Archive for January, 2011

A question posed by one of my athletes

January 28, 2011

I had a question from one of my athletes today.

The question is: What re the benefits of using a power meter and which one is the best? How will it help my training? How will it help you train me?

I would like to answer this question a little differently than some of the other articles out there. Cycleops has a great article’s on their page. I would like to answer it as a coach and an athlete that uses power.

First off I want to dispel a common thought. Power meters are not just for racers. Virtually everyone and anyone can and will make improvements when they use a power meter for their training. If you are just a century cyclist or a beginner triathlete a power meter is by and far one of the best investments you can make.

The reason Why a power meter is so great is for a few different reasons. A power meter directly measures the amount of work you are doing right now and for the whole ride. Also they can accurately and quantitatively measure your ride and give lots of numbers that are important both on and off the bike. These numbers are kilojoules burned (think calories), wattage in average and at the moment, usually heart rate, and many bike metrics as well. The real benefit is when the post ride analysis is done. Post ride I can calculate time in each zone, kilojoules for different sections of the ride, look at average power over intervals and over a period of a week to a year.

In comparison to a heart rate monitor a powertap is an instantaneous and accurate tool. Heart rate lags about 60-120 seconds after an effort is made or stopped. Therefore it is not a true accurate representation of when the work is done. The accuracy really comes into play when analyzing work done on the bike. Because Kilojoules are directly related to calories burned, I can make accurate choices about caloric intake each and everyday when using a powertap. For instance, my friend borrowed my powertap just a few days ago and rode on the trainer. He also wore his standard heart rate monitor as well. When the ride had concluded my power tap showed he had burned 753 kilojoules (about 702 calories) His heart rate monitor on the other hand showed he had burned 1027. This is a very big discrepancy.

Heart rate is also influenced by many factors while off the bike. These factors are hydration, sleep, stress, nutrition, and any medications. One day you can be riding 20mph at 150 bpm or the next you could be at 20mph at 156 bpm. Which one is correct? In some cases it can be a difference in a training zone. Heart rate can artificially inflated or depressed depending on many of the factors listed above. Either way it can be giving false information. However training with heart rate is better than not training with heart rate.

As a coach there are a few basic things I really like to look at. These are the total work load on an athlete. This is good for knowing how far I can push someone before their bodies will start to fight back. Comparison of average heart rate versus average power. This can be a huge indicator of fitness for the day. If the heart rate is abnormally high or low given a power output, I know to investigate further. Last is training stress score and intensity factor. These give me an immediate impression of how hard a ride is. These numbers are much better than just “it was a hard ride today”

Last is testing. Testing with power is a bench mark that can be compared with later. I base most of my testing on a power profile to identify what an athlete needs to work on. Power gives me exact numbers I can compare and contrast against other like athletes, and later down the road after a training load. More on this at a later date .

The power device of choice for me is the cycleops powertap. I personally use this device and have found it to be very easy to use. It is hub that measures torque and can then figure out power based on speed. Its accuracy is +/- about 1.5 %. While this means you won’t have it on race day (if you use different wheels) It is an invaluable tool during day to day training. Often I will race with a powertap to identify my weakness. The model of power tap I use is this one. I like this because it is very affordable and accurate. The upgraded one is nice as it is wireless. But if your on a budget, this is a great tool.

Please email me with any questions regarding power meters or training with power.

Ride Hard

Coach Jordan


Great Perspective about spring racing

January 26, 2011

Go to


Ride Hard

Coach Jordan

Those work outs early in the season…

January 16, 2011

So its been a bit, but I can say I have been out riding. I did a long ride today of 3.5 hours. It was kind of chilly, and lots of wind, lots of it… I felt great early in the ride but by hour 2 or so, I started to get that heavy feeling the legs. Repeated efforts up a hill were starting to wear and I gradually got slower. I remember this feeling, it seems to happen every new year of training, that first 3+ hour ride, or longer endurance event.

But why does it happen every year? I know my numbers are starting to be better than last years, and I am feeling very strong. If this is the case, then why do I feel so terrible. Most athletes I know inevitably have this feeling at some point early in the season.

