Threshold Testing with Power –  File and Performance Analysis

Threshold Testing with Power – File and Performance Analysis

powerprofileanalysis

 

I tend to be very analytical with my athletes training files, which is part of my job as a coach. I provide supplemental training and guidance on analyzing files to my associate coaches as well.  If you train with Steel City Endurance, you can expect to get feedback like this on a routine basis, but especially around testing periods.

This specific example is a power profile analysis that I annotated and sent to my athlete. The workout was a 5 minute & 20 minute time trial both performed in the same setting, similar to what is recommended by Allen & Coggen in Training and Racing with a power meter.

I’m sharing it  here in full with the exception of the final link at the end as that contains personal information.   Hopefully you can see how the email is somewhat conversational, and I reflect on what I as a coach can do better on as well.   The tone overall is or should be positive and encouraging…after all this was hard work!   I want my athlete to know where he currently stands and how well the testing was performed in order for him to make improvements as we go.

I know I”ve done my job as a coach well when my athletes become their won best self-coaches!  (It must be working well because two current or former Steel City Endurance athletes are now coaching with us as associates! )  Enjoy, and I appreciate any comments or feedback.

 

Threshold Testing Power Summary Analysis – Coach to Athlete

Overall really nice effort.  Noting the laps with your bike computer is helpful for me and saves me some time.  I’ve noted some features I look at on the graph.  The warmup is nice and easy and follows the protocol I wrote well. In looking at the effort, I’d like to see the HR climb just a little higher, close to your threshold at the end of 15 or so minutes. This lets us know your muscles are “primed” for a good effort, and that you’re not still warming up into a hard effort when you start the first interval.

You noted that the you felt like you were saving something during the 5 minute for the 20 minute effort.  You can see that here in the stepped appearance of the power line.   This 5 min & 20 min test serves several purposes. one of them is to “blow out” your anaerobic energy stores so that the 20 minute effort is more reflective of your true aerobic effort.  I don’t expect that you could go as hard for the 20 minute after  an all out 5 as you could in a standalone 20 minute effort.

The other thing this test does is simultaneously give us a 5 minute best power, reflective of your maximum aerobic capacity (VO2 max).

So this is a good start and we’ll adjust your zones based on it, and retest in a few weeks with the notes I made taken into account:
Let the warm up effort climb to just below threshold effort, before the 5 min easy spin
Go all out on the 5 minute aiming for an even power application
The 20 minute looks great here, again, go for best even effort for duration.

Here are your averages for the 5 & 20 minute sections

5 minute all out effort: 

Heart Rate Power Cadence Power:weight(kg)
Average 153 282 82 3.65
Max 165 323 107 NA

20 minute all out effort: 

Heart Rate Power Cadence Power:Weight(kg)
Average 162 255 78 3.14
Max 173 307 83 NA

Comments:
5 min Heart Rate
I follow the HR trend as an indicator of how close you are to your potential in performing this test.

Your 5 minute avg HR should be at or near your max Heart Rate. Since your max HR for the 20min was 173, your avg HR for the 5 minute, when done well, should be pretty close to that.  If you were significantly dehydrated by the end of the 20 min that could account for a few heart beats.

Next time around, or whenever you are doing long VO2 max type sessions, see if you can target a HR of 170 as an indicator you are going “hard enough”.  Power may continue to climb higher even if HR is maxed out due to anaerobic energy. That is, the heart doesn’t need to beat faster to deliver more oxygen because there are non-oxygen based energy sources.  Over time I really want to see what you can produce for a 5 minute max in terms of Wattage!  My guess is that a sustained 300W is in you now, possibly much higher since max was 323 and HR was still 5-10 beats below your max.

5 minute Power
Avg power of 282 is most likely below what you’re capable of just judging by the stepped appearance of the graph. We don’t need to worry about the values for now, but just something to keep an eye on for your next test is to really try to get your HR up a bit before the 5 minute effort, then nail a steady hard effort for 5 minutes with HR btwn 160 & 170 as a signal you’ve got it going hard enough. Then let the power be what it is! (can you hit 290-300 steady watts or higher?)

20 minute HR & Power
Your graph shows a general trend higher for each of these and not an abrupt jump at the end which is good.  Overall this looks like a good effort and once you get back into training I think these numbers will “nudge” higher bit by bit.

To calculate your power training zones, I’ll use 95% of this 20 minute average as the basis for your “threshold power”.  Over time the main goal is to improve your threshold power with training.  If this number isn’t getting higher then we need to look at reasons why…it may be OK because you may be getting faster for longer durations even though this value doesn’t move…or you may be getting more efficient by executing this effort at a lower HR value.

