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  • Principles of Endurance Training

    Making your training as effective as possible

    Simple rules to ensure success

    You need to be at your peak on race day. It is not necessarily the best athlete who wins, it is the best prepared. 
    • Choose the event that best suits you. 

    The aim of training is to develop sufficient aerobic capacity to maintain the necessary power over the race distance to be successful.

    • A high aerobic threshold is necessary. 
    • Aerobic capacity can be continually developed. 
    • Anaerobic capacity is a limiting factor. 

    Once anaerobic training has started, it must be continued, otherwise overall development is lost. 

    Once the base training phase is finished, the underlying performance level is determined. 

    • Base training requires many hours in training. It can only be accomplished aerobically. There is never an amount that is 'too much'.
    • The training load at the end of base training is generally the maximum load possible without undertaking more base training.

    It is a mistake to use anaerobic training during the base training phase. 

    Anaerobic development requires volume of training, i.e. longer repetitions, not short sharp ones or short intervals. After three weeks of heavy overload anaerobic training, the athlete needs to decide whether to back off during the fourth week and start the shorter sharper workouts. This is to maintain the anaerobic development achieved but not sacrifice good condition at the same time.

    Anaerobic training only takes 10 to 12 weeks to achieve maximum levels.

    • Anaerobic training should be done in relation to sensations, number of repetitions, etc. are a guide only. The athlete should decide how many reps is enough.
    • Evaluate everyday’s training and train by daily reactions, using the training plan for guidance. 
    • Balance in training must be maintained between aerobic-anaerobic. 

    Training can be done too fast or too slow, too much or too little, at right or wrong times.

    • Understand the how and what of training as well as why each day’s training is important physiologically and mechanically.
    • Co-ordination and programming of training is important.
    • Training needs to be systematic.

    All endurance athletes require: (a) A high aerobic threshold; (b) Anaerobic development; (c) Speed (or Power); and (d) Co-ordination. One development follows another.

  • Do Wellness Metrics Predict Illness

     A Case Study

    Do wellness metrics predict illness - maybe!

    Over the last week or so I've had (head) cold type symptoms which tested negative to COVID. 

    The evening of the 23rd May (the red arrow on the graph) I had either a bit of 'pursuiter's cough' or a mildly sore throat - training earlier that day had been ergo at threshold heart rate.

    By the next morning though it was a definite sore throat, spreading to blocked sinuses by the 25th. I felt the worst the evening of the 26th.

    The period of illness lasted until the 30th May (the pretty classic one week for a cold) although symptoms were very mild by the end.

    Could I have seen this coming? The answer is 'yes', however it is only really visible in hindsight (orange circles).

    • my resting HR was elevated the day before but then dropped on the 23rd - but not back to the level in the days before. It then remains elevated for the period of illness.
    • my respiration rate was also elevated the day before before dropping on the 23rd - again, but not back to the level in the days before.

    The Body Battery data is interesting (but not predictive). Personally, I do find the body battery data a good proxy for 'energy', mainly driven by sleep quality. During the period of illness the body battery struggles to 'charge', even though plenty of sleep hours - obviously not enough quality when faced with a virus. And the score of '5' on the 26th is the lowest I've ever had (and the day I felt the worst).

    For those interested in training through a cold infection, the number one rule is to do nothing if you have any type of infection below the throat - which I didn't. Most of my training during the period of illness (marked by the yellow circle) was at LT1 which didn't feel impacted by being ill, except for the 26th (the worst day of symptoms).

    UPDATE: A new study has identified that for COVID infections there is an increase in respiration rate (1 breath per minute) above the baseline, along with a 1 beat per minute in resting heart rate above the baseline in the two days before testing positive.

  • Physiological Profile of Zwift Racing

    Does Zwift racing have the same physiological requirements as a normal outdoor race?

    Sure, there's plenty of articles out there right now about how to race on Zwift, focussing on the fast start (but isn't any short race typically a fast start (think criteriums or cyclo-cross), the different dynamics of the bunch and drafting (if you're not moving forwards you're moving backwards applies equally inside and outside) and so on.

    The above graph shows two separate races, a 1h20min Zwift race and a 1h40min outdoors road race. As you can see, the majority of the Zwift race is tempo and threshold, with only 5% in Z1 (recovery, generally freewheeling), whilst the road race had over 25% in Z1, but also had more time in Z5 and Z6. For both races, Z7 is the sprint at the end.

    • Zwift racing is always 'on the pedals', no freewheeling, little chance for recovery and rewards those with the best aerobic fitness. 
    • Zwift racing rarely ventures into Z4-Z6; sweet spot training is perfect for Zwift racing.
    • Outdoor racing is 'more peaky', the additional rest/recovery allows for more high watt efforts, while the constant tempo of a Zwift race drains and discourages multiple anaerobic efforts.
    • Whilst the above is a long race in terms of Zwift racing, the shorter races exhibit a similar curve.
    The following chart is from the above Zwift race.

    As you can also see, the racing is hard on a physiological level. Currently my FTP/CP is set at 280W and my W' at 20,000. The modeling from this race predicts a FTP/CP of 274W and a W' of 19,400, so I was pretty much at my physiological limits in this race.

    Interestingly, the way a Zwift race gradually wears you down is a different sensation to an outdoors road race. Outdoors, the attacks are aggressive, and when you're at your limit you know - you know in advance that you won't be able to follow the next attack! In this race I felt confident that I could attack in the finish (this was the shorter, hillier, Richmond course with the uphill drag finish), however I could only follow!

  • A rider might only be in into the sport for self-improvement. Such a rider, focused solely on technique, mastery and process may become highly proficient, and even elite. Similarly, a rider might only ride for the glory. This ego/performance orientation suggests that process has to be endured, but it’s really the identity of being an elite cyclist that drives the rider. I suspect that some of the best riders, however, combine the positives of both orientations. They are obsessive about process and practice, and love to rip everyone’s legs off where it counts in order to enjoy the rewards.


      Cycling is a large part of my life, riding a bike nevers gets boring. Whilst riding is fun, the process of planning and training makes it exciting, and I love to incorporate new approaches based on the lastest research, my observations or rumours! Cycling truly is a sport where focussing on the process leads to rewarding outcomes.


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    All Rounder* (

    UCI Podiums 6
    Oceania Podiums 1
    Aust / SA / ACT / NSW / Vic Podiums 100+
    UCI Gran Fondo Podiums 3
    years riding
    daily coffees
    KM's ridden