’t stacked the weights correctly as it felt way too easy.  I stopped and counted the weights and yes they were right.  I had to put on another 20kg just so it could feel like I am doing something.

 

Ironman Performance 

While I didn’t have the ride I was expecting during my Ironman, the last 65km was a strong headwind.  This also turned out to be my fastest last 65km of any Ironman I had done and I got off the bike feeling I had just ridden 90km instead of 180km.

 

Would I do this again?  For myself, most diffidently.

Would I recommend others to do this or give this to athletes I coach? Depending on the athlete, I would strongly consider testing if it will work for some if I could be sure the athlete would focus on good technique during the gym sessions and recovery after the session.  I would also want a lot of feedback from each session and I would keep a close eye on their training performance in the days after the gym session.

 

 

Tim Egge