Power:Weight
A good metric to follow is your “power to weight” ratio.
http://www.bicycling.com/training-nutrition/training-fitness/trainingpeaks-power-profiles-cyclists

You can see that your 20 min power to weight ratio  of 3.14 & your 5 min ration of 3.65 puts you right at a “cat 4” cycling level, which is fine, and again over time we want to try and nudge this upwards. As a long course athlete, the 20 minute (& longer duration) power numbers are more important.

At this point I mostly want to make sure that you have a general idea of what the numbers mean and what I’m looking at…that will help you execute your workouts better and know what’s important and what’s less important.

Finally I created a chart with printable zones for your training zones based on this test that you can see here:

Assessment Sets for Triathlon Swimming – The Pace Maintenance Set

The pace maintenance test for efficiency helps you know when you are ready to start adding speed or more volume to your swim training.

The idea behind this test is to see how well your swimming holds up with distance in terms of not only time, but also technique. When you start to get fatigued, one of the first things to happen is that your stroke count will go up. When it goes up, you’re no longer swimming with the same technique. One way to test this ability to sustain an efficient technique is with what we call a “Pace Maintenance Test” or PMT.

In the PMT, you’ll swim 4 different distances, with short rest periods, increasing the distance with each repeat…a ladder basically. For each repeat you’ll both TIME your swim and count your strokes. Keep a notebook and ink pen at the end of the pool to jot down your notes.

Choose one of these three tests depending on your swim ability:

Your objective is to swim each repeat at the same pace with the same stoke count. Rest for 20 seconds between each repeat.
Option A (tadpoles) : 25 – 50 – 75 – 100
Option B (minnows): 50 – 100 – 150 – 200
Option C (sharks): 100 – 200 – 300 – 400

If you are aerobically well trained and your technique is sound, you’ll swim the final repeat with the same SPL without slowing down. If you either slow down OR your SPL goes up, then you will benefit from both drills and focal points to improve technique combined with swimming more frequently to help improve aerobic fitness.

On the other hand, if you are successful at sustaining time and SPL, then you’re ready to advance your swim work in the form of faster sets, higher tempos, longer repeats, an extra swim session per week, or more total volume in your swimming.

There are lots of ways to measure technique and improvement but the PMT (Pace Maintenance Test) is a great benchmark to try once every few weeks.

Swimming T-Pace Test 100s

Swimming T-Pace Test 100s

This swimming test is for short course triathletes, sprint distance triathletes and new swimmers and is used to determine your “T-pace”, the equivalent of your threshold swimming pace.  Since it is difficult to use heart rate monitors in the swimming pool, using pace is an accurate way to establish training guidelines.  In addition, repeated testing can be used to measure and track your progress throughout the season.

Swimming Warmup

Warmup protocols will depend on  your current level of fitness. It is recommended to warm up for at least 10 minutes of easy swimming and kicking with at least 2 minutes or more of rest after the warmup.  Experienced swimmers (those swimming 2000 yards or more per workout) may do best by warming up for 20 to 30 minutes of varied pace swimming.

Test protocol

  • 3 x 100 yards or meters at highest sustainable speed with 10 seconds of rest between each set
  • Swim at your fastest sustainable speed between the 3 sets of 100
  • The difference between your first and third 100 should be less than 5 seconds
  • Using your watch or the paceclock on the wall or a partner, note your time for each 100

Calculate your average speed per 100, this is your “t-pace”.  You will use it to plan workouts as well as to follow your progress.  Note your times for each 100 and your T-pace in your logs.

If the difference between your first and third set was more than 5 seconds, consider today’s test a “workout” and retest on another day.  Don’t despair as there is a learning curve with all testing.  Next time you will perform the test with much better accuracy.

Cycling Threshold Field Test 20 Minute Protocol

Cycling Threshold Field Test Protocol

20 Minute Protocol

This is a twenty minute field test protocol used to determine your “threshold power” or “threshold heartrate”.  Knowing your threshold heartrate will help you both plan workouts as well as measure progress in your training.

Field Test Warmup

(Why you should warmup before testing, training and racing, Sample warmups depending on your fitness level)

10 Minutes easy riding in middle chainring, 10 minutes…just easy spinning, get your legs loose, get your mind loose.
30 second spin up to 100 rpms, recover for 2-3 minutes, repeat once…effort should be light to moderate, easy gears.

30 second effort recover 2-3 minutes, repeat once. 5 minutes easy spinning  after that last hard effort and finish within about 5 minutes of the race start.

  • Begin 20 minute effort at maximum sustainable effort.
  • If needed start slightly below what you think you can sustain, but continue increasing effort without going harder than you can sustain for the duration of the test. You should finish knowing you gave it everything you had.
  • Your estimated  Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR) is 95% of your 20 minute average heart rate for the test.
  • 15 minutes easy cool down.

Now you can do some simple math to determine HR training zones, either relative to your LTHR, or as a percentage. These zones are starting points.  Each test will have some variation as heart rates can vary from day to day depending on several factors. Taking 95% of your 20 minute average HR is just an estimate for your “true” threshold heart rate which could be determined with a 60 minute time trail.