Don’t get discouraged, this is simply our bodies reminding us they are creatures of habit. Your body is an amazing machine. It adapts to nearly anything rather quickly. That first longer endurance event of the year is simply your body readjusting to higher volume work. Some I have encountered suddenly freak out because they felt terrible. I have to remind people of when was the last time you did a long endurance workout? Usually the answer is that it has been awhile. Your early season work just was lacking the volume. It is time to start bringing up the volume to get adjusted to the 3-4 hour events many of us participate in through out the year.

The only time this should be a concern or an indication that something is wrong is if you have not transitioned properly from last season into a new years program. Every athlete needs to loose some fitness over the training year at some point. If you are starting up after 2-3 months off, then yes the ride was hard because every thing in your body needs tuning once again. With proper transition though, key elements are kept in tact to make season over season gains.

So don’t worry if you go out for that long ride or run and feel like it was very hard. It is simply your body getting used to the volume once again.

Ride Hard,

Coach Jordan.

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A Case study, making time for training

January 5, 2011

I would like to share an interesting email I had from a client. The back ground to this email is that I had not heard from him in a while. Over the course of these last few weeks he had only been training 1-2 times per week. Below is an email he sent me. I have highlighted in red the most important points I would like to talk over.


The integration of split intervals to accommodate commuting is OK with the advice you gave me about splitting them. I am comfortable with that.


(1) How would duration of workouts differ in a 3-4 workout week vs. a 6 workout week? If the workouts will be 3 hours vs 1.5 – 2 that may not help.

As soon as the weather safely permits I will begin commuting (temp. <25 is the determining factor). This should allow for more workouts per week.

Rest days being on Tuesday and weekends may be most desirable. (2) I would also like to have some advice on being able to move rest days around. What types of workouts are best not/done before/after rest. (3) If multiple rest days happen what would the best way to plan workouts before/after these 2 or 3 day breaks?

I will answer these few questions in order that they appear, with the appropriate number.

1) When an athlete is very crunched for time there still must be adequate training stimulus to encourage compensation by the body for improvement. Working out consists of two general variables to manipulate. One is time, and the other is intensity. A training load can be defined roughly as the time time’s intensity. This value is what gives the athlete the ability to create a stimulus the body must overcome and adapt to. There are two ways to generate big amounts of stimulus. One is by a huge volume of low intensity training. Lets just attach some numbers with this. Lets say the athlete works out for 12 hours a level of 3 on a 1 to 5 scale. This would result in a value of 36. Another approach to get the same amount on intensity would be to train 8 hours at level 4, this results in a total stimulus of 32. A much shorter amount of time, performed at a higher intensity. When dealing with a shortened training week. The substitution for volume must be made up for in intensity. This particular case of only being able to work out 3 times per week will feature a general plan as follows: 1 long ride 2-4 hour, and 2 other short 1 – 1.5 hours at a much higher intensity. (More on this form of training to come)


2) When it comes to rest days, there is more of a general rules, rather than an instance for every case. The purpose of rest is to allow the body to heal and recover after a big effort. Also though, training in a depleted state does not allow for the full potential of training to shine through. Therefore rest days must come after a big or hard workout, and in some cases before a particularly hard or big workout. (The later case is more for one day racing preparation; stage racing and back-to-back races take on a different paradigm.)


Rest days do not have to be set days of a week. Rest days are best taken after a break through workout or after a lot of fatigue and soreness has been built up after a period of training. Rest days are also for mental affairs as well. I, just the other day, took a rest day because I could just not get my head in the workout. If this is the case it to is also a sign to move the workout and take a rest day. In reference to this athletes question about training 2-4 time per week, nearly every “on day” will be followed by a rest day. This is mainly due to each work out will be very intense.


3) Dealing with periods where training is not possible for 2-4 day stretches is easily dealt with. In this case each period of “on training” will be 2-4 days of hard intervals or a big volume day to create an overload for the body. With this overload must also come a period of rest. This is frequently a tactic used by stage racers. Stage races feature 2-10 days of bike racing back to back. To create this sort of demand in training the athlete must train hard for 2-10 days straight. After though, rest will create the fitness gains from hard training. When a rest block must be demanded by work, family life, or other commitments, be sure to have a solid 2-4 days of training before that rest period. Most importantly, do not feel guilty during this rest period, as this the time the body will recover and make you a better athlete.

Great questions! Feel free to send me an email at and I would love to answer these.


Ride Hard,

Coach Jordan

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