Continuing from the previous parts of this series, it's time to look at building a power profile and a fatigue resistance profile. If you haven't done so, I'd suggest you read the previous articles to refresh your memory as to what we're talking about:
With those out of the way, we can focus on two topics that will heavily govern your training and racing strategy: Power and fatigue profiles. What exactly are they, you ask?
Power Profile: One of two metrics that will help to identify strengths and weaknesses. It's a collection of several weeks of power data, and is sort of like a pop quiz for your body. It will tell you what your strengths and weaknesses are: is your body good at sprinting or time trialling? It is also a key way to determine if you are putting too much time into one specific energy system and neglecting others. It will also give you a clue as to your natural abilities.
Fatigue Resistance: The second key to identifying strengths and weaknesses. A fatigue resistance profile helps you to determine what your "winning strategy" should be. Will you be the drag racing sprinter who goes from 300 meters out or the guy who can blow the doors off a Ferrari in the last 50 meters? Do you solo in from the 5K to go climb or do you save it for the Flamme Rouge? The fatigue resistance profile helps you tailor your strategy to your strengths.
Let's explore each individually.
An athlete's power profile is a collective assessment of their historical power data that reveals their strengths and weaknesses. Are you stronger at longer or shorter efforts? Do you need to work on 5 minute efforts? One of the best ways to determine where you should spend your (probably limited) training time is to profile yourself. While it is a very useful tool, it does take a fair amount of data collection to make it useful, so you will probably be training in the dark for a few weeks.
One of the things to note about the power profile is that you can set the interval duration to read anything from a couple days to a month. I prefer to set interval duration to 1 week (7 days) in order to get a good spread of data which will show improvement and decline and let the athlete focus on areas to improve. Let's look at this sample plot and see where we should be spending training time:
In this example (from Trainingpeaks.com) we have the interval duration set to 7 days, so each bar represents a week's worth of training. In this case, you can see a see-sawing effect for 5 second and 60 minute power. You can see a plateau in 5 minute power, a gradual rise in 20 minute (.95% FTP) power and a sharp rise in 1 minute power.
From these data we can extrapolate that the athlete in question performs well when making sharp attacks and riding them out for around 5 minutes. We can also see that areas in need of improvement would be 60 minute/FT power and (barring the one week anomaly) 1 minute power. So training should be focused on raising FTP and working on short 1 minute intervals (power zone 4 and zone 6.) The plateau in 5 minute power suggests that this is where the athlete's natural talent lies, and it would be easy for them to get stuck in that training zone often (since they excel at it.)
Overall, the athlete in question is reasonably well rounded, not specifically good at any one thing, and not terrible at anything either.
In this example (from WKO+ desktop software) we see a very gradual rise in 5 minute power and FTP. On the other end of the spectrum, we see that 5 second power is significantly lower, and 1 minute power is all over the place, with no specific improvement. At this point, it appears the athlete needs to adjust their training plans to improve on their 5 second and 1 minute power numbers, and to work on FTP (which will have the simultaneous effect of raising 5 minute power.)
Typing this athlete, they would appear to be a TT specialist or a "diesel" climber (that is a climber who sets a steady pace, but can't accelerate quickly.) Working on 5 second to 3 minute power would help to make this athlete more well rounded, giving them a better chance to win from a group as opposed to having to make a solo break for the win.
It's worth noting that the power profile is a tool that was developed by Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen for WKO+, but is also available on Trainingpeaks.com for participating member athletes. While it's obvious that you have to either purchase the desktop software or the online account, to properly utilize your new data generator (I mean, power meter) you'll need some software to analyze that data. WKO+ and Trainingpeaks are probably the best out there, but there's also Saris PowerAgent and Golden Cheetah (I have very limited experience with both.)
Taking the power profile a step further we arrive at fatigue resistance. This will be the key to planning your race strategies and to some extent your training schedule.
Imagine two sprinters are relatively evenly matched and they start training to try and beat each other. Sprinter A spends all his time training his sprint power, and raises his 5 second wattage to 1500 watts (which is quite powerful even for a cat 1 racer.) Yet he never wins and sprinter B is always beating him. Why?
Sprinter B maintains a 1200 watt sprint, but he also works his FTP and VO2max zones so that he can put out the power to be there in position at the end of the race to unleash that sprint. And he also knows from reading his fatigue resistance profile that he's not a drag race sprinter: his acceleration is huge, but is not maintainable, so he positions himself to blow around his rivals in the last 100 meter dash to the line. Drilling down the gross information in your power profile will tell you not only what kind of rider you are, but what you excel at in that category of rider. Are you a drag race sprinter or a fast dash to the line sprinter? Do you TT in from 6K out or attack at the flamme rouge? Are you able to spring out of the pack on a climb and maintain that gap all the way up or should you hang in and kick for the top in the last 250 meters?
Not only can the fatigue resistance profile tell us where one excels, it will point out holes in training. If an athlete has below average fatigue resistance from 10 to 20 seconds, it behooves them to spend time doing 20 second intervals in order to raise their fatigue resistance. If there is significant drop-off from 5 minutes to 8 minutes, longer VO2max intervals may be warranted.
You can get your fatigue resistance profile by plotting your numbers here: Fatigue resistance widget. You'll want to use your mean maximal values (the hazard of testing ALL your power points on one day is accumulated fatigue: better to test them on separate days and plug them in) to get accurate data that reflects a refreshed athlete.
In this example we have an athlete who has tremendous endurance at high power outputs, meaning that they would excel in a drag race to the line. They also have slightly below average anaerobic capacity fatigue resistance at 2 minutes, meaning they have a hell of a kick but have a tough time maintaining it. If they are able to maintain that kick, they are able to ride it out quite well up to 8 minutes. However, should that move go beyond 8 minutes and stretch into a long breakaway, they'll have a tough time making it stick. In essence, this athlete should work on their 1-2 minute efforts, striving to maintain their initial power output and they should focus on FTP and longer intervals to maintain their output for the duration of group rides and races.
In our last installment, the Beginner's Guide to Power (Part 4) we'll discuss using your power data to train for specific events.
Questions? Comments? Start the ball rolling below.