Coach Race Report

I want to share some of my thoughts for one of my athlete's recent performance at the 70.3 World Championship, her main event for 2010. I figured this would be like a 'Coach Race Report' that might be useful for some of you who read my blog. It might give you ideas as to how to set up your racing and fueling plans for next season. (If you want to read Jana's RR you can find it here)

First of all, a bit of Jana's aka Czech Chick racing history: this was her 2nd season racing triathlons and her 1st doing 70.3s. She qualified for the 70.3 World Championship at Mooseman 70.3 back on June where she finished in 5:28hrs (39min swim, 3 hr bike, 1:42hr run, she didn't have a power meter then). At the end of June we began working together and addressing her major weakness (the swim), but with the racing season in full swing there was not much time to address her swim technique thoroughly.

We did an underwater stroke analysis, and I focused on fixing a few obvious flaws but the main goal was just to increasing her swim fitness to take advantage of her bike/run strength. Her run also needed some work but we needed to build up her frequency careful and slow as she had some hip/leg injuries early in the year.

We that in mind, through a conservative progression we managed to increase her frequency to 5-6 runs per week, including a one longish run, one race specific run and the rest 'easy'. She also switched from Scott road bike/ road helmet and regular wheels to a Felt DA, aerowheels, aerohelmet and we worked thoroughly on her position and proactively at lowered her frontal area (dropped it from over ~0.48 m^2 road bike with clipons to ~0.4 m^2 riding tri bike to ~0.35 m^2 when 'turtling'); yielded her free speed.

Fast forward, at Timberman 70.3, after more time in the pool, specific bike training (increasing her CP) and increasing her run load she finished the race in 4:54 hrs with a 36min swim, 2:33hr bike and 1:41hr run. She finished 5th in her AG, a great result at the most competitive 70.3 in the area. Her power data was:
Critical Power before the race - 220w (3.78 w/kg)
Race Data - 2:33 hrs, 55.5 miles, 21.6mph,173w NP, 163w, (0.767 IF), 1504kJ, 93rpm

After a brief break post Timberman, we got back to training and the focus remained the same: 1) increase swim fitness, 2) consolidate CP and 3) increasing run load adding more race specific efforts. Her peak month was October with ~430mi on the bike (22hrs), 110 mi run and 45k yds swim, which is the most she ever trained before. Still, even though Jana's has a great athletic potential, I had to be careful to not push her too much as it still was only her 1st year racing 70.3s and 70.3 WC would be her 3rd in 5 months.

For the Timberman 70.3 and later for the 70.3 WC, I developed a fueling plan based on her fitness, expected racing time and intensity. You can see the plan here, Jana followed this plan through training during race specific sessions and race rehearsals and adjusted from time to time based on training conditions (i.e. heat/cold)

If you notice, the plan it is focused more on total carbohydrate (carbs) consumption as opposed to Calories (kcal). This is because total kcal intake can be affected by carbs, protein and fat depending what we consume. Hence I am not too concerned about total kcal but instead on total carbs which is what will help replenish some of the glycogen used to fuel our racing. (fat is burned in a carb fire)

With that in mind, following is a break down of her planned and actual fueling before the race for the 70.3 WC:

3hrs before the race:
Planned - 118-120 gr of Carbohydrates (carbs), plus Calcium/Magnesium Supplement
Actual - 110-120gr carbs - Large bagel with 1 table spoon of peanut butter and 1 of jelly and 1 banana

1 hr before:
Planned - 30 gr carbs
Actual - 25-30gr carbs - Gatorade

Jana did a great job with her fueling before the race (including the days leading to the event, though I am not showing the entire details for the plan) and this was simple to accomplish as she practiced this during her training many times. Below is a comparison of her fueling and pacing between what I planned for the race vs. what she actually consumed/paced at:

Again, for most part Jana did a great job with her fueling except for the run where she had to adjust due to some stomach discomfort. We are unsure as to what cause it as it is the 1st time it happens, but if I have to guess, I think it was a mix between drinking some sea water during the swim, the heat and starting the run too fast. Still, she did a great job adjusting to this and ended up posting a great run, right were I wanted her to be. Still, we'll review this and address for next year as that discomfort might have cost her a few minutes on the run.

