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Effective Peaking and Tapering for Cycling Performance

Peaking and tapering are essential to a high quality performance in a race or event.   They are often overlooked by your average cyclist and may be the missing piece in your successful training program.  Without a well thought out, well executed peak, your body may be too tired to perform or too flat (from lack of stimulus) to successfully execute the necessary work to succeed in your race or event.  If you ignore the importance of a proper taper, you’ll find yourself struggling to build further fitness or worse, dip a toe into the frigid waters of overtraining.  In either case, you’ll find yourself disappointed and struggling to piece together what went wrong.

In this episode of the Tailwind Coaching Podcast, you’ll learn what peaking and tapering are, why they are an integral part of any training program and how to apply the concepts of successful peaking and tapering to your own training program.

Click through for the show notes and remember that the sponsor for this episode of the Tailwind Coaching Podcast is Stages Cycling.  Check out their power meters and help support the show, and don’t forget to rate the podcast on iTunes!  You can also check out my new resources page and get a head start on reading some of my most popular articles!

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Quantifying Training Stress Score and Fatigue

Is it possible to use training stress score and a few other derived metrics to manage your fatigue?  Can you simply know how hard to ride by just looking at a number on a computer screen?

I recently answered a question from an athlete that went something like this:

“I’ve been doing riding four days per week (2 trainer days and 2 outdoor days.)  I’ve been following this pattern for about 6 weeks now and I’ve noticed in the last week that I’ve been extremely tired and been feeling worn out.  Have I been training too hard?”

This question is an excellent illustration of why training with power can be so useful: Training Stress Score (TSS) and Intensity Factor (IF) can be calculated from accumulated power data.  These metrics, when combined with a performance management chart will allow athletes to calculate Training Stress Balance and can help determine when overtraining becomes a danger.  It can also help you vary the intensity of your workouts and tailor them to your training needs more appropriately.

As a side note, TrainingPeaks online and Strava offer some variety of TSS as well, calculated via heart rate.  That’s another blog post entirely, so keeping in mind that we’ll be discussing power based metrics, let’s look at how you evaluate training stress and fatigue after the break:

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Tips To Crush Battenkill (And Other Gravel Grinders)

So you want to enter a gravel grinder event like Tour of the Battenkill, but you’re worried that you don’t have the skills necessary to compete?  Maybe you want to turn down that dirt road that you’ve passed a hundred times on your rides but you’re nervous about staying upright on the gravel?  Or perhaps your goal is to tackle some tough, unpaved backroad climbs like those in the Vermont Green Mountains to prove how tough you are?

You’re not alone.  Gravel grinder events have witnessed a meteoric rise in popularity in the past few years.  They have even spawned a completely distinct line of bikes and equipment.  The best equipment in the world won’t help you if you don’t know how to train for a gravel grinder, though.  I’ll show you what you need to succeed.

Gravel Grinder Success Is In The Preparation

Many people think that success in a gravel grinder race or event like Battenkill comes on race day.  In fact, you can lose an event or miss a target goal by not prepping yourself for success along the way.  Whether you’re nervous about riding on dirt roads or how to handle your nutritional requirements, I’ve got a few tips to help set your mind at ease and prepare you for the worst dirt roads you can imagine.

Click through the jump and pick up 6 tips to get you gravel grinding with the confidence of an off-road veteran.

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