As long as you maintain the same conditions from test to test, the 20 minute test is excellent for maintaining your current heart rate zones and measuring progress from test to test througout the season.  Record in your trianing log your 20 minute heart rate average, the total distance covered for the test and the average speed of the test.

The heart rate is used to determine training zones, and the average speed and distance are used to  measure progress from test to test.

 

Calculating your Heart Rate Zones
Zone % LTHR Easy Math
Level 1 (Recovery Zone) 0-68% < LTHR – 35 beats
Level 2 (Endurance) 69-83% 25 – 35 beats below LTHR
Level 3 (Tempo) 84-94% 15 beats below LTHR up to LTHR
Level 4 (Threshold) 95-105% Tested LTHR from time trial
Level 5 (VO2)   >106% 5-10 beats above LTHR

Please send comments/corrections to coach AT steelcityendurance DOT com

 

References:  Training and Racing with a Power Meter, Hunter Allen & Andy Coggen; Dr. Phil Skiba, personal communication

Running Threshold Field Test 20 Minute Protocol

Running Threshold Field Test Protocol

20 Minute Protocol

This is a twenty minute field test protocol used to determine your “threshold heartrate” and pace.  Knowing your threshold heartrate will help you both plan workouts as well as measure progress in your training.

Field Test Warmup

(Why you should warmup before testing, training and racing, Sample warmups depending on your fitness level)

5-10 minutes brisk walking with muscle activation drills.  5-10 minutes easy jogging, with 2 20 second strides thrown in, 2-3 minute recovery between strides. Minimum 3 minute recovery before beginning test.

  • Begin 20 minute effort at maximum sustainable effort.
  • If needed start slightly below what you think you can sustain, but continue increasing effort without going harder than you can sustain for the duration of the test. You should finish knowing you gave it everything you had.
  • Your estimated  Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR) is 95% of your 20 minute average heart rate for the test.
  • 15 minutes easy cool down with stretching

Now you can do some simple math to determine HR training zones, either relative to your LTHR, or as a percentage. These zones are starting points.  Each test will have some variation as heart rates can vary from day to day depending on several factors. Taking 95% of your 20 minute average HR is just an estimate for your “true” threshold heart rate which could be determined with a 60 minute time trail.

As long as you maintain the same conditions from test to test, the 20 minute test is excellent for maintaining your current heart rate zones and measuring progress from test to test througout the season.  Record in your trianing log your 20 minute heart rate average, the total distance covered for the test and the average speed of the test.

The heart rate is used to determine training zones, and the average speed and distance are used to  measure progress from test to test.

 

Calculating your Heart Rate Zones
Zone % LTHR Easy Math
Level 1 (Recovery Zone) 0-68% < LTHR – 35 beats
Level 2 (Endurance) 69-83% 25 – 35 beats below LTHR
Level 3 (Tempo) 84-94% 15 beats below LTHR up to LTHR
Level 4 (Threshold) 95-105% Tested LTHR from time trial
Level 5 (VO2)   >106% 5-10 beats above LTHR

Other Running Tests that Your Coach May Prescribe

5K Running Field Test

 

Please send comments/corrections to coach AT steelcityendurance DOT com

 

References:  Training and Racing with a Power Meter, Hunter Allen & Andy Coggen; Dr. Phil Skiba, personal communication

Running 5k Field Test

Running 5k Field Test Protocol

5K Field Test or Race

This is a 5K  field test or race used to determine training paces based off of your recent best known 5k race times.

5K Field test or Race Warmup

(Why you should warmup before testing, training and racing, Sample warmups depending on your fitness level)

5-10 minutes brisk walking with muscle activation drills.  5-10 minutes easy jogging, with 2 20 second strides thrown in, 2-3 minute recovery between strides. Minimum 3 minute recovery before beginning test.

  • Begin 5K race effort at maximum sustainable effort.
  • If needed start slightly below what you think you can sustain, but continue increasing effort without going harder than you can sustain for the duration of the test. You should finish knowing you gave it everything you had.
  • 15 minutes easy cool down with stretching

You should record your 5k time and average heart rate in your training log.

Your training paces can be determined by using the Jack Daniel’s VDOT tables.  Run Bayou has an automatic pace calculator. Note that if your 5K time is longer than 30 minutes you will need to consult your coach for your paces as the calculator only works up to 30:00 for a 5k run time. Write down your current training paces and VDOT number in your training log as well.

Regular racing or testing of a known distance can help you determine when to make changes in training paces as well as measure progress in your training. 

Other Running Tests that Your Coach May Prescribe

Running Threshold Field Test 20 minute Protocol

 

Please send comments/corrections to coach AT steelcityendurance DOT com

 

References: Jack Daniels, PhD;  Bobby McGee, Run Workouts for Multisport Athletes; Run Less, Run Faster,

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