As far as pacing, she was almost on the money for all 3 legs. If you look at the picture above, the swim ended up slower of what I planned, mainly because of her lack of ocean water experience and the conditions that seemingly were a bit tougher than previous years. On the bike she did a great job pacing and fueling and below there is a more detailed analysis.

On the run, Jana started faster of what we planned and she had to battle the stomach discomfort, still, she did damage control and ended up adjusting her fueling enough to avoid further problems and holding on tight. Her pace dropped in the middle ~15sec/ mile slower of the plan due to a 'pit' stop and starting too fast, but she ended up closing strong with the last 3 miles ~5sec faster than goal pace.

As for the bike; having raced at Clearwater I knew that I had to drill in Jana's head before the race, that it was going to be mentally tough due to the drafting, No matter what she had to focus on her race, focus on having a clean race and to not let those ladies passing by in pelotons and finishing ahead to upset her. I wanted her to have a solid race on her own regardless of what the final the result would indicate. I very am happy to say that she accomplished that.

If you see her power numbers on the picture above she rode at 78% of her CP, her kilojoules were almost identical than Tman which makes sense as the amount of work to go a certain distance is constant as long as we remain at the same weight. What varies is how fast or not we cover that distance. Also, normalized power was close to her goal watts (175-180w) which produced a NP/AP of 1.03, this is important in my opinion for a few reasons:
  • 1st - after Tman we worked at having her learn riding a more evenly pace efforts and avoid so many power spikes. She spiked her power above what I established as her max ceiling 8 times at Tman vs only 4 at Clearwater.
  • 2nd - in my opinion, this shows she had a clean race as her power remained constant and evenly paced for most of the 56 miles, there are not many power spikes and when riders are going in and out of a pack the variability of the ride tend to be much higher.
In any case, I know some sections of the course are tough to ride 100% legal, but I also know one can make the choice to ride clean, stay at legal distance and let the packs go; which it is mentally tough but possible for sure.

Jana's 1st 28 miles numbers: 173w AP, 178w NP, 789kJ, 22.5mph, 89rpm, 1.03 NP/AP, 28mi
2nd 28 mile numbers: 173w AP, 177NP, 711kJ, 24.2mph, 89rpm, 1.02 NP/AP, 27.7mi

The course tends to be faster on the way back due to riding on the highway, tailwind and of course, the passing pelotons. Still, Jana managed to keep her pacing rather evenly, stay on her goal target, and avoiding big power spikes; she had 3 on the 1st half when passing people and just 1 on the 2nd half.

I used Jana's power data on analytical cycling plus her frontal projected area (FPA) on racing gear (estimated from a picture and counting pixel using photoshop), Crr based on her racing tires (with latex tubes), her plus the bike weight (66.67kg), etc. and the model estimates a speed around ~10.40 m/s or ~2:24hr bike ride. She did ~2:25hr. Her CP before the race was at ~230w though on her racing wheels it tends to be ~5w lower so I used ~225w for the race plan; considering that plus her weight before the race (57.6 kg) then her power/weight ratio was ~3.9 w/kg

Jana had a very solid season and a great executed race. She accomplished a lot in the 5 months we have worked together and I am excited of what she will be able to accomplish next year. This time around, we'll have all the general training phase to address her weaknesses and have the time to target this thoroughly. I am sure next year when she gets to the new 70.3 WC in Vegas, her result is going to be much better than top 20. In part because of her greater fitness but also, with a tough course, I am sure some of those ladies who magically found speedy bike legs at Clearwater won't have the same luck at Vegas, and Jana will have a chance to show what the Czech Chick can do...

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