Revers Engineering Power?

Simple race day and long term goal settings is all about taking your goal and reverse engineering it.

  1. What power will you need on race day
  2. What threshold power will you need in order for you to achieve race day power


Bike Power Example:

A athlete looking to ride at around 75% of their FTP and is aiming for target time of sub 5 hours may need to hold 230 watts, giving this athlete a FTP of 310+ watts.


 Run Power Example: 

A athlete who is looking at running the marathon of the Ironman at 85% of their FTP with a target time of sub 3:30 may need to hold around 250 watts, giving this athlete a FTP of 295+ watts.


Starting Point

I am over simplifying things here as you will need to workout what power you need to ride to hit the goal time and is the goal power achievable within your time frame.  


Race Day Power

Just to give a starting point on race day power, here are some numbers to start with.  



  • Bike @75% of FTP
  • Run @85% of FTP (80% of FTP if weaker biker) 

Ironman 70.3

  • Bike @80% of FTP
  • Run @90% of FTP

Other factors definitely come into play when estimating estimated goal power like course, weather, power to weight, power to drag, etc.  Your training log will have a lot of the answers you are looking for.

Cam Wurf training into Kona

Pro triathlete & pro cyclist Cam Wurf has an unorthodox approach to his Ironman training that is overseen by his coach Tim Kerrison of Team Ineos.  While it is hard to create an accurate template of Cam’s weekly training due to travel and racing, this is as close to a template that started to form for the thirteen weeks leading into the 2019 Ironman World Championships.

All cam’s training data is uploaded to Strava and I will aim to dig deeper into a few of his key weeks.

Training leading into Kona

Monday: – AM: Morning ride 70-80km – PM: Run 11-16km (often this run is a hypoxic run)

Tuesday: – Double run day, often one being a track session 15+18km and the 2nd run 5-10km PM: swim session 3-5km

Wednesday: – Bike 4-5hrs + swim 3-4km

Thursday: – Long run (30-40km) the afternoon on a Thursday can be a mix bag, some weeks it will be a double run day, others a 5km swim and others a swim/bike/run

Friday: Swim 3-5km followed by a ride 3-5hrs

Saturday: Swim 5km,  Mid morning ride 3-5hrs with a 20km brick run

Sunday: rest day

Cam’s running

A lot of Cam’s runs including his long runs are done at or around race pace.

Cadence & Power Fade

One of the more popular questions I receive on my podcast is what cadence should I ride at.  There is a lot of evidence and success for athletes with a high cadence and also a lot of evidence and success for athletes with a low cadence.

To make things as simple as possible, I would follow this.

  1. Ride at your natural cadence.
  2. In a race simulation session or looking back at past races, analyse the data and look at where can you improve.


Below is a cadence fade chart for both Ironman and half Ironman.  For example if an athlete is doing a Ironman and the athlete does most of the race with a cadence of 90rpm and in the last 30min of the race the cadence drops to 81rpm, this will show a fade of 10% showing that the athlete needs to either change their cadence or look at ways to limit the cadence fad towards the end of their race.

There could be a number of reasons why an athlete sees a cadence fad and may not be the wrong cadence.

I have also added a power fade here as well to help when you analyse your training/race data.

Cadence and power fade for Ironman races

  Cadence % Power %
Excellent 0-5% 0-7%
Good 5-8% 7-15%
Needs Improvement 8-12% 15-20%
Poor 12% + 21% +

Cadence and power fade for Half Ironman

  Cadence % Power %
Excellent 0-3% 0-4%
Good 4-5% 5-8%
Needs Improvement 6-7% 9-14%
Poor 8% + 14% +

Egan Bernal’s Tour de France Program

I have gone through 2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal’s program and analysed two weeks of his tour build being seven and six weeks out from the start of the Tour.  All this is available on his Strava account.

Going through his training log, there are a couple of things that really stick out.

  1. Bernal dose a lot of alternating cadence sets (this increases more as he approaches the tour) .
  2. Bernal does a lot of surges within most sessions.


I “think” Bernal’s threshold is around 320 watts

Week Seven: 

Mon: – Recovery

Tue: – 76km – 10min @321 with mid set surge of 1min peaking @393 + 20min @322 steady + 20min @323 with 1min surge @360

Wed: –  69km – 39min @321 on a 6% climb (not altitude)

Thu: – 47km – 5min @325 + 24sec @472 (mostly a recovery session)

 Fri: –  97km – 10min @280 + 12-14min over/under (290/220) + 15min @256 + 20min set of 15min @158 (include 2x 20sec surge @425 1min rest

Sat: – 133km – 40min @222 then 30sec hard surge to 550 + attacks of 4x 10s @500 then 25s @330 (no rest) high cadence + 27min @285 of 50sec easy, 50sec surge to 481 with an average of 380, 60sec easy, 10/60 over/under 260/210 + 250min @250 + 5min @275, 30sec urge finish to 390 with 90sec rest then 10sec surge @510 + 12min @240

Sun: –  129km – 17min @257 with surges to 320 watts gradual easing off ending with 1min @290 + 5x 30s/30s @400, Z1/Z2 rest (ave 313) + 30min @258 + 15min @235 + 60min cruising



Week Six

Mon: – 56.5km  – Recovery

Tue: – 130km – 10sec sprints @964 with 1143 peaks + 23min total set of 20min @240, 60sec rest, 4min set of 30-50sec over 420/10-15s rest + 2x sets of 15min @290 with alternating cadence 5min @40rpm, 5min @90rom, 5min @40rpm

Wed: – 158km – 14min @245 + 36min in total of 16min @290, 2min easy, 17min @290 finish with full gas sprint of 969 + 40min @233 + 90min cruising

Thur: – 64km – Cruising

Fri: – 160km – 20min in total of 5x 10sec sprints @870-950 with gradually decreeing rest periods of 6, 5, 4, 3, 2min + 10min @260 + 36min in total climbing to 3350m altitude 18min @280 alternating cadence of 6min @45rpm, 6min @90rpm, 6min @45rpm and 17min @245 @70rpm + 17 245 watts @90rpm building slowly from 230 to 255 + 2hr in zone 2

Sat: – 195km – 32min stead @260 to 32000m altitude + 1hr rolling turns with training partners back to town + 13min @265 + 36min @270 finishing with 25s bursts + 35min zone 2 finishing with 1min effort @365

Sun: – 148km – 12min rolling turns @247 but when he is pulling, watts go @350-450 + 13min warm up climb @230 + 20min @240 + 1:10hr @280 to 3200 altitude + 2hr Z1/Z2 climb + 11min @260


Six key swim sessions from Allan Pitman

Here are six key swim sessions from Australian Ironman Coach Allan Pitman.


# 1 — warm up – 400-500m with some single arm work with good streamlined kick – maximum length from tips of fingers to tips of toes
Main set – 8 x ( 300m free with first 30strokes off each wall as race pace – 100m band as recovery)
Cool down with 400m of 12m kick – 12m free


# 2 – Warm up 400-500m with 3 strokes “looking” midway through every length
Main set – all done at 85-90% effort – 800m free with 8 strong strokes off each wall – 800m pull with limited breathing (extend breath frequency) – 800m pull and band swimming the straightest line possible – 800m pull, band and paddles (keeping fingers pointed to pool floor at all times)
Cool down with 200m of alternated back stroke – freestyle


# 3 – Warm up with 16 x 50m of 3 left strokes + 3 right strokes + free to the end
Main set – 8 x (200m free at race pace – 50m band recovery)
Cool down with 8 x 100m pull and band (work on body roll with high elbow catch – not crossing under body)


# 4 – Warm up with 6 x (100m free + 50m pull)
Main set 12 x (200m – swum as 200m at 80% effort – 10sec – 200m at 90% – 10sec – 200m timed effort – 20sec rest)
Cool down with – 16 x 25m (25m left – 25m right – 25m head up – 25m easy)


# 5 – Warm up with 4 x (200free + 50m band)
Main set – 6 x (200m free at 90% – 200m pull at 95% – 100m band as recovery)
Cool down with – 200m of 12m kick – 12m free


# 6 – Warm up with first 5 x 100m pull and band
Main set – 35 x 100m pull and band – holding good streamlined position – choose a time base that gives 5-10sec rests


Running at what power

Power meters for running is increasing rather fast in the past few years with more and more runners and triathletes investing in a powe meter like Stryd.  With an incredible amount of extra data to help analyse and give feedback, here are some basic numbers to train and race with a power meter.



This is a quick guide and should be looked at as just a starting point.

  • 5km run race @103% of CP
  • 10km run race @ 100% of CP
  • Half Marathon @ 94% of CP
  • Marathon @ 90% of CP
  • Sprint Distance Triathlon @ 95% of CP
  • Olympic Distance Triathlon: 90% of CP
  • Half Ironman @85% of CP
  • Ironman @80% of CP



Again this is just a starting point to get you training to power and doing intervals.


Time % of CP Time % of CP
1min 107% 6min 100%
2min 105% 7min 99%
3min 104% 8min 98%
4min 102% 9min 97%
5min 101% 10min 96%


How to find your Critical Power (CP)

This is a god quick guide to do a CP test.

– Warm up with 15 minutes of easy running with 4x approximately 50m accelerations.
– recover
– run 3 minutes at maximal 3 minute effort (try to pace as evenly as possible)
– recover
– run easy for 5-10 minutes
– recover fully (there should be at least 20 minutes between test segments)
– run 10 minutes at maximal 10 minute effort (try to pace as evenly as possible)
– recover
– easy running cool down for balance of planned duration

After the run, to get your CP/FTP estimate, you can enter the average power for the 3 minute and 10 minute segments here:


Nutrition Plan for Ironman

This is another Ironman Nutrition Plan to consider.


Race Day Fuel

“50g porridge. 1 x toast and jam. Water or 350-400ml JW 50/50

Between now and race: sip Nuun but not too much

15 mins pre swim: 300ml 2:1

T1: H5 isogel, water – few gulps

On bike:
850-1000ml 2:1 per hour (NOT 4:1!) for first 2.5hrs Make sure you drink it. Can drink more if hot, be guided by thirst.

2 saltsticks per hour throughout bike

Next section of race switch to gels and water. 1 gel every 20 mins with a few gulps of water – still at rate of about 850ml per hour (you MUST take the gels every 20 mins or you’ll get water poisoning! Hypernatremia)

Stop drinking and gelling for last 10-15 mins of bike

T2: Water, not too much, can take an isogel if you like

2 saltsticks per hour
Isogel every 20 mins with water OR 2:1 at rate of about 600ml per hour. No solids. Can take some of the Coke they give out if you like but don’t take it with or near a gel.

Ironman Nutrition Plan from Allan Pitman

This is a nutrition plan from Australian Ironman coach Allan Pitman.

Race Day Fuel

Start the bike with three bottles – 2 x 750ml of Endura (2 scoops + 1 salt stick cap) + 1 x 750 Optimizer with 1 salt stick cap added.

At special bike needs – same three bottles.

I carry 5 gels on the bike in case I lose my special needs etc – I often don’t take them (if I do I wash them down with water – not sports drink) Underfeed – don’t overfeed.

The run – I carry 4 gels and a waterproof canister with 6 salt stick caps – I tune into my intuition – if my body says take coke – I take coke diluted with water coke is 12% sugar – your body can only handle 6% sugar while racing.

I have 4 more gels and six more salt stick caps at run special needs – once again underfeed – don’t over feed.

More races have been ruined with overfeeding than underfeeding – don’t try to take more fuel in racing than you have needed in training.

Some use caffeine – you probably won’t go any faster with it but it may help you concentrate – you don’t need pain killers – you need to learn to concentrate – good run technique is the key – practice this in training.

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.

The Ten-Day Diet Restriction

This is a great diet to lose some extra weight ready for that big race.  Given to me by my mentor Allan Pitman, the bases of this ten day challenge are:
• No Wheat
• No Sugar
• No Dairy

You can have beef/ham, chicken, fish (tin or fresh) and as much vegetables as you like. No need to go hungry. For the people who are active including athletes, include one cup of cooked brown rice.

Burning Energy
This diet is more of a high fat/low carb diet that is similar to the paleo and other high fat diets. While this is a high fat diet, this doesn’t mean fried fat. This is healthy fats found in the allowed foods within this diet.

What to expect
Most people on average will lose between 2kg and 5kg within the ten days. This diet restriction doesn’t need to be a ten day challenge; it can easily become a lifestyle.
You will find that by the end of the challenge, you will have more energy and need less fuel than before.

Tim Egge

Blog at

Up